RIFLEMAN CALVIN JOHNSON, rifleman Brianna Toikkanen and instructor Roger Burdick at Project Appleseed in Salem on June 28.

An associate of mine at one of the conservation clubs I belong to approached me a while back about doing a column on the Project Appleseed, which is an activity of The Revolutionary War Veterans Association.

Not knowing anything about it, I did a little research on it and decided it was a notable and worthwhile organization.

What follows is what I came up with and thank you, Roger Burdick, for bringing it to my attention.

Historical and education

Project Appleseed is an activity of The Revolutionary War Veterans Association, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, dedicated to teaching every American our shared heritage and history as well as traditional rifle marksmanship skills.

Their volunteer instructors travel across the country teaching those who attend about the difficult choices, the heroic actions, and the sacrifices that the Founders made on behalf of modern Americans, all of whom are their posterity.

Their heritage program vividly portrays the Battles of Lexington and Concord with the kind of care and immediacy that is absent from most formal schooling. Modern listeners are confronted with the danger, the fear, and the heartbreaking separations that arose out of the choices made on April 19, 1775.

They are also reminded of the marksmanship skills and masterful organization that ultimately helped set the colonists on the path to success. Those who attend gain a better understanding of the fundamental choices faced by our ancestors as they began to set the stage for the nation we now enjoy.

Why April 19

On April 19, 1775, British colonial farmers, shopkeepers, lawyers, doctors and craftsmen chose to face one of the world's most feared and best-equipped armies in a dispute over their rights and privileges as Englishmen. Learn why and how these brave early Americans did what they did at an Appleseed near you.

RWVA instructors use Brandeis University History Professor David Hackett Fischer's best-seller Paul Revere's Ride to teach how the Revolutionary War began in a series of stories that capture the initial hesitation as well as the ferocity of that day. After attending, you will be able to answer these four questions:

  • 1. When and where was the American Revolution won? The answer, direct from a founder, will surprise you...
  • 2. Where did the Revolutionary War break out? Not one in a thousand Americans knows this.
  • 3. Who fired the first shots on Lexington Common? Historians may not know, but we'll be glad to supply at least circumstantial proof.
  • 4. Why did the Redcoats break and run at the North Bridge? When faced with rude country colonials...

Appleseed seeks to honor the Founders by remembering the choices they made. In addition, they seek to pass on to our children what we were given: a third option for civic participation rather than a choice between submission and violence.

Marksmanship clinic

More history, their rifle marksmanship program complements our history and heritage. They teach the traditional American marksmanship skills. There are, however, several aspects of their marksmanship program that deserve special mention.

They are particularly proud of their younger attendees. In accordance with applicable local laws, young people with sufficient maturity are welcome to the Appleseed line and can, with parental permission, join the cadre. The RWVA recognizes the importance of introducing a wide cross section of Americans to their marksmanship heritage.

Finally, an important aspect of their marksmanship program is called “Adaptive Appleseed.” Project Appleseed is serious about bringing our heritage and marksmanship instruction to everyone, so they’ve committed themselves to adapting Appleseed to the special needs of those who have certain physical challenges

Why marksmanship?

Because good shooting requires learning positive traits such as patience, determination, focus, attention to detail, and persistence. Since these skills are likewise key elements of mature participation in civic activities, they urge their students to take what they have learned about themselves as marksmen and apply it to their participation in their communities and in the wider American society in accordance with their own choices about how Americans should govern themselves.

Civic involvement

There are those who feel that America’s future is grim, that is, that America has lost something special and it can never be regained. Moreover, in their consternation they mutter about “dark

choices” and the like. Appleseed has a message for them.

Just over two hundred years ago our ancestors genuinely faced a tough choice. They could submit to those they felt were depriving them of their rights as Englishmen or they could fight.

Because they chose as they did, we may never have to face their dilemma because we have a third alternative.

So what must you do with your third choice? Well, you must roll out of the recliner, cut off the computer, turn down the TV and get involved. That’s it. Talk to family, talk to friends, interact with neighbors, take part in local community decisions, and become active in whatever political party best fits your idea of how America should be governed.

Write to your elected representative, attend town halls, correspond with newspaper editors, and wholeheartedly enter the discussion in both online and traditional forums.

Read! Think! Debate! Vote!

Finally, the Appleseed Project would really like your help in shaping America's bright future by participating in this program as a student, as an instructor, or as a volunteer in other support roles. However, even if you never pick up a rifle again, know that you are everything that Project Appleseed works for. You are an involved, committed American making responsible use of the liberties gifted to us so long ago. The future is what we make, you make of it.

Local connection

In Roger’s email, he made mention that they use several ranges in the area as well as every state including Alaska. They have taught more than 25,000 Americans rifle marksmanship and told them the story of what really happened on April 19, 1775.

