Monday, August 22, 2016

Rivanna IDPA Match

I went down to Charlottesville to shoot the August Rivanna IDPA match on Saturday. For August, the weather was surprisingly pleasant not overly oppressive. It was certainly better than we experienced during last weekend's rifle class.

The first stage our squad shot was reminiscent of a stage from last month's Cavalier match, though with a couple more targets set over a slightly wider spread. The six near and one far target were engaged in tactical sequence while seated. The gun started with a magazine inserted but with an empty chamber, and all reloads were from the table. The placement of the non-threats meant lots of shifting in the seat to see all the targets.

At the next stage, all three mags were loaded with just six rounds each, and placed on three barrels arranged in a triangle. There were six targets set in a line downrange from the barrels. The targets required one shot each while moving left to right between the barrels. Then reloading at the right barrel, one shot was made on each target while moving forward to front barrel. Another reload and six more shots were made while backing up. I missed my first shot moving left to right, mistiming the shot while stepping. Shooting while moving sideways can be difficult, and something I rarely practice, though I practice moving frontward and backward regularly. (Note to self: Fix that.)

Strong and weak support hand only shooting was required on the third stage we shot, which consisted of two limited round strings. The first string required three shots, freestyle, on a ~20 yard target, a reload with retention, then six SHO shots on a 10 yard target. For the second string, the three shots on the far target and reload were followed by six WHO shots on a seven yard target. I was pleased with my SHO and WHO shots, thankfully that practice is paying off, though I got a little sloppy on the distant target.

The final stage I shot, which was Stage 1 of the match, offered a switch from the usual table start — we were seated facing to the side of the range, the targets to our right. Upon the signal, we turned in the chair and engaged three targets with three rounds each. Them moving downrange, we engaged two more targets from cover.

There was a side BUG match being held a well, and I had originally planned to shoot that at some point during the day. However, the fast moving match meant I never had a enough down time to do it between stages. After the match there was a large group of shooters waiting, so I opted to hit the road for home and lunch.

The quick, simple stages kept things moving quite well, and we never never had to wait on the squad ahead of us to finish shooting. Temps in the upper 80's, intermittent cloud cover, and even the occasional breeze kept things relatively pleasant. It was an enjoyable match with a fun crowd of shooters. The stages at Rivanna are often deceptive in their simplicity and the matches always offer variety of challenges. Other than a couple of poor shots, I was pleased with how I shot. As usual, I'm already looking forward to some practice in preparation for the next match.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Event: Adventure Brewing Oktoberfest

Since Adventure Brewing purchased Blue & Gray Brewing, the most frequent questions I've heard from folks revolve around the future of the popular St. Patrick's Day and Oktoberfest celebrations held each year at Blue & Gray. I've been told that these events will continue at the new Adventure Brewing South location, but it's still been a matter of "wait and see."

We know now that the fourteen year Oktoberfest tradition will continue. Adventure has announced plans for their first annual Oktoberfest on September 17th from 12:00 PM -8:00 PM. The event lives on, though with some changes.

The biggest change, and most exciting I think, is the addition of other local breweries to the lineup. Currently Maltese Brewing Company, Rusty Beaver Brewery, and Wild Run Brewing Company are all on the list. Ticket fees will include either a shaker pint or an Oktoberfest mug, and a token for a beer fill. There will traditional Oktoberfest foods for sale, as well as games and vendors.

More details and advance ticket sales can be found at the event website.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

60,000 Rounds And A New Barrel

While I have several pistols that I shoot, and carry, regularly, my SIG Sauer P226 E2 is by far my favorite. Since I purchased it in 2010, I've put somewhere around 60,000 rounds through it. It's had several sets of new springs put in, but other than a new guide rod, it's still original equipment. Lately I've been thinking about replacing the barrel. The gun still shoots more accurately than I do, but I figured I wouldn't wait until there's a serious problem.

I opted for a factory replacement from SIG Sauer. After looking at the online store, I called the shop to ask a couple questions. The guy on the phone was friendly and very helpful. After I thanked him for the info he offered to get me a better price than what was posted online, so I ordered right then and there; for 15% off!

The barrel dropped right in and I ran over to the range to put 100 error-free rounds through it — and it still shoots more accurately than me. I was also struck how different the gun looks with a black barrel rather than a worn silver one. As long as the slide and frame continue to hold out, I expect to continue shooting this gun for a long time.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Brewery Road Trip

After an exhausting day on the range, we spent Saturday evening and next morning rehydrating before heading off on a brewery road trip on Sunday. We employed our favorite college student to act as chauffer for the day

Our first stop was Devils Backbone on Route 151 in Nelson County. I almost didn’t recognize the place; there’s been a lot of expansion on the property since our last visit three years ago. We were quickly seated and got our beer orders in. Colleen and Checkered Flag chose their favorite style Hefeweizen, Trail Angel Weiss and Apricot Weiss respectively. I opted for one of my old favorite styles, Altbier, and chose Devil’s Secret. This German-style beer is a collaboration between Devils Backbone and Apocalypse Ale Works. I enjoyed the rich, dark, Dopplebock-like flavor very much.

