What is Appleseed? Project Appleseed is the primary program of the Revolutionary War Veterans Association, a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit dedicated, according to its website, to teaching every American our shared heritage and history, as well as traditional rifle marksmanship skills.
Appleseed's volunteer instructors travel across the country teaching those who attend about the difficult choices, heroic actions and sacrifices that the Founders made on behalf of modern Americans.
The slogan of Project Appleseed is "History - Heritage - Marksmanship." Rifle marksmanship, once considered an important part of the formation of an American citizen, is the hook used to teach not only our history, specifically the events of April 19, 1775, and "the shot heard 'round the world," but also the enduring legacy of both freedom and civic responsibility passed down to us by our Founders.
Where is Appleseed? Everywhere. There are state coordinators for every state in the Union, plus Canada, and events (shoots, primarily, as well as non-shooting events called LibertySeeds) scheduled, likewise, for every state.
The goal of each Appleseed shoot is to turn "cooks" (ordinary folks) into "riflemen," capable of scoring expert or better on the Army Qualification Test - and, in the process, to introduce them to the history and civic responsibility described above. Appleseed aims to create "a nation of riflemen," not only in the marksmanship sense, but in the sense of knowledgeable, active and committed citizens.
An encouraging new answer to "Where is Appleseed?" is, "In our schools." So far, only one of them, but a mighty apple tree begins with a single seed.
As reported on WKKD Channel 11 in Colorado's website, Colorado has strict rules against guns in the classroom, but on Wednesday, March 19, Project Appleseed instructors, led by state coordinator Jim Heat, taught students at PJ Craver Middle School, of Colorado City, an American history class including firearms safety and marksmanship skills. They then actually took the students to a nearby shooting range to learn about rifles and even try them out in a safe environment.
KRDO.com in Colorado City adds that it wasn't your typical field trip: The group of Pueblo County students was firing live ammo and learning about gun safety. Acknowledging that guns in school can be a touchy subject, Timothy Baird, a Craver Middle School teacher, commented, "Often firearms and schools don't mix. There's a big fear there. So we are pushing the safety aspect and hopefully ease some people's fears."
"We've never been allowed to bring actual real firearms into a school," said Elizabeth Blackwood, an Appleseed instructor. "Until this week. This is a very big deal. We had them touching firearms, holding them and learning about how to handle them safely." The school got permission from the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office and all the parents for firearm lessons and the field trip, KRDO noted.
Reaction from the students was positive. "I'm very excited. Today we're going to come out here on the gun range and shoot a little bit. The past week we've learned about the Revolutionary War," Jonah Statezny, a Craver middle school student, said to KRDO. "I think everyone should learn how to use a gun, but learn how to use it properly, the precautions you're supposed to take and how serious a gun really is."
That sounds like a young man who is unlikely to misuse a firearm criminally later in life. And that, of course, is the point. Notwithstanding high-profile incidents like the most recent Fort Hood shooting, firearms have been an important and positive part of American culture and history since its very beginning - since April 19, 1775, and before. Learning safe and responsible firearms use, linked to those positive historical precedents, may be one way of ensuring that students make positive, responsible choices about firearms later in life.