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A Fatwah On Rifle Training

I declare a jihad. I want a restraining order taken out against whatever hooting dickholes are behind this Appleseed operation to make sure they stop fucking up new shooters and setting back the state of civilian martial ability in this country.

I direct you to this thread on the Carolinas forum at arf.com. Short version: Our unfortunate rifle owner takes his otherwise functional AR-15 to an “instructional” clinic and spends two days of pain and suffering and wastes a not insignificant amount of money on ammunition and useless slings (coincidentally, sold by the organizers) only to end up a less confident shooter than he was on Friday evening!

To call the Appleseed operation a clusterfuck would be unkind to clusterfucks.

Background: This operation is the brainchild of Fred, of M14 stock and AQT target fame. (And also the king of ‘order it now, get it in a few months’ customer service). In case you’re new here, you need only open up any issue of Shotgun News and find one of his full page ads railing against the UN and ARs and other modern evils, and exhorting readers to become Real Riflemen®, naturally by buying his M14 stocks and AQT targets. I have previously regarded Fred as a charming and harmless kook, but now that he’s branched out into rifle training, I can see where he’s doing real damage to American shooters.

I am appalled the complete lack of instructional ability from the organizers. The reporting gentleman happened to be a lefty, and none of the “instructors” were able to help him. In fact, their contradictory suggestions only confused him further. Instead of helping an obviously struggling shooter improve his technique, the instructors kept fucking with his sights!!!

Okay, so the instructors were all volunteers. That excuses their lack of instructional ability? That excuses the organizers from riding herd on the volunteers to make sure that the new guys weren’t learning bad habits?

Another warning sign is that Appleseed almost immediately forced him to buy a sling he didn’t need. Look, we all get dogmatic about particular facets of shooting. But for Cooper’s sake, if you’re not hitting at 100 yards the problem is not the sling! You should be able to make hits at 100 yards without a sling! Our guys in Iraq and Afghanistan do it all the time! If you’re attending a class, and the instructors tell you to buy a particular piece of equipment from them or you won’t be able to keep up, that’s the time when you stick your hand out and demand your money back. Good instructors will get the student through with what he brung.

In case you haven’t gotten the hint already, if you’re a new or developing rifle shooter and wish to hone your skill, I heartily recommend you stay the hell away from anything Appleseed related.

{ 10 } Comments

  1. Les Jones | September 7, 2007 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    I haven’t made it to Appleseed yet, but I’ve generally read very good things. I know that sling use is a big part of their instruction, so I don’t think it’s outrageous to ask students to buy a $5 sling. It isn’t like they’re trying to get rich off of $5 slings.

    I don’t understand the one guy later in that ARFcom thread complaining about the price. Where else can you get two days of training and range time for $70?

  2. freddyboomboom | September 7, 2007 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    My experience at the Appleseed in Yakima Washington last spring was much different, and much better…

    I’d blame the specific “instructors”….

  3. BRB | September 7, 2007 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    I don’t understand the whole sling thing. But then, I haven’t had rifle training since 1967 in basic training. At that time, the sling was used only for carrying the rifle; slung on a shoulder, if you will. At the range, all the instructors insisted we NOT use the sling for shooting as some of my hunting buddy recruits tried to. After a while, I could shoot 5 round groups and hit the 300 yd target consistently. I’m not sure, but I think the army logic was that in combat, if you took time to set your arm in the sling, you’d be dead.

    Maybe I need more training.

  4. pdb | September 7, 2007 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    I don’t understand the one guy later in that ARFcom thread complaining about the price. Where else can you get two days of training and range time for $70?

    Well, obviously here you get what you pay for. :)

    I’m not sure, but I think the army logic was that in combat, if you took time to set your arm in the sling, you’d be dead.

    Don’t get me wrong, I know how to use a rifle sling, and it can tighten up your groups a few percent. This may matter more to a guy shooting for a trophy on the Camp Perry line than it would to a soldier trying to pot Hadjis in Iraq. I don’t know of any practical rifle schools that advocate using a sling as anything other than a tool to get the rifle out of your hands.

