Sunday, September 30, 2012

At Least the Spam is Entertaining

There seems to be a rash of spam commenters lately who, after posting some nonsense text, link to their site or product. I was very entertained by this one I received today:
Unquestionably imagine that which you said. Your favourite reason appeared to be at the web the simplest factor to remember of. I say to you, I certainly get irked whilst other people consider worries that they plainly don't realize about. You controlled to hit the nail upon the highest and also outlined out the entire thing with no need side-effects , other folks could take a signal. Will probably be back to get more. Thank you.

Blogger flagged this as spam, so it never was published, but I did check out the promoted site to see what sort of idiot I was dealing with. I wasn't disappointed! The site is self-promotion for some guy who describes himself as a "badass" and who has written a book on how to pick up and seduce women. As a bonus, if you buy his book, he even will include advice for men on how to maintain glowing healthy skin.

No, I'm not going to honor the git with a link. However, it's hard to get too angry over spam when it's so entertaining!

Friday, September 28, 2012

St. Wenceslaus, Patron Saint of Brewers

Today is the feast day of St. Wenceslaus, who is regarded as a patron Saint of Czech brewers.
St. Wenceslaus, duke of Bohemia, was born about the year 907 at Prague, Bohemia (now the Czech Republic). His father was killed in battle when he was young, leaving the kingdom to be ruled by his pagan mother. Wenceslaus was educated by his grandmother, Ludmilla, also a saint. She taught him to be a Christian and to be a good king. She was killed by pagan nobles before she saw him king, but she left him with a deep committment to the Christian faith. 
Throughout his life he preserved his virginity unblemished. As duke he was a father to his subjects, generous toward orphans, widows, and the poor. On his own shoulders he frequently carried wood to the houses of the needy. He often attended the funerals of the poor, ransomed captives, and visited those suffering in prison. He was filled with a deep reverence toward the clergy; with his own hands he sowed the wheat for making altar breads and pressed the grapes for the wine used in the Mass. During winter he would visit the churches barefoot through snow and ice, frequently leaving behind bloody footprints. 
Wenceslaus was eighteen years old when he succeeded his father to the throne. Without regard for the opposition, he worked in close cooperation with the Church to convert his pagan country. He ended the persecution of Christians, built churches and brought back exiled priests. As king he gave an example of a devout life and of great Christian charity, with his people calling him "Good King" of Bohemia. 
His brother Boleslaus, however, turned to paganism. One day he invited Wenceslaus to his house for a banquet. The next morning, on September 28, 929, as Wenceslaus was on the way to Mass, Boleslaus struck him down at the door of the church. Before he died, Wenceslaus forgave his brother and asked God's mercy for his soul. Although he was killed for political reasons, he is listed as a martyr since the dispute arose over his faith. This king, martyred at the age of twenty-two, is the national hero and patron of the Czech Republic. He is the first Slav to be canonized.
According to, the Saint's protection of local hops earned him much regard.
Because Bohemian hops were so valued, Wenceslas ordered the death penalty for anyone caught exporting the cuttings and obviously endeared himself to the local hop growers and brewers. He became the patron saint of Bohemia and Czechoslovakia and his crown became the symbol of nationalism for the Czechs. By extension he became a patron saint of Czech brewers.
King Wenceslaus is the inspiration for the Christmas carol, Good King Wenceslas.

So let's raise a glass of fine beer to the Good King, Saint Wenceslaus.

Five O'Clock Friday: Don't Be That Guy

Have a fun, and safe, weekend.

Missing Mom

It was two years ago today that I lost my mother. Two years, and not a day goes by that there is not some near sub-conscience moment when I don't expect to hear from her, or think of something to share with her. And then I am jolted back to reality, with the pain of her absense. And I think, does it ever go away? But then I get a smile remembering some bit of the past; some random fun, and funny, moment with mom.

I was wandering a local store recently trying to find a clerk to ring up my sale. What is with stores that don't man the cash registers? I was flashed back to a time as a kid when mom couldn't find someone to help her in a store. She went right behind the counter and started checking herself out. We got assistance real fast! Of course, as a kid I was mortified. Last week that was a fond memory that brought a smile to my face.

Every time I hold a door for a lady walking behind me, I recall another mom-ism. I remember her answering a phone survey about feminism and she told the caller that she "expected men to carry large jars of pickles" for her. I am sure the surveyor was perplexed by that off-the-wall example. It turns out that on that day mom was hauling one of those restaurant sized jars of pickles to her car and was assisted by a gentlemen in her struggle, and she related that in her reply.

Well, it's been two years, and I still have a large box of photos and other memorabilia sitting in my hallway that I just haven't gone through. Perhaps it's time to get into that. I bet I'll find some things to induce many more funny memories.

Mom, I love you and I miss you!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Virginia Bar Named "Best Beer Bar in America"

Okay, so technically there are no bars in Virginia, just restaurants that also sell alcohol. But that didn't stop fans of Mekong Restaurant in Richmond, VA from selecting it as the country's favorite beer bar in the "Great America Beer Bar" contest sponsored by the Brewers Association.

