Sunday, April 13, 2014

Building an AR-15......... This could be addictive.

The AR-15 platform, more so than any other rifle in the world, is an utterly American creation.  Born in controversy, raised in battle, and matured into the 'Hot Rod' of gun owners all over the nation. 

Much like a hot rod, the AR-15 takes customization to a unique level.  Buildable with minimal tools and just some basic knowledge, these rifles can be assembled by almost anyone with a moderately decent mechanical ability.  In fact, ten minutes on the internet will supply all the instruction manuals (and videos!) one needs to construct a service quality AR-15 from the ground up.

Options?  Accessories? Choices?    Oh MY........  as many as there are fish in the sea. The ability to build the rifle exactly as one wishes may be the single best reason for a shooter to assemble their own AR.

Cost savings?   Perhaps..... perhaps.   Certainly some money can be saved in building ones own AR-15 if shopping is done carefully, some used parts are (luckily) found, and absolute top quality is not insisted upon.  As this is written, it's possible to build a perfectly serviceable rifle for less than $600.

The thing is..... also as this is written.... it's possible to buy a brand new entry level AR-15 from a major manufacturer for about $650.  

So.... why build?    One simple word..... customization.  In building the rifle from scratch, the entire AR universe can be drawn on to make a weapon exactly suited to the shooter.  Caliber, length, sights, features.... all can be changed, mixed, and matched to serve a particular use.

To that end..... here's The Old Fat Man's recent build....

Beginning with a Rock River Arms stripped lower, and an RRA lower parts kit, a complete lower was assembled.  Using only a few simple hand tools, an AR armorers wrench, and a video supplied free by the fine folks at MidwayUSA, the lower assembly process took no more than 30 minutes.  This includes some trial and error during the adventure, and taking it all apart again just to be sure it was right.

For a buttstock, the Fab Defense Mako was chosen, along with it's buffer tube, spring, and buffer.   This stock is solid, doesn't rattle, has a storage solution for batteries, and importantly to me.... has a rubber butt pad that looks like it was stolen from a snow tire.   I LIKE the way it sticks to my shoulder while firing.

Installing an adjustable AR buttstock requires using an end plate between the stock and receiver.   This gives an opportunity for a low cost but valuable upgrade..... a sling plate.  This widget allows attaching a sling at that juncture, just behind the grip.  Perfect for use with a single point sling, and generally costing less than $15 for a simple one.   Sure.... $50 name brand sling plates are available... if one just HAS to have something fancy (g).

The RRA lower assembly kit comes complete with a standard AR plastic hand grip, which is serviceable.  The Fat Man, on the other hand, favors a Hogue Monogrip on his AR's.  They fill my hand better, are 'stickier', and I think help aid in accurate shooting.

When it comes to the upper end of the rifle, I wished a 16 inch barrel of fairly heavy and stiff contour. Accuracy is one of my goals, and I value it somewhat higher than light weight.  I also wanted a flat top receiver for mounting a holographic sight, but a standard A-2 front sight post to use with a back up iron sight.  Also.... a midlength or full length (dissapator style) gas block placement to give me a longer sight radius when using iron sights.

Decent quality should go without saying..... and such an upper unit as I describe could be built from scratch for under $600 including the bolt carrier group and charging handle.  To my fortune as I was building this, AIM Surplus had a sale on Spikes Tactical uppers, complete with bolt carrier groups, for only $519 with free shipping.  That was a deal too good to turn down.  It's only downside, which most shooters (myself included) might consider a good thing, is a minimum spec chamber.  Reloading for this rifle requires small base dies.

For forearm furniture, I chose a Magpul MOE handguard.  I like the fit and feel, and the internal heat shields are excellent.   In addition, bolting on a rail section allowed attaching the one 'gadget' I wanted on this rifle..... a really bright light.   It's 300 lumens right under my thumb as I grip the forearm, and I appreciate having that option.

As main sighting optics, I installed my trusty old EOTech 512.  This unit has been on rifles of mine for years and years... and still keeps working perfectly.  I've even handed it off to teenagers for a weekend at a time.... and it still works!  The fact it takes cheap AA batteries is a plus.

Backup iron sight?  A Magpul MBUS unit (Gen 2), mounted backwards..... yes, I said BACKWARDS.... as described here.

