Project Appleseed is a national organization that strives to teach marksmanship skills and preserve the heritage of the Revolutionary War.
Scott Newson thought that Project Appleseed consisted of “a bunch of kids with .22s” until he observed a few clinics. After that he says, “I thought ‘Ok, this is not a bunch of kids with .22s. This is serious, serious marksmanship training!’”
After attending a Project Appleseed Clinic in November 2014, Newson was so impressed that he started the two year, intensive process of becoming an instructor. Now, he is one of Appleseed’s two “Shoot Bosses” in Alaska.
On Saturday, November 4, at the Birchwood Recreation and Shooting Park, Newson supervised nearly twenty people of all skill levels for a condensed, one day version of the Appleseed Clinic.
Newson is passionate about Project Appleseed.
He enjoys the opportunity to teach skills to novice and expert shooters and to get the chance to discuss the American tradition of rifle marksmanship through history lessons presented during the shoot.
He says, “Shooting for us [when we were colonists] was our food, our defense, our entertainment, everything.”
Excellent marksmanship for the colonists was a matter of not just a matter of pride, it was something they worked at diligently. It was because of their superior rifle marksmanship the colonists prevailed in the initial forays of April 19, 1775, at Lexington and Concord.
Slowpoke, an Army veteran serving as an instructor, believes that telling the story of April 19, 1775, is what makes the entire Appleseed Project so worthwhile. He believes that learning the history of Lexington and Concord gives attendees a different perspective about national and personal challenges.
“If you take anything away from your experience at an Appleseed,” he says, “remember the dedication and character it takes to build marksmanship skills. The significance of becoming a Rifleman will become clearer if you understand that one story, the story of the events of April 19th, 1775.”
The lessons learned from the firing range extend beyond the technical aspect of shooting and preserving America’s early heritage. Newson believes that the process of becoming a marksman teaches individuals traits like discipline and focus that they can use in other aspects of their lives.
“One of the things not mentioned but is inherent is the discipline,” Newson explains. “It’s like Judo or any of those other things. It takes discipline and then you can carry that discipline with you into the rest of your life.”
Many attendees on Saturday had attended an Appleseed shoot before. Slowpoke says that one of the main reasons people attend multiple shoots is because they are fun.
Mikea Fulton, fourteen years old, has been involved with Project Appleseed for three years.
“My first memory was how nice and polite everyone was,” she says. “They were always open to being asked questions and had good answers.”
Regular attendees welcome newcomers and are eager to impart knowledge in a fun environment while attracting some of the best marksmen in the country.
For example, a recent weekend Appleseed Clinic was attended by two active-duty Army snipers. The two were doing well and enjoying the event, but the second day, only one man returned. The second, a member of the United States Army Marksmanship Unit, had to fly to Fort Benning for a competition.
“Now,” Newson says, “I know what that means. That means that this guy is one of the best shooters in the Army.”
The snipers adamantly vouched for Appleseed’s instructors, saying their lessons were invaluable.
Project Appleseed is an all-volunteer organization.
The events thought, are executed with unflinching order and discipline. The instructors meticulously demonstrate shooting aspects like positioning, utilizing a sling, breathing techniques, and properly squeezing and releasing the trigger. Above all, shooters must adhere to the safety rules.
The shoots are capped off with the attendees getting the opportunity to earn the “Rifleman” patch by shooting targets from 25 yards. The targets are sized so they look how they would at 100, 200, 300, and 400 yards.
If someone wishes to improve their rifle marksmanship skills, it doesn’t matter if you have never fired a rifle or are a member of an Olympic level competition team, Project Appleseed is an invaluable resource.
Slowpoke says, “It’s great when we see someone who is interested but lacks knowledge and confidence. We have an opportunity to teach them the unique American heritage of marksmanship while they become safe and competent with a firearm. We very often can do that in one day.”
To learn more, check their website at appleseedinfo.org or the “Project Appleseed – Alaska” Facebook page.
Jamin Goecker is a local writer who recently moved to Alaska. When he’s not writing about local events and personalities, he can be found hiking, running, skiing, or editing his manuscript for a novel. Email him at Jamin@echoak.com and follow him on Instagram at Jgoecker1 or Twitter at @jamin_goecker