Friday, August 18, 2017

Five O'Clock Friday: The AK-47 Multi-Tool

Sort of gives a whole new meaning to the term "charging handle,"

I plan to do something more exciting than auto mechanics with my guns this weekend!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Range Outing: The Humidity Edition

I hit the range with my son after work on Tuesday for a quick shooting session. It had been raining most of the day, but when it cleared up mid-afternoon I messaged my son to see if he wanted to try to hit the range after work. Not surprisingly he answered in the affirmative.

As we unpacked the gear at the range and started loading magazines we noticed that the surfaces of the guns, mags, and ammo all felt damp. The transition from the cool car to the humid air was producing a lot of condensation. Checking the local conditions on my phone I saw the humidity was up at 87%, with a dew point of 75°. The temperature hovering around 80°, so it wasn't surprising that things felt wet.

Humidity: You can't see it but it's there

On this trip we set up at the seven yard line so I could do more strong and weak hand only shooting. I also wanted to practice sighting in on the head shots. I was extremely pleased with my initial runs at all of these tests of skill. As time went on, I noticed my performance degrading a bit significantly. The constant fogging of my shooting glasses, combined with the droplets of sweat on the lenses no doubt contributing.

I also brought along the S&W Shield, which I hadn't shot in a while. It was fun to put a few rounds through it as well. After a while we were both frustrated with the humidity, and hungry, so we decided to pick up brass and head home.

At one point in time I had a fog treatment cloth in my range bag; it seems I need to replace that important item. Despite the exceedingly humid atmosphere, it was fun way to wind down after work.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse

The new BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse location in Fredericksburg opened a few weeks ago and we finally made a visit this weekend. We planned for an early dinner on Saturday, but so did a lot of other people it seems. We waited about 50 minutes after arriving to get a table. While we waited outside, where the weather was fortunately pleasant, the BJ's staff frequently distributed free samples of their deep dish pizza to the waiting diners. Once we were seated, service was fast and very attentive

The beer menu lists over 50 options. There a wide variety of craft beers, including about 18 BJ's house beers. The beers are not brewed on site, rather they are brought in from one of their six breweries at other locations. I opted to start out with BJ's Hopstorm IPA and Colleen selected BJ's Harvest Hefeweizen.

Initial beer selections made, we dove into the food extensive food menu. Not having been to a BJ's prior to this, I was surprised by the variety of food offered. Burgers, steaks, sandwiches, pasta, soups, salads, the list goes on. The first couple of times our waitress checked on us, we had to wave her off because we were taking a long time to decide. Finally we had our selections made; Shrimp and Asparagus Pasta for Colleen, Baked Ziti for our son, while I went for a lighter fare of a Seared Ahi Salad.

I found the IPA to be enjoyable. While it was nothing exceptional or out of the ordinary, it was quite flavorable. Colleen's Hefeweizen was very well done I thought. We ordered a second round of BJ's beers to enjoy with our meals; Jeremiah Red Irish Are for me and Midsummer's Ale Saison for Colleen. My Red Ale was rich and malty. It's also one of their more popular selections according to our waitress.

The food was delivered in a timely manner and we were all pleased with our selections. My salad entree was fresh and tasty. After signing up for BJ's rewards program I received an email with a coupon for a free small "pizookie" which we opted to redeem. The salted caramel pizookie was a great cap to a fun meal.

The waitstaff at BJ's carry iPad-like devices to send your orders directly to the kitchen or bar. Other servers often bring out the ordered items, which leaves the waitstaff free to tend tables. I found it quite efficient and we never lost sight of our waitress who concentrated on tending to her customers rather than running to the kitchen.

We enjoyed our meal, and found the food and beer worthy of a return visit. Interestingly, as we were leaving, we noted there was now no wait to get in. Perhaps going for a later dinner rather than earlier would be wiser. We'll be back in the near future to try out more of the menu offerings. And the beer.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Martyrs of Otranto

August 14 is the Feast Day of the Martyrs of Otranto. These faithful Christians were victims of muslim brutality and conquest in the Italian city of Otranto in 1480. Two days prior, on August 11, the town, which had been under siege for two weeks, was finally overrun by the Ottoman invaders. Subsequently, all men in the town over the age of 50 were slaughtered, and women and children under 15 were sent away into slavery. The leader of the invaders, Pasha Ament ordered over 800 surviving Christian men brought before him and commanded them to convert to islam or face death. The faithful refused to cave in to his barbarous demands.