That's MY AR-15.... as assembled by me.  It's hard to say 'built', since I just put parts together like a semi-trained monkey..... but whatever it is, it's all MINE.  At 8.8 pounds, it's not light, but it is handy.... and quite accurate.  As for dependability, I really can't say.  A thousand rounds in, and I'm still waiting for the first hiccup.

Accuracy?   Well..... it's okay... even without a magnified sight.

Damn..... I thought it was clean!

Today I was moving a few things around, including a small stack of mil-surp rifles too long for the safe.  As is my habit, when I pick up these particular rifles, I pull the bolt and check the bore, as they are often shot with corrosive ammunition.

Click.... yank.... bright window.... shiny.
Click....yank...... bright window...shiny.
Click... yank... bright window..... SON OF A B!#@$

My old 91/30 Ex-Sniper had a bore gone dark.   Thinking back, it had been over a year since I fired this rifle, and I am CERTAIN it was cleaned well before being stored.  I am also certain I have checked that rifle no more than a few months ago as well, since ..... well..... mil-surp corrosive ammo.

Anywho, it called for immediate action, and a whole bunch of Ballistol*.   This 'gun oil' has been my go-to solvent, cleaner, lubricant, and preservative on mil-surp rifles for about 20 years now. 

30 minutes of vigorous scrubbing, and the old beast once again has a shiny bore.  Hopefully it has escaped serious damage from my poor stewardship.  Sorry tovarishch, I'll be more diligent from now on.

Lesson learned...... 

* Ballistol has a long and honored history. It was the black powder cartridge shooters who clued me in to it's goodness.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Calling the mathability enabled readers....

Okay you brilliant people..... how does one solve for this question?

Say the rifle is 36" long, and pivots from the butt end.  How far (in thousandths of an inch) must the muzzle deflect to change the point of impact 1moa at 100 yards?

Yes, I know it is simple math.  No, I am not having the knowleging of the mathiness ways.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Well.... THAT was different...... and scary

A few days back, I was allowed some 'quality time' on the range with this PSL.  I'm fairly certain it was unfired, and here is how I know.....

A couple rounds in, I was greeted with this when I sent one. It sounded weird, felt weird, and locked the action up pretty tight.  The top cover was bent up, and the bolt took some finagling to get open.

Examining the other spent rounds found every one had a problem.

Lesson learned:  NEW don't mean GOOD.  Also, QC is a little less than impressive behind the former iron curtain.  ALSO also..... wear the damn eye protection!

PS:   Why ain't you folks chewing on me about the misspellings?   Good friends would show no mercy... sheesh.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Backup sight adventures with a Magpul MBUS

Notice anything unusual about the Magpul MBUS sight above?

Yup.... It's on backwards.  Now you may ask, and rightfully so, what idiot would put the sight on backwards?   (Holding hand up high)   "Here I are!"

Yes, I tried it on backwards and forwards.  Why?  Because that is what I DO.  I poke and prod and think about things, and regard the 'box' as a nothing but a convenient place to put the leftover wrapping.

I decided to leave mine on backwards, and here's why.  The MBUS and the standard height AR front sight on the Spikes upper co-witness perfectly with my Eotech 512. Literally not a smidgeon of difference between either in terms of group impact.  As expected, this means the 1 MOA center dot of the Eotech sight sits exactly on top of the front sight when everything is in alignment.

That said...... where is the 65 MOA big blurry circle that Eotech builds into their sight, in relation to the irons?  Well.... I'll tell you.  If the Magpul MBUS rear sight is up and engaged (backwards), the 65 MOA circle of the Eotech forms a perfect glowy ring EXACTLY inside the edge of the MBUS peep.

At least, with my normal eye relief and posture, it does.

In addition, with the MBUS sight on backwards, it's far easier for me to activate the sight's release mechanism and engage it.  At this point, it's all but instinctive to reach up one finger and push the release latch, flipping up the sight.  It's fast, instinctive, and works for me.

As for the Magpul MBUS, it suits me.  Yes, it's plastic, but that's not the boogy man it used to be.  I've been carrying a 'plastic' Glock for years, and it's taken a frightening amount of punishment without a hiccup.

The MBUS is light, very secure, stays out of the way till I need it, and when popped up serves as an excellent sight.  I have no difficulty maintaining 4 MOA groups with it, even with the midlength sight radius, a 16" barrel, and bifocals.