He went on to say that they teach traditional marksmanship, using GI slings, prone, sitting, kneeling, and standing. A score of 210 or above out of a possible 250 on an “AQT” (Army Qualification Test) earns the shooter a Rifleman patch. It usually takes the average American 3 weekend events to beat 210.


Now, some people are fast learners or just naturals at shooting such as Brianna Toikkanen. She earned her patch ay her first Appleseed Project event on her first AQT target.

Roger admitted she did have a few evenings with him and Calvin Johnson to learn the 6 steps of firing a shot and use of the GI sling. If he remember correctly, all her AQT targets that weekend were well above 210. An outstanding score from an outstanding young shooter, our youth are our future!

Roger also told me that Project Appleseed has on numerous occasions been invited and put on their program at several military bases. The most notable being Ft Stewart, where they instructed 500 soldiers just before they shipped out to Afghanistan.

Get involved

In this area, they have an events scheduled at Marion, Aug. 16-17, Gibsonburg, Aug. 30-31, New Philadelphia, OH Aug 30-31, and Salem, Sept. 27-28, as well as several other cities.

They also have events in Slippery Rock and Beaver Falls, Pa. Other ranges a bit farther away are in New Philadelphia, Lima, Miamisburg, Newark, Marion, Wilmington and Piqua.

Preregistered shooter fee is $60 for the weekend. $20 for anyone under 18. Walk-on shooters are allowed if space is available on the line for slightly higher fee. Active duty military, LEO, and the disabled shoot free.

One other thing Roger wanted to mention was that Project Appleseed’s affiliation with CMP, Civilian Marksmanship Program. With completion of an Appleseed event (a firearm training class), and with a $20 membership in RWVA (the parent organization of Project Appleseed, you are able to purchase M1 Garand’s and ammunition from CMP and even have an M1 shipped directly to your door.

There are still background checks and proof is needed of US citizenship. If you would like more information on the Appleseed Project or would like to get involved Roger can be reached at 594-1077.

And as always, please remember, pass it on or it will surely pass on.

New access

Thanks to the State Wildlife Grant Program (SWG), the ODNR Division of Wildlife was able to recently purchase a 70-acre parcel along Conneaut Creek in Ashtabula County.

Besides the property providing habitat for a variety of potentially threatened and endangered species, adjacent Conneaut Creek provides high-quality habitat for a variety of equally important aquatic species.

A side benefit to this acquisition is the fact that this area, now referred to as “Creek Road Access,” will provide direct public access for fishing and for hunting. The Creek Road Access is bounded between Conneaut Creek, Creek Road (from the Creek Road covered bridge east to Keefus Road) and Keefus Road (Keefus Road north to the Keefus Road bridge).

Anglers and hunters should be mindful of private properties that surround the Creek Road Access.


  • Conneaut Fish & Game Club has added some new dates to its 3D archery shoots. The shoots are being held at the bottom clubhouse located off of 80 Keefus Road in Conneaut. Shoots start at 8 a.m., rain or shine, and go until all shooters are in. Compound, crossbow and recurve bows are all welcome. Absolutely no broadheads! The cost is $10 per shooter. The following dates are the revised scheduled — Sept. 13 and 14. For more information, can call or text Rich Woodworth 254-8897. You can also email him at
  • The Maple Country Chapter of the NWTF Cordially invites you to attend its 20th annual Hunting Heritage Banquet. The location is The EOUV Club at 8636 Pekin Road Novelty, Ohio the date is : Sept. 11. The time is: Doors open 5:30 p.m., dinner served at 7. Single tickets are $70 and includes dinner, open bar, NWTF membership, ticket for the door guns and door prizes. Couples tickets are $100 and includes one single-ticket package and an additional dinner and open bar. JAKES tickets are $40 and include dinner and JAKES membership. Sponsor tickets are $290 and Sponsor Couples tickets are $325. Call or look online for details. Tables can be purchased for $800 and include 10 single-ticket packages and $300 in general raffle tickets to the Table Chair. You can buy tickets on line at Come and join us for an evening of fun and fundraising for a great cause. Social Hour, drinks and games will begin at 5:30. Following will be a silent auction, live auction, general raffle, women’s-only raffle and much more. Many guns will be up for raffle, including a Henry Big Boy 44 mag, Rossi Rio Grande 45-70, Franchi 28g Auto Gun of the Year. Great raffle items that will be available to win include hunting gear, calls and equipment, as well as power tools, fishing charters, golf rounds, local services and great gift certificates. For more information, call Adam Hollobaugh at 313-7406.

Sunderlin is a freelance writer from Geneva. Reach him at

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