Dangerous Women Series – Prudence Cummings Wright

This Dangerous Women series will highlight women throughout the history of the United States, who have risked or given their lives for the cause of freedom.  They were wives and mothers, dangerous only to the foes they opposed, and not nearly as well-known as the men they fought beside.

Much has been written about famous women of Revolutionary War times such as Molly Pitcher (Mary Hays McCauly), Betsy Ross, and Martha Washington, but not as much about women who actually fought and served in the war effort, or who otherwise aided the cause of liberty with direct and personal involvement.

One such woman was Prudence Cummings Wright.  Only a month after her eight-month-old son, Liberty’s, death, Prudence pulled herself out of her grief and came to the aid of a nation that did not yet exist.  While visiting her mother’s home in the neighboring town of Hollis, New Hampshire, Prudence overheard her brothers, Samuel and Thomas, talking of riders who were to take word of the colonial rebellion to the British.  The Cummings family was split in their allegiance, brothers to the British crown, and sister to the new nation.

Mrs. Wright quickly and discretely returned home to Pepperell Parish, where her husband, David, a Minuteman, had likely already been dispatched to Concord to assist the Revolutionary cause under the command of Colonel Prescott.

Prudence knew that something had to be done, and that she and the other women of the town must do whatever necessary to assist the men in their mission.  She gathered with 30-40 other townswomen, all dressed in their husband’s clothes and carrying whatever weapons they could find, to intercept Tories (those supporting the King) at Jewett’s bridge.

The women hid in the woods alongside the road and ambushed two riders as they approached the town.  However, as the Captain of the Guard began shouting orders, one rider quickly recognized the voice as that of his sister, Prudence.  Thomas Cummings is later to have said, “I recognized Prude’s voice and she would wade through blood for the rebel cause.”

It is not certain whether Thomas escaped at that point, or if he was released later; but it is said that he left the area with haste and never returned.  The other rider was taken into town and turned over to the Committee of Safety, his communiques confiscated.

Regardless of their political polarity, Thomas’ disappearance caused further grief to Prudence, as he was her favored brother.  After losing her youngest child only a month prior, and then left with the lifelong estrangement of her beloved brother, it is certain that Prudence Wright continued to grieve for her losses, but thus was the sacrifice of those dedicated to the cause of liberty in 1775.

The band of women, later known as “Mrs. David Wright’s Guard,” assisted in the birth of a nation; and Prudence Cummings Wright was a leader among them.

Many thanks to Project Appleseed instructors, who keep the legacy of Prudence Wright alive by telling her tale throughout the nation.

“Well-behaved women rarely make history.”

Gun range campout – doesn’t get much better than that!

This weekend was a great time of outdoor fun, when some of us attending a Project Appleseed event camped out at the range for the weekend.

We were in heaven with campfire cooking, rifle shooting, beautiful weather, and good friends – when the only thing missing for me was a shower :/

I’ve mentioned Project Appleseed many times in my posts – such as in:  “No Guns in My House – Well, Maybe,” “Ladies, You Are in Good Company!,” and “Generation HC Member:  Leslie Cernik aka Western Rose,” as well as about five others; so you can tell that I think very highly of the organization.

For those who haven’t checked them out yet, you can go to the Project Appleseed website, or find the Appleseed facebook page for your region of the country for more info.

This is a great entry-level event in which to learn firearm safety, three-position rifle shooting, and to hear some American history that you may never have heard before.

It’s also an opportunity for the experienced rifle shooter to possibly earn their Rifleman patch on the Army Qualification Test, and it is an intensive weekend of training and education that you won’t soon forget.  I encourage you to investigate and find an event in your area to attend.

Although it will soon be too warm in my area to tent camp (in my opinion), I’ve got my iron skillets and dutch ovens oiled up and will be ready for the first hint of cooler weather in the fall.

Now to practice my rifle skills for the next Appleseed.

Gotta get that Rifleman patch!

Generation HC Member: Leslie Cernik aka Western Rose

“Generation HC,” or the “High Caliber Generation” is what I’ve begun calling young people I’ve come into contact with in the world of shooting sports.  These “kids” are extremely focused, mature, and disciplined – but they have a lot of fun, as well.