One of the men came forth and spoke in a manner that we should all pray we could emulate,
My brothers, until today we have fought in defense of our country, to save our lives, and for our lords; now it is time that we fight to save our souls for our Lord, so that having died on the cross for us, it is good that we should die for him, standing firm and constant in the faith, and with this earthly death we shall win eternal life and the glory of martyrs.
Angered that they would not renounce their faith, Pasha Ament ordered all the men killed. On August 14, 1480, the prisoners were brought to a nearby hill and beheaded, while their families and friends were mercessly forced to watch. According to tradition, the body of the first victim, Antonio Primaldo, refused to fall over until the entire group had been executed. The destruction of the town complete, and its population decimated, the moslem invaders continued their march toward Rome.

A year later, in October 1481, the bodies of the martyrs were found to be uncorrupted and moved to the Otranto cathedral. On December 14, 1771, Pope Clement XIV beatified these brave men. On May 12, 2013 their cause for Sainthood was completed when Pope Francis declared the Martyrs of Otranto to be among the Saints in Heaven.

Martyrs of Otranto, Ora pro nobis!

Relics of the Otranto Martyrs

The islamic war on Christianity, and civilized people as a whole, continues to this day. The scimitar remains the conversion tool of choice for the barbaric cult. (That whole "religion of peace" meme notwithstanding.)

Today we remember these brave men and pray we remain as strong in our own wars against the minions of Satan.

Also see "How the 800 Martyrs of Otranto Saved Rome" for more on the martyrs and their place in the history of Christendom.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

One Handed Shooting Practice

I've been especially busy the past few days and have barely had time to even sit and read my favorite blogs, much less write on my own, but Tuesday evening I managed to get over to the range for a quick visit. As I promised myself, I focused on strong hand and weak hand shooting.

All the shooting was done from about 7 yards; a distance chosen in part so I could review my hits without walking to the target to check each string. I shot 75 rounds strong hand only, making adjustments in my grip and the gun cant as I went. For me, keeping the gun as vertical as possible seems to give the best results.

I also went through a few magazines shooting weak hand only. With concentration, I was able to pull many of the shots away from the high right pattern that was prevalent at the start.

Final Groups WHO and SHO

Interspersing some two handed shooting offered small breaks from the more strenuous single hand shooting. It also shows why it's more fun to practice those easier shots.

Two Hands!

All in all it was a good practice session, though it was all done with slow fire, under no match pressure. I do hope to put in more time doing the same in the coming days —assuming life's demands allow for the diversion.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Sanner's Lake IDPA Match

On Saturday, a couple of friends and I ventured across the Potomac River to shoot the monthly IDPA match at Sanner's Lake Sportsman's Club. The club puts on a quality match with six interesting and challenging stages.

The first stage our squad shot was a standards stage involving both strong hand and weak hand shooting. It was not the sort of stage I wanted to warm up with! The stage started with six rounds in the gun, held in our weak hand. After two shots on each of three partial targets, we reloaded and reengaged the targets, strong hand only or freestyle, and then again with the remaining hand option. I did not do well, racking up a horrific, and honestly unexpected, 20 points down. At least it gave me the chance to put my "get over it" mantra into play.

The next stage had us pulling a rope that activated a swinging non-threat target. After starting the swinger we moved to engage an array of three targets from cover, before advancing to a port in a wall. Through this port there were four targets which had the swinging non-threat in front of them. I faired better here, with 4 points down.

Feeling a bit more confident, I was ready to take on the next challenge. This stage was little more complex. We engaged the first two targets from the right side of wall of barrels, followed by a single distant target from the left side. Moving to an opening between walls, a single target was hiding behind another barrel stack. A slight shift in position opened up three more targets. Finally we crossed through the opening, to find one more target hiding beyond another barrel. It was a fun stage, that I finished -0. I may have found my groove....

But, what's this? Another one-handed shooting stage? This time we were seated with our gun and the downloaded mags on the table in front of us. The stage consisted of two strings of six shots on three targets; one shot weak hand only, the other strong hand only. This time I was 10 points down. Ouch.

