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The group has stirred up suspicion from the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League, organizations that monitor hate groups, cults, modern-day militias and, most recently, so-called patriot groups that promote an overhaul of the government. They worry that Appleseed is teaching deadly skills to people who see the government as the enemy.
"There were a lot of links from militias and others to their site, and several postings on anti-government sites, suggesting that people take their gun training," Heidi Beirich, director of research for the Southern Poverty Law Center, tells The Pitch. "I was very concerned about the potential for people with deep loathing for the government ... taking a sniper course from them and doing something violent."
Dailey dismisses those concerns.
"What are we doing when we do Appleseeds?" he says in an interview. "We're exercising our Second Amendment right to practice marksmanship and our First Amendment right to associate and communicate ideas."
Before a single round — of ammunition or rhetoric — is fired at an Appleseed shoot, there's a bit of obligatory paperwork. After they arrive, shooters sign forms promising not to hold the RWVA responsible if they leave with more holes than they came with. Then another instructor — nickname: Mama Bear — hands out name tags. "On your backs, ladies — ooh, that didn't sound good," she giggles. The name tags go on the women's backs so that the instructors can read them while the shooters fire on their stomachs.
Once liability is sufficiently released, Dinky goes over some basic safety rules: Always keep your muzzle pointed in a safe direction (straight up or downrange); do not load until given a load command; keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target ("keep your booger hook off the banger"); and don't be afraid to yell "cease fire" if someone else isn't following the aforementioned rules.
Finally, she instructs the women to bring their weaponry to the firing line, which is defined by a hot-pink rope. Though the flier for this Appleseed said larger-caliber guns were welcome, there's nothing bigger than a .22 on the range.
The targets are 25 yards away, taped to the backs of old campaign signs. The owner of this property, Paulette Wohnoutka, participated in an Appleseed shoot in Osage Beach, Missouri, last year and has been deeply involved ever since. She and her husband offered up four acres in the middle of their 80-acre property, which was once home to the state's largest herd of South African Boer goats.
From afar, the targets look like red clouds on an off-white background. But after Dinky refers to them as "Redcoats," it becomes clear that the clouds actually represent human heads and shoulders. A red, 1.25-inch rectangle, set on a 25-yard range, translates to a head shot at 250 yards.
"SHOOTERS!" Dinky yells. "YOUR PREPARATION PERIOD HAS BEGUN."
The women are sprawled side by side along the firing line, on camping tarps and camouflage blankets.
"With 10 rounds," Dinky says, "LOAD!"
Viki, a slim 17-year-old Ukrainian exchange student, has clearly done this before. She effortlessly feeds 10 bullets into the magazine of her .22 and pops the cartridge into the belly of the rifle.
A rapid pop-pop-pop erupts from the line, continuing until each of the women has emptied all 10 rounds. Everyone wears specialized ear protection to muffle the sound, although a .22 rifle fired outdoors is probably less damaging to their hearing than a Fourth of July fireworks display.