The first Gen HC member I reported on was “Allie Cat” Barrett, and you can read that interview here.  Allie is a member of the fast-growing sport of practical pistol shooting (and I hope to talk her into writing a detailed description of her favorite sport for me soon), but we are about to turn 180 degrees and talk with a young woman that is a Project Appleseed rifle instructor – at the ripe old age of 18. 🙂

Leslie Cernik of Idaho, aka Western Rose, is an amazing young woman whose dad taught her to shoot a rifle at an early age, and who actually became a Revolutionary War Veterans Association Instructor and Range Safety Officer at the age of 16.

As Leslie says of her early days, “My Dad started to teach each of us to shoot as soon as we could tell him, from memory, Cooper’s four safety rules.  He started us out with a small .22 pistol.  When we were big enough, Dad would put us behind a Marlin Model 60 .22 rifle with iron sights and the use of a big log as a rest.”

She explains her introduction to the Appleseed organization by saying, “When I was 12 or 13 my Dad asked if I would like to go with him to something called ‘Project Appleseed.’  I had no idea what it was, other than I would be shooting all weekend with my Dad.  That sounded like fun, so off we went.

I learned the Steady Hold Factors of prone, sitting, and standing; I found out the great secret of needing to find your Natural Point Of Aim; I was taught the Six Steps of Firing a Shot; and on top of all that, just when I needed a break, the instructors would tell history.

I have always liked to read, but have never been good at remembering dates, events, names…until that weekend.  I learned SO much [Revolutionary War history] that I wouldn’t have learned any other way.  The instructors were definitely welcoming to me, even though I was, by far, the youngest attendee AND the only girl on the line…not  to mention the only .22 shooter.

At the end of the weekend, I left with a smile, new friends, and the high score of my family (a 198 of 250).  That was my first experience with any kind of organized shooting event and I loved it.”

Leslie said the ratio of men-women-children on an Appleseed line has changed drastically over the years and now entire families are signing up for the events.  And if you are unfamiliar with Project Appleseed, this is an organization that teaches rifle marksmanship and the importance of the American Revolutionary rifleman to the freedoms we enjoy today.  All levels are welcome at these very inexpensive events, from beginner to expert, and those who excel at the course may earn their Rifleman patch.

Leslie is not only an Appleseed instructor, she is also a homeschooling high school senior, as well as a college freshman, a writer, a horsewoman, photographer, blogger, and much more.  Her Appleseed involvement has even moved beyond the shooting line, and into administration of the organization.

I asked Leslie some questions about her shooting and will let her speak for herself:

Q.  What three life lessons have you learned from shooting?

A.  “Shooting has taught me persistence, confidence, and how to relax.  Seriously.  Persistence is on that list because it’s not always easy.  You have to work through the        problems and find a solution.  You can’t give up.  That’s something that easily transfers into everyday life (and school work!).

Confidence is listed because when you go from not doing so well, to achieving a goal, it will boost your confidence to know that you can work through this issue, that persistence will pay off.  Plus, there is nothing like the feeling of confidence when you get down behind a rifle, see a target, and know you can hit it.  You realize you aren’t helpless.

How to relax is another thing that I’ve found particularly helpful.  I used to tense up when I was shooting, so for me, learning to relax in a tense situation is very useful, and not only in shooting.”

Q.  How has shooting played a part in how you relate to your peers?

A.  “Presently, a lot of my peers aren’t super interested in shooting or history.  That has been troubling, but I still definitely enjoy my time with them.  Maybe someday they’ll come along with me to a Project Appleseed event and realize that this is THEIR heritage.  I have found that I definitely don’t ‘fit’ in just one age group.  I thoroughly enjoy learning from those who are older than myself, and then taking what I learn and teaching it to others.”

Q.  What is your favorite firearm?

A.  “My favorite firearm would definitely be a rifle.  I REALLY like the M1 Garand.  That would be my favorite specific rifle, but I do enjoy shooting the M1A, AR, and the .22s, as well.”

