Jews For The Preservation of Firearms Ownership, Inc.
P.O. Box 270143
Hartford, WI 53027
Phone (800) 869-1884
Fax (425) 451-3959
Interview in MP3 format
Aaron: This is Talkin’ to America. I’m your host, Aaron Zelman. Our guest today is Fred of M14 Stocks. We are going to talk about accuracy from apple seeds. Don’t be bewildered. Our guest will explain everything. Fred is one of the founders of the Revolutionary War Veterans Association, a group which is pushing its new Apple Seed Program.
Fred, how does the Apple Seed Project work?
Fred: The Apple Seed Project is a way to wake people up to the tradition that used to exist in this country. We used to call ourselves the Nation of Riflemen. There are not probably many people who would refer to our country in those terms anymore. It is probably best summed up by our slogan, which we found on all of our shirts, which says “April 19, 1775 When Marksmanship Meant History, and the Tradition Began.” So the Apple Seed Project is a way of not only waking people up to the importance of the tradition of riflery, but also a way of waking them up to a different tradition and that’s the history that started this country back on April 19, 1775.
Aaron: Why is the program called Apple Seed?
Fred: The Apple Seed arose out of the concept of planting the seeds of marksmanship across the country and it actually, of course, came from another folk hero of American fame and that is Johnny Appleseed. John Appleseed traveled across the country, planting apple seeds, not for himself but more for future generations so that Americans in later years would be able to have, you know, the benefits of apples. Likewise, we are WBA instructors, traveling America, and conducting rifle marksmanship clinics in the hopes of planting seeds that will germinate for future generations, and essentially you could say that we are awakening people now through the tradition of rifle shooting with the hope and the expectation that in the process of doing so, we will pass this on to the next generation. When you think about it, a tradition is only a tradition as long as it passes on to the later generation. A tradition can stop anytime a generation fails to pass it on. I would say that for the last few generations, rifle shooting as an activity has certainly been declining in this country, so the last few generations have been doing an increasingly bad job of making sure that that tradition passes on.
Aaron: Tell me how the Apple Seed Project will make Americans more accurate shooters and what is an Apple Seed weekend like?
Fred: The Apple Seed Project will make Americans more accurate shooters by teaching them how to shoot a rifle, and we do that on what we call an Apple Seed weekend. We actually have ongoing this year what we call the 2006 Nationwide Apple Seed Tour. So far we have had stops in North Carolina in February, stops in Kentucky in March. We will be in Langhorn, Pennsylvania on April 8th and 9th. We will be in Indiana in Evansville on April 29th and 30th. From there we go to two stops in Wyoming – one on May 13th and 14th in Gurney, and then on Memorial Weekend, I think that is the 27th and 28th and 29th of May that we will be in Whirlin and then we go to Idaho, Coeur D’Alene, on June 10th and the 11th. On June 24th and 25th we will be in Birmingham, Alabama. These Apple Seed weekends are usually both Saturday and Sunday. People don’t have to sign up for both days but we do recommend that they sign up for both days, because on Saturday we dip them in the pool of marksmanship and we feel like they would benefit more if they get a second dunking on Sunday. Saturday is a day of 25 meter shooting where we shoot at reduced targets, which represent targets of 100, 200, 300, and 400 yards, but we shoot them 82 feet away. It is interesting to see a lot of people who scoff at that notion who put their front side on the target and they suddenly discover that those targets 82 feet away are very, very small, and they are very hard to hit. If you are going to hit them, you have to be able to apply the fundamentals of firing the shot in order to hit them, which of course is the whole purpose of the Apple Seed Project, which is to teach people the fundamentals of firing the shot.
Aaron: We should mention that all the dates you gave are for the year 2006?
Fred: 2006 nationwide. Apple Seed tour. If anyone wants to check on those dates because we are adding new dates all the time, we actually have a date in Montana, September we will be Pennsylvania, October we will be in Texas, and we have some other dates that we are working on now, but they can go to www.rwva.org. Click on the forum and the first thing that will pop up will be the Apple Seed calendar. You ask about what an Apple Seed weekend is like and I mentioned about Saturday, which is primarily 25 meter shooting. Sunday is a review, at least in the morning from what you’ve learned on Saturday. In the afternoon though, we transition into longer distance. It will depend on the actual facility how far we transition, but we will transition at least to 100 yards and most cases we will transition to 200, 300 and 400 yards.
Aaron: How would someone sign up for one of these weekends?