The Vietnamese restaurant boasts an extensive selection of Belgian and American craft beer. I've never made it to An Mekong's establishment, but his beer selection, along with the events he puts on, are well known. The establishment received more than 3,300 votes out of the 30,000 votes that were cast nation wide.

See for more on the voting and for regional results.

Fund Raising. Beer. Food. Fun.

As hoped, we made it back over to Blue & Gray/Lee's Retreat for dinner this week. The folks at the brewpub were hosting a fund raiser for our high school. The brewpub would donate 8% of our tab to the school. This offer is going on all week; all we have to do is tell our server we're there for the school's fund raising event. Not that I need a special reason to eat there, but given the cause, how could I refuse?

I ended up enjoying a couple pints of the seasonal Oktoberfest. At one point, my friend Jimbo, who was working in the brewery that evening, brought me a pint of Kölsch from the back while I still had a full pint of the Oktoberfest in front of me. What to do now? Colleen immediately offered that she'd drive home, so I enjoyed both!

We started our feast with a couple of plates of wings; one each of the Spicy Blue Buffalo Wings and the Chicken Stonewall Wings. We couldn't remember which one we liked the best last time, so we ordered  both. Why fight it? Turns out it's the former, with the spicy Gorgonzola sauce that was the favorite, though both are delicious. My usual choice for the main course is one of the pub's thick, juicy burgers. However this visit I opted for the Bratwurst on a Baguette, with a mustard sauerkraut blend, to go along with the Oktoberfest beer. The brat is poached in the brewery's Stonewall Stout then grilled, and served sliced on the roll. It was quite tasty. A friend dining with us enjoyed the same dish, while Colleen and our son both ordered the house burgers.

As usual, our service was prompt and efficient. My pint glass didn't stay empty until I deemed it time to call it quits. We lingered over fun conversation and visited with friends who were also there to support the school's fund raising efforts.

Coincidently, our son's cross country team was also doing a fundraiser that evening supported by the local Subway® store. A portion of all purchases during the event went to the team. So on the way to dinner, we stopped and picked up subs for the next day's lunches. All this extra food and beer to be consumed! But it's okay, we'll do it. After all, it's for the kids!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Gnomes Are On Patrol

Remember the garden gnomes I told you about earlier this year? Well, Colleen got them sanded and painted recently and they turned out great! These guys are now on sentry duty in our garden.

Goblins beware!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Oktoberfest Celebration

While Colleen was off this weekend enjoying time with friends from college, I hit the Blue & Gray Oktoberfest with my son for lunch on Saturday. When I first mentioned the idea to him, he replied "Sounds like fun." I raised him right don't you know?

We arrived before the lunch line got too long, but I headed for the beer wagon first for my much anticipated glass of Oktoberfest. In addition to the standard 16 oz. shaker pint, and the festival 32 oz. Maas, this year the brewery offered a 20 oz. "tall pint" souvenir glass too. That'll do. :-) The dark copper colored Oktoberfest had a rich caramel malt base with a mildly bitter finish. We next headed to the food tent for the solid portion of lunch, both opting for Bratwurst, mine mit kraut, and a side of German potato salad. The brat was quite tasty. They had a wide selection of sausage dishes available and they looked very good as well. The food at the festival has certainly improved with the opening of the Lee's Retreat brewpub.

I ran into Jimbo, who's one of the longtime brewers at Blue & Gray, and he suggested I try the Kölsch. Well, Kirkland's Kölsch may just be my new favorite beer at Blue & Gray Brewery. Brewer David Achkio did this one right! The beer poured a clear golden color, with no head to speak of. The aroma was very faint bready malt. The beer shines in the drinking. A clean bready flavor followed by a crisp bitterness in the finish. For me it was that pleasing mild, lingering bitterness in the finish that won me over. The beer probably checks in at around 5 - 5 1/2%, not quite a "session beer," but certainly sessionable. Given I was drinking from a 20 oz. glass, and was planning an evening out with my son for 'wings' and possibly a few more beers (for me) I stopped at one Kölsch, but I do know I'll be going back to the brewpub later this week.

We hung around for a few hours, enjoying the activities. The stein holding contests and beer barrel bowling were entertaining. It was fun also to visit with some friends. The basketball team at my son's high school was also selling water and brownies as a fund raiser so he saw some classmates as well. It was a fun afternoon spent with my son, enjoying friends, food, and good drink.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Five O'Clock Friday: Beer Ordering Hint

When you're getting beer for a friend this weekend, be sure to understand their preferences. A recent Overheard in D.C. compilation included the following conversation:
Last Tuesday at the Cubs game. Guy comes back from getting beers:
Girl: "What'd you get?" 
Guy: "Amstel Light. Is that ok?" 
Girl (in a not-so-excited voice): "Oh I guess. It's just really hoppy for me."

