This weekend a friend and I, along with our wives trekked down to Osage Beach, MO. My friend and I attended the Appleseed shoot, while our wives scrap-booked and shopped all weekend long.
First off, we couldn’t have asked for a nicer weekend. Temperatures were cool, but warmed up nicely as the day wore on, and we had plenty of sunshine. Add on top of that, shooting on a beautiful piece of land with fall colors probably at their peak. Stunning!
Now on to the part that people really care about.
We started the first day off with the obligatory safety briefing. Safety was hammered on several times during the two days, and it worked. No incidents during the two days. After two or three strings you could hear the mantra echoing in your head “Mags out, bolts back, safety’s on, flags in” I doubt that I will ever forget that. And just as well. I’m more accustomed to shooting pistols, and none of my pistols has a manual safety. If you keep your fingers off the trigger, things are fine. But I can see that the additional step of clicking on the manual safety is a good thing, especially when making the transition from standing to sitting or prone. It would be too easy to slip and click off a round inadvertently.
On to the shooting. First target we ran was the red coat target, shot from the prone position. I thought I shot it very well. We then ran through shooting several combinations of squares, red coats, from various positions. I wish that I had not done so well on on that first red coat, because it set me up for thinking the AQT was going to be pretty easy. Not so much. First AQT I shot was scored at 163. Not bad, but not great. The last set of red coat targets for the day didn’t show much improvement over the first target.
I left the first day not feeling all that great about my progress. I had learned a lot, but I hadn’t seen the improvement I wanted. I also left thinking that we really had not shot that much. What I really wanted at that point was to sit down with a box of ammo, a bunch of targets and just practice.
Second day we shot a warm up with the red coat targets, and then went right into the AQT. On the first AQT of the day, I scored 190. Ok. That was the improvement I was looking for. The rest of the day was spent shooting 1″ squares, and red coats, followed by AQT’s. Now we were getting the practice I wanted. My friend achieved his rifleman about mid-day, complete with a target that had 3 bullets in one hole. I wouldn’t have believed it unless I saw it myself. I unfortunately chased that damned elusive 210 all stinkin day. We even went so far as to try some target grade ammo instead of the bulk Federal that I brought along. It definitely shrunk my groups, but not enough to earn the badge.
At lunch time, and a couple times through out the day, we had a history lesson about the events surrounding April 17, 1775. “The Guy” did an outstanding job of presenting the story. I don’t know if he realizes it or not, but I thought he was very gifted at telling the story. Several of the instructors-in-training presented parts of the story as well, and also did a great job. Contrary to what some people might think, this was not a “conservative re-education camp”. Current day political candidates were never mentioned. In fact the only time the election was brought up was only to say that it was your responsibility, your duty to vote. If you don’t vote, you have no opinion. Amen to that.
One of the things I liked about the weekend was the style of the instruction. The instructors did not demand that you do something a certain way, other than the safety procedures. There was no wavering on that. They did instruct you based on what works for them, what doesn’t work for them, and has worked for others, often making suggestions and quizzing you about what you think may have caused the problem. I like that.
Some of my problems included not focusing on the front sight, poor cheek weld, not obtaining my natural point of aim. Breathing. Mechanical issues factored in as well, like glare off the sights, and the butt of my stock would slip from time to time.
One gentleman who goes by the nom de guerre ‘Big Pappa’ , fed me a steady diet of CCI rounds to help tighten up my groups. I certainly appreciated his help and guidance. He even offered up the use of his scoped rifle to help combat the glare problem, but being the stubborn ox that I am, I was determined to do it with my rifle. Finally at the end of the day, on the last AQT, I relented and switched rifles. I literally had a minute and a half with his rifle and sling to get my bearings. Well, how did it go?
I got one of these:
with a score of 218.
And I think that is what makes the score sweeter to me…. new rifle, short setup period, imperfect conditions (lots of wind), and I still managed to pull it off. That drove home what basic rifle skills are about, that a shooter with average skills, should be able able to pick up any good working rifle, apply some basic skills, and still find their mark.
My goal, besides having fun, was to learn some basic rifle skills. I had never had ANY formal training with a rifle. And I left with what I was looking for. A beginning point built on some decent fundamentals. Would I like to take some more advanced training, sure, and some day I’ll seek those out. But I at least now have a decent foundation to start from.