Fred: Well signing up is pretty easy. If you are on line, you go to www.rwva.org and when you click on the forum and the Apple Seed calendar, it will direct you to a pre-registration sheet which you can print out and mail in. If you are not on line, you can simply send a self-addressed stamped envelop to RWVA at P.O. Box 756, Ramseur, NC (North Carolina) 27316 and we will send you the form by return mail.
Aaron: What kind of costs are involved?
Fred: The program runs $45 for the first day and the weekend is $75. If you sign up for both days, you get the free Apple Seed T-shirt.
Aaron: And what does that have on it? An apple seed or an apple?
Fred: Well, actually it has the RWVA logo on the front along with the RWVA slogan, the “April 19, 1775 Where Markmanship Meant History and the Tradition Began.” On the back it has the Apple Seed logo along with a list of activities that you successfully accomplished as part of the Apple Seed Project . The shirt is actually designed to be sort of a walking billboard for the program. Most people who come to an Apple Seed Program leave very enthusiastic about not only the program, but what it is trying to accomplish, and we try to make it easy for them to spread the word with these shirts.
Aaron: So the shirt sort of gives the individual some bragging rights.
Aaron: That they survived the Apple Seed Program, right?
Fred: They’ve been there and they have done that.
Aaron: (Laughing). The $45 covers the cost of instructions. People bring their own firearms and ammunition obviously. Do they bring their own targets or do you supply those?
Fred: Well, we supply the targets. As far as rifle and ammunition, we don’t really set much in the way of requirements there except that we like people to show up with a regulation rifle and surplus ammo. The idea behind this program is to teach people how to shoot a rifle accurately and not to get them involved in a lot of concerns about expensive equipment. As far as the type of rifle goes, usually a semi-auto is better because there is some rapid fire stages, but a bolt-action rifle is fine and we have had people come with a .22 rimfire. We want to attract as many younger people to the program as possible because after all that is the very core of passing the tradition on, so anyone who is 20 or under can attend this program for free.
Aaron: 20 or under can attend it for free.
Aaron: How long have you been doing this, the Apple Seed Program.
Fred: Actually the Apple Seed Program grew out of a concept from about a year ago where like a lot of gun owners, myself and some other people sit around and talk about how bad things are and you know, maybe one day we will get off our butts and do something about it. And the Apple Seed Program came out of that. The first one we had was in Whirlin, Wyoming last July. That was sort of a take it out on the road and see how it will do, and then we followed up on that with a much bigger one in Texas last October, and out of that came the notion of the 2006 nationwide tour. We originally planned to have only one stop per month, but the way it is working out, February we had one stop, March we had one stop, April we are going to have two stops, May we will have two stops, June we have two stops set up, and we will have one in July because we are going to pretty much take that month off, and I believe we will probably have a couple in August also.
Aaron: What response to you get from people if you ask them to compare the Apple Seed Program with other courses they have taken to increase their shooting skills?
Fred: Ok, I am not sure many of the Apple Seed participants have actually been to another shooting training program, but the ones who have compare us extremely favorably, and usually what we get are comments like “I’ve been to a shooting program where I paid $200 a day for instruction and it wasn’t near as good as what I got from you guys for the $45 for one day. We set the $45 and the $70 because we want to keep this program open to everybody. We don’t want to have a cost factor be a barrier. At the same time we have to have some money coming in because we have to have the program financially viable or it won’t last. We want this program to last and we want this program to grow. Our plans for the 2007 nationwide tour are contemplating doubling the number of stops over the 2006 program. I suspect that once we get to the 2008 year, we will double again because there are a lot of people out there that need this program.
Aaron: Well there is no doubt about that. What are some of the obstacles that you face.
Fred: The main obstacle is getting the word out to people. A lot of people who subscribe to Shotgun Use read Fred’s column and that is where they mainly get their information, at least their initial information, about the Apple Seed Program. There are a few people who come to our website, the one I mentioned earlier, www.rwva.org and pick up information about the Apple Seed Program there. Sometimes they hear about it through other websites, but our primary obstacle right now is to get the word out to people who would like to participate in this program.
Aaron: Do you think that you are going to make a difference going out and helping people learn about a heritage and a tradition that it is going to sink in or going to pass it along to their kids.
