I’ve noticed a lot of new people thinking and talking about attending an Appleseed this year, and that many of these people have questions about the Appleseed weekend and what to bring. Hopefully, this primer will help the OFCC attendees to be prepared for a great weekend of shooting and will keep all this information in one place. If I missed something, just chime in below.
First, let’s look at equipment. Although I love to “Be Prepared” and analyze my equipment to death, you really do not need too much to do an Appleseed and, even as a new shooter, you should already own most of the basics.
1. YOU NEED TO BRING THESE: BASICS
A: Rifle: Any rifle will work (really, if have a rifle and aren’t sure it will work…bring it. If it is a safe rifle, it will work). Any .22 LR rifle, either bolt-action, lever-action, pump-action or semi-auto, is a good place to start (magazine-fed or tube-fed is best, single shot gets a little slow for the timed portions and may lead to frustration). Scopes and iron sights are both ok for an Appleseed.
Shooting a 22 LR all weekend is the most common approach by participants (especially with the cost of ammo these days). Most shooting is done at 25 meters, using reduced size targets to simulate 100, 200, 300, 400 and 500 yard targets. Sounds easy, right? Take a 1” square, post it at 25 meters (about 27.5 yards) and try to shoot it…that simulates a 500 yard target. You do not need to sight-in your rifle prior to attending, but if you do, you can use the same procedure. Some ranges have full distance capabilities for those that qualify, so you definitely want to bring your centerfires there. For example, New Philadelphia and Gibsonburg have 500 yard ranges. Others may have them if they came on the schedule after this post has been updated. It is also good practice to shoot your centerfire some no matter the distance to show that the .22 practice translates directly.
AR-style rifles also work well (the .22 conversions are fine too, if reliable). The SKS, M1 Garand and M1A are also popular, but recoil starts to become an issue pretty quickly. I’d leave the AK at home, they just aren’t designed for high-accuracy target work (ask MCM). And, you can shoot the old mil-surplus bolt guns too, but I’d suggest using stripper-clips for speed purposes and a recoil pad. One good idea is to shoot a .22 on the first day (easier to concentrate on learning) and your centerfire on the second day (to implement and improve your lessons). Frankly, even on Sunday, 280 rounds of 308 add up in both cost and recoil…ask me how I know.
MY OPINION: However, I’m going to suggest that some rifles are a little easier than others and, thus, allow the new participant to concentrate on the lessons and not the gun. For a first Appleseed, I recommend a .22 LR semi-automatic magazine-fed rifle (Ruger 10/22, Marlin 795, Mossberg Plinkster, etc). I also suggest you do your first Appleseed with iron sights (learn to walk before running…). Whatever rifle you choose, I suggest you sight-in your rifle for 25 meters and give it a good clean/lube prior to the weekend.
If you don’t have a rifle, contact Appleseed and they may be able to have a loaner on site. Or, some people on the forum here may lend you a rifle, either before or during the event.
B: Two magazines: One magazine should hold 10 rounds if possible, the other can be much smaller. You could also get away with two 7-round magazines. The Redcoat target uses 13 rounds (you can do a mag change if you need to), while the AQT targets use either 10 at a time in one magazine or shoot 2 rounds- forced magazine change- shoot 8 rounds.
C: Ammo: Bring 500 rounds. You may not use it all. Round count can vary at an Appleseed from about 300 to 500 , depending on the format, shoot boss and a hosts of other factors.
D: Shooting Mat: This can be a bit of carpet or a soft tarp or a sleeping bag pad. You really don’t want to lay on the hard dirt all weekend, especially if it rains.
E: Eye and Ear Protection: Shooting glasses and ear protectors
F: Hat: A “boonie-style” soft fishing hat is ideal for sun, since you’ll want to keep the sun off your face, neck and the top of your head. Go for warm soft hat that allows you to wear ear protection in the cold weather.
G: Sling: Any style sling that you can adjust will work well. The best sling is the M1 Garand-style adjustable sling…I suggest canvas over nylon as less slippery. Morne can show you how to use a necktie as a sling, so don’t let this one stop you from attending.
H: Drinks, Snacks and Lunch: If you go in the summer, take plenty of water and energy bars. Minerva was so hot last year in July that one of our fellow forum members threw up due to heat exposure.
I: Clothing: See above. You need rain gear (all year) and clothing appropriate to possible weather.
J: Suntan lotion: Someone always gets fried the first day in a summer shoot. Don’t be “That Guy” (It’s always a guy as women are too smart to get burnt)
K: Teachable Attitude: This is the most important item…come to learn, not try to impress anyone. Don’t worry about your equipment, your gender, your skill level, your race, your age or what other people think. Frankly, they will be too busy shooting too.