The next stage was fairly straightforward, with a small challenge to start. The first target was directly down range, but was fronted by a piece of steel that had a circle the size of the -0 zone cut out. Essentially anything other than center hit was going to be a miss. As a good thing, the ping of steel would tell the shooter he needed to try again. There were five more targets arranged on either side of the bay, hidden by barrels that were to be engaged while advancing down the bay. All targets required three hits each. 

Oddly enough I felt confident going into the stage. And indeed, I hit my first three shots dead on, hearing no steel hits and needing no make ups. All other shots were good as well, and I racked up another -0 stage. 

The last stage included lots of movement — by the shooter and the targets. On either side of the bay there was a matching set up consisting of an open target, a steel popper, and a hidden swinger. Each popper activated the swinger on the opposite side. We started facing up range, our backs to a wall. At the start we moved to one side of the wall, engaged a paper target and the steel popper, then moved to the opposite side. There we engaged the stationary paper, the other popper and the now appearing swinging target. We then moved back to the other side to shoot the second swinger. Again, all paper targets required three hits each. My eight points down were earned mainly on the moving targets.

Despite some hot and cold performance on my part, the end results were not too disappointing. I finished 12th of 58 shooters overall, and 3rd of 24 in SSP. The match was very well run and we finished shooting before noon. The road trip with friends was most enjoyable which added to the fun of the day. I'm always impressed with the events put on by the folks at the Maryland club. It makes the trouble of traveling into the (not so) "Free State" a bit more bearable.

And in the days ahead, some serious work on strong hand and weak hand shooting is in my plans...

A few more pics from the match here.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Mind Prep For Shooting

Picking some goals for tomorrow's IDPA match from great teachers...
"Don't worry about how fast you shoot, worry about how good you shoot."
-- Clint Smith, Thunder Ranch
"Therefore, above all else, calm and compose your mind. Gently and quietly pursue your aim."
 -- Saint Francis de Sales

Okay, St. Francis likely had something different in mind. But it works.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Back to the Range

When my son and I visited the range this week, one of my plans was to try out some different grip modules for the guns. I had acquired the small sized grip for the full size P320. The smaller grip circumference is closer to that of the P226 I've been shooting for years. At the end of the trial, I was still undecided which I liked better, the small or the stock medium grip. More shooting will be required.

I had also recently picked up a Subcompact P320 grip module to put on the Compact slide. Shooting the Compact gun with the Subcompact grip module was not a problem at all. My pinkie finger floats, but the gun still handles fine. It will make a good option for easier concealment when the situation calls for it.

Switching the grip modules around is simple and quick. The most confusing part was keeping the magazines straight among the guns, as all the grip modules require mags of different capacities. It's like Tinker Toys for adults.

We shot for just a short time, only using up about a hundred rounds each. Since the range hours require us to head out right after work, we were both very hungry and anxious to get home for dinner. Still it was a fun time as usual.

I recently had a friend tell me he was avoiding picking up a SIG P320 because he knew he'd want more than one due to the modularity. I can totally understand that.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

This Week's Indoor Range Visit

I've been fortunate of late to be able to get out to shoot frequently. Schedules change, so I'm taking advantage while I can. This week's trip to the indoor range turned was one of the more crowded times I've seen recently. In actuality, there weren't that many shooters there, but we were all assigned to one end of the range. I did see a ladder set up at the other end, so perhaps there were maintenance issues that forced that.

It's indeed rare that I find myself shooting while there multiple guns going off nearby, outside of a training class. At this older indoor range, with no sound dampening, the gun fire is an especially distracting experience. The guy next to me was firing off strings of around 15 or more rounds at a time. I quickly took to doing my shooting while he was reloading.

I mostly worked on slow shots focusing on the sights, my trigger finger, and trying minute grip changes. There's still some slight leftward drift I need to overcome, which seems to be a fairly recent, and frustrating, development in my shooting. After 150 rounds of slow fire I was ready to head back to the office, reinvigorated to face the rest of the day.

I still hope to be able to get in an outdoor range session later in the week to supplement my daily dry fire. All the practice will at the very least make the match days more enjoyable, even if I'm not winning any prizes.