Two weeks before Christmas in 2006, Wade Cummings returned to his Flowery Branch house to discover it had been burglarized.
“(A) man broke into our home and just trashed the place,” said Cummings, who shared the lake home with his wife and two small children. “(He) damaged everything, stole all of our Christmas gifts (and) stole my car.”
Christmas almost was ruined for the family of four. Luckily, their church helped them through Christmas. But the violation of a break-in altered Cummings’ philosophy on firearms.
“I’d never grown up in a home where we had firearms, so after that I kind of changed my mind and I wanted to learn more about them,” he said.
But the 48-year-old wanted to do it in a safe and respectful way. He choose to learn about guns through Project Appleseed.
Project Appleseed is a nationwide program of The Revolutionary War Veterans Association, which teaches marksmanship skills as well as the heritage and history of the traditional rifle. Cummings went through the program in 2010 and is now a volunteer.
As the director of training at The Georgia Gun Club, Cummings helped host the facility’s first Project Appleseed rifle clinic Saturday and Sunday in Buford.
“My heart is to teach people to be safe so that they don’t have to be afraid of firearms, but mostly so they feel safe, no matter what situation they’re in,” he said.
The two-day event drew a crowd of more than 23 shooters-in-training, who learned the three fundamentals of marksmanship: the steady hold factors of the prone position, the six steps of making the shot and natural point of aim.
Senior instructor Steve Lundeen, who has been with Project Appleseed for four years, said those fundamentals are what most people think of when going through the program. But other pivotal elements such as the historical significance are taught during the sessions.
“I really like the history of aspect of what we teach,” Lundeen said. “That’s what brought me back the second time, hearing folks tell the history of April 19, 1775, the date of The Shot Heard ‘Round the World at the battles of Lexington and Concord.”
Lundeen said history shows the American colonists defeated the military might of the British because of the colonists’ rifle skills.
“The ability to defend one’s self is a right that our founders held fast,” he said. “It’s a significant tool that we need to maintain freedom. They fought for that so their children and their children’s children wouldn’t have to.”
Passing down the historical knowledge as well as rifle skills is a family tradition for Lundeen. He brings his wife and children to Project Appleseed, even letting his 6-year-old daughter shoot. He said it is a program for the whole family.
And Lundeen’s family was not alone in that sentiment. Kaylee Daniels, 14, first came to Project Appleseed with her father and has been to three other sessions.
“I was a little scared because it’s something serious, but I got into it really fast,” she said. “I’ve already shot almost a rifleman’s score. It’s really fun, and it’s really something to learn about all the history.”
Her father, Scott Quarles, said bringing his daughter to Project Appleseed makes him feel more secure.
“I know when she’s out on a date or with her friends and a situation comes up, she knows how to take care of herself,” he said. “And she has the confidence in her own abilities because I’m not always going to be there.
“It gives me confidence, but more importantly I think it gives her the tools to know that she can take care of herself.”