Friday, March 24, 2017

Thursday Evening Fire Pit

With the longer days, and still cool evenings, Thursday presented an opportunity to enjoy some time around the fire pit. We enjoyed an early dinner and then decided to head outside. The fire was going strong as the sun set gave way to a starry night sky.

The flames were quite mesmerizing, even if I was distracted enough to make note of some yard work awaiting. Even though the next day was still to be a workday, the relaxing evening set a perfect tone for the weekend to come.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Birthday Sights & Sounds

Plans for a full vacation day on my birthday yesterday fell through, but that doesn’t mean I couldn't enjoy the day.

I had blocked off a chunk of my calendar in an attempt to avoid anyone scheduling for me something. I used some of that freedom to visit the indoor range for an hour. I had the place to myself for most of the time, which is always an added bonus. I started out shooting a few magazines through the M&P Shield. A friend had kindly adjusted the poorly installed sights and I was anxious to try it out. Success! I might actually shoot some BUG matches later this year — though I’m now without an excuse for any poor shooting.

I next switched to the SIG P226 for more trials at shooting while holding a flashlight. I changed my method from what I used before and was quite pleased. Now I’m holding the light under the trigger between my two middle fingers. It feels much more stable, though the grip on the gun is a little odd. I will still need to practice reloads in dry fire.

For general practice I decided to do the 50 round Julie Golob drill at 15 yards. I was quite pleased with that drill, shot at a relaxed pace. Finally, I moved the target all the way out and did some slow shooting at 25 yards. No low hits this time. It was very difficult to see my beige IDPA center repair target against the beige cardboard hanger. At least I could somewhat make out the black aiming point in the center.

When I got back to the car after shooting, I noticed a text message from Colleen. She had been shopping again. I truly enjoy these messages from her.

When my work day ended, we went out for an enjoyable meal. Naturally, the meal included some tasty beers. We enjoyed a couple hours sitting at one of our favorite bars and just talking. Frankly, I feel that life's been moving at a fast pace recently, so it was especially satisfying just to relax with Colleen for a while.

All good things must come to an end, but the birthday treats hadn't ended yet. There was a specially labeled delivery left at the house as well.

One can't fight getting older, but we can certainly celebrate marking another year on the calendar.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Rivanna Indoor IDPA

This month's IDPA match at Rivanna Rifle and Gun Club was held on the indoor ranges due to poor ground conditions left by the past week's snow and rain. I was actually hoping that would be the case as I haven't shot an indoor match in quite some time and wanted to get some more experience.

The first stage I shot (stage 2 of the match) had us facing a non-threat target which we knocked over to start the course. The target stand actually fell back more slowly than expected and I had my gun out and ready to shoot before it was out of the way. We put 6 hits on the first target while backing up to a barrel stack. From that position there were three more targets to be engaged with three shots each.

I was dismayed when the stage was scored to see I was 4 points down. My hits on the last targets were in good groups, but low. This stage would be my best finish of the morning.

The next stage had us facing open targets at 15 yards, all requiring three hits each. We engaged the first three while stationary, then retreated up range, around a barrel, and back down range to hit the last three targets. Again, all my hits were on target, but low.

Up next was a seated stage with six targets behind a couple of non-threats, again at 15 yards. Precision shot placement was required to avoid hitting the penalty targets. I was quite pleased to finish the stage clean. However, again with low hits, racking up the points down. By now I was getting some well-deserved ribbing from my squad mates.

The final stage was shot one-handed. The first string of three targets was shot weak hand only, the second strong hand only. As a friend pointed out, now my weak hand shots were actually high.

I spent a lot of time thinking back on the match, and the shooting that led me to finish 24th of 60 shooters. There's a lot to analyze and consider. Was it from being tired? Was it the low light levels? Was it the way I've practiced lately? I could make a case for any, or all, of these excuses. If anything, it reminded me of back when I first switched from USPSA to IDPA and had to adapt to the -0 area being higher on the target. I just don't see the target clearly at distance and perhaps wasn't aiming high enough on that blurry beige blob in the distance.

However, in the end, it's me. I had an off day and didn't shoot as well as I believe I can. It's finally getting to the time of the year when I can hopefully get to the outdoor range, and I have some definite things to work on in practice. The match was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed myself. I always say it's a successful match when I learn something or find specific things to practice in the future. By that account, this was a highly successful match.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Troubling News From Peacemaker

Last week I received an email from Peacemaker National Training Center in West Virginia with some disturbing news. A neighbor of the range, in Virginia, has filed a nuisance complaint against the range. As a result a judge has ordered Peacemaker to turn over the private information of anyone who has ever shot there. Here is an excerpt from the notice sent out.
Despite numerous motions and requests to reconsider, and numerous mediation efforts with the plaintiff, the court has ordered PNTC to produce the below documents and other private records under a “Protective Order.” Under this order, the plaintiffs and their counsel are legally permitted to access the following information: 
- All member files
- All waivers from any person who has accessed PNTC, to include all law enforcement,
federal agency personnel, military personnel and foreign military personnel names
- All shooting competition files and lists
- All training information and lists
- All customer waivers
- Identities of all persons who have used PNTC ranges
- All ATF & NFA records (to include Forms 4473 and ATF bound book information)

I've only shot at Peacemaker National Training Center once, and that was for the West Virginia State IDPA match held there last June. I recall I provided my full name and contact information to Peacemaker, and they may have information on the firearm I used as well. What makes this especially troublesome is that there is no reason that the complainants need the personal information of Peacemaker customers, other than for future harassment. I'll be watching this case as it unfolds.