Q.  How has your schooling affected your shooting “career,” or vice versa?

A.  “Being homeschooled, I was hardly ever put in a classroom with a bunch of kids my age.  That made me learn to communicate with both adults and kids.  I have found that learning isn’t just in the classroom; it’s all the time.  In shooting, I’m with people who are anywhere from 13 years younger than myself, to 60+ years older.  I have a lot of fun being with folks that are older than myself and learning from them, so it works out well.  Also, it gives me an appreciation for the wisdom of the gray head – ok, you don’t actually have to be going gray to be wise” 🙂

Q.  What is it like to compete (and win) against people older than yourself?

A.  “Competing has always been somewhat hard for me, in that I tense up (good thing I’ve learned to relax!)  Now I enjoy competing with folks of all ages.  I now know that if I lose I’ll be learning more, and I’ll come back to try again and again until I win.  Winning is exhilarating and continues to build my confidence.”

Q.  What would you like to tell new shooters – young people that are just getting interested in shooting?

A.  “I think I would tell new shooters that it is a lifetime of fun.  Shooting is a journey, where people will come alongside you, help you along the way, and before you know it, you’ll be helping others who are newer to shooting than you are.  You will learn more than you can even imagine – and shooting a .22 doesn’t hurt.  Take that first step, come on out, and enjoy it!”

Q.  How do you see yourself involved in shooting 20 years from now?

A.  “In 20 years, I hope that I will still be teaching others how to shoot, and telling others about our mutual heritage.  I also hope that I will have been able to shoot a perfect score on the AQT (Army Qualification Test).  I would like to learn more pistol shooting and maybe shoot in competitions (both rifle and pistol) sometime.”

Of her role as instructor, Leslie said, “Instructing has helped me grow significantly as a person.  The first time I talked in front of a crowd, I was 16 and there were 72 attendees and 6-8 instructors.  I was honestly freaked out about the idea of talking in front of a group.  Talking to a small group of friends was hard enough, but now I was talking to folks that, for the most part, I’ve never met before.

The other instructors, all quite a bit older than myself, really helped me work through being scared and getting up in front of people, despite my fear.  I didn’t have the confidence that I wouldn’t really mess up, but I knew that if I did, the other instructors would pick me up and help me along.

My ‘trail’ hasn’t been the adventure of one person, it’s been the adventure of many.  People from all over this nation have come alongside me, picked me up when I failed, guided me and taught me.  I continue to be taught by them, and many more have become my teachers, friends, and family over the last couple of years.  Each has built on the foundation that my family, specifically my father, gave me.  I have become an extension of my teachers, and I only hope that I can teach others as well as they have taught me.”

Leslie says she thoroughly enjoys shooting, but has also come to love instructing; and with a family of instructors to call her own (Mom, Shawn, instructor and administrator; Dad, Larry, Idaho State Coordinator for Appleseed; 16 year-old sister, Heather, instructor and administrator; and 14 year-old brother, Patrick, instructor), this group is sure to continue to instill a love for shooting, and American History, in all they come into contact with.

Check out Leslie’s blog at The Little Adventures of Western Rose.

Click on the Appleseed Texas facebook page or to find the Appleseed facebook page for your area, click here.

Generation HC (High Caliber)

I was just telling my sister the other day how impressed I’ve been with the young people I’ve met at the range over the past few years, and then I read a great post today on Allie “Allie Cat” Barrett that I am compelled to pass along – and thanks to Beth at  Sass, Brass, and Bullets for sharing it.

Allie is a 15 year-old USPSA tournament target shooter from Stockton, Missouri, and she is a stellar example of the quality of young people involved in shooting sports today.  A Barrett family friend, and author of the Wee Five Family blog, wrote about his impressions of this young lady in “Just Another Blonde Girl With A Gun.”

I hope to publish an interview with Allie sometime soon, as well as other members of her generation that I’m equally impressed with, such as her brother, Andy; and Western Rose, a Project Appleseed rifle instructor over at The Little Adventures of Western Rose.

These young ladies, and many young men, are members of the under-20 group I choose to call the High Caliber Generation, the ones that we can be proud to entrust future generations of shooters to.

So check out these posts and blog sites, and I hope to be posting my first interview with a young shooter soon.  Oh, and check out Allie’s facebook page for more info on her amazing shooting accomplishments.

Happy shooting!