Project Appleseed Range Report Part 3: Sunday + Afterwards

IMG_20160427_2110037538:30 Sunday morning, and we’re off!  The weather was chilly for April and windy, with the wind increasing as the day went on.  A couple of participants from day Saturday were MIA, and we had a new shooter with a nice CMP Garand on the end of the line.

First off we shoot a redcoat.  I shoot 300y plus the shingle.  This is where I’m starting to have some minor misgivings – after a day of Appleseed instruction, and doing my best to faithfully do whatever the instructors ask, I’m now shooting worse than I was the minute I arrived.  Bletch.  Maybe I needed more coffee.  Or less.  I’m not sure.  Frankly I feel sort of tired and stressed which is not helping.

With the redcoat out of the way, the first order of business is a review of the prone, sitting, and standing position, and more squares.  I’ll admit, I’m about sick of squares.  Reading AARs of other appleseeds, it seems odd that we’re at Sunday lunch and still haven’t shot the AQT.  Maybe this is normal.  I don’t know.  I do shoot some of my better groups of the weekend during the prone review which is nice.  I also tweak the zero I got after moving my scope on Saturday.

Dave’s lunch presentation of the 3rd strike is the best history lesson so far.

After lunch, we shoot our first AQT.  Stage 1, I shoot a 40.  This is the one stage I can shoot exactly as intended at my home range, so I have a very concrete point of comparison and I haven’t shot worse than a 45 in weeks.  Again I’m having this disturbing feeling that a day and a half into the class I am shooting measurably worse than I was before I arrived.  Am I tired?  Sick?  Sore?  Suffering from bad attitude?  Hard to say, but not good.  On the second stage I shoot a 38.  Bad, but very much on course for a patch.  On the third stage, prone rapid fire, the wheels fall off.  As I’m getting into prone, somehow I fail to get into the eyebox of the scope.  I can’t see squat – just black fuzz indicating I’m not in the scope eyebox.  Moving doesn’t help.  Eventually adjusting the sling a bit does get me a clear picture, but it’s too late – I get off only 6 shots in time at an absurd tempo, with one of them a total miss.  With an auto I might have been able to pull off all 10 shots in 20-30 seconds, but not with the bolt gun.  Per instructions, on this first AQT we’re firing all the shots even going over time but if we go over the AQT doesn’t count.  That sinks that AQT.  Everyone else ran over on at least one stage too – so I guess I’m not the only one having problems.

My diagnosis of the problem is that even with Saturday’s adjustment, my scope is still too far back.  Not much I can do about it now though – I don’t think we’re going to get many AQTs in anyways, and I don’t forsee much time to re-zero after an adjustment.  So I’m going to be doing the anti-turkey-neck (is that a turtle neck?) for the rest of the day.

The next AQT, Standing goes OK.  Sitting is OK.  Rapid fire prone, the trouble starts again.  The AR up the line manages to plant a hot case right under my support elbow.  $&*%#%!  I pull two shots to -5 territory as a result before I figure out what’s going on and get the case clear.  That said, I’m still in contention.  The prone slowfire stage is pretty ugly too (can I blame the burned elbow?), but not horrible and it’s time to tally up the score.  Only problem is, I’m missing a shot on the standing target – there are only 9 holes.  After some discussion we figure out which one’s the double hole and score the target.  A couple of shots are close applications of the .30 rule.  At the end though, I’ve shot a 211 and Rifleman.  And it’s a good thing too, because I’m dead tired.  I’m not sure I can keep doing this.

Having accomplish one of my goals (shooting Rifleman) I now want to do it with my AR as well.  So I switch.  But I can tell my heart’s not in it.  On the sitting stage I forget to remove the chamber flag, and feed a round in over it.  That’s kind of a nasty jam, I don’t get it cleared in time, and from that point on I’m shooting for fun and not for score.  I do figure out that the AR, like the CZ, needs the scope moved forward.  I thought I’d checked both of them out prone before the event, but I guess I didn’t check well enough.

We shoot a couple of additional AQTs, none of which I shoot particularly well.  Then to break up the grid we shoot a two team star target game which is so close to a tie that the instructors implemented some sort of complicated voting procedure to decide who won.  On the third ballot they picked the other team.

The instructors tell a couple of “dangerous old men/women” stories, which are interesting.  Then Mike tells a story of a different revolution – the Cuban revolution – which he lived through as a child.  It’s sobering how fast one can go from freedom to being a refugee.  And more sobering to think that if it happens here, there’s no other America to go to.

To end the day, we shoot a final redcoat, where I manage a 400y+shingle.  I guess that’s a good way to close out the day.  Then they hand out Rifleman patches to me and the other gentleman who shot Rifleman.  It’s a nice recognition after having so many things seem to go wrong all day.  Having special patches for the kids was a also a nice touch – they stuck with it all weekend, and improved a lot.

Alan, our shoot boss, reminds us that we can use this shoot as one of the requirements to buy a CMP Garand.  I’ve thought about doing it before, and the more I think about it the better an idea it seems.  After the shoot I get the sheet for the CMP, and talk to Alan a little bit about volunteering as an instructor.  While this day didn’t go as well as I would have liked, I can’t fault anything the instructors did.  I was just having bad luck and not shooting up to my normal standards.  Overall I have very positive things to say about Appleseed – they did a good job of improving the marksmanship of the students as a group.  Going back to the Cuba story, I see a lot of parallels in what happened to Mike and what’s going on in the US today.  If there’s anything I can do to prevent that, I want to do it.  Teaching a few people how to shoot is the least I could do.

There’s still a few things to iron out, but the current thinking is that I’ll take an orange hat at a shoot next month.

Having completed the Appleseed shoot, it’s time to look back and see how I did on the various goals I set at the outset.

  • The shoot was very safe
  • I had fun, although more on Saturday than Sunday.
  • I shot rifleman with the CZ, but not with the AR
  • I did not manage to shoot any particularly high scores let alone a clean target – something to aim for next time
  • I learned some good history, and I’m sure I’ll learn more reading “Paul Revere’s Ride”
  • I met some nice folks, and I’m sure I’ll meet more as an instructor in training
  • Having experienced an Appleseed class first hand, I can definitely recommend it to anyone looking to learn to shoot a rifle

All in all, not bad.

Taking what I learned at the shoot, I’ve readjusted both my rifles to work better from prone position.  The CZ got the scope moved a little farther forward, and the AR got the scope moved quite a bit and the stock adjusted to reduce length of pull and increase comb height.  This made it so prone and standing could comfortably use the same sling adjustment and the cheek weld was more positive.  In order to test all this out, I’m going to have to find a range where I can shoot from sitting and prone.  I’ve got a couple of leads to investigate, so we’ll see what pans out.  Right now the most promising looks to be in national forest land not oo far away.

One thing I thought was interesting was comparing how I did with the Rhodesian slings I was using vs. the GI web slings everyone else was using.  Overall, I think the Rhodesian sling served me well – it was certainly MUCH faster to get in and out of, although none of the stages took that into account since ample time was given for prep.  But in the field, where one might have to sling up as fast as possible, I know which I’d rather have.

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