A few weeks back, Carteach attended his third Appleseed event. This time.... an orange hat came into the picture. Allow me to explain.....
Appleseed instructors are not simply hatched like tiny little dinosaurs, from leathery eggs buried in warm sand. They are created over time, with training, and lots of guidance from those who took on the duty before them. There is a hierarchy of instructors, each level corresponding to a certain amount of training, effort, study, and 'proving of ability'.
The very first level is IIT0 (Instructor In Training, level '0'). To reach this vaunted position, somewhat equivalent to junior pot scrubber at a roadside diner, the candidate must have qualified as 'Rifleman' with a score of 210/250, and have a head that will fit inside the requisite orange hat.
IIT0 entitles the new hat wearer to pick things up and put them down over there, but only under direct supervision from a higher ranking instructor. It also carries with it the duty to learn the teachings of Appleseed (both marksman skills and history), and work the firing line for both safety and instruction.
As the Instructor In Training attends Appleseed clinics, there is a step by step process where the young Jedi proves his knowledge by taking on more duties under the watchful eyes of more experienced instructors. First, demonstrating a strong knowledge of the safety rules and how they are implemented. Next, taking on the task of Teacher, and sharing the special little slice of American history taught by Appleseed. After that.... the rifle skills themselves, taught step by step.
Each mile of the way, the Instructor gains experience and skills, and is expected to work at shoots ready to share that with the attendees in their charge. It's a matter of education, above all else. Appleseed instructors are teachers.... teaching rifle skills of course, but also important facets of history designed to awaken the exceptional American spirit that shaped our nation.
Eventually, after much grueling hard work (Not a joke.... instructors work hard!), with much display of skill and dedication, the newby instructor may be granted the honor of 'The Red Hat', which is full instructor. This entitles the honoree to work harder, study more, and take a stronger hand in teaching both attendees and upcoming young instructor plebes.
After that.... the Red Hat may become a 'Shoot Boss' by taking on even more training and demonstrating even more skill at teaching and working with people. Shoot Boss's are the grand poobahs of each Appleseed clinic, being ultimately in charge of the event and responsible for everything good and bad that happens there.
Now, you may be questioning... "Why would someone take on all this hard work? Is it for the money? The prestige? The adoring fans? The free trips to Hawaii?"
No..... none of that.... because there IS none of that. No money, no perks, and no good life. There is hard work, more hard work, and maybe... just maybe.... a free meal once in a while, but only after a long hard day at the range. Instructors often never get to fire a round of their own at the clinic. Given that, why do people take on the funny colored hats, along with all the work that comes with them?
Friends, Appleseed is worth doing. It's that simple. Attending as a student is worth every minute and every penny. For some who recognize the value and need of Appleseed, taking on the hat is worth doing too. It doesn't come with a fat check, nor even a slim dime of compensation. What it does come with is the satisfaction of doing a worthy job at a time when our nation is sorely in need of the core values presented by Appleseed.
So, yes, Carteach has an orange hat in his shooting bag, with all that entails. Now comes the hard work that makes it special and worthwhile.
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