I've heard the same lament from a friend who drinks Miller Lite. Well, taste is subjective.

Have a great weekend!

The Popinator

This looks like fun.

 But then again, who eats popcorn one kernel at a time?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Brooklyn Sorachi Ace

The late arrival of a house guest recently was preceded by a text message with the simple declaration "Beer Night." 'Nuff said - Mondays can be tough and an opportunity to unwind with friends over a beer will never be denied. Far be it for me to disappoint a guest in my home, so I visited the beer cellar to see what would work. The hour was late, so something not too heavy, with a moderate ABV, was called for. I also knew that our visitor was fond of the Saison style. I came across a bottle of Brooklyn Brewery Sorachi Ace I had picked up a while back out of curiosity, so figured it was time to try it out.

The Sorachi Ace Saison was poured into, appropriately, some Brooklyn Brewery snifters that just happened to be sitting out in the kitchen. The golden amber, slightly hazy liquid is topped by a fluffy white head. The color was warm and rich. The aroma had a bit of yeastiness to it, along with fruit and a touch of lemon zest. The flavor is mildly spicy, with hints of white pepper. There's a distinct lemon zest flavor, not sour, over a substantive malt base. The finish is quite dry with lingering bitterness. The beer has less of the "funkiness" of a typical Saison, and comes across relatively mild. It maintained its flavor as it warmed over discussions of life and politics.

We all enjoyed the Sorachi Ace, although it is not a hearty Saison, it had a nice quality for a late night when you want something to take the edge off, but don't want to be knocked to the floor. It was tasty and interesting, but somewhat understated. I prefer the rich rustic heartiness of typical Saison enjoyed with bold appetizers, but in the waning hours of a long day, this had enough Saison to be special, but was not so strong that it's repercussion would be felt getting up for day two of a busy week.

Thanks to Colleen for her input, and discerning tastebuds, for contributing her impressions of Sorachi Ace for this review.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

North Mountain Practical Shooters Match

I finally made it back to North Mountain for their monthly USPSA match last weekend. The last time I was there was when I had the knee blowout, but the long absence had little to do with my knee troubles, and everything to do with free time.

The first stage our squad shot had four steel poppers, three static targets and two swingers. The moving targets where activated by hitting the larger steel poppers. It may have been me, but those swingers seemed to be moving extra fast! Interestingly, the three static paper targets had only the head portion exposed; the rest of the target hidden behind a sheet of black plastic. The plastic was deemed soft cover, which meant you could either carefully aim for the visible head, or shoot where you figured the A zone on the target was. I believe everyone on my squad went for the "educated guess" shot.

The next stage included the dreaded Texas Star, which makes a regular appearance at North Mountain. It's also something I obviously never get to practice on. I was very happy to clear it, I believe, in 8 shots. In any event, I think it's the first time I've ever cleared a Texas Star without making a standing reload. Unfortunately I also hit a no-shoot target on this stage. However I did see it, and got off a makeup shot so I earned only the no-shoot penalty and not a miss on top of it.

Next up was a stage with a low-to-the ground plate rack and 4 "classic" (or turtle) targets. A mandatory reload was required between the steel and paper arrays. It took me a number of extra shots to knock over the plates. (There's this thing called the front site that was eluding me.)

The next stage also used the "classic" target and put our strong hand and week hand skills to use. I actually like shooting these types of stages. I do practice shooting one-handed frequently as I feel it's an important skill; both for competition and self-defense. Two strings were required on this course of fire. Shoot one array, a single hit on each target, then a mandatory reload, finishing with strong hand only hits on the remaining array. The next string made use of the weak hand. Obviously we all chose the closer array for our one handed strings.

The final stage was the classifier "Mini-Mart." Since I had already claimed a no-shoot earlier in the match, and this stage would not count for me as a Classifier since I had just shot it in August, I decided I would go for broke and shoot it as fast as I could. I didn't get a good grip on the gun at first, but had a really good run nonetheless, with 11 A's and 1 D. It looks like it would have been a low "B" classifier, instead of the low "C" I fumbled through last month. It's a bittersweet run since it won't count for my classifiers, but it was certainly satisfying to shoot the stage well.

I ended up 5th out of 15 Production shooters. But what was most exciting for me was that I hit 86.82% of the match points, 89.18% before the NS penalty. That's a personal high for this year. Overall it was probably one of the best matches I've had all season. After shooting the match, I recall just how enjoyable the North Mountain matches are. Match Directors Dan and Elaine put on fun matches and always manage to fit five interesting stages into a small space. (Photos of four of the stages are here.) North Mountain is unique, among the places I shoot, in that there's grass on the ground, rather than dirt or stone, and it always seems just a bit cooler there. It's a couple hours travel each way, with a stop for coffee, but the trip is pleasant and easy. Cranking up the 80's satellite radio station made the drive time pass even quicker. I was even home in time to get in some chores before relaxing with a refreshing post-match pint of Starr Hill Jomo Lager.