You can read the entire announcement from Peacemaker here. Also, there are discussions on the West Virginia Citizens Defense League and Peacemaker Facebook pages.

March 20, 6:29 AM EDT

Spring has sprung. There's still some cold weather ahead, but it's not too optimistic to say we've turned the corner. Not a minute to soon for my tastes.

Soon, there will be more late afternoons on the range, time for good beer on the porch in the evenings... And sun!

Friday, March 17, 2017

St. Patrick's Day

"May St. Patrick guard you wherever you go, and guide you in whatever you do – and may his loving protection be a blessing to you always."
-- Traditional Irish Blessing

Ah, Saint Patrick's Day. Such a confusing day. For the Irish, the day honors a beloved Saint. For many others, it's a day dedicated simply to green beer and other debauchery. St. Patrick is our parish's patron Saint, so we're granted a reprieve from our Lenten penances. As such, we'll be enjoying a quiet evening at home with some "traditional" Irish-American food and drink. There will be no green beer.

Our family has long had a devotion to St. Patrick. Our admiration was made all the more tangible when we were blessed to take a pilgrimage to the Emerald Isle in 2012. During that visit I was reminded just how much the Irish love Patrick. To honor this day, and St. Patrick's memory, I'll share a few depictions of St. Patrick seen during that trip.

The Black Abbey, Kilkenny

Tapestry, Knock Shrine

Ballintubber Abby

Croagh Patrick, County Mayo

St. Patrick Cathedral, Dublin

And finally, since St. Patrick is also our parish patron, one of our church window.

Bishop Patrick

All photos taken by Colleen.

Five O'Clock (AM) Friday: St. Patrick's Day

For those starting early.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Keep Your Finger Off the Trigger...


I think that's going to leave a mark.

This is an old video that's been making the social media rounds recently. The thing I find most unsettling is that the students stood around laughing. I would have made tracks for the exit after the gun spun by my face.

Videos like this bring back frightening memories. A few years ago I was standing next to a retired federal LEO, trainer and author when he wanted to show me a SIG he had in his truck. He racked the slide, then dropped the mag, and pulled the trigger. The round went into the bed of his pickup. Fortunately I had moved to his side as he removed the gun from it's case. You just never know...

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

St. Patrick's Festival To Honor Jeff Fitzpatrick

The annual St. Patrick's Day parade and festival at Adventure Brewing South (formerly Blue & Gray Brewing) has been renamed to honor the late Jeff Fitzpatrick. The Free Lance-Star reports...
Adventure Brewing Co. is raising a pint to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in memory of the late Jeff Fitzpatrick, the area’s first local brewer.

Adventure bought Blue & Gray Brewing Co. in Spotsylvania County and are continuing his tradition of holding a St. Patrick’s Day parade. Adventure’s owners have renamed the event in his honor.

“We’re excited to host the parade this year,” said Stan Johnson, one of Adventure’s owners, in a news release. “The parade is a tradition for the families of Fredericksburg, so we’re glad to have the opportunity to continue that, and to honor Jeff’s legacy in the craft beer scene.”
This is a fitting tribute to this pioneer who brought craft beer to the Fredericksburg area. This quote from Jeff, a faithful Irish Catholic, fits his humor perfectly, and I can imagine the smile and laughter on his face when he said it. "We said ‘Kids eat free,’ and I ought to have known better than to invite a bunch of Irish Catholics to have their kids eat free."

See "Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade renamed in memory of Fredericksburg area's first brewer" for the full story.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Flying Dog Experimental Pepper IPA

The Flying Dog Brewery Heat Series of spicy, pepper enhanced beers returns this year with four enticingly flavored brews. I've enjoyed several of the previous "Heat Series" beers and was excited to taste what the brewers had come up with this time. This year's additions are available in a "Hot Box" variety pack, and includes Shishito Rice Ale, Cherry Bomb Gose, Chocolate Habanero Stout, and Experimental Pepper IPA.

As expected I went right for the one that sounded to be the most extreme, the Experimental Pepper IPA. The beer pours a bright orange color with a bright white head. The aroma is fruity with a mild hot pepper accent. The initial sip provides a quick and brief hint of the underlying IPA, with mild citrus and fruit. The peppery heat comes quickly. It's not a brutal hit, it just seems build and roll across the palate in a wave. There's a full hot pepper flavor, but not one of discomfort.

The pepper heat lingers a bit, though doesn't build significantly over time. As I sipped my beer with some cheese, crackers, and pickled herring (don't judge) I was still able to enjoy the flavors of the food. It wasn't until a subsequent sip of beer that I would realize the previous heat had faded.

Flying Dog says the pepper used is a new variety that tops the Carolina Reaper when it comes to heat.  The brewers managed to harvest that heat and serve up the hot pepper tastiness in an manageable manner. I very much enjoyed the Experimental Pepper IPA. I'll work the three others from the box into my beer sipping schedule soon.

These beers are unsolicited samples from the brewery. All drinking and commenting is done of my own free will.