Monday, September 25, 2017

Cavalier IDPA Match

I was most anxious to get out to another IDPA match. After last week's let down, I needed to shoot, and shoot well. A fun hour at the indoor range during the week was nice but I needed the thrill of competition to feel in the groove again.

As I did at last month's match at Cavalier, I opted to shoot the SIG P320 Compact in the CCP division. This time fortunately with better results, likely due in part to more practice of late. I finally have 1000 rounds through the gun and am getting more comfortable with it.

The first stage for our squad started us shooting a paper and a steel target in the open, then backing up to engage two more targets from cover. A couple more short sprints to two more cover positions to find more targets finished the stage. A quick stage and the "first stage jitters" were squelched.

Our next stage had several interesting twists in store. Six of the seven targets were turned on their sides, and were mostly presented with limited exposure. The stage started with two open targets, one near and one far. Advancing down range we faced two more partially exposed, and sideways, targets that were engaged in the open. The final three targets were seen around or through a wall of barrels. I was the first shooter on this stage, and though mostly happy with my run, made a couple tactical errors which affected my score. In my head I registered the direction of "shot in the open" as "shot on the move." As such, I shot the two hidden targets while moving, instead of stopping for a better aim at the head area. Secondly, I could have taken a make up shot at the first far target when I arrived at the up range position, but failed to even look at the target and the -3 hole.

Walking up to the next stage I thought, "That's a lot of targets." There were fifteen threat targets, plus a bunch of non-threats arrange along an L-shaped course. On this course of fire just one hit on each target was required. Starting at one end of the wall, the first target to be engaged was a long shot at the opposite end of the "L." The making our way down one side and then across the front of the bay, we engaged all the other targets. Many of the targets required quite hard leans around cover. I made more than one shot with just one foot on the ground. Adding to the challenge, a mixture of hard cover and non-threats meant that many of the targets presented only the head area or a limited body zone.

The first target engaged was also available from the last shooting position if a make up shot was required. This time my game plan included a check of the target before I finished. I was shooting CCP and wasn't used to having just eight rounds in the magazine, and having taken a couple of makeup shots during the run, when I got to the end I wasn't sure what was left in the gun. As I engaged the last two new targets I was hoping I didn't go to slide lock. I then turned to that first target and fired the last round in the gun. Whew.

The fourth and final stage we shot involved three moving targets. We started out seated at a table, with the gun in the proverbial box. There was a stomp plate under the table at our feet. Stepping on the plate activated a fast 'in and out' target that appeared from behind some barrels. It also activated a swinging target which reappeared repeatedly. Finishing those, there was a stationary target to be engaged before we stood and moved to a downrange position. From there there was a high head shot target, followed by two steel poppers. The second steel activated a quick 'up and over' disappearing target. The run finished with a stationary target. Despite having one miss on the swinger, and dropping some points on the other movers, I thought this was an especially fun stage.

It was a beautiful morning for shooting, even if we aren't seeing the cooler fall temperatures yet. The stages were a lot of fun to shoot. Though not overly difficult, the scenarios put us into some out of the ordinary shooting positions with unique challenges. I had a few more points down that I would have liked, but finished 3rd of 7 in CCP. Most satisfying was no procedural errors and no hits on non-threats.  :-)

The match behind me now, I'm already looking forward to when I can next get on the range.

More stage pics here.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Harry's Wing & Beer Dinner

Last Wednesday evening Harry's Alehouse held a Wing & Beer Pairing. This was the first beer dinner event we've been able to get to at Harry's and it sounded like one we'd very much enjoy; four chicken wing selections paired with four beers.

We arrived late for the start of the dinner, and the diners were close to finishing the second course. (We misunderstood the starting time.) Both the manager and the owner stopped what they were doing and got use seated and made sure the kitchen prepared the missed pairings for us, and we were caught up in no time. We very much appreciated the extra effort and attention.

The first course featured Thai Sticky Wings paired with Allagash White. The three wings were moderately spicy but the Witbier cut right through that and refreshed the pallet. True to the description, the wings were oozing with a very messy and sticky sauce. Fortunately Harry's provided plenty of napkins and wet wipes too!

