I attended an Appleseed in October of last year at Rocky Creek Ranch. My father decided to join me, so he flew into town for the weekend as well. I brought two ARs with me:
Smith and Wesson M&P15T with a 3-9x scope
Quentin Defense Lower/Spikes upper with an Eotech XPS-2
All ammo was XM193
My father brought a scoped Smith and Wesson M&P 15-22 and he used Federal Target bulk packs.
We started out on Saturday with nine instructors! They were having an instructor boot camp prior to the shoot, so each shooter received plenty of individual attention. I decided to use my scoped AR first since I have bad eyes to begin with, and the targets were ridiculously small.
The morning started with a free for all shoot. At 25 meters you have 13 rounds. Three rounds for a simulated 100y shot, three for a 200y, three for a 300y, three for a 400y, and then one for a 250y simulated shot. You can shoot from any position, and there is no time limit. I chose to shoot from prone since I had never done before and would be the most stable, and I used my magazine as a mono-pod. I surprised myself and I was the only shooter to put three rounds in the simulated 400y silhouette.
We then started the instruction. We learned about the USGI sling and its use, and progressed through various standing, seated, and prone positions. Both seated and prone gave me some trouble, as I never quite felt comfortable since I had never done them before. We ended the day with a number of their AQT tests, and unfortunately I didn’t score rifleman. I was getting frustrated with the sling too, and I would rather have not used it at all. We went back to the lodge to clean up, had a great meal (wild hog that was trapped on the ranch) and sat around the camp fire trading stories. It was a great day, and a great evening.
There we two children that attended the Saturday event, ages 10 and 12. They did well, and they were well disciplined. Because of the number of instructors present, each child was assigned an instructor. I would probably be a bit hesitant to a novice child shooter to an event like this if the number of instructors was limited. I’m sure all would go well, but even with the two that attended that had shot before there were issues of sweeping the line with the muzzle.
Sunday morning came and damn was I sore. I decided to change rifles, and I used the QD/Spikes with the Eotech. The instructors advised me against changing rifles, but I had both there and I wanted to run them both through the paces. We went back out to the range and spent another full day practicing all of the positions, and we eventually made our way out to the known distance range. Rocky Creek Ranch has four huge (ten people per lane) 1000y lanes, with known distances marked from 25y-1000. We set up at 100y, zeroed in, and started shooting at both targets and 1/2″ steel plates. The plates surprised me the most; as I was shocked at what a standard XM193 round would do to a steel plate at 100y.
What I gained or liked:
The fundamentals of marksmanship that I’ve read about, but had never been taught or practiced.
Using your Natural Point of Aim instead of trying to muscle the shot. This was probably the biggest “aha” moment of the weekend.
The ability to shoot from both prone and seated positions.
The realization that I’m a much better shot than I thought.
I can easily shoot at 100y with an unmagnified red dot.
What I didn’t like:
The use of the USGI sling. It never felt comfortable.
I found out later that the sling is not required, and that irritated me. I would have removed it after the first few AQTs.
I would have liked more time to work on the rifles during the downtime. We were not allowed to touch them at all unless we were in a “shooters prep” time. That time was meant to get you into position, not work on a rifle.
We would make a change to the sights, and we would not have the opportunity to verify the adjustment. We would go right to the next skill set.