The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a left-wing group that helped gay rights terrorist Floyd Lee Corkins select his targets, is now attempting to smear Project Appleseed. The SPLC’s ironically-named “Hatewatch” blog begins by noting the arrest of a pair of apparent “sovereign citizens” in Washington State:

A man with ties to militia organizations and nationwide assault rifle training program faces a murder charge in Washington state in a case that began with the attempted eviction of house squatters.

James J. “Strat” Faire, 55, and Angelina M. Nobilis, 51, were arrested late last week in Okanogan County after two people were struck and run over by a pickup truck while assisting a property owner evict squatters from his property, authorities said.

Debra Long, of Issaquah, Wash., was killed and George Abrantes, of Marysville, Wash., was seriously injured in the incident, the Okanogan County sheriff’s office reported. The ages of the victims weren’t released.

Faire and Nobilis were arrested on charges of first-degree murder and first-degree assault, jail booking records show.

The SPLC then attacks Project Appleseed:

In 2010, Faire was identified as a trainer for the “Appleseed Project,” a militia-based training program that urged every citizen to own an AR-15 assault rifle with the goal of “teaching every American how to fire a bullet through a man-size target out to 500 yards.”

“The government has quite literally become tyrannical,” Faire told a writer for The New York Times who wrote a lengthy piece on the Appleseed Project.

Oh, but where to unpack the lies?

Let’s start with James Faire’s involvement with Appleseed.

According to Jack Dailey, the head of Appleseed, James Faire was briefly associated with Project Appleseed in Washington state in 2009.

Dailey stated in an email to Bearing Arms:

Faire volunteered as an IIT long before the NYT article, was “found out”, and was gone long before the NYT article. What he believes is simply not part of our program, and we make it known to our volunteers that it is not, and will not be tolerated. Once we found out about his militia bent, we did two things: One, dismissed him from the program – long before the NYT guy found him – and Two, created our “dSB” program to ensure that people are promoted to SBs only by trusted people (“designated Shoot Bosses” or dSBs)  in the program, to avoid a repeat of this.

Faire was only an instructor in training (IIT) for a short time, and was never an instructor.  He was ejected from program immediately once his militia sympathies were known. Note that Faire was tossed from the program before the New York Times article was published.

The left-leaning SPLC is dishonest in every regard in characterizing Appleseed.

Project Appleseed is not a “militia-based training program that urged every citizen to own an AR-15 assault rifle,” and I should know.

I first attended an Appleseed with a number of other gun bloggers in March of 2012, and I’ve been active within the organization ever since, rising through the multi-stage “Instructor In Training” program to become a full instructor (a “red hat”) a year later at Appleseed’s home range, where I regularly conversed with founding members of the group. Now that I’m running Bearing Arms full time I don’t have the time to volunteer as I once did, but I was there as recently as April, where I was line boss for part of an event.

So what is Appleseed?

Project Appleseed is an activity of the Revolutionary War Veterans Association, (RWVA) a civics group that encourages people to get active in politics in a non-partisan way.  Basic rifle marksmanship training is a “hook” to draw people in to learn about history, and their civic responsibility as American citizens to be active in the political process.

The RWVA also provides “Libertyseeds” where instructors speak to other civic organizations and schools about the American Revolution as both a time in history, and as an idea without the marksmanship component.

If the SPLC was honest, or did any basic research, they would know that during the introduction to every event the Shoot Boss (a veteran instructor who runs the event) tells attendees specifically that Appleseed is NOT a militia, and has no ties to militia groups. He or she politely tell folks that if that is what they are expecting, that we’ll be happy to refund their fees and send them on their way.

Appleseed is “militia-based” by only the most tortured definition. The extent of our involvement with militias is talking about the various Massachusetts militia units that came together on April 19, 1775 to fight British regulars in the first running battle of the American Revolution from Lexington, to Concord, and back to Boston.

The SPLC is also patently lying when it claims, that Appleseed urges “every citizen to own an AR-15 assault rifle.”

Appleseed is platform agnostic, but the only rifle type it actually recommends are semi-automatic, magazine fed .22LR rifles.

The original “Liberty Training Rifle” is a purpose-modified Ruger 10/22 (PDF). Today, the most common rifles at Appleseed are the Ruger 10/22 and Marlin 795 .22 rifles still built to that “Liberty Training Rifle” specification.

Shooters do bring AR-15s to Appleseed events because we allow shooters to use whatever they prefer as long as they are safe and legal. Many prefer rifles with a history behind them, using rifles which have served this nation (and others) for a century or more.

Here are four rifles of note from the last event I attended in April.

Competition shooter “Jules” is using her National Match target rifle “Thor,” a highly specialized 14.5 lbs precision marksmanship tool that weighs twice as much as an average AR-15.
While Appleseed actively promotes the use of .22LR training rifles, there is a great deal of love among the instructor cadre—many of whom participate in vintage rifle and Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) target shooting events—for the M1-Garand, a clip-fed rifle designed in the 1920s.
While no longer commonly seen anywhere, 1903 Springfield bolt-action rifles pop up from time to time at Appleseed events.
WW2-era M1 Carbine occasionally show up at Appleseed events, as do modern 9mm and .22LR reproductions.

The distance shot at the vast majority of Appleseeds is 25 yards. KD (known distance) events out to 400 yards are rare, and the rifle primarily encouraged for that is the M1 Garand, purchased through the Civilian Marksmanship Program.

As for our targets, these are the “man-sized” targets that the SPLC is attacking, below.

The author (right) and an Appleseed Shoot Boss pose with the author’s target after he shot a “rifleman” score (210 or higher) at his first Appleseed in 2012.

We are unsure as to why the SPLC hate blog decided to smear Project Appleseed, unless it fears that civic involvement, historical knowledge, and rifle marksmanship are somehow detrimental to the kind of world that this decidedly left-wing political group would create.