While walking between the car and the restaurant entrance we were treated to the aroma of the meat being smoked. There was no doubt I was going to partake in the house-smoked barbecue. My pulled pork sandwich was rich in spice and smoke, and went perfectly with my beer.

Finishing my food and first beer, I decided to stick with the German theme, and enjoyed a pint of Meadow Bier, a delicious German-style Pilsner. Then it was time to move on to our next stop so we had the driver bring the car around. (Actually, we walked to the car, but we did enjoy more than a few chauffeur jokes at my son’s expense.)

Soon we found ourselves at Bold Rock Cidery. Unlike our last visit the weather was not conducive to sitting on the large outdoor deck area taking in the scenery. We opted to enjoy the comfortable indoor lounge area, while watching various Olympic activities on several TV screens. We ended up sitting and enjoying ourselves for longer than intended. I was sipping on an IPA, or India Pressed Apple, a cider dry hopped with five hops for a tasty blend of tart apple cider and sweet, citrus notes. I found it quite enjoyable. Checkered Flag drank a Vat #1 while Colleen sipped a Prime Lime, a refreshing drink made with their Premium Dry cider and lime juice and served over ice.

Continuing on our way, we made an unplanned stop at Blue Toad Cidery. Blue Toad is a New York-based cidery that opened in Virginia last year. The tasting room had only two other visitors when we arrived and took our seats at the bar. We looked over the one cider menu we were handed to decide what we wanted to try out, receiving no information or suggestions from the lady behind the bar. A few other folks come in while we sat the bar, and still it seemed the atmosphere was less than welcoming. I remarked that it was almost as if we were interrupting the bartender’s alone time; either she didn't want to be there, didn't want us there, or both.

We ended up ordering pints of three cider varieties; Back Cherry, APA Triple Hopped, and PommeGranny Batch 1. Since this was an spur-of-the-moment stop, we discussed skipping the next brewery on our agenda, Starr Hill in Charlottesville, and head straight to South Street Brewery for dinner. However, after a few minutes of sitting at the Blue Toad bar, we opted to leave our drinks and the unwelcoming atmosphere and try to make it to Starr Hill after all.

On the way to Starr Hill Brewery, we came upon an accident just as the emergency equipment was arriving, and were directed to turn around as the road was now closed. After a slight detour and GPS rerouting we arrived at the brewery shortly before last call. I had time to enjoy a pint of Reviver Red IPA. I’d seen this seasonal in my local grocery store, but had just never gotten around to trying it. I was not disappointed and I think I may see if it's still in the store. Pints of The Love Wheat and The Hook were also ordered by the rest of our party.

Starr Hill is one of my favorite Virginia breweries, but oddly enough, I had never visited previously. I would have liked to been able to stay a while longer, and try out a few more of the offerings. I will try to find time for another visit in the near future.

Finally, to my son’s delight, we made it to our last stop for the day, South Street Brewery. All of us were quite hungry as it had been a long day since lunch at Devils Backbone. South Street’s varied menu was just the ticket. But first things first, we had to decide on a beverage. I opted to try the Tongue Dropper, an odd but enticing sounding "Sour Double IPA".  Our server warned it was more Sour Ale than IPA, but upon sipping my impression was that of a citrusy Double IPA that had a mildly tart tang at the end. I found it a worthy sipper, and a good "I've had enough" beer at the end of the day. I paired my beer with a plate of hearty Mac n' Cheese with sausage. Colleen and Checkered Flag indulged their wheat beer passion with El Jefe's Hefeweizen.

It was a long, but enjoyable day. Our previous trips along the "Brew Ridge Trail" have been in the fall, and the roads and breweries were always very crowded. This mid-summer trip was less so. We never had to wait for service, nor search for parking places. While the scenery isn't as colorful as it is in the fall, the area is still beautiful, and the food and beer well worth the drive.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Minuteman Rifle Course with FPF Training

On a very hot Saturday, thirteen rifle enthusiasts spent the day in the oppressive heat working to improve on their skills with the "modern sporting rifle." The class was the Minuteman Rifle class taught by John Murphy of FPF Training. Most of my experience with the AR-15 has been shooting at shotgun clays at 25 yards, so I was looking forward to the class and getting some practical lessons. This event was for me a family affair as Colleen and our son also took the class. Our friend and frequent shooting partner, "Checkered Flag" also came along.