There's that star! And the No Shoot.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Range Vandals

I debated about posting this rant. Gun owners get enough bad press from a biased media, the vast majority of it comprised of innuendo and flat out lies. Then I saw that Lee over at When the Balloon Goes Up was experiencing vandalism at his range as well. We are talking here about criminals, not responsible gun owners, and we need to cull those people from our ranks. It's time to speak out.

The range we shoot at most often is unsupervised, relying on the common sense of the club members to  be safe, respect the property and clean up after themselves. I've frequently commented how some shooters don't think the rule regarding picking up their brass applies to them. But, now we're seeing a new level of stupidity. And it has affected our ability to enjoy the range.

Last week I received an email from the club about the abuses. It seems some bozos have been shooting into the pond, at the picnic pavilion and other buildings, into power line poles and the supports for the covered shooting areas, among other places. Some of these deliberate abuses direct rounds in the direction of the roads and homes outside the property. What was once an occasional problem has become epidemic.

As a result of these activities, the board has unilaterally closed the ranges for a week. No one will be able to shoot. This is frustrating for me as I had specific practices I wanted to get in over the next few weeks in preparation for a major match. Unfortunately the club's directors have taken up the liberal mantra of punishing all gun owners for the crimes of a few. The closure is an extreme measure, as the illegal activity is limited to just a few people. There's no way to be sure, at this time, if they are even members, or trespassers.

I spoke to the Range Manager on the phone. As angry as I was, and still am, after speaking with the guy I do have some sympathy for his plight. He is at his wit's end. He patrols the range property when he can, but people who don't follow the rules aren't going to do it when he or anyone else is around. Like many ranges, as rural areas become less rural, the club is under scrutiny. If a round hits a car on the road, or a house nearby, we'll lose our place to shoot.

The good news is that the club is putting in cameras, using money that could have gone to range improvements, to remotely monitor the shooting areas. They will also keep recordings of the activities. I only hope that if the guilty parties are caught, they are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We're looking at felony level destruction of property and firearms usage in a crime, so the penalties could be severe. I am a firm believer in the right to bear arms, however if a criminal conviction causes these morons to lose their rights, so be it. They will find no sympathy here.

Is this a growing problem? Do more people owning firearms mean more irresponsible shooters?

The sign says "Do Not Shoot"
This pole is 180° from the range berms

Blue & Gray Oktoberfest This Weekend

The 10th Annual Blue & Gray Oktoberfest celebration takes place Friday, September 21 and Saturday, September 22. This family friendly, event is held at the Blue & Gray Brewery. The brewery will serve a trio German Beers this year; Oktoberfest Lager, Virginia HefeweizenKirkland's Kölsch, as well has their regular house beers. The Blue & Gray Oktoberfest Lager is one of my favorites from the brewery so I'm looking forward to this year's celebration.

The festivities kick off Friday afternoon with an "Early Bird Special" of a Bratwurst and a beer for $5 from 4-5:00PM. The first keg of Oktoberfest Bier will be tapped at 6:00PM with friends from Fredericksburg's sister city Schwetzingenrom, Germany participating. The fun goes until 9:00PM with German food offerings outside under the tents and more elaborate offerings indoor at the brewpub.

On Saturday the party starts anew with another "Early Bird Special," an authentic Bavarian breakfast served 11:00AM - Noon. This is a pretzel with sweet German mustard made with malty sweet Fred Red Ale, and a Hefeweizen only $5.00. The wildly popular LOW'n'BROWS will play all day, along with Beer Barrel Bowling, Stein Holding Contests, and Ginger Bread Walks for the kids. The festivities will end at 7:00PM.

And new this year, the Lee's Retreat brewpub will be open on Oktoberfest Sundays, September 23rd, 30th and October 7th. Dine inside, or outside in the new Biergarten, and enjoy a special menu created just for this event. This brunch will be served from 10:00AM - 2:00PM.

As always, there will be plenty of food, music and activities for kids and grownups alike. I hope to see you there!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Oh No! Sugar Found at School

The local news is reporting that a bag of sugar was found at a county high school. According to the story, "School officials are currently investigating the situation to determine whether further action is warranted."

Further action? I wonder if they will be calling Michelle Obama to report unhealthy food at the school.

I couldn't make this stuff up. See "Deputies determine white powder at Chancellor High is sugar" to see for yourself.

At the Risk of Invoking Godwin's Law

I'm currently reading a fascinating book, "In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin" by Erik Larson. If you've ever wondered how Adolf Hitler came to power while good people stood by, there's a lot explained in this work. Last week I came across an exchange between German and American representatives that was remarkably apropos to current events.

