The “Liberty Training Rifle”

One of the most important elements of having a fun and successful Appleseed (and earning that coveted patch!) is having a rifle that you’re comfortable with and that works well.

That doesn’t mean you have to go out and spend a ton of money on custom build or fancy ammo, it just means you need to be familiar with your rifle and take care of it.

There are two “recommended” rifles for Appleseed:

– Ruger 10/22
– Marlin 795

The above two rifles are great — inexpensive, reliable and perfect for Appleseed nearly right out of the box. No matter which rifle you bring, you’ll want to make sure you have a proper sling for it. I recommend the sling from the Appleseed Store and some Uncle Mike’s sling swivels.

Notes and thoughts on the sling itself could take up pages and pages of info, so I’ll leave that to the experts but rest assured, you’ll learn plenty about how to use it at the event. Just make sure you can attach it to your rifle.

For known-distance shoots, many folks bring AR-15s, M1 Garands or other centerfire rifles. All the skills you learn at 25 yards translate directly to hits at 200, 300 and 400 yards. Bring whatever you want to shoot (so long as it’s allowed at the range!).

When I decided to attend my first Appleseed, I went out and picked up a used 10/22 at a local store. As luck would have it, the last owner had already installed Tech Sights on it, which saved me from having to do that myself. If you buys yours new, I’d definitely recommend the Tech Sights. It can be a bit of a pain to remove the factory sights but there are plenty of tutorials available on YouTube.

You’ll also want to pick up a handful of spare mags. Don’t go nuts and buy big ones (they’ll screw you up in prone and are unreliable), the 10 rounders are perfect. I’d recommend a minimum of 4, but 5-6 is ideal.

On Safety

Safety at Appleseed events is paramount. Every attendee is expected to follow the 4 safety rules at all time:

1. Always keep the muzzle in a safe direction. (down range)
2. Do not load until given the “LOAD” command.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
4. Make sure those around you follow the safety rules.

Since you will send a lot of time downrange changing and inspecting targets, it’s imperative that all rifles are made safe before stepping forward of the firing line.

What constitutes a “SAFE RIFLE”:

– Magazine out
– Bolt locked back
– Safety on
– Chamber flag in (they will give you a chamber flag if you don’t have one)
– Rifle grounded with the barrel forward of the firing line
– No one touching the rifle

Every single time the line is made safe, each rifle is checked by a range safety officer. If they notice something amiss about your rifle, they will come get you and make you fix it.

While shooting, there are always RSOs watching and are extremely quick to correct any potentially dangerous behavior.

Appleseed shoots are extremely safe and as long as you pay attention to what you are doing and follow the rules, there’s nothing to worry about.

Note that when you show up to an event, don’t bring your rifle out of the car until instructed to do so (after the safety briefing). Lastly, if you typically carry a concealed handgun, leave it in the car or at home. No other firearms are permitted on or off the line at events.

My first shoot.

I first heard about Project Appleseed’s marksmanship clinics on Reddit and was immediately intrigued. The folks there preached the 25 yard .22 rifle training course like gospel, to the point where it basically became a meme. After taking a look at their shoot calendar, I registered for an upcoming shoot and started my preparations.

For weeks I scoured forums and posts, trying to prepare myself for the weekend. I tweaked my rifle, hoarded loads of ammo and spent some time at the range.


When it was time for the event, I was prepared but a little nervous. How hard was this going to be? Would I earn my patch? Would my rifle fail me?

My brother-in-law attended with me, and after a safety briefing, we got to shootin’.

This is the first target I shot:


All right! Off to a great start, but with room for improvement.

Over the course of the day, I received expert instruction from the shoot boss and the instructors. Little by little my groups came even closer together and my accuracy improved.

As the day was winding down, we got the chance to shoot a few AQTs. How’d that go, you ask?


It went great!! I was officially a Rifleman.

So, how did I achieve a patch on my first Appleseed? I followed the 5 P’s: Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.

I made sure I was as ready as I could be for Appleseed, and it showed.

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What is Appleseed?

Project Appleseed is a marksmanship clinic. At an Appleseed event, you will learn how to shoot, sight and support your rifle (and some American history too!).

Events happen all over the country and typically you can find at least 2 or 3 events near you each year. The clinic generally runs from Saturday & Sunday from around 8/9AM until 3-4PM.

On Saturday you will learn the basics 6 steps of every shot:

– Sight Picture
– Sight Alignment
– Focusing your mind on keeping the front sight post on the target
– Respritory pause at the bottom of your breath
– Squeeeeeezing the trigger
– Calling your shot and followthrough

Sunday is all-day AQT (“Army Qualification Tests”) and known-distance shooting (if available).

There is nothing like Appleseed — if you’re interested in learning how to shoot a rifle, come on out and earn your patch!

Want to learn more?

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