Next up was Memphis Hot Wings and Triple Crossing Paranoid Aledroid. This time the wings featured a classic dry rub. I'm a fan of the dry rub barbecue and Triple Crossing Pale Wheat Ale is a beer I've enjoyed several times at Harry's as well. I liked this combo very much.

The heat was turned up for the third course of Korean Hot Wings served with Perennial Artisan Keith's Korner. The Wings were smothered in a thick, deep red, and hot, sauce that created a bit of perspiration on the top of my head. Pickled radishes were served on the side. The IPA could not quite overcome the intense flavor of the wings, and its flavor was somewhat lost. Although the pairing didn't work as well as the others, the wing flavoring was very well done.

The final beer of the evening, Founders Nitro Rubaeus, was paired with Peanut Butter and Jelly Wings. Admittedly, I had my doubts about this one. The wings had a strawberry glaze and were accompanied with a peanut butter dipping sauce. The wings were flavorful, but my least favorite of the evening. The beer, to my surprise and delight was very good. I haven't been a big fan of fruit beers but the raspberry flavored beer made for a refreshingly fruity dessert finish.

Harry's Wing and Beer event made for an enjoyable evening. I found it to be a nice twist from the usual "beer dinner." The pairings were well done, and both the wing and beer selections were tasty.

Although the twelve Wings and all the beer was more than satisfying, we were enjoying ourselves so much that we decided to linger for another beer and more food. Since I missed getting the full flavor the Perennial Artisan Keith's Korner IPA, I opted for a glass of that one with my "second" dinner.

We're looking forward to enjoying more events such as this at Harry's Alehouse.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Friday Laugh: Amazon Echo - Silver Edition

I found this to be truly "laugh out loud" funny. Hope it gets your weekend off to a fun start.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Indoor Range Trip

I was anxious to get back on the proverbial horse this week after some disappointing (and some good) shooting at last weekend's Commonwealth Cup match. I took an actual lunch break on Monday and drove up to the local indoor range. Entering the parking lot, I counted as many cars in the lot as they have range lanes, and quickly abandoned those plans. On Tuesday, I tried again with better results.

I was assigned the lane on the far end of the building. Some people I know don't like to shoot next to a wall, but to my way of thinking it means having only one side to watch for careless shooters, and it's easy to keep my brass. 

I was shooting the Compact P320 this trip. The session started with a 50 round "warm up" at 7 yards. After the warm up, I ran the 50 round Julie Golob drill at 10 yards on an IDPA target. Except for a leftward drift when speeding up, it was a good run. The final challenge of the Compact gun practice was 50 rounds fired at 15 yards. I had an excellent run going until I get impatient with the last magazine.

It's amazing what a little trigger time can do for one's mental state. It sure helped mine!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Word of the Day: IDJIT

  • Derived from the Irish Slang word "Eejit", which means a person who is exceedingly Stupid or an Idiot. It was americanized and made "country" and slowly was changed into "Idjit" by southerners.
I would edit to add: Often seen wearing a mask in public. Thinks socialism will work "when done right."

We all know them.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Commonwealth Cup IDPA Match

The alarm sounded way too early on Saturday morning. Even the coffee maker was not awake yet as I prepared to head to the 2017 Commonwealth Cup at the Rivanna Rod & Gun Club. Before I started shooting IDPA regularly, I knew about "the Cup" and I've been looking forward to shooting this match for some time. The organizers took a hiatus from holding the Tier 2 event for a few years, but the match returned in 2017.

The ten stage match was extremely well organized, and although we shot all day, we moved smoothly from stage to stage, with few backups. There were two indoor stages and we were transported across the club grounds in a shuttle bus for those stages. Each squad had a "squad mom" who made sure we knew where to go next and who was due to shoot, and who coordinated with the stage SO's. There was a delicious lunch catered by Mission BBQ. To ensure everyone stayed hydrated a dedicated club member spent the day delivering cold water to the stages for shooters and staff. As the day wore on, the sight of the golf cart carry the coolers full of bottled water became more and more welcome. Simply put, the organizers did a remarkable job of making this a fun event for all.