In 1934, when the Nazi party was gaining control of the German government, anti-Nazi organizations in the U.S. held a mock trial of Hitler in New York. Not surprisingly, the German leaders were not happy, and communicated their displeasure to our embassies in Germany and here at home. Our government leaders held fast to the Constitution and allowed free speech to continue unimpeded. After the "trial," the Germans continued their protests. Secretary of State Cordell Hull issued an aide-mémoire to Germany's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Konstantin von Neurath:
"It is well known that the free exercise of religion, the freedom of speech and of the press, and the right of peacable assembly, are not only guaranteed to our citizens by the Constitution of the United States, but are beliefs deep-seated in the political consciousness of the American people."
Such freedoms, as possessed by American citizens, were incomprehensible to the German officials. Secretary Hull continued:
"It appears, therefore, that the points of view of the two Governments, with respect to the issues of free speech and assembly, are irreconcilable, and that any discussion of this difference could not improve relations which the United States Government desires to preserve on as friendly a basis as the common interest of the two peoples demands." 
Compare our government's stance in the 1930's with that of the Obama administration today. The Islamists, a group who coincidently had been Nazi sympathizers, are protesting with riots and murder, the views put forth in some obscure movie. In response, our government apologizes for the film, even before they condemn the violence. The alleged filmmaker was taken in "for questioning" in a midnight display of force made for the television cameras. Government officials oversteps their bounds and urge YouTube to remove the movie. Even the military, specifically the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, attempts to apply pressure on a private citizen to withdraw his support for the movie.

We should be asking ourselves, and our elected leaders, why the Obama administration is following the example of the German Reich in pressing for the restriction of Constitutional rights of US citizens. History is indeed repeating itself, only this time the antagonist is our own government.

I'll have more on this revealing documentary in a future post, after I finish the book (even though I know how the story ends.)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Devils Backbone Bucks Economic Trends

Devils Backbone Brewery, through hard work and dedication, has excelled despite a downturned economy.

Yep, they built that.

Video from WSLS 10.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

28 Years!

Twenty-eight years ago today, I made a lifelong commitment to a beautiful lady, and she made the same commitment to me. (I think I got the better part of the deal.) Through ups and downs, for better or worse, she's been there. This wonderful person has brought many blessings to my life, and to the world around her. Together we've raised a son who is growing into a fine young man. She is my last thought each night and my first in the morning, as I thank God for bringing us together.

Thank you Colleen for the best 28 years of my life. I look forward to many, many more. 

Happy Anniversary Colleen! I love you with all my heart.

♥ ♥ ♥

Friday, September 14, 2012

Five O'Clock Friday

Yes, it's been a long week, full of bad news from around the world. That's why this Five O'Clock Friday post is going out at 4:30.

Have a great weekend!

Hello Ambassador Hakimi

We had an interesting visitor to the Musings recently. Their short stay included a review of what I had to say about Terrorism.

Click to embiggen
It's only fair to warn our new visitors that, unlike our embassies, our security doesn't rely on the whims of the current president, so we are indeed well protected. Hey, we have bacon AND boomsticks! And alcohol.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Wednesday Pistol Match

I made it out for the Wednesday IDPA style match at The Range this week. As usual, four fun stages were set up for a quick mid-week diversion.

The first stage had 6 targets which were to have one shot on each target in the specified order. After all targets were engaged, we were then to go back and put 2 more hits on each. They called it "boarding house" rules; everybody gets served before anyone gets seconds. I was placed first in the shooting order for each stage, which didn't bother me at all, even if it meant not seeing the stage shot by someone else first. Unfortunately, I ended up shooting the targets out of order, getting confused midway through, and earning a procedural penalty plus a whopping 11 points down.

The next stage required 3 hits on each of three targets while retreating to cover. Then, from behind cover a head shot on each target. Apparently I made my three head shots out of "tactical sequence," earning yet another procedural, but was just 1 point down otherwise. Okay, it's time to get into the IDPA mindset! 

Stage 3 had three targets that were to be engaged from behind cover. First, 2 shots on each target strong hand only, followed by a mandatory reload with retention, then 2 shots on each target weak hand only. I joked with the RO that the way it's been going I just might drop my magazine on the ground out of habit and earn another procedural. However I didn't do that, and finished just 5 points down on the stage.

The last stage was most interesting and a lot of fun. There were five targets in a staggered "V," to be engaged in tactical sequence. The requirement was to "neutralize" each target with either one 0 down hit or two -1 hits. Any hits further out than the 1 down zone didn't count. The score for each target would be either 0 down, or a miss for 5 down. But there was a twist — the lights in the range were turned off. There was a bit of ambient light at the shooting position, enough to make out the sights, and the backstop was lit. The targets were all in shadow. I knew I wouldn't be able to see the hits on the targets, so I had to be sure to call my shots to avoid any unnecessary makeup rounds. I made my five shots, and felt confident in all of them, so took no extras. In the end, all 5 were down 0 hits! Perhaps the practice this weekend calling my shots paid off. In any event it was an uplifting way to end the match.