The whole 'lining up in glowy perfection' with the Eotech is a bonus.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

After five years of regular carry..... an update on the glock G-30sf

Roughly five years ago, yours truly replaced his regular carry weapon (A S&W M&P m9c) with a Glock G-30sf.    Since then, the G-30 .45 has been at home on my belt whenever carry was possible.  That meant from only a few days a week, right up  to every single day for months on end.

The switch to the G-30 happened because the Old Fat Man LIKES .45 acp.  I'm at home with it.  I've shot uncounted rounds of it at paper, steel, and other things.  Understand, there is nothing at all wrong with the M&P 9c, and given the progress made in modern 9x19mm defensive ammunition, it's certainly no slouch as a carry pistol.  When the G-30 was purchased, an M&P 45c was on the table as well.  It came down to pointability (a word I just made up), which means the G-30 Short Frame model fit my hand just a little bit better.    Spotting a mounted deer far across the shop, I closed my eyes and pointed the G-30 by memory.  Opening my eyes, I found the sights right between Mr. Stuffeddeer's peepers.  That sold me.

Back to the Glock, and this update..... I think five years and mumble mumble thousands of rounds is a good interval to share my thoughts on the weapon.

To be short and to the point, I still like the ugly little beast quite a bit. 

To be less short and far more rambling, the weapon has proven as dependable as a steel bar, and has yet to fail in any way.  It feeds everything I put in it, is more than accurate enough, and is of a size and weight to be eminently comfortable to carry.   While 11 rounds of .45acp is not 18 rounds of 9x19mm..... it IS the one true caliber, and that means a lot to someone like me.

Upgrades?  Only a few over the years.  First, a LaserMax Guide Rod Laser Sight in 2010.   The Lasermax unit is the only internal laser made for this pistol, and in fact the only dedicated laser available for the SF model, period. 

The Lasermax has a few features I specifically wanted.  While the Crimson Trace units are indeed instinctive in use, I preferred something I could consciously choose NOT to engage if I wished.  

In addition, the Lasermax has a 'pulse' laser, which to my eyes helps me acquire on target much faster.  The human eye is attracted to movement (as all predators are), and the pulsing laser just comes more naturally on target for me.

No, the Lasermax is not cheap...... but good quality seldom is.   In return for pricey, I have an internal unit that has survived for years and years, functioning perfectly, and allows me to use any holster I wish.  That's a win.

The only other upgrade was a Lone Wolf disconnector that crisped the trigger pull nicely, with only a little polishing at installation.

My G-30 shows some wear after the years of carry.  Nothing dramatic, but the edges are getting shiny here and there.   The slide release, take down lever, and a few spots on the muzzle end have finish wear.

Frankly, the Glock line is not designed to be pretty, except as far as functionality has it's own beauty.  A little wear here and there is more a badge of honor than something to be sighed over.  This weapon is a tool, and honest wear is just that.... honest.

Internally, the Glock cleans up as near new.  Despite roughly ten thousand rounds down range, and indifferent cleaning, the weapon shows little internal wear.  The disconnector and trigger parts have worn in to be somewhat smoother than original, but they still scream GLOCK to the shooters finger.  This is not an obstacle to shooting well. It's just part of learning ones weapon.

After five years of frequent carry and lot's of shooting, the G-30 feels like an extension of my hand.  It fits, it works, and I find no fault with it at all. I'll shoot it confidently at five yards, or at fifty yards, and fully expect to hit my target.

On my belt (as it is while I write this), the .45 Glock is at home. It stands ready if needed.  What else can I ask for?

Saturday, March 29, 2014


This blog began in July of 2007.   Yes, that long ago, although it seems like such a short time from my perspective.  It began when I tired of someone else deciding whether or not my articles were worth putting in front of readers eyes.  Starting the blog took my efforts from 30,000 readers a year to 30,000 readers a month.

This morning, as I fend off yet another 'offer' wherein I hawk someone's product unknown to me and untested by me, I'm considering the future of this blog.  These 'offers' come in weekly, and almost all are circle filed without comment or response.  In a few cases, I accept products for review.  You folks don't get to hear about all of them..... the poorer products get sent back with notes as to their flaws.  In fact, about 50% of what makes it to the door gets rejected.