When we signed up for the class last January, the heat of August came into discussion, but little did we expect we'd be in the midst of major heat wave. With temperatures near 100°, and the heat index topping 110°, the weather was downright brutal. But we braved it, to a point.

The Minuteman Rifle class is intended to be an intro class covering basic safety, manipulation and marksmanship skills. At the start John covered safety and nomenclature, followed by weapon manipulation. We then spent some time using dummy rounds and working on remedial action drills. Then it was time for live fire.

Four shooting positions were covered in the class; prone, kneeling, seated and standing. We started out at the 25 yard line shooting prone, to make sure everyone's weapons were hitting paper. After that we moved to the 50 yard line and shot a few groups. Between each group, John checked the targets and made adjustments to sights as needed. Once he was satisfied, we moved on the next shooting position, shooting from a kneeling position. We repeated the process as before, shooting a group from 25 yards, followed by moving to the 50 yard line and repeating process a few times.

After we moved through the sitting and standing shooting positions, we combined the positions into a single string. We were using targets with four bullseyes stacked vertically. We shot groups of five on each circle from each position — standing, kneeling, seated and prone. The goal was accuracy, not speed. After each string, targets were reviewed and corrective advise given. Throughout the day, John and his assistant Gary watched us and offered suggestions for fixing problems, as well as occasional praise or pejorative as warranted.

For the latter part of the course, once we were all getting decent hits from all four positions, the targets were switched to a photo-realistic target and we repeated the drills. This time the goal was to put four center of mass and one head shot on the target from each position. At 50 yards, the size of the target head behind iron sights is quite small. I was pleased to make most of those tight shots.

We ended the day shooting at steel at 75 yards. The original intent had been to shoot at 100 yards, but the range had to be shortened as by then we had several folks recuperating in their air conditioned cars, which were parked at the side of the range.

Throughout the day, we took frequent breaks and close attention was paid to the affects of the extreme heat. A few folks took themselves out of the action as the afternoon progressed. In deference to safety, John modified the curriculum and shorted the day a bit. I had hit my own limit by the end, if the class had gone much longer I would have likely called it quits myself.

Despite the heat and modified schedule I found the class to be extremely beneficial. Except for some degradation from exhaustion at the end of the day, I saw improvements as the day progressed. My trigger pull got smoother and my hold on the gun was more stable, with the associated improvements in accuracy. John reminded us that his class is a gateway for more advanced classes. Before I consider that option, I intend to work on improving on what I learned this weekend. If you're looking for a good basic class to learn to shoot the AR-15, I can heartily recommend this offering from FPF Training, perhaps a spring or fall scheduled class rather than mid-August.

It's also good to know that my family has competency with the AR — one never knows when that will come in handy.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Thursday, August 11, 2016

How Quickly We Forget

Though written 100 years ago, these words should serve as a reminder, and as a warning, to the Christians in America and throughout the world today.
Christianity is not the creed of Asia and Africa at this moment solely because the seventh century Christians of Asia and Africa, in addition to being rent asunder among themselves by bitter sectarian animosities--and sectarian intolerance and animosity stand for most that is evil in Christianity--had trained themselves not to fight, whereas the Moslems were trained to fight. Christianity was saved in Europe solely because the peoples of Europe fought. If the peoples of Europe in the seventh and eight centuries, and on up to and including the seventeenth century, had not possessed a military equality with, and gradually a growing superiority over, the Mohammedans who invaded Europe, Europe would at this moment be Mohammedan, and the Christian religion would be exterminated. Wherever the Mohammedans have had complete sway, wherever the Christians have been unable to resist them by the sword, Christianity has ultimately disappeared. From the hammer of Charles Martel to the sword of Sobieski, Christianity owed its safety in Europe to the fact that it was able to show that it could and would fight as well as the Mohammedan aggressor. 
-- Theodore Roosevelt in Fear God and Take Your Own Part, 1916

It may indeed be too late for the citizens of Europe, their surrender to the invaders has been willful and largely unrepentant. I pray that Christians in my own country will heed the warnings.

A major battle against this invasion will be fought in the U.S. on November 8.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Sanner's Lake IDPA Match

Last month I attended the monthly IDPA match at Sanner's Lake for the first time and had a blast. Even though it means spending a total of about four hours on the road, it's a fun match and I was excited to go back. I rendezvoused with a friend at about the halfway point of the trip and we rode to the match together. It was happy to share the ride with another shooter. Stuart's company and the interesting conversation made for a fun trip.

The first stage for our squad had us seated, facing six targets, most partially obscured by barrels and/or non-threats. It required some hard leans from the chair to complete the course of fire; many shooters ending up with two legs of the chair up in the air. The next stage was also shot while seated, this time with a non-threat directly in front of the shooter blocking the targets.