Despite the 2 procedurals and too many points down, especially on the first stage, I ended up 4th out of 14. In reviewing the results for each stage, it looks like I made up for the points dropped with pretty decent times. It was a good match. I learned a little bit more about shooting IDPA and got validation on some of the things I've been practicing. Plus we're now past the mid-week hump!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Day at the Range

It's been a while since I made it out to the range for a practice session. I've been to several matches recently, but besides my (almost) daily dry fire practice I haven't gotten to work on specific skills. As noted after the KGAS match, I saw a need to work on shooting after a magazine change. So that's what I decided to focus on over the weekend.

I set up two USPSA practice targets a few feet apart which were shot from the 10 yard line. The drill was to draw, make 2 shots on the first target, then move two steps over while changing mags. Then put two shots on the other target, repeating in one continuous string while moving back and forth between the two targets. The string ended after I worked through all 5 magazines on my belt. Between strings I would paste any hits that were out of the A zone. Then I'd put the dropped mags back on my belt and repeat the drill. This routine was repeated for about 150 rounds.

I started out slow, trying for smooth magazine changes and carefully aimed shots. Each time I ran the drill I tried to move a little faster, both in moving over to the next shooting position, and in getting an acceptable sight picture. If the hits started moving off the A zone, I dropped it back a bit. I concentrated on getting the gun back into position, and reestablishing my grip after inserting the new magazine. Since it was practice, and I was alone, it was a good opportunity to experiment and push things a bit.

Often when I'm shooting in a match I find myself looking for the hit. That's something to avoid, as it slows you down, and can lead to misses caused by looking over the sights in search of the hole. The proper way is to learn to "call the shot," in other words, know that it was a good hit when you shoot it. This drill was also good practice for that, as I would take twelve shots before stopping to "score" the targets. I was happy that many times I knew before looking when I had pulled a shot.

It was a fun, but short, afternoon at the range. I was very happy with the practice session and what I learned. I look forward to putting it all into action under the pressure of the timer soon.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Another 9/11 Post

It appears that this morning's post, 9/11: Never Forget, was never distributed to those of you following via RSS. I'll use this as a test to see if this post gets pushed out by FeedBurner. Interestingly, NetworkedBlogs picked up the content just fine.

If I was the paranoid type, I'd say it was a conspiracy.

See "9/11: Never Forget" for the missing content.

In other online happenings, here are the presidential candidates' first posts on Twitter today:

That Barack Hussein Obama is one classy guy, eh?

9/11: Never Forget

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
cast into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls.

Today, remember that we continue to fight this war. Despite the ongoing denial and misdirection of the current president, as well as the administration sanctioned harassment of innocent Americans, we must always remain vigilant.

Let's also pause to remember all those who lost their lives on that fateful day, and also those lives taken in the 19,582 deadly attacks of islamic terrorism since. Requiescat in pace.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Theology on Tap

Blue & Gray Brewing Company is hosting Theology on Tap for three consecutive Mondays in September. The event will be held in the Lee's Retreat Brewpub at the brewery.

September 10
"Mission of the Church in the Public Square"
Soren Johnson
Special Assistant to the Bishop for Evangelization & Media, Catholic Diocese of Arlington

September 17
"Faithful Citizenship in an Election Year and Beyond"
Jeff Caruso
Executive Director, Virginia Catholic Conference

September 24
"Seeking the Truth Amidst Moral Controversy"
Sr. Terese Auer, O.P.
Chair, Bioethics Department, Pope John Paul the Great high school

The brewpub doors open at 6:00pm for dinner and happy hour pricing. The discussion begins at 7:30PM. All adults are welcome.

Sponsored by the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Office for Family Life / Young Adult Ministry.

Red Wine Please

We attended a nice dinner event Saturday evening. As I approached the bar, I saw this...

"I'll have a red wine, please" was my response.

Adapt and enjoy, that's the key.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Ronald Reagan and the 1st Amendment

"The First Amendment of the Constitution was not written to protect the people of this country from religious values; it was written to protect religious values from government tyranny." --Ronald Reagan

Friday, September 7, 2012

Five O'clock Friday

Have a great weekend!

Competition & Self Defense

A frequent topic on various gun blogs and forums is whether participation in shooting sports, such as USPSA and IDPA, helps or hinders self defense skills. While participating in the recent conceal carry tactics class, I had opportunity to reflect on this debate.

The key, in both competition and self defense, is keeping your head in the right place. In competition, we strive for "A zone" or "down 0" hits. In self defense the goal is to stop a threat, and even less than perfect hits may certainly be beneficial. Two distinct situations that require applications of the same basic skills but in different modes.

During the class, we were running a drill where we would draw while stepping back, and begin shooting before the gun was fully extend. The goal was to "zipper" the shots, starting at the groin area and moving up the torso of the target. My competition mindset kicked in and I extended the gun out and put all the hits center mass as I moved backwards. This earned me some "love" from the instructor, rightfully so, who demonstrated how I was opening myself up having the gun grabbed or deflected during the delay in shooting. Point well taken.