Fred: Well, let’s put it this way. You are asking me if I think that the Titanic can be prevented from sinking. That is a question I am not sure I can answer, but I do know that if I start sticking buckets down in the hole where the water is and start baling over the side that I am doing my part to help it not sink. If we can get enough people lowering those buckets into the hole and pulling them out and baling over the side, it just may be that the Titanic won’t sink, but as somebody told me the other day and I actually got the analogy from him, he said Fred, if the Titanic winds up sinking despite our best efforts, at least by going through this program we have life boats that we can get in and this fellow pointed out that skill and rifle marksmanship could be like a life preserver. The program offers no guarantees, but the program does say if you do your wart and if enough people who participate in the program do their part, yes, we can save the Titanic.
Aaron: This is Talkin’ to America. Our guest today is Fred of Fred’s M14 Stocks. He is talking about the Apple Seed Tour in teaching Americans how to once again become great rifleman.
You sent me a note and you were talking about the AQT and I don’t really understand that. Can you elaborate?
Fred: The AQT stands for the Army Qualification Test, and it is the basic course of fire that we use in terms of training people. The benefit of the AQT is that it tests your shooting skills from several positions – standing, sitting and prone. Also it tests you slow fire and rapid fire, but the biggest benefit the AQT is that when you get done, you have a numerical score that you can compare with the military standard to evaluate how well you shoot. The military classifies people with the best shooters going into the expert category, the good shots go into the sharp shooter category, the decent shots go into the marksman category, and then there is an unqualified category. I have years of experience in terms of teaching rifle marksmanship, so I think the goal is obtainable by everyone. It is to train people to the expert level.
Aaron: Now where do the folks go who do not qualify?
Fred: In the course of an Apple Seed weekend, some folks will qualify. Some will qualify on Saturday and some will qualify on Sunday. We don’t guarantee that anyone will qualify to the expert level on the Apple Seed weekend, but we do guarantee that if they will take the information that they have learned on that weekend and when they go back home, they practice it. If they persist, they will qualify as an expert rifleman. In fact, the AQT Program is associated with another motto that we have used and that is to ask people “Are you a Cook or a Rifleman?” The lesion there is that if you can’t shoot well enough, maybe you would be better served being a cook, but if you don’t want to be back in the cooking pots, if you want to be upfront with the big guys, then you should learn to shoot your rifle.
Aaron: I guess George Washington would agree with you. Is there is a new classification of the AQT?
Fred: Well, actually you just named it. We have several variations of the AQT. We have the 25 meter version which is shot at 25 meters of course, we have the full size AQT which is what we try where arranged facilities allow it on Sunday, we try and let people shoot a full distance AQT. That would be a 100, 200, 300 and 400 yards. The lesson we drive home when they do that is that the stuff they learn on Saturday and Sunday morning at 25 meters translates into downrange performance up to 400 yards. It is a good lesson to learn. Now the AQT, which you just referred to, the classification AQT is a sort of a new gimmick. We have taken the AQT and actually stripped it down to just the four basic targets and it is two shots per target, so it is a total of eight rounds, and by applying the scoring which is on the target itself, you come up with a numerical score which allows you to evaluate your shooting ability. It will tell you whether you shoot up to army experts standards, army sharp shooter standards, or army marksmanship standards. The classification AQT allows you to measure your shooting ability at 8 shots.
Aaron: What types of rifles are usually used or brought to these matches most often? Are they 30 caliber, 22 caliber.
Fred: I am estimating sort of in order of frequency you finds the grands and the M180s probably at the top of the list, closely followed by the AR15s, and then after that you get mostly FKSs, you occasionally find an AK clone, and then you get down to people who bring bolt actions. Actually you never know. I have seen a 1941 Johnson. I have seen an 1895 Straight Pool Stier. I have seen Swiss Rifles. British Infields are always a good choice because they are very rapid in rapid fire. Then of course we see people who shoot 22 rim fire. It makes no difference to us. The idea is that we want you there to learn marksmanship and the AQT and our program of instruction is totally independent of caliber and totally independent of rifle. In fact, it is totally independent of sites. If you have trouble seeing with iron sites, you are welcome to bring a scope. That is not a problem. We recommend, if possible, that you come with iron sites because learning with iron sites is like learning to drive a car stick shift. You can later drive the rest of your life with an automatic transmission, but if you ever find yourself in a situation where you have to use a stick shift, if you learn on stick shift, you won’t have any problem. So that is why we recommend that if you can, you come with iron sites. Likewise, if you have a bipod, we ask you not to bring the bipod because you are not going to learn much shooting off a bipod. You need to learn using a sling and in the traditional prone position, and again it is a stick shift kind of an analogy. If you learn that way, something happens to your bipod, it won’t stop you from shooting accurate shots.