2. THINGS THAT MAKE APPLESEED EASIER: GOOD TO HAVE
A: A back-up gun and ammo.
B: More water, more snacks, lunches on both days
C: A chair
D: Canned air…great for cleaning optics and actions that get dusty
E: Gun lubricant
F: Spare magazines
G: Insect Repellent
H: Staple Gun and Staples (to hang targets)
I: Laundry Marking Pen and regular pen
J: Elbow and Knee Pads
A: A tarp (Go to a shoot with Muxtech, the master at comfort in the outdoors.)
B: More ammo for your first gun (just in case)
D: General gun cleaning supplies
J: A notepad
K: A slip-on recoil pad (Decelerator is a good one)
M: Gun tools (either specific to your gun or general like screwdriver set)
N: More cold weather clothes
O: Waterproof rubber boots
P: Change of clothes and extra socks
Q: A masseuse...ok, kidding. You might be a little sore after the first day, so bring the Advil. Working on a prone, sitting and standing position with an empty and unloaded gun prior to the weekend will help too, as will general stretching.
Second, let’s talk about the mechanics of the Appleseed weekend, so you will feel more comfortable as a newbie.
You will arrive Saturday morning by the time noted on your ticket (this is your attendance receipt from either the Appleseed online or mail-in registration) with all your equipment in your car, divided between items needed on the firing line and items to remain in the car.
There is no concealed carry on the Appleseed firing line as this is dedicated rifle training, so leave your carry piece in the car after you arrive on site. This is not a slight against concealed carry, just an operational issue. There is no alcohol allowed at an Appleseed for the entire weekend (note that if you are camping on site).
You will register on site and then (usually) be able to place your equipment on the firing line BUT NOT YOUR GUN. Leave your rifle in your car. The equipment has to be about 25 feet behind the firing line but you can lay your shooting mat out on the line to save your place.
I’ve found a Rubbermaid-style plastic tub with a top is great for storing all my range gear (ammo, extra magazines, eye and ear protection, extra clothes, rain gear, suntan lotion, hat, snacks, gun gear) and also keeps the rain out. I carry all these items to the line in that tot plus I have a cooler with drinks and my shooting mat. You can leave lunch in your car, as you’ll have time to get it.
You will gather in a group and then have a safety lecture (this is why your rifle is still in the car), followed by an introduction to Appleseed. You will then retrieve and place your rifles on the line under instructor supervision. Following the range commands discussed at the safety lecture, you will shoot your first target, “The Redcoat”, from the prone position. This is a “base line” skills target, which helps the instructors understand the skill level and needs of both the group and the individual.
You will then receive instruction, shoot another target, and learn a bit about the history of April 19, 1775. Repeat. (Lunch Break) Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Once you’ve completed the basic instruction course, you will learn about the AQT, which is the scored target (this is where the “Rifleman” badge can be earned if your score is high enough.) On Saturday, you will usually shoot at least one AQT. Saturday has been described as drinking from a fire hose, which shows you just how much information you will be receiving in one day.
Sunday is pretty much spent shooting AQTs and learning about April 19, 1775. You will refine your skills with the help of the instructors and really be able to see the different things you learned yesterday being put in practice.
Don’t worry if you don’t make Rifleman in your first go…it usually takes a few Appleseeds until you achieve that rank. If you like to set goals, then I’d suggest setting the goal of improvement during your first event.
The exact format of each Appleseed differs from shoot boss to shoot boss, but the above is the general outline.
Third, let’s talk about the Appleseed vibe. One part of Appleseed that you will really enjoy is the lectures about April 19, 1775. The story is told over the two days in bits and pieces. Appleseed does not take positions on current political issues, but rather reminds the American citizen about what our forefathers did to create this country.
As a side note, Birdman likes the story of “The Dangerous Old Men” (Hmmm…wonder why?), while I’m partial to “Death Rides a White Horse”.
The other great part of Appleseed is meeting the other attendees, in particular, other OFCCers. OFCC always has at least a few people on the firing line, so you’ll “know” a few people already. And OFCC people help each other out with equipment or gear or snacks, so it’s a warm and friendly environment.
As you head home on Sunday evening, you’ll feel tired but also amped up. You’ll have learned a great deal about shooting a rifle, but also a great deal about April 19, 1775. It’s a great feeling that can be so lacking in our daily lives. You won’t regret attending an Appleseed.
Minerva Appleseed, October 2008
“Without dignity there is no liberty, without justice there is no dignity, and without independence there are no free men.”
- Patrice Lumumba
OFCC Patron, NRA Benefactor Life, GOA & Hot Stove League Member