Moving on, a standards stage presented a unique challenge. There were four targets, each requiring two body and one head shot, and all shooting was to be done weak had only. The targets were set at just seven yards, but only one was fully in the open. As can be seen from the photo posted below, the non-threat targets were taking a beating. I didn't hit either of the "good guys" on this stage, but did miss one head shot. 

The next stage combined a few close but partial targets, with falling steel and paper out at 25 yards. Adding to the challenge, two of the distant steel targets were set in front of a non-threat target, and the paper target was also behind a non-threat target.

Our fifth stage reminded me of a classic USPSA stage with barrels hiding targets on either side of the bay. However unlike USPSA, we had to be conscious of cover. The path chosen while moving downrange — staying to the left or right, moving down the center, crossing back and forth — affected the order in which we were exposed to the targets. One had to pay close attention to cover while shooting the stage. I think I reverted to a USPSA mindset and ran past one head shot target way too fast, missing the target completely. That cost me 20 points and several places in the overall finish.

The last stage started with fast shots on an arm's length target, transitioned to more distant targets and a steel activated swinger, then concluded with a sprint to a final up close and low target hidden behind some barrels. It was a fun fast stage, and the only one I shot clean, to finish the match on a high note.

I found this to be a very challenging match. All paper targets in the match required three hits, and all but a few of them were partial or head shot only targets. I never really got into the groove, and had more than a few misses. Leaving the match I wasn't expecting to finish well. But after seeing the scores, I wasn't as disappointed as I thought I'd be. I could have done better, but at least it was not the disaster I had imagined.

The match was a lot of fun, well-run and went very quickly. The facility is large enough that each stage is in it's own bay, which allows the match to flow with little or no waiting between stages. We finished all six stages in less than three hours and the summer heat didn't really become a factor until the last two stages. Adding to the fun, at Stuart's suggestion we made a brief stop at a local liquor store on the way home where I picked up a couple beers I can't find in Virginia. I'm looking forward to enjoying them in the coming days.

Somebody left non-threats behind the steel
Sanner's Lake has been improving and adding shooting pits over the past year. The bay pictured above wasn't even there last month. I'm looking forward to shooting more matches at the club in the future.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Range Trip: I Needed That

I've not had a lot of time to blog do anything interesting recently, which may be obvious from the lack of posting. I am not sure how much that will change much in coming weeks. However, I do have some shooting matches on the schedule, so there's that. For that reason, an impromptu range trip this week was most welcome. I was at work when the text from Checkered Flag came in, "Will shooting fit?" Well, twist my arm.

I finished up at work, and since I already had most of the range gear in the car, from an unfulfilled plan to shoot earlier in the week, Colleen, CF, and I were soon at the range. Keeping within the local range rules, most of our shooting was slow(ish) fire while standing still. We did get in some practice shooting on the move, as well as SHO and WHO, which I try to do each time I hit the range.

Near the end of our time, and ammo, we were shooting at 15-17 yards, and using the 5.5" splatter targets to help see our hits. I was hitting the target, but often just barely, and not in any good groups. Chalking some of that up to being tired after an hour of steady shooting, I started taking my shots a bit faster, spending less time staring at the sight alignment. Suddenly I started seeing yellow splats appear in the center of the target. Isn't that interesting, I thought.

For an August afternoon in Virginia, the 77° temp was also a welcome treat and made for a pleasant time. Soon we were home, enjoying some good beer and ranting about democrats and apostates, which aren't always mutually exclusive. Colleen cooked up a fantastic dinner featuring some flavorful filet mignon done just right. It was indeed a wonderful evening and a great way to relax after a busy day.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Stand Ready

For weeks we've been seeing the result of open borders and allowing non-vetted "refugees" into Germany and France. In the United States, we've seen numerous attacks tied to "lone wolf" muslim terrorists. This morning we wake up to the horrific news that islamists have attacked a Catholic church in France during Holy Mass, and martyred Fr. Jacques Hamel by slitting his throat.

But, it can't happen here we are told, again and again. Strangely enough, these same apologists for terror never tell us why it can't happen here. Rest assured, it can, and it will happen here. The followers of islam are coming for Christians. They always come for the Christians.

Tomorrow the Church remembers Sts. Natalia, Aurelius, Liliosa, Felix, and George, all martyrs of islam who suffered at Cordova in Spain under the Caliph Abderrahman II, A.D. 852. May these Saints welcome Fr. Jacques to his final Glory.

For my Virginia readers, I will remind you of the Virginia statute which vaguely states that carrying a weapon "without good and sufficient reason" in a church is not lawful. I will also remind you that former Virginia Attorney Cuccinelli opined that "carrying a weapon for personal protection constitutes a good and sufficient reason under the statute to carry a weapon into a place of worship while a meeting for religious purposes is being held there."

Will you be ready? The choice is yours.

Father Jacques, priest and martyr, pray for us.