Aaron: You mentioned learning from the prone position. I assume people should bring their shooting mats.
Fred: Shootings mats are a good idea. There are a lot of things you should bring. Clothing appropriate for the weather. One thing that you must absolutely positively bring are ear muffs and ear plugs because most people are not used to shooting on the firing line where there may be anywhere from 20 to 80 people firing at the same time and it gets a trifle noisy, especially in the rapid fire stage. You can have several thousand rounds go down range in the course of 60 seconds and when most of those rounds are 30 caliber, you can imagine that you can benefit from both ear muffs and ear plugs. So anybody who comes to an Apple Seed Program, should have both. In terms of other things to bring, elbow pads are always good. Even if you bring a mat, your elbows tend to get sore during the day. If you have a cloth shooting jacket, that is always good. Bring food and water. Some of these places we go are improvised ranges and while we will have a port-a-john there, chances are there is not going to be a lot in the way of food and water. As I said, clothing appropriate for the weather. It is also a very good idea to bring a pen and a notebook because we dump so much on you that you are going to have to take a few notes just to help you remember later on. We will have plenty of handouts for you on how to fire the shot, what are the checkpoints for the various positions, so that part will be covered but you will probably want to take some notes.
Aaron: Can you tell use us a little bit more about the Revolutionary War Veterans Association, the kind of folks who make it up, and size of it perhaps? What are their long-range goals?
Fred: The RWVA arose out of a former club and it is based on considerable experience in terms of associated with gun clubs. When we formed this club, we decided we wanted a club that would promote the tradition and it seems the best way to do that is to combine the history aspect of it with the marksmanship aspect of it, and one of the things that we try and do in the Apple Seed Program and in the RWVA club itself is promote the notion that people need to learn something about the Revolutionary War history, not just in general, specifically about that first day April 19, 1775, because that is a day when Americans took firearms and fought for liberty, and that is a crucial day in the history of this country. It is day that every American should at least know something about. It was a day that was a complicated day and most Americans get just a vague notion in the educational system that it was a bunch of farmers that went out and shot it out with a bunch of red coats, and the truth is far, far more complicated than that. What those guys did back then was an achievement and an accomplishment that I am sorry to say this, but I don’t believe we could do it if we had to do it again today. Now your local library has books specifically on the first day of the American Revolution. There are a ton of books out there on the first day. There is a mountain of information about what happened that day along Battle Road. I would suggest that anybody who has the slightest interest would go to his local library and ask them who are paid to help and ask them to find you a book on the first day of the American Revolution. Check it out and read it. You will be amazed and you will be astounded. Those people back then didn’t have cell phones, they didn’t have computers, some of them didn’t even have regular telephones, and yet in the space of a few hours they alerted 14,000 people who marched toward the British column. It is quite an accomplishment and 200 plus years later, you always hold your breath in admiration for what those guys did.
Aaron: It was a day that a lot of boys became men. There is a film by the way called April Morning that people might want to try to get their hands on and watch. It takes the first day of the battle and it just focuses on that, the things that you are talking about.
Is there anything else you would like to tell people before we wrap this up, including give out your contact information again?
Fred: I would certainly like to encourage anybody who has any interest in the Apple Seed Program to go to www.rwva.org and browse the website there. Before you leave, click on the forum and read some of the comments that are made by people who have been participants in the Apple Seed Program. Maybe after they have left from an Apple Seed event, they will go to our website and post their experiences and it is the best way you can find out what goes on in Apple Seed and whether you might want to participate in one. If you are not on line, I would suggest that you locate a copy of Shotgun Use, and as far as I know, they are not only on regular newsstands, but you should find them in a Wal-Mart and there are very few people in this country who don’t live within driving distance of a Wal-Mart. I would simply go to Wal-Mart, pick up Shotgun Use, turn to Fred’s ad in there where you will find Fred’s column and you will be able to read up about the Apple Seed Program. The Apple Seed Program is a program that can save America, but it is a program that depends on the people who come to it. If you come to an Apple Seed Program, you will be part of our effort to save America. The program will be a success or will be a failure depending on whether you come. It is important that you come to this program.
Aaron: Fred I want to thank you very much for being with us today. This has been Talkin’ to America. Our guest has been Fred of Fred’s M14 Stocks. He is talking about the Apple Seed Program where Americans can become once again great rifleman.
I would like to remind all of you that that if you don’t defend your rights, don’t complain when you lose them.
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