  5. DirtCrashr | September 7, 2007 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    At my club we shot with slings in every position except offhand, and it makes a big difference to MY group-size especially in the rapid stages – it keeps them from looking like a pray-and-spray – but it may be more useful to an M1 Garand shooter at 200-yards, who’s dealing with more recoil and rifle-movement/muzzle flip than an AR poodle-shooter. ;-) Actually it helps with my AR too. I’m just glad my guys know how to move a windage knob.

  6. Chris Byrne | September 7, 2007 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    I’ve done the Appleseed program. I’m no fan of Fred, I think he’s an asshole, he’s not a very good instructor, and he’s a paranoid delusional conspiracy theorist; but the shooting program is pretty solid.

    I loaned my M14 to a friend, shot the course with my AR, and used a single point sling. Several others around me, including several of my friends, were shooting with their old Milsurps. Jim the layabout sailor shot the course with his 100 year old Swedish Mauser. Kim DuToit shot it with his K31. Another friend shot it with his P17 Enfield. None of them had any problem with the instructors either.

    I think the guys experience was both atypical, and overblown.

  7. Chris Byrne | September 7, 2007 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    Oh, and I should say, there certainly were valid criticisms there.

    For one thing the course IS physically painful, both deliberately, and unnecessarily so (there are a lot of physically strenuous exercises that involve literally throwing yourself on the ground repeatedly).

    Also, they have a very rigid system of instruction, “the one true way”. I disagree with the whole philosophy of “the one true way”, I believe you do what works, and adapt as necessary.

    This guy had a bad experience, that should not have happened as it did; there is no question. The volunteer instructors he had to deal with were unprepared and unqualified.

    All that said though, the appleseed program IS good training for the most part.

  8. Kristopher | September 26, 2007 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    I think that is the heart of the problem.

    He is using volunteers … that $70 barely covers expenses. As an amateur effort, some times the results are amateur. Some of their folks have a clue … some do not.

    As for the fasll on the ground bit … they are using the Army’s EIC course, and the AQT also has prone and sitting/kneeling segments. If those positions bother you, maybe shooting from a bench would be more in order.

    It could be worse … fur trade re-enacting shooting is all shot from standing without a sling.

  9. Sebastian | August 27, 2008 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Of course, the 70 dollars more than covers expenses if you look at the form 990 of the organization. They only spend about half of what they take in.

  10. Usagi | November 5, 2009 at 2:16 am | Permalink

    While it is true that individual instructors can have an impact beyond the scope of any course – good or bad – the simple fact is that the Appleseed program attracts a bit more than its fair share of these “bad apples” (pun intended).

    The reason is leadership. I’ve met nobody who has met Fred (the founder) that thinks other than the fact that he is a crotchety old man. As a leader goes, so goes the organization.

    On the other side of the coin, many who are into shooting are good, honest, caring folks. That’s why you see many of them as Appleseed instructors.

    Beyond the instructor issue, the Appleseed program suffers from some major drawbacks in its structure and organizational setup. Particular are its problems in marketing itself correctly.

    The Appleseed project is set up as a course in “basic marksmanship.” Although this is true, the simple fact is that the course is not at all a good program for a brand new shooter. It is best for someone already into guns – who has gone shooting a bit (maybe a lot), and wishes to improve marksmanship. I always suggest someone go shooting at least 3 times or so before attending an Appleseed.

    The Appleseed project often leans to far into proclaiming that the skills are for self defense. Though little published info states this (other than a message by Fred on his blog), it is not uncommon for instructors to talk in this manner. Simply put, Appleseed is about basic marksmanship. Although there is some overlap, the project more closely resembles training for sport shooting.

    The Appleseed project also proudly proclaims that it is a “run what you brung” type of event. This is simply asking for trouble – particularly when we are talking about a new shooter. The ideal rifle for this event is a Ruger 10/22 or Marlin 795, outfitted with either with tech sights or a scope. Bolt guns (as well as pump-actions, lever guns, or even single shot rifles) will have problems on the timed events. Newer shooters will suffer more frustration here, and for no legitimate reason.

    Visit my blog. I outline some changes the Appleseed project should consider. I also point out some things for prospective Appleseeders that are a must-read to maximize their experience and learning potential.