Project Appleseed takes root with marksmanship event

2-day program combines shooting with lessons on American Revolution

Project Appleseed Master Instructor Eric McCabe and volunteer Mike Schilbach demonstrate how subtle repositioning of the hips and elbow can successfully adjust your aim. Photo courtesy of Vivian Kennedy/for The Cordova Times

Over the Oct. 10-11 weekend, Cordovans received training in rifle marksmanship and learned about the opening skirmishes of the American Revolutionary War. The event was the first staged in Cordova by Project Appleseed, an apolitical nonprofit that combines firearms training and civic education. Eric McCabe, a Palmer-based Project Appleseed master instructor, led the event, which was hosted by Cordova Trap and Gun Club at the community’s public shooting range.

The 10 participating students received firearms safety instruction, practiced shooting from different positions and performed marksmanship tests. Testing showed that all students improved their shooting over the course of the event, organizers said.

“The Appleseed course is an excellent course for anyone looking to learn the fundamentals of marksmanship that our country was founded on,” said Police Chief Nate Taylor, who participated in the event. Mayor Clay Koplin and Rear Adm. Matthew T. Bell also attended.

Desiree Jensen practices proper hand positioning under the watchful eyes of Master Instructor Eric McCabe. Jensen and two of her children attended the Project Appleseed marksmanship clinic over the Oct. 10-11 weekend in Cordova. Photo courtesy of Vivian Kennedy/for The Cordova Times

Instructors additionally presented lessons on Revolutionary militia leader Paul Revere and on the “shot heard round the world,” which sparked the battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. McCabe aims to deliver a ground-level view of history that will allow students to gain a more immediate appreciation for the ideas that motivated participants in the American Revolution, he said.

“What we’ve tried to do with Appleseed, as instructors and as an organization, is to put today’s Americans back in touch with the heritage that we all share,” McCabe said. “The people that first were called ‘American’ — they were called that because there was something that set them apart from the rest of the world, and it wasn’t just where they lived.”

The generation that founded the U.S. would probably be disappointed by current low levels of civic engagement, McCabe said.

“We’re not trying to push an ideology on anybody,” McCabe said. “We just want people to know who the founding generation were. Not just the politicians of the founding generation, but the ordinary Americans who did extraordinary things… And, if learning about those people makes you want to get involved in this great American experiment, so much the better.”

At the Oct. 10-11 event, Cordova Trap and Gun Club volunteers provided a lunch of locally sourced moose burgers and hot dogs. Diamond Head Inc., a Massachusetts-based rifle manufacturer, donated a rifle to Project Appleseed and the Cordova Trap and Gun Club to help defray expenses. The rifle will be auctioned off in the near future, organizers said.

A follow-up event in Cordova is tentatively planned for next spring, with precise scheduling depending on weather conditions, McCabe said.

Project Appleseed volunteer Mike Schilbach presents a lesson on American history during a lunch break at the Cordova Trap and Gun Club. Photo courtesy of Vivian Kennedy/for The Cordova Times