May 25, 2009

An Appleseed Weekend

As I mentioned in Friday's post, we were doing the Appleseed thing this weekend. We made it out the door roughly on schedule and had things set up in good time when we arrived. The range was already set up and ready to go, so we simply popped up the canopy near the firing line and then set our tent up near our host's house. Other instructors were arriving at the same time along with a couple shooters, so there was chatter and some planning, and just good times.

Sleeping in a tent puts you back in touch with the world. I tend to forget how insulated we are living in a house. We fell asleep to the sound of peepers, bullfrogs, and the occasional quiet moo from the pasture across the road.

We woke up at early-dark-thirty to the distinctive screaming whine of a pack of rice rockets tearing up the highway nearby. In a valley, so the noise started early and lasted a long time. Rolled over and went back to sleep...

... and woke up around 6:30 as it really got light out. Rolled out, dressed, joined our hosts and other instructors for breakfast and coffee, then moved up the hill to the range to greet the shooters and get things rolling. A good mix of new and repeat Appleseeders, along with at least a few very new shooters. (One step past, "Wait, which end goes bang?") Nice mix of equipment as well; mostly 10/22s of various flavors, a few ARs, and one fellow (a repeat from last year) shooting a Remington 700 in .270.

Saturday, all work was at 25m, and we ground the basics into our shooters. Six steps, NPOA, getting sights and scopes zeroed, and a good dose of history from 4/19/1775. Managed to squeeze in a couple AQTs before the end of the day, and punched out two Riflemen with them. Weather was perfect all day even though storms had been forecast - and just as we closed things down, the skies darkened, the wind picked up, and it started to sprinkle on and off. A pretty good storm moved down the valley with some impressive fireworks as the instructors enjoyed dinner courtesy of our host (an instructor) and his wife. MrsZ and I moved out to the tent around 9:30 or 10:00 and listened to the rain patter gently and watched the sky flash as the valley rumbled. Something about storms in a tent...

Woke up Sunday around 5 for natural reasons. Took care of that and noted that the entire valley was in thick fog. Went back to sleep for another hour and a half, and when I woke up, it was still a soft gray world of ghostly shapes. Our tent was perhaps 200yd from the firing line and canopies - and those were invisible. An apple tree 100yd up the field from us was a mere suggestion of shape. Not ideal shooting weather... but we went in for breakfast and coffee, and ignored the weather.

It cleared as we ate, and ended up being another beautiful sunny day. Fewer shooters, but all motivated, and cranked out three more Riflemen. Following that, we went to full-distance shooting. Stretched out the .22 shooters to 100yd, and the centerfires to 200, 275, and 500yd. The .22 shooters were turning in respectable groups on the 100m target, scaled equivalent to shooting 400m. A few were making good shots on the (scaled) 800m and 1200m targets. Impressive, to say the least.

Centerfires were playing with a 6" popper at 200yd, a full-size Army "D" target at 275, and a steel copy of an IDPA silhouette at 500yd. I watched one of our IITs, an outstanding young man at 14yo, get prone behind his father's CMP Garand and start making solid hits - consistently - on the 500yd target. Prone, unsupported, iron sights, with surplus ball ammo. The M1 Garand: The finest battle implement ever devised. (Gen. George Patton) MrsZ slung up with my AR and got it dialed in for the 275yd D-target and made some good hits; a few other shooters ran a half-mag through and did OK with it.

We made the official end of the day at that point, but there was more fun to be had... two folks had brought out .50BMG single-shots, and there was a small supply of Tannerite. The Tannerite was mixed and put out at about 100yd in three .5L water bottles. The centerfire shooters were split into three fire teams and given one minute to hit their assigned bottle. I claimed privilege on this and jumped on a fire team instead of watching. Slung up sitting so I could see over the grass, loaded a mag, and the third shot connected perfectly. Yeah, that was cool... the sound effect was *crack* pause *crack* pause *craBOOM!* "BOOOYAHHHHH!" (with fist-pump for effect)

After we finished the Tannerite, the .50s came into play. The owners did a simultaneous volley on the 500yd target (with two good hits), then let those who wanted to have a go at it. I had shot one last year so declined - they're cool but I don't want to burn someone else's money and generosity for no reason. MrsZ took a turn at one though - and the look on her face after was freaking priceless.

Took down the range, packed the truck, and headed home - sore, sunburned, dehydrated, hoarse, and happy. This morning we slept in a little bit, then after showers we got around to cleaning rifles. Her 10/22 was desperate for it, and now MrsZ knows how to strip and clean her rifle. We did this outside because it was nice out. I cleaned my AR at the same time. While cleaning the barrel and chamber, I had set the BCG on a towel on the sidewalk. In the sun. After cleaning the barrel/chamber/receiver to my minimum standard, I picked up the BCG to start cleaning that... and promptly burned my finger. Not much, just enough to turn red and hurt a little. I don't know how our men and women in the sandbox deal with that - I presume they must wear gloves.

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