I could leave the blog as is, occasionally stringing my thoughts into words in a row. It is what it is, and no surprises there. The blog brings in no money, nor was it ever intended to.  The Amazon links offer a few $ a month in credit, and that's much appreciated.  It's not a reason for being, though.

I could move a step sideways and reconstitute it as a real bygawd website, with a little technical help from my wizard son.  The benefits of that need some thought.  It would offer more creative control, and of course options for income may develop.   I could see room for growth there... if I wish to grow this.

I could........ do quite a few things I suppose.  Life is calming down into more of a routine, leaving room for thought, and time to play.   Perhaps this blog shall be a target of that thought and play.

It's my blog.... and I'll play if I want to (g).


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Appleseed.... Just DO IT!

This weekend is being invested in Appleseed, not as instructor, but as participant.  #2 son is doing the clinic with me.

Folks.... I cannot reinforce this point enough.  If you have never done an Appleseed clinic, PLEASE sign up for one now.  Take your spouse, your best friend, your shooting age kids, your dad, your co-workers, your neighbor..... anybody you would like to spend a few enjoyable and highly worthwhile days with.

It doesn't matter if you don't know nuthin 'bout dat rifle shootin stuff.  They will teach you.  It doesn't matter if you are a national level competitive shooter.... you will learn something.   Most of all.... most important.... you will taking part in something important to our nation and our community.

In other notes..... with the most excellent help and sharp eyes of Gary and Mal (Appleseed instructors), I've found a few flaws in my skills and am working to correct them now.  The results?   A new high Rifleman score (238/250) and a clean Redcoat target.

Yesterday (Sat) the boy and I shot with .22's.  Today we both use our AR's in 5.56mm.   The ammo expenditure is worth it, as the basic skills training time is invaluable.

Appleseed... just do it.  You won't regret it, I promise. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A book recomendation.... The Grey Man, by Jim Curtiss (Old NFO)

Jim Curtis (Old NFO) is one of the good guys. A lifetime of service and still fighting the good fight.   

He's got this here book out.... and it's a good one. The Grey Man: -Vignettes-

Go buy it.  You won't be disappointed. I certainly wasn't.  

Make sure and leave a review after you read it.

The last sling tweak on the 10/22.....

The BBT of happiness dropped these off yesterday: Uncle Mike's Super-Premium Lifetime Sling Swivels (Blued, 1-1/4-Inch Loop)  Couldn't find these on Uncle Mikes web site, but they are on Amazon.

I wanted the 1.25" sling points so I can use a standard GI canvas sling on the 10/22 for position shooting.   I've transitioned to that strip 'O cloth on everything I use a shooting sling on, and like it quite a lot.

Anyway.... these swivels..... I like them too.  A couple bucks more than regular, but the squared off design and firm positioning make them worth it to me.

I mounted the sling right away, and found a moment between thunder showers where I could run a few rounds offhand from the patio.  Sling use is perfect with these gadgets, and I am pleased.  Two Fat Man thumbs up.

I'll shoot it more today.... if the gentle breezes howling past at 40 mph allow me to.  Looking like 24 mph gusts for Saturdays Appleseed shoot.  This is going to be interesting!


Monday, March 10, 2014

Calling the Mosin experts in the family..... Bit a help?

So.... I bought this yesterday.  I won't tell you how much I paid, because you'll just get mad at me.

So far, I know this is a 1943 Izhevsk made ex-sniper, and has been refurbished.  Am I missing anything else?

This will join my Tula ex-sniper in the collection.  Honestly.... I can't but look at those ground off and welded screws and wonder just how hard they would be to get out....

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Minor 10/22 sling tweak

The sling swivels that come with the Ruger 10/22 target rifle are perfectly adequate.   They are quite strong, of reasonable width, and function just fine for normal everyday use.

What they don't do is allow the use of detachable sling swivels.  The units installed by Ruger, while of good quality, have studs that are not drilled all the way through.  The sling attachments are simple pieces of bent blued steel that press into blind holes in the studs. 

The Fat Man wishes to use a detachable sling on his Ruger.  For the upcoming Appleseed, I'd like to get my sling in position over my arm, and then simply detach it from the rifle as needed.

So, the forward factory sling swivel on the Ruger was removed, and the pressed steel loop bent till it could be detached.  Then, using a #27 drill bit mounted in a Foredom tool, the hole in the stud was drilled through.

