By Jay Mundy
“Dad, do we have to go?” Samantha, my then 13-year-old daughter asked.
“Yes.” In Sam’s defense, I’d gotten her up at 5. On a Saturday at that, to drive to Black Creek range outside of Richmond, Virginia for a Project Appleseed shoot.
It was December 3, 2016. The drive started about 6am and we got there about 8, signed in, dragged a box of stuff to the shooting line, set up a couple of pieces of carpet for shooting mats, and waited and talked with friends who we were meeting there. About 8:30 the instructors called everyone together.
“Circle up! And welcome to Appleseed….” They introduced themselves, went through the safety briefing and a brief outline of what was to happen that day, and posed four questions: When and where did the Revolutionary War begin? Who fired the first shot at Lexington Green? When and where was the American Revolution won? Why did the British regulars break and run after less than two minutes of fighting at the North Bridge?
We started by shooting a Redcoat target. Thirteen rounds for thirteen colonies. Three each in silhouette scaled for 100, 200, 300 and 400 yards and one for Morgan’s Shingle, scaled for 6 inches by 9 inches at 250 yards. Sam had about half the rounds on the paper. Not bad for her first time ever shooting a rifle, or any sort of firearm for that matter.
Then the instruction started. Prone position and steady hold factors. How to use the sling. Sight alignment, sight picture, breathing and respiratory pause, trigger control, and follow through. Shot groups formed and started to shrink. We paused for lunch and the story of the first strike of the match, of Paul Revere’s ride and the British Army’s march on Lexington, the battle of Lexington Green and the deaths of the colonists at the hands of the British Regulars, shot in the back and bayoneted where they fell.
Back to shooting. Sitting position and transition from standing to sitting, transition to prone. Standing. The we got to the AQT, the Appleseed Qualification Test, which is pretty much the pre-World War II Army qualification test. We shot a couple AQTs and then the final Redcoat of the day. Sam had all her rounds on paper and three rounds each in the 100 and 200 yard targets. Vast improvement.
“We don’t have to come back tomorrow,” I told her as we got into the car to drive to the hotel for the night.
“Oh yes we do!” Mission accomplished.
Sunday, after a good breakfast at the hotel, we went back to the range for more. The second day was different… a few less people, some had dropped out due to other commitments, but the folks who returned were more focused.
The instruction began with a review of the safety rules, and then one of the instructors told the story of the second strike of the match, wherein the British army marched on Concord to search for military supplies. When the militia, mustered on a hill just outside of the town, thought the British army was burning Concord town, Isaac Davis, Captain of the Acton minutemen told Colonel Barrett: “I have not a man among us afraid to go.”
Then it was to the firing line for dry fire practice until lunch. No shooting on Sunday until 1pm, but the time didn’t go to waste.
Shooting began on the strike of one o’clock with another Redcoat target. Then AQTs.
After a couple AQTs we paused for an ‘around the clock drill’ where we shot at a target with 5 squares on it, the point being to shift natural point of aim, rather than muscle the rifle around. Then more AQTs, and at the end of the afternoon, one more Redcoat. Then we circled up to hear the tally.
Saturday morning, out of 27 shooters, ten had all three rounds on the 100-yard target, three on the 200-yard target, one on the 300-yard target, one on the 400-yard target and three on Morgan’s shingle. Sunday afternoon, it was four, four, four, six, and eleven respectively, and three shooters cleaned the Redcoat (all 13 rounds on target) Sunday afternoon as opposed to none Saturday morning.
One year later, December 3rd, 2017, and three other Appleseed events in between, Samantha shot a 224 (out of 250) and earned her Rifleman patch (which requires a score of 210 or better). She cleaned three of the four Redcoat targets that weekend.
Last weekend, the weekend after July 4th, Samantha worked as an instructor in training at the Appleseed outside of Charlottesville. She’s a bit more than halfway through the rather extensive instructor checkout. Sam told the story of the third strike of the match, where the British retreat to Boston was ringed with a ‘moving circle of fire.’
After the students had all left and just us instructors remained, I brought out the CMP M-1 Garand I’d received on July 5th. A very fitting day to have it delivered, we all agreed.
After a couple of rounds to roughly sight in the rifle it was time to share with the other instructors. Our senior instructor had a go and got up smiling. So did the shoot boss. Then Samantha took her turn. BOOM! Big, BIG grin. BOOM! ting! from the clip.
“I gotta get one of these, Dad.” Two rounds out of two in the three-hundred-yard target.