BOTTINEAU, N.D. (AP) - It wouldn't be surprising if Jonathan Bartlett bleeds red, white and blue. The Bottineau resident has a deepening appreciation for this nation's founding fathers and early citizens and citizen soldiers.
A few years ago, Bartlett was introduced to Project Appleseed, a combination heritage and marksmanship program conducted by the Revolutionary War Veterans Association. He was so captured by the experience that he continues to rise through the ranks of RWVA.
"It was inspiring. It motivated me to be involved," said Bartlett. "Something really connected with the shooting aspect and the history of our founding. Our founders inspired our free nation of today. It is inspiring to share our heritage of history and marksmanship."
Today Bartlett lives with his family on a farm near Bottineau. His father made the move to the region after a 17-year stint at North Dakota State University.
"We moved to the Turtle Mountains and started a small farm," said Bartlett. "We have pork, chickens, beef, raspberries and are kind of living the country life. We home school with a lot of emphasis on history. That's probably the big reason I found interest in it."
Bartlett said he considered himself patriotic before being introduced to Project Appleseed but has become much more enthusiastic about it after attending a program. Appleseed programs provide a look at those who were instrumental in the founding of America, particularly the citizen soldiers who stood fast for what they believed. They were marksmen who utilized skills from which today's shooters can still learn.
"I had so much fun and learned so much. I knew I wanted to be an instructor," said Bartlett. "I've done at least 10 shoots in North Dakota. Usually families come out and they have a lot of fun, learn a lot and get pretty excited. They leave feeling like they have a connection to their past. They find a connection to the people who've gone before them, the very foundation they are standing on."
The foundation Bartlett is referring to is the collection of colonials, those of three-cornered hats, coats with lengthy tails and long muskets, who stood their ground at Lexington and Concord. They were commoners, farmers and tradesmen who believed in an America free from British rule. Living on the frontier necessitated that they be accomplished marksmen, harvesters of game unwilling to squander away scarce powder and bullets.
The traits of those early Americans influence much of what Bartlett teaches at his Project Appleseed courses. He delivers his message with an infectious passion that belies his young age and emphasizes the courage and abilities demonstrated by early Americans.
"We're not a political organization," Bartlett said. "The primary emphasis is on history and heritage and then having participants apply what they have learned."