Missouri women go into the woods with the controversial Appleseed Project and come out firing 

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Viki does well. So does Shirley, a middle-aged woman in a long-sleeved NRA shirt. When the shooters retrieve their targets, Mama Bear circles a cluster of holes on Shirley's target and says admiringly, "Now, that's a group."

Grouping is good, Dinky explains, because if you can shoot a tight cluster on a target at 25 yards, your shots will likely be on-target at 500 yards. She cups her hands at chest level, showing how the bullets would spread with distance (the "cone of fire") but remain focused in an area the size of a man's torso. "Unfortunately, that's what the military uses to gauge things," she adds.


Down the line, Kay Hummel is disappointed with her opening salvo on the Redcoats.

Kay, who's 54, became interested in marksmanship after reading about the zombie apocalypse. The thought of an undead takeover seemed like a decent metaphor for real-world scenarios, she figured, the chaotic aftermath of a natural disaster or a political coup.

Once she read The Zombie Survival Guide, she wondered: "How would I defend myself from the horde?"

But she's also defending herself from boredom. Kay, who lives 30 minutes west of the St. Louis arch, was laid off January 15 from her job at an engineering firm.

"On the 16th, I was on the range," she says. "Now I have seven guns." She also has three motorcycles, 18 guitars, four kids, three grandkids and one ex-husband. "Notice the correlation between things I like and quantities," she says.

Further down the line, Kira and Kim Midkiff, two teenage sisters from Kansas City, are shooting well. They have no choice, they joke; their father, Chris Midkiff, is the Missouri state coordinator for the Appleseed Project.

Kira, 16, owns the pink rifle that Dinky borrowed earlier. It was a gift from her father for passing the Army Qualification Test, which is given at the end of each Appleseed. She's considered a "Rifleman" now, and can train to become an instructor, but she's not planning on pursuing an instructor's red RWVA hat. The Revolutionary War stories don't interest her, she says.

Chris Midkiff's wife, Amy, is here, too. "I never wanted a gun in the house," Amy admits, once out of earshot of her daughters. "I don't like guns at all, but I've seen the discipline of it work on my girls. I just don't know how involved I want to get, because I like it when Chris gets out of the house and takes the girls. It means I have the place to myself. I can take a nap."

Heidi, the pregnant woman, isn't having much luck keeping her shots on target. The woman nursing the baby is Heidi's sister, Noreen, who has equally iffy aim. They live nearby in Humansville. Their husbands suggested that they learn to shoot.

"We live in a peaceful community," Noreen says. "But if you're capable, people are less likely to mess with you."

She says her husband asked her, "What would you do if there were an intruder in the house? Would you know how to use a gun?" She'd be better off using his rifle as a club, she says. She's hoping this Lady Seed changes that.

"Everyone in America could shoot at the time of the Revolutionary War," Noreen says. "We were known for our marksmanship. If everyone knew how to stand up for themselves, maybe there'd be less crime. And less of a chance for us to be invaded by other countries."


When the sun peaks, directly overhead, Dinky gathers the women in the shade and launches into a story about the events of April 19, 1775. It's the date most dear to the Appleseed Project: the day the Revolutionary War began.

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