Shooting is an American tradition and a privilege. Feel it, bask in it, pursue it, love it, and act accordingly.
1. Safety First. It’s an area that we can get relaxed about, especially if you have been shooting for a long time, and that’s dangerous. At Appleseed, the safety checks and systems are militaristic and non-negotiable, and that attitude is something you take with you when you leave. It’s a valuable, lasting impression that they leave with you. Shooting is an American tradition and a privilege. Feel it, bask in it, pursue it, love it, and act accordingly.
2. Have a system when you shoot. And use it religiously. Relying on feel is a waste of time, and a waste of ammunition (money). Shooting skills means that you get a reproducible result, and that will never happen if you do not develop a system and routine that works for you and you use it every time you shoot. Developing these habits and routines can feel like it’s slowing you down when all you want is to send the rounds down range, but it will save infinite amounts of time and frustration in short order if you commit to doing this.
3. Classic marksmanship is actually fun, not boring. While it is a strict discipline, and all the rules and routines can feel somewhat stifling for someone who grew up shooting freestyle – the mental, physical, and emotional challenge of timed drills from specific shooting positions is stimulating, and the sport is fun. It is also easy to see really quick progress when you give in to the systematic routine and that is invigorating.
4. Get with your own NPOA. NPOA is your own unique natural point of aim. It is as unique as your fingerprint, and only you can feel it and know when you are in it. It is also the single most influential factor in getting reproducible results with your groups. Your NPOA is the position that is most stable from each shooting position. It is not that easy to find, but once you do, you can use this test to see if you are in it before you press that trigger: close your eyes, take two deep breaths, and open your eyes again. Did the target move? It probably did, but when you find the sweet spot, or your NPOA, it will not have budged. Boom. Now memorize it. As you advance, you will be able to close your eyes and shoot seriously tight groups blind, because your body is keeping the rifle still, and your rifle shoots straight (hopefully).
5. Shooting with open sights is liberating. I shot open sights all weekend. At first, I thought it would be a bore to shoot through those little iron gates, especially when most of the shooters around me had all that pretty glass. At the end, though, I walked away with a “Hell, yeah.” I now know that I can hold my own in a trench with a $200 deer rifle in swirling thirty mile per hour, thirty degree winds (the weather was awful!) I felt like blowing the smoke off the end of my rifle and tipping my hat at Clint Eastwood when I left Sunday night. The lesson here is, if you challenge yourself with a little less gear at times, you feel the freedom of your skills building in that gear gap.
6. GI Slings. These were an enigma to me at the start of the weekend – but these obscure limp straps became part of the leveraging system to secure the rifle and reduce movement in innovative ways, and the armband anchor style gave me serious Linda Hamilton vibes. I’m not complaining about the GI strap anymore, it simple, helpful and it is fun and worth learning to use. You get yours here.
7. Friends. I could hang out with nearly anyone that loves to shoot guns any day, any time. Appleseed attracts serious shooters, families with kids, and all around generally great Americans. I can’t wait to get back in March.
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