I regards to my own shooting, I had to digest the match for a few days before doing this post. As regular readers (both of you) may have noticed, I'd been preparing for the event for the last few months. Starting with a good performance at the Maryland State IDPA match in May, I was hoping for a great finish to the year. As it turned out, it was not to be the finale I had hoped. I made more than a few mistakes, and did not shoot as consistently as I had expected.

Despite my scores, I found every one of the stages to be a fun, challenging and interesting to shoot. Some I did well on, on others quite poorly. There were a number of stages that especially stood out to me. I've also posted some photos from the match here.

The match started with the same "warm up" stage shot by all competitors. Three targets getting two hits each, followed by a reload and a head shot on each. I finished in a respectable 7.01 seconds with zero down. Now that the jitters were gone, our squad started on Stage 8, "Park Bench." Sitting on a bench, we engaged two targets, before moving on to a hanging bridge. Carefully making our way across the shaky platform, four more targets were to be found. This was probably my favorite stage of the day, and I shot it well with just one point down.

After shooting our first three stages, we hopped on the shuttle bus for the ride to the clubhouse and the two indoor courses of fire. "Night at the Club" was probably the most talked about stage in the match, and not always in a fond way. This "low light" course presented a disco setting, complete with moving colored lights, and lighted fault lines. There were nine threat targets to be shot from three shooting positions, with non-threats interspersed to create some tight shots.

This was a great concept for stage. The low light with distracting disco lights added to the challenge. However, as it was set up, I found there was simply too little available light. With my poor eyesight, I could not see the far right target at the end of the hallway, the first of a group of three shot from the last shooting position. I could not make it out during the walkthrough and even walked down range to get a better look to better gauge the placement. Younger eyes probably had less of an issue. By a basic rule of gun safety, "be sure of your target," I should not have shot that target. However, following IDPA rules, I was required to engage it or be assessed a penalty, in addition to the misses. I indeed had two misses on that target, as well as two hits on the nearby non-threat. Two hits on other non-threats made for a extremely poor showing.

The funny thing is, as I was packing for the match I thought, “There will be indoor stages, I bet they’ll have a dark stage. I’ll pack a flashlight.” Unfortunately, the use of a flashlight was not permitted.

Everyone I talked to liked the concept of the stage, if not their scores. I actually hope the club reuses the concept in the future, making it a flashlight stage. I personally would like to get a few more opportunities to shoot with a flashlight. A low light stage would be an interesting challenge, as much as I’d struggle. At the end of the day, the stage was challenged and ultimately thrown out. Even though it was my worse stage of the day, dropping it from the match did little to save my day.

After lunch we shot the much talked about standards stage. Three targets placed at 45 yards, requiring two shots on each, a reload, and two more shots on each. No makeup shots allowed. My goal was "hits on paper," of which I had just 8 of 12.

Way. Out. There.

Another challenging stage,"Very Tight," is one we've shot variations of in past matches at Rivanna. Seated at a table, with the gun and reloads on the table, we engaged two rows of targets, nine in total, fronted by non-threats. Heads shots were mostly required for the front row, and lots of leaning for the back. I recall being happy with my shots on previous runs, not so on this day.

"Everything Moving" involved several moving targets. From the starting position there were two static targets and an up-down target activated by a stomp box. One the stationary targets had a falling popper behind it that activated swingers further down the course. At the next position we faced a swinger target moving behind a non-threat. That was followed by a target swinging behind two non-threats at the next position, and the course ended with three stationary targets behind cover. This was another stage I especially enjoyed shooting.

After executing a good few runs to start my match, the middle four stages were extremely frustrating for me. I just was not shooting well, and already knew this would probably be my worse match finish in a long time. I admittedly struggled to be motivated for my remaining runs. I was however, able to finish strong on the final two stages.

"Pick a Path" was a complex stage with 18 targets each requiring a single hit. For most folks, hitting all the targets required moving to six different shooting positions. A couple of the targets required hard leans or stretches to engage the threats through windows. I found it a fun stage, finishing just 2 points down.