A Q-tip loaded with cold blue cleaned out the hole nicely, and touched up any bright metal left from the drilling.

Shazam..... a tiny tweak which makes the rifle that much more suited to me.  Sometimes its the littlest things that can make a difference. 

Precise application of solvent and lube...

A few days ago, Meself mentioned my happiness with the CLP needle applicator widget thingie.

Reader Fred was kind enough to share the link to these: 10 pack of syringes.   At less than 70 cents each, they seem a dirt cheap way to apply precise amounts of Expen$ive stuff to ones tools and machinery. I've ordered a ten pack, and am already lining up the selection of solvents and lubes I'll be putting in them.  I'll label each with my handy-dandy label maker, and stand them up in an old plastic bowl to prevent leakage.   Not fancy, but darn parsimonious with the chemicals I should think.

I LIKE dirt cheap.  It echoes within my soul, and quiets the Welshman who lives down there.

(The buggers have since gone to $10 for 10.  Still not a terrible deal, but it kind of hurts my feelings a little)


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Breakfree CLP..... in a needle applicator

Yours truly has been using Breakfree CLP for years now, for exactly what the name stands for: Clean, Lubricate, and Preserve.

While I have been using the spray can version for a long time, it's only been the past week that I've had me mitts on one of these....Break Free CLP-PS-10 Precision.

I'm liking this applicator a great deal.  It lets me get deep into exactly the areas I want to clean and lubricate, without making a sprayful mess.   Just a drop at a time, perfectly placed.

With a little care, the applicator itself need not die when empty of the CLP it came with.  The needle applicator unscrews, and the gadget can be refilled with whatever one wishes.  Mobile One firearm lubricant (I favor the 20w50 version), Hoppes Benchrest Copper Remover, whatever floats your boat.

At right about $7, this dingus is a good value. I've another one coming for the range bag, and another to live in my tool box.

Yup..... I'll give it the Fat Old Man stamp of approval.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Liberty Civil Defense against traditional defensive ammo..... the unscientific and inconclusive test you asked for.

A while back, yours truly decided to test the impact results of Liberty Civil Defense ammunition.   Liberty, being something totally new, needed a more down to earth test than the traditional ballistic gelatin block.... at least in my opinion it did.

So, in a fit of totally unscientific and probably unrepeatable experimentation, I fired the Liberty .45 acp SUUUuuuuper high velocity self defense into a ten pound pork butt.

The pork butt does not simulate meat and bone.... it is meat and bone.  The terminal ballistics of the projectile should be revealed in fairly dramatic ways, and this proved to be true.

But..... (or should I say butt?).... you, my gentle readers, took me to task.  The now infamous 'Pork Butt Test'™ may be interesting, but how do the traditional defensive rounds stack up in the same test?  To this point, most have only shown their merits publicly in the old fashioned lime jello...... er...... Ballistic Gelatin testing.

To this end, ANOTHER ten pound pork butt was procured, from the same professional butcher consulted before (and some primo BBQ sauce was picked up as well).  In addition, listening to readers suggestions, a box of Federal 230 grain Hydro$hock ammo was also acquired as a comparative test subject.

Testing was matched as much as possible, down to striking the bone on entry in the same way and at the same angle.

The results, for what they are worth:

Liberty:  Entry wound

Hydroshock:  Entry wound
Looking at the entry wounds, the higher velocity of the Liberty left clear results.  The Hydroshock punched right through the bone, with no obvious heavy external wound.

Liberty:  Wound channel
Hydroshock:  Wound channel
The Liberty defensive ammo opened up a huge permanent wound channel, as the image shows.  The Hydroshock opened a much, much smaller channel, but did provide full penetration.  The Federal bullet veered downwards, punching a somewhat ragged hole through roughly eight inches of meat before exiting the target.  The Liberty established a massive wound channel about 4-5 inches deep, with the bullet base coming to rest another few inches in.

The Liberty +P .45 acp bullet at 1800 FPS dumped 100% of it's energy into the meat and bone of the target, while the Federal Hydrock 230 grain at 900 fps provided full penetration but took it's remaining energy downrange.

The Liberty 78 grain lightweight nickel plated bullet fragmented and all of it was recovered although the pieces were quite small.  The Federal Hydroshock left behind one small chunk of copper jacket, and a few tiny pieces of lead.  The rest of the Hydroshock is buried in the dirt bank someplace.