At another point, we were dealing with a "hands up, turn around, get on your knees" situation. My USPSA shooting kicked in. When I turned around and drew my weapon, as I have often practiced, I moved in the opposite direction from what the instructor had demonstrated. It felt more natural, and quicker, to me. The instructor pointed out my "interpretation" and others in the class tried it. It wasn't right or wrong, but I feel in this case, and some other times in class, my practice for moving and shooting in competition had helped to prepare me.

Shooting in competition will aid in developing the mental strength to shoot under pressure. Sure, the pressure of the timer, and people watching you isn't the same as encountering a life threatening assault, but is does bring about some disorienting effects. Your palms may sweat, your heart races, gross motor skills my be affected, and yes, you can even get a bit of tunnel vision. For me personally, one of the most difficult things to overcome in competition was, and still is, nerves.

At the end of the day, it's important to train for both situations. There are skills to be learned and employed for self defense or competition. I don't follow the school of thought that the shooting sports are practice for self defense. In fact, it probably more accurate to state that I participate in pistol matches as a distraction from the stresses of life, not to prepare for them. As I frequently tell folks, there are rules, a clock, and we keep score, therefore it's a game. Period. I also don't believe that shooting USPSA or IDPA frequently will prove detrimental if the time comes when you must shoot to defend yourself or a loved one. It just means you need to practice for both situations, so your reactions become second nature.

Remember, practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. Keep all of your skills fresh.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

KGAS Labor Day Match

The newly formed King George Action Shooters held their first USPSA-style match at the Northern Virginia Gun Club on Labor Day, September 3. The match served as an introduction to the club members to the sport, and to show how these events could benefit NVGC members. Even as a non-sanctioned match, it was a good opportunity to get in some fun practice, and to support the new club. I had just participated in the Fredericksburg USPSA match the day before, but I sure wasn't complaining about shooting again so soon.

Sixteen shooters showed up, despite the threat of rain in the forecast. Everyone pitched in to help set up the four stages in two of the gun clubs' new pistol bays. After a safety and rule briefing we got down to shooting. Most of the shooters were new to the sport. We all shot in one large squad in order to best accommodate the many new shooters. Fortunately the rain held off for most of the match, with just a few intermittent showers.

I enjoyed the stages put together for the match. The first stage, "Fore!," had 6 paper targets and three small steel poppers. With three walls strategically placed, the short stage offered a quite a variety of options for the shooter. The next stage was the "classic" El Presidente, taken from the USPSA classifiers.


We moved to the next bay for "House of Barrels." This course of fire incorporated the Cowboy Action prop house. We started seated in the house, emerging to engage the first eight targets well-hidden among a line of barrels. Four more paper targets and a steel popper where waiting at the end. This was a fun stage as it offered the opportunity to move fast and still get off some narrow shots. I was pleased with my performance on this stage, even though I ended up with one miss. The last stage was another one taken from the USPSA classifier book, "3-V." I should have done well on this stage, I've gotten better at shooting around barricades, but alas, after the mandatory reload I ended missing the next target.

"House of Barrels"

After the match I realized I have some work to do on my reloading skills. All of my misses were immediately after a mag change. That tells me I need to take better care to recover the grip on the gun before shooting again. Interestingly, at the class a couple weeks ago I heard the instructor telling another student to take a brief moment to refocus after the reload. I've been doing a lot of mag change practice in dry fire, and I think it's helping, so perhaps it's time to focus now on the followup shots.

This was an enjoyable match and I'm glad I got the opportunity to go, and to learn from it. It was fun to shoot with friends, as well as to meet some new folks. I spent a lot of time talking with the new shooters about USPSA and IDPA, and shooting in general. I hope they'll continue to participate in USPSA matches after this introduction.

This is a great venue with new deep, and high bays, with close in parking. Dan and Elaine Chandler who run the matches at North Mountain Practical Shooters generously brought the steel targets that were used. And major kudos go out to Alex Melnichak who spearheaded the drive to bring USPSA to the club and worked tirelessly to organize this match. I wish Alex much success with his efforts and look forward to seeing many more matches put on by King George Action Shooters in the future.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Fredericksburg USPSA Match

The monthly USPSA match by Fredericksburg Practical Shooters was held on Sunday over the Labor Day weekend. The match consisted of 6 field courses and one classifier. The field courses made good use of the walls that had been set up for last month's Area 8 match. Since I missed the Area match this year it was fun to play on some similar courses. (Flikr album with stage photos here.)

Our squad started on Stage 5, appropriately called "Row By Row," which had 8 paper targets, 9 steel poppers, as well as two small steel plates, spread along a fairly straight line, but restricted by numerous barriers. It was good straightforward stage on which to start. Stage 6, labeled "Jump, Jive" made use of two movers that were activated by hitting falling steel. One target was a swinger that came out from behind some no shoot targets, the other popping up from behind a low wall before falling back down. That was a fun stage to shoot and challenged the shooter to hit the steel and then move into position to hit the moving target while it still had the most exposure.

