Project Appleseed has been operating for years with one goal in mind: teach people how to shoot a rifle safely and accurately and teach the history and heritage of our country to honor its founders.
The nonprofit organization, which holds events annually nationwide, offers weekend-long marksmanship clinics at the Fresno Rifle & Pistol Club Inc. in Clovis. The next one will be held Oct. 22 - 23.
Joseph Krahn, a shooting instructor for Project Appleseed in Clovis, said when he went to his first Appleseed event he really enjoyed the shooting and all the things he learned about our nation’s history, material he said he never learned in school.
“One of the main things about Project Appleseed is to awaken the American spirit and help people to realize that over 200 years ago these people sacrificed a lot so that we could have the freedom to vote and not be ruled by kings,” Krahn said. “The way the American policy has been going lately is back to the way it used to be and part of Project Appleseed is to go back to the original American spirit.”
Krahn said his favorite thing about Project Appleseed was learning the secrets to shooting out to 500 yards and teaching others how to do it.
“We teach the shooters the fundamentals and once you have got the fundamentals down they all transfer over to known distance,” Krahn said.
Krahn said the most important thing he hopes people will take from a Project Appleseed event is a sense of accomplishment in learning how to safely operate a rifle, but also gain knowledge of the country’s history and heritage and share it with others.
“The main thing I hope is that the American spirit will be reignited within them and then they will tell their friends and get their friends to go,” Krahn said. “Being able to learn our history and how to shoot better is always a bonus.”
Cameron Loessberg, the assistant state coordinator for Project Appleseed in California, said he originally wrote off the organization because he thought it just taught beginners how to operate a rifle, something a seasoned rifleman like himself would find boring.
“I didn’t want to do that [attend a Project Appleseed event] because I already know how to shoot,” Loessberg said. “I went anyway and I put aside the preconceived notions of what I thought I knew about shooting accurately and I was amazed at how much I actually learned in the short period of time over the course of a two-day weekend at a Project Appleseed event.”
Project Appleseed has three main events it conducts all over the country: weekend-long marksmanship clinics, known-distance workshops and riflemen’s boot camps.
The popular weekend marksmanship clinic teaches participants to shoot from three different positions at 25 meters, but with targets scaled to simulate shooting at 100, 200, 300 and even 400 yards.
Participants also learn the six steps to firing a shot, a shooter’s natural point of aim, steady hold factors and other information geared towards helping others become the best riflemen and riflewomen they possible can be.
Those wishing to learn the secrets of shooting out to 500 and 600 yards will want to attend a known-distance workshop, but are encouraged to check to see if a shooting range in their area can facilitate such distance shooting. Due to the complexity of the workshop, only those who have attended at least one Appleseed event can participate.
Wanting the best of both worlds can be accomplished by attending a rifleman’s boot camp, which is a rigorous, week-long program that combines the weekend marksmanship clinic and the known-distance workshop supplemented with topics like shooting at unknown distances.
In addition to learning how to shoot a rifle like a pro, participants will also hear stories of major events that took place on April 19, 1775 and how our forebears took up arms on the first day of the American Revolution — stories that Loessberg believes should be passed down to younger generations.
“Appleseed seeks to honor the founders by remembering the choices they made,” Loessberg said. “We seek to pass on to our children what we were given: a third option for civic participation rather than a choice between submission and violence.”
Loessberg hopes Project Appleseed participants learn the importance of the history and heritage of this country and pass it down to the next generations.
“It is very important, especially because they don’t teach it in schools anymore,” Loessberg said. “Ronald Reagan said it best, he said our history and heritage is not passed down through our bloodstream it actually has to be taught.”
Loessberg said learning how to safely handle a rifle is a bonus.
“An American rifleman is more than just a man with a rifle who knows how to shoot it, but understands that owning and mastering a rifle is part of his heritage as an American,” Loessberg said.
Loessberg said he hopes Project Appleseed will inspire attendees to research on their own to find out more about our forefathers and their individual sacrifices and what they did to keep the nation safe.
“It was very important back then,” Loessberg said. “They went out and fought for our freedoms. They fought the hard war, and a lot of them died, but they did that so you and I don’t have to.”
Loessberg said even though Project Appleseed teaches people how to use a rifle, he wants others to also get the message out on the nation’s history that is quickly being forgotten.
“Most people come out because they want to know how to operate a rifle, how to take better shots, and that type of thing,” Loessberg said. “But in addition to that they are going to get a little dose of history and heritage that we hope catches them in their hearts so they can spread the message of what it means to be an American to the future generations.”
What: Project Appleseed marksmanship clinic
Where: Fresno Rifle and Pistol Club, 15687 Auberry Rd, Clovis
When: Saturday, Oct. 22 and Sunday, Oct. 23
How much: Two full days of instruction is $60 for men and women and $20 for those under 18. Those serving in law enforcement, active-duty military and disabled persons participate for free.
Details and registration: www.appleseedinfo.org.