So.... what does all this mean?  Primarily, it means the Old Fat Man will be eating well the next few days.  As far as scientifically testing terminal ballistics in premium defensive ammunition.... this ain't that.

What I have done here is mostly subjective, and for it to have meaning the testing would have to be repeated under controlled circumstances multiple times.  MANY multiple times.

I like BBQ Pulled Pork a great deal...... but not that much.

My take away?   Well, I would be happy with either ammo in my carry weapon.  I expect both are excellent stoppers of bad guys doing bad things. That said, I bet you can guess what's in there now.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

EarPro.... Time for a new pair of Surefire plugs.

I ordered meself another set of these: 

Surefire EP4 Sonic Defender Ear Protection

Having just signed #2 son and I up for the Appleseed clinic in March, I'm mentally reviewing the gear list for same.  I've been using a set of these Surefire plugs for about a year now, and it's time to replace them.

While they are just perfect for all the small bore shooting I do, I especially like that I can leave them in my ears while wearing a big set of electronic muffs, and gain excellent protection from the big boomers while still hearing normal conversations well.   I also like that I don't get utterly zapped when I forget to get the muffs on in time, as I just leave the Surefire plugs in from the moment I drive up to the range till I'm back in the jeep to leave.

Appleseed. I need the reminder.

Lately, I have been quietly depressed regarding the path our nation is following.   Yes, there are good points aplenty.... but somehow the less than good outweighs them, and I am concerned about the world my children will live in.

I need a boost in attitude, and that means spending time around people who care about our children's future.... and are doing something about it.

I'll be signing up for the March Appleseed clinic in our area.  I need a few days immersed with those good people to renew my faith in humanity.  I'll take the instruction seriously, as I need a brush up on my skills.... but that's not the main reason I'm going. I'm going because I need to witness good people, doing good things, for good reasons.

Oh... I'll also be dragging along #2 son, who needs a good beating about the head with a smart stick.

Follows, a repost regarding my first time at an Appleseed (April, 2012)  ...... 

The Appleseed Project. What is it... and what is it all about?

The 'Ol Fat Man just got done a weekend Appleseed rifleman clinic, and is now happy to report out for the folks here on Carteach0.

Copied in whole from the Appleseed web site:
"The Revolutionary War Veterans Association is committed to renewing civic virtue - prioritizing civic responsibility over personal interests and indulgence. We are wholly comprised of volunteers who commit time, resources and passion toward achieving the RWVA mission. As a 501(c)3 organization, we promote civic responsibility through the teaching of colonial history and the American tradition of rifle marksmanship in a safe, non-partisan environment."

From my experience this weekend, that is exactly what Appleseed does. It's an effort to ignite the hearts and minds of Americans through the teaching of history, and basic marksmanship skills. At the time of the American Revolution, the people of this nation were unique in the world, and part of that was wrapped up in the way we fought the war... as individual soldiers, each tasked as a 'rifleman', and each tasked to use their ingenuity and skills to bring down the enemies of their homeland. Actual 'rifles' saw very little use in the Revolution, but the skills involved in being an individual marksman certainly did.

Where just about every other nation in the world treated their soldiers as automatons to be directed in every action, en-masse, the fledgling United States depended on it's citizen soldiers to act with individual intelligence, and an understanding and belief of what they were doing and why. This meant one man.... one lone elderly American....
with no orders and no help, could harry, harass, and slow an entire column of British troops . Before the British troops could be formed into ranks as ordered, present arms as ordered, and fire as ordered.... that American militiaman had fired on the column, downed several enemy soldiers, and ridden away to wait around another bend in the road.

This very act set the United States apart from all others. The idea that every man and woman was an individual thinking intelligent citizen and could decide for themselves the best course of action against an aggressor... this idea was foreign to every major nation at the time.

It's this uniquely American attitude and tradition which Appleseed reminds us of.

Each Appleseed event is part history, and part rifleman instruction. Invaluable skills are taught to shooters both young and old, with rest breaks involving stories and lessons from history, all centered around a particular date. April 19th... the day of 'Paul Revere's Ride', and what it means to us as Americans.

The instructors at every Appleseed event are volunteers. They don't spring forth from the ground in shooting jackets, patches, and red hats.... they have to train and earn the instructor hats they wear. An Appleseed seminar is not a walk in the park... it's hard work, and doubly so for the instructors. Still, they give their time, effort, and skill.... in the tradition begun by Americas first citizen soldiers and militia.... as individuals doing what they believe is right.