The next stage we shot, Stage 7, "Can You See Me" also had a popper activated swinger target, followed by a fast run down the right side of the bay hitting a series of targets hidden among no shoots. This was a chance to shoot on the move for an extended string. I did okay on that run, but did have one miss on the swinger.

Stage 1, "Draw Your Hand,"offered a unique challenge. Throughout the course of fire were targets that had the head portion painted black or red. After the start, the shooter flipped the top card from a stack of playing cards on the table. The color of the card with the color of target the shooter was not to shoot. There were also unmarked targets in the course. Despite shooting well on the course, I managed to overlook one target. That mistake cost me 2 Mikes plus the penalty for failure to engage (FTE). Ouch!

Stage 2, "This Or That," combined the walls of two courses from Area 8 that were set up in a single bay, offering a fast run with just a couple of tight shots in the middle that required hitting the brakes. Stage 3, titled "Barrels of Fun 2" had a fun combination of long shots at the start, then shots that required squatting to see through a low part followed by some fast targets over a low wall and through ports, and finishing up with more long shots on steel and a paper target partially covered by a no shoot. (The way I shot it anyway.) This was a stage that folks seem to have decided to "go for broke" on. I went a bit too fast and racked up three D hits, but at least had no misses. Not the best score, but I came away with a smile after a fun run.

We ended with the classifier "Triple Choice" (#99-47). This was three strings of 5 shots each; freestyle, strong hand, and weak hand only. The targets were restricted with varying amounts of black "hard cover" areas. Even though I placed 8th out of 40 in my division on this course (my best stage finish of the match) my time probably wasn't fast enough to boost my overall classification score.

Although rain was expected, the only precipitation was a brief sprinkle before the sun broke through the clouds. Frankly I would have preferred the cloud cover. It was a humid but extremely fun day of shooting. The preliminary results show I finished in my customary middle position, 20th out of the 40 Production shooters. A few weaker runs, going too fast and pulling in those "D" hits and some misses, dragged me down. But, I let those bad runs go and shot each stage on it's own, something I had a hard time doing in the past. It's much more fun this way!

"This Or That"

Monday, September 3, 2012

Sierra Nevada Torpedo, Again

Last week I shared my thoughts on that quite enjoyable glass cup of Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA I had after a weekend of shooting. This weekend I revisited the beer, solely because I felt I owed you all a proper review. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.) This time, instead of the plastic cup, I dug out a proper etched Sierra Nevada glass.

Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA pours a clear, dark orange color with a big frothy white head. The aroma is fresh, but modest; mostly caramel malt with a hint of citrus. There's nothing modest about the flavor though. This is a beer that gives me the flavors I look for in an IPA. The flavor starts out with strong, pithy citrus notes. Resinous piney hops come through as well. Sierra Nevada uses whole hop cones to dry hop the beer, adding a fresh, grassy hop profile. The finish is very dry with a lingering bitterness.

As noted previously, the selection at the store where I picked this up was pretty slim, mostly the typical BudMillerCoors factory beers. One of the things I like about Sierra Nevada Torpedo, besides the taste, is that it's readily available. It's a flavorful and assertive beer that you don't have to search far and wide to find.

Sierra Nevada beers are ubiquitous in many places. Sometimes familiarity causes us to overlook a beer. I've enjoyed Torpedo in the past, it's been a year-round beer for about four years. But frankly, if the store had stocked a large selection of other "craft" beers, I may have overlooked it. I'm glad I didn't.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

"Guns Welcome" Sign Winner

Congratulations to 45er for being selected in the random drawing for the "Guns Welcome" sign. 45er blogs over at Barrel Smoke and is a frequent commenter on the Musings. I'll put the sign in the mail after the Labor Day holiday. I hope you enjoy it friend.

Thanks to everyone who commented in August. I'll try to come up with another giveaway soon.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

King George Action Shooters

King George Action Shooters is a group "dedicated to USPSA, IDPA & Cowboy Action Shooting in King George, VA." Thanks to the hard work of some dedicated people, Fredericksburg area shooters will soon have a new venue at which to participate in action pistol sports. A few weeks ago the King George Action Shooters hosted an open house at their home range, the Northern Virginia Gun Club, with a few IDPA and USPSA stages set up. I had a previous commitment and couldn't make it, but from the reports I've heard, it was a successful event.

KGAS is a new club, still in its infancy and not yet affiliated with USPSA. However, they are hosting their first USPSA style match this Labor day, September 3. This fun shoot will follow all USPSA rules and scoring. The plans call for 2 field courses and 2 classifiers. It sounds like a good time to come out for some practice, or to learn more about USPSA. Contact information is on the King George Action Shooters web site. (Hurry, you need to register in advance.)

The registration for the August Fredericksburg Practical Shooters match was filled up in just 11 minutes. Having another local venue to shoot USPSA is very welcome. I wish the club the best and look forward to participating in the King George Action Shooters events.