AAR: Sunday October 31st Gardnerville Appleseed

It’s better late than never… right? I got a bit behind on the internet world, but I’m trying to catch up so here goes!

Sunday I got  out the door to drive down to Gardnerville a little more smoothly. I felt more confident about the drive too and I arrived there before the 8:30 a.m. commencement of Appleseed. Chris_H and a few participants were there early as well, but Arashi wasn’t and that really worried Chris_H because it was hard enough for them on Saturday to teach us all and keep us all safe with only two of them, doing a one-man Sunday show would be super-difficult for Chris_H. Mrs. Featherblue went back to their house to call and only got the answering machine at Arashi’s house. We knew he was on call for his work that weekend, but also felt that he would call us and let us know if something happened. We were worried.

I told Chris_H that I’d step up and do whatever he needed me to do. The offer I made yesterday of not shooting and LSOing (Line Safety Officer-ing) or something else instead still stands. Show me how to do it and then I’ll do it. With Mr. and Mrs. Featherblue and several other returning Appleseeders, there would be enough experience to get us by safely. About 9 .m., we were ready to give up on Arashi and muddle through the Sunday course of fire without him, when a truck began down the dusty drive to the Gardnerville DAR (Dedicated Appleseed Range). Several calls of “What kind of truck does he drive?” were heard and we determined that Arashi wasn’t a no-show! His alarm clock had failed to awaken him and so he was running late and forgot the Coroplast to be used for long distance shooting, but he was here! And our day began.

Shooters on the firing line.

Chris_H gave me a run down on LSOing partway through the morning and I took on that responsibility. They’d tell us our preparation period has ended and to fire, I’d shoot my rounds and safe my rifle. Then, I’d hop up to work the line. It was fun. Everybody kinda giggled at me my first few times through checking the line because I was muttering to myself “bolt back, flag in, mag out, safety on” and I was poking the places on the rifles corresponding to my chant with my index finger. As the day progressed, I quit talking to myself and reduced my poking to pointing. Weeee!! At one point, an excellent shooter on the line with a great attitude forgot to put his rifle on safe and I called him over to correct that.

I felt embarrassed to be harping on such a professional shooter and I knew he knew better and had just forgot, but I didn’t want anyone to think that I’d go soft on them as far as safety rules go just because I know them, or like them, or because they’re a better shot than me. I’m a newbie, yes, but I don’t want any “accidental” (read: negligent) discharges. Then, another professional on the line who is a firearms instructor and a repeat Rifleman patch earner left his chamber flag out of his rifle. That’s when I noticed he had broken his chamber flag off so it was just a flag and no stem to go down in the barrel. He could be putting that flag in and it would look right, but the rifle could still be loaded. Yikes!

I called out to Chris_H about replacing the broken flag, but the gentleman whose rifle that was didn’t want it replaced. He gave me a hard time about it saying that a non-broken chamber flag won’t fit down his barrel. But I’m shooting a .22 and the flag fits in mine and so are a lot of other Appleseeders on the line. If we can do it, he can do it. I explained to him how to slightly bend the flag so it slides in more smoothly and he announced he couldn’t bend it and that I should do it. So I bent it and showed him how it went in more smoothly. To make things even easier on him, I gave him my old flag which is worn in juuuuusssst right and put the newer more stiff flag in my rifle. He told me thank you. I felt shaken up about this exchange because as a new shooter trying to follow basic safety rules, a professional shooter whom I thought would have my back about it made my job harder on me.

This gentleman had been instrumental in keeping the line safe over the lunch break that day when someone removing rifles from the line swept the lunch audience gathered to hear pre-American Revolutionary War history. I thought it odd that he’d be quick to enforce safety rules on behalf of the shooters that day when it’s someone else being unsafe, but act too good to be safe himself. I don’t know. I probably just embarrassed him and he was reacting to that uncomfortable feeling rather than the situation itself.

Later Chris_H and I examined the broken flag and discovered that it was from the faulty batch that had an unstable seam just after the flag connected to the stem. This probably made it too easy to break when bent, making the gentleman leery of trying to bend another one without breaking it again.

Sunday was exciting because the weather was better and our fingers weren’t so frozen as to make magazine loading painful like they were yesterday, because I was learning something new and because we were shooting AQTs. This is the point where we’d see just how much we all had learned and we’d be able to gather up together and celebrate our progress. It was Mr. Featherblue’s eighth Appleseed and he was knocking at the door of Rifleman scores. He shot a 210 and we were all so excited. Chris_H and Arashi signed his target. We pondered about dumping water on Mr. Featherblue at the Riflemen ceremony later that day as is tradition when someone scores exactly 210, but he raised his score up to the 220s, so he didn’t get wet. A couple other Riflemen were made and remade that day. We also honored our youth among us who shot through our Appleseed with good attitudes.

Mr. Featherblue hardly working on the firing line.

He earned his patch twice over this Appleseed.

Mrs. Featherblue working hard on the firing line.

Appleseed youth patch.

A highlight of the day was a young son who didn’t shoot, but who managed to entertain himself and keep himself out of trouble the whole day. Which is a lot to expect of someone of his age. My favorite scenes that day included watching him figure out how to use binoculars, especially when he used them backwards and hearing him shout out that he was going to wear his hearing protection all weekend, even to bed. It was sweet to see his dad and older brother walking with him downrange to check dad and brother’s targets. I love seeing families on the line like this.

Binoculars are great! You can see stuff.

It’s a family tradition: Dad, big and little brother checking targets.

All in all, this was a great Appleseed weekend. We moved more slowly and were more disorganized and short-staffed than other Appleseed shoots we’ve had, but we had great people there who learned new skills, tried on new leadership roles, fostered their family’s involvement in our country, etc. All of the makings for a beautiful shoot, especially when you add in that this was a Nevada Day shoot and that it was also our first simultaneous shoot with Las Vegas.

More pictures of the shoot, all 200 of them, are available on the Northern Nevada Appleseed Facebook fan page! Click here to see them.

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