Now... follow along in images as we walk through 'Ol Carteach's weekend at Appleseed!

Most of the history taught at Appleseed comes from this heavily documented book, Paul Revere's Ride . Based on first hand primary sources from the time, it's a riveting story taken from the inception of our nation.

A goal for every participant, The Rifleman Patch. There are several variations, and some of the various Appleseed branches have their own, but the rules are the same. Firing 40 rounds from positions, a score of at least 210/250 on a special course of fire called an 'AQT' will earn a shooter the treasured Rifleman Patch. The skills taught by the Appleseed instructors go straight towards earning this honor, but it's entirely up to the skill and dedication of the shooter after that.

The Red Coat target..... the first target fired at days beginning, and the last at days end. All fired prone, the sillouette represents an enemy soldier at ranges from 100 yards to 400 yards... with a special tiny square to represent 'The Bucket'. The bucket, or a wooden board of the same size, was the marksmanship test used as a gateway for a soldier to join 'Daniel Morgan’s Rifles'. The target (often a bucket the size of a mans head) was placed 250 yards away. The soldier had one shot, cold, to hit that bucket. If he did, he earned the right to join Morgan's Rifles, and march 600 miles from home and engage in battle with the British. At the time, British soldiers were considered accurate in fire out to 50 yards, and relied on en-masse volley fire past that.

The Red Coat target honors that history, and serves to judge an Appleseed participants increase in skill as training progresses.

Basic marksmanship skills are the very foundation of being a rifleman. Appleseed starts from square one, and reviews the skills in detail.

Gary Ritter (Roverace on the Appleseed forum) and Michael-Angelo Laffredo (MAL) instruct the group in basic skills, working as a team to demonstrate proper positions.

Zeroing a rifle, done in a logical and scientific manner. Each tiny square represents one MOA, or roughly one inch at 100 yards. Since Appleseed is taught at 25 meters (pretty much 25 yards), the lesson directly translates into shooting at longer ranges.

Every detail useful to both new and experienced shooter is pointed out, taught, and later drilled in live fire practice. Three basic positions are taught... off-hand, seated/kneeling, and prone. In each position, sling use, natural point of aim, breathing control, and sighting are all brought into play. The basic skills of a rifleman.

Appleseed is a wonderful event for families. Fathers, mothers, grandparents, and kids... they all work together and learn together. Even an old Marine, having world class training in his past, benefits from the refresher course. For young people fairly new to shooting, building this foundation now before poor habits set in.... invaluable.

These young men received special awards, and applause from the group. Both were marked by burns from hot shell casings landing on them, yet each maintained perfect composure and muzzle discipline. The young man to the right has (for the next few days anyway) a perfectly recognizable shape of a 5.56 casing on his arm. I have never envied anyone a burn before, and should I ever get a tattoo.... it would be of that mark. Well Done young men, well done!

Range Boss Greg Harbaugh, having driven for hours just to volunteer at the shoot... took special pains to enliven the historical aspects of the Appleseed event. He brought with him a Pennsylvania Long Rifle, and donned some costume to go with it. Using the students attention, he explain the differences between rifle and musket, and what it meant to the American militia.

Then... he loaded and fired that flintlock smoke pole, and invited others to try it as well. Yes... the 'Ol Fat man happily lined up with the kids for this one! I'm proud to report... a big cloud of smoke and one less Red Coat soldier.

Bragging time.... the image above is Greg awarding my rifleman's patch. The first AQT (Army Qualification Target) of the second day, I scored high enough to win the patch. Yes.... that is me smiling. Don't get all excited, it doesn't happen often.

And..... as Michael-Angelo Laffredo demonstrates.... there apparently is some weird tradition in Appleseed. If a shooter scores rifleman with exactly '210', he is baptized with water from The North Bridge, a central part of the history of April 19th. It's at the North Bridge where a group of American Militia routed an entire company of British soldiers, simply by employing their marksmanship skills.

Above, we see Mal inundating... er... 'annointing' 'Ol Carteach with said water, which bore a striking resemblance to freezing cold ice water straight from the cooler.

That's Appleseed. Do it.... you won't be sorry. Carteach's word on that.