The last stage, "Out of Gas" had us starting holding a gas can in our strong hand, while facing up range. After turning and dropping the can, which I was surprised to find weighted and full of water, we engaged two targets while backing up. Next there were targets to be engaged from cover, around barrels and through two vehicles. Many of the shots were tight and only the head areas of the targets exposed. I shot it well, just 2 point down, although that included a few make up shots on a couple of the targets.

We finished hooting the 10 stages around 6:00PM. I shed my gear and relaxed for a bit while the scores were posted. There were several guns to be raffled off so I stuck around for the drawings. Alas, I was not a winner in that event either. There was large prize table for random drawings as well, with some nice prizes. Unfortunately, I found I simply could not stay any longer. I was very tired, and feared that if too much of my drive home was done after dark, it would be dangerous, so I decided to forgo any chances for swag and headed home. Once I got home and cleaned up, I had just enough enough energy left to scoop a bowl of ice cream and carry it to the couch. I was beat.

After a few days of thinking about the match, to include more than a little moaning to my patient wife, the disappointment admittedly still lingers. I shot three good stages, followed by four poor runs, before ending with three decent runs. While I was happy with the five or six stages I shot well, when I did poorly on a stage, I tanked it to the extreme. The sting of the disappointment somewhat clouds the memory of what really was an exceptional match. I typically examine each of my match performances and pick out some specific things to work on in the future — whether it's speed of shooting, movement, draw stroke, etc. This time there seems to be nothing specific, which is most frustrating.

My opportunities to shoot will likely be limited for the next few months, especially competitively. Eventually, I'll get back to the range, pull the trigger some more, put in some dry fire, and try again. There's always next year.

Monday, September 18, 2017

A Prayer to St. Joseph Before Work

This was sent to me recently. I've decided to use it daily. Monday mornings especially.
O Glorious Saint Joseph, model of all those who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work in a spirit of penance for the expiation of my many sins; to work conscientiously, putting the call of duty above my natural inclinations; to work with thankfulness and joy, considering it an honor to employ and develop by means of labor the gifts received from God; to work with order, peace, moderation and patience, never shrinking from weariness and trials; to work above all with purity of intention and detachment from self, keeping unceasingly before my eyes death and the account that I must give of time lost, talents unused, good omitted, and vain complacency in success, so fatal to the work of God.

All for Jesus, all through Mary, all after thy example, O Patriarch, Saint Joseph. Such shall be my watch-word in life and in death. Amen.

– Composed by Pope St. Pius X 

The older I get, or probably more precisely, the younger my co-workers get, the more frustrating the daily grind becomes. But I must remind myself, there's a bigger picture.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Need For Range Time

It occurs to me...

When I do poorly at a match, I am anxious to get back to the range for more practice in order to do better next time.

When I do well at a match, I am anxious to get back to the range for more practice in order to do better next time.

After this weekend's match, it's definitely the former. Time to hit the practice range.

I've had a year of ups and downs on the range. It's a good thing I really enjoy the shooting, no matter what the scores say.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Thinking Outside the Box

One has to give Alex Diamond points for creativity.
Diamond was planning on attending New York City’s annual electronic music festival, Electric Zoo. The festival – held on Randall’s Island – was set for Labor Day. So, three weeks before that, Diamond traveled out to where the event was going to be held to case the scene.

Upon surveying where the area, Diamond “buried a Nalgene bottle full of vodka on the grounds of Electric Zoo,” he said on Facebook.

“The planning of the burial was simply,” Diamond posted on his Festival Pro Tips’ Facebook page. “We used Google maps and marked our spot on GPS so we knew where it would be. Then we waited.”

That's one way of avoiding the high cost of alcohol at events. After forking over $10.50 for a plastic cup of beer at Fedex Field a few weeks ago, I can relate. (It was Devils Backbone Eight Point IPA, so at least it was good beer.)

 See "Man sneaks alcohol into festival by burying it three weeks earlier" for the full story.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Celebrating 33 Years

For my wonderful wife and best friend on this special day as we mark 33 years of marriage. Colleen, I give thanks to God every day for putting you in my life. I look forward to 33 more years!

And now a musical interlude to help celebrate...

Happy Anniversary to a beautiful, loving, and patient, lady. I am blessed.