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Appleseed – Cute Name, Serious Riflery

Appleseed is a nationwide program sponsored by the Revolutionary War Veteran’s Association to teach riflery skills.  Their goal is to make everyone a rifleman and also impart a little knowledge of our revolutionary history.  After a couple years of failed intentions, the wife and I finally arranged an Appleseed weekend near Fredericksburg, Texas.

The big takeaway is that Appleseed makes it seriously difficult to achieve their top Rifleman rating.  This is not some CHL qualifier that a blind man could pass if you squared him to the target.  Here’s what you are shooting at:

Appleseed Target

Yeah, that’s a real Quarter laying on top of an Army Qualification Test (AQT) silhouette that has been scaled for a 400 yard equivalent at 25 yards.  Those targets are from the 4th stage of the whole test, which is described below.

If you can put 10 shots into a Quarter at 25 yards, you will have no problem earning a Rifleman patch with better than the minimum 210/250 score.  It’s probably best to practice before you go.

That target is scaled, as I mentioned, to be the equivalent of the full sized AQT at 400 yards.  Think you can hit a man-size silhouette at 400 yards with your tacticool AR?  Not if you can’t pass this test with a .22, you can’t.

Which brings us to the equipment.  The Appleseed folks recommend a semi-automatic .22 with 10 round detachable magazines over iron sights, but you can shoot anything .30 caliber or less in any configuration.  Optics are free. You can run an ACOG or glass if you want to, although personally I think $1500 worth of sight on a $300 rifle is cheating somehow.  You can shoot bolt action.  You can shoot centerfire.  They don’t care.  (They do suggest you avoid that crazy little .17.)

Honestly, though, the whole course of fire is designed for the Ruger 10/22 or equivalent and pretty much anything else represents a handicap that you don’t need.  You’ll probably shoot 250 to 300 rounds in a weekend, so shooting centerfire represents a serious $$$ handicap these days.

Last weekend there were three or four each of 10/22’s and AR15-22’s. There were a couple of Marlins, an AR in .223, and one poor woman even brought a decent looking AK, although she had trouble getting it on the paper (quelle surprise).  One dumbass (me) brought an antique, tube fed, bolt action Mossberg 46B.  (The wife was shooting my 10/22. That’s how great a husband I am.)

Here is the whole course of fire for the qualification test.  I am putting it here because most of the “How To” web articles and videos don’t ever tell you what it is.  It’s not a secret because it’s printed right on the targets and you can buy them at the Appleseed store.  I think they don’t really want you to know how difficult it is.

Stage 1 – 100 yard silhouette – One target – Standing – 10 shots – 2 minutes – 50 points

Stage 2 – 200 yard silhouette – Two targets – Start standing, drop to sitting – 10 shots (5/5), one magazine change – 55 seconds – 50 points. (Serious time pressure on this stage.)

Stage 3 – 300 yard silhouette – Three targets – Start standing, drop to prone – 10 shots (3/3/4), one magazine change – 65 seconds – 50 points.  (They want you to be able to reaquire your point of aim and then stop aiming.)

Stage 4 – 400 yard silhouette – Four targets – Prone – 10 shots (2/2/3/3) – 5 minutes – 100 points. (This is where you are shooting at that Quarter.)

Finally, I should talk about the instructors.  They were simply great.  They were knowledgable, patient, experienced, and without a hint of the cooler-than-thou tactical instructor attitude that you sometimes find.  Almost all of the guys were ex-military and they have all gone through an extensive on-the-job training to get to be an Appleseed instructor.  The basics they teach are applicable to all forms of shooting (sights, point of aim, breathing, trigger control) and the other things, like sling usage, they are not religious about.  I won’t strap my weapon to my arm with a sling, for example. Not a problem, you can use this other method instead. They really don’t care where you put your thumbs, for a change.

How did I do?  Well, I was afraid you were going to ask.  I met my goals for the weekend, which were modest:  to get the wife re-familiarized with rifles, to get the 10/22 checked out, and to have some fun.  I didn’t practice beforehand and I didn’t seriously expect to qualify.  That is exactly what happened.  Saturday was a nice day, but Sunday was 40 degrees with a 25 mph headwind.  My wife took one step out of the car, said “oh, hell no”, and handed me the 10/22 saying “here, use this, I’ll watch from the car.”

Starting fresh on Sunday with the 10/22, I did manage at least one round with a score almost good enough to be a Marksman (125/250), but it was clear that I was not going to get there. Not that day.

I’ll be buying some targets and practicing.  You should, too.  Highly recommended.


Today we introduce Uncle Kenny, a friend of mine, Patriot, and a new (occasional) contributor here on Monderno. Uncle Kenny has contributed in the past to several blogs, including the late Washington Rebel. You can learn more about Ken here.

-Brandon, Editor-in-Chief

7 Responses to Appleseed – Cute Name, Serious Riflery

  1. TK March 27, 2013 at 9:41 pm #

    Awesome, been wanting to do Appleseed for a while now. Guess it’s time to make it happen.

  2. Jim March 27, 2013 at 10:19 pm #

    Wow sounds like real fun. I haven’t heard of any of these shoots in Va.

  3. deadhorse March 28, 2013 at 9:33 am #

    Appleseed is a great program. One of my coworkers is a certified instructor and the fundamentals they teach is invaluable! And yes, the wind was crazy on Sunday! I was at Best of the West in that wind and I was still able to hit 1000yards with my .308. 😉

  4. Tommy Newton March 28, 2013 at 9:41 am #

    I would like to thank Ken and his wife for attending this past weekend. I look forward to seeing you again. I have posted the link to this post on the Appleseed forum. I will monitor this post through follow-up comments. If any questions arise re. Appleseed I can be pm’d on the RWVA forum. Dragit is my forum alias.

    Tommy Newton

    Virginia location for Jim. Apparently a new addition. Go to to register and click on a state, it will let you know shoots coming up in your area, if any.;topicseen#msg256671

    • Brandon March 28, 2013 at 9:49 am #

      Thanks Tommy.

  5. arpjoe March 29, 2013 at 10:37 pm #

    You always meet the greatest people at an Appleseed Shoot too. NPOA – Natural Point of Aim is the skill needed to shoot the Rifleman score and you will learn it at an Appleseed Shoot. It’s the practice that develops the skill.

  6. Daniel R March 29, 2013 at 11:58 pm #

    Practice and perseverance will see you through!

    Especially now that you’ve got the fundamentals down, you’ll see your scores continue to climb from here as you hone your shooting even more. Practicing your transitions on the second and third stage is also invaluable, those 55 seconds always seem shorter than usual…

    I feel your pain though, I took some friends with me to my second Appleseed this past weekend, and they too stole my scoped 10/22 and 10/22 with Tech-Sights, which I’d used to qualify with both back in December. I ended up shooting with a borrowed 1980’s Sears & Roebuck tube-fed, bolt action rifle. (However, I’ll also tell you that it’s possible to qualify with it. It’s difficult, but I hit 217)

    Keep practicing, and earn that patch! Because if you’re not a rifleman, you’re a cook.