For many people, a trip to the gun range could be a chance to improve their skills, but for one group of shooters who descended on the Effingham County Sportsman’s Club over the weekend, it’s an opportunity to take part in the spirit of memory and rebellion of the original American soldiers.
The shoot was held by Project Appleseed, a group that focuses on rifle marksmanship as a way to salute the battles fought by militia men in the Revolutionary War.
The focus on much of that history comes down to the Battle of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, where tensions between colonists and the British finally burst. Sharon Sabo, Southern Illinois coordinator for Project Appleseed, said the group’s mission is to keep the memories of those colonial soldiers’ skills and sacrifices alive.
“Our goal in all honesty is to unite people around April of 1775. It is a hook to pull people in to discuss why we can be armed,” she said, adding since the American Revolution, Great Britain has tried to control its firearm usage and availability for fear of further rebellion.
Sabo said beyond being the opening day of a war which would consume the colonies for eight years, the Battle of Lexington and Concord mark the first move toward forming a new country.
“What was important about that particular day was that the individuals decided at that point in time that no longer were they willing to live without having some options in self governance,” she said.
The contemporary focus on marksmanship was also a factor in the Revolutionary War. Despite fighting on their home turf, Sabo said the colonists were outgunned and outnumbered by British soldiers and the colonists had to find ways to even the odds. She said there was a focus among fighters on emphasizing accuracy as a way to tip the scales. It’s a skill the group tried to focus on throughout the weekend.
“The British army was the greatest standing army in the world,” she said. “The colonists were greatly outnumbered. The only thing that was going to turn the tide was going to be able to use the tools that were available.”
Beyond teaching people accuracy and marksmanship, Sabo said events such as the one held over the weekend reminds people of a moment many people forget as time marches on.
“We forget the sacrifices made then because a lot of people think it’s a story,” she said. “In actuality it’s a history that belongs to everyone in the country. Right now nothing is keeping that alive except for groups that are enamored by it. We only talk about April 19,1775, because there was no other event like that. There’s nothing else that was applicable.”