Saturday, October 21, 2017

Awkward Introductions

Sitting down at our table at a recent beer dinner, we exchanged introductions with the other couple at the table...

Man: "We're not drinkers. We're not smokers."

Me: "Well, we're not smokers."

A laugh and smiles all around. It turns out couple were regulars of the establishment and were invited by the owner. We ended up having a great time with lots of interesting conversation.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Michigan Beer Chair

A perfect weekend project...

Just to be clear, the perfect weekend "project" would be sitting in the chair all weekend, not building the thing.

Here's to a relaxing weekend!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Range Time Break

There are telltale signs that let me know the summer is over and the dreaded cold weather isn't that far off. One such clue is when the backpack blower gets strapped to my back and I start blowing leaves, which occurred this weekend. Another is when I need to put on a jacket when shooting at the indoor range, which also happened this week. (I didn't actually need the jacket outside.)

I missed hitting the range last week, but recouped this week for a quick run. Arriving at the range there was just one other group shooting and I was assigned a lane far from them. This trip I was shooting the full size SIG P320, using the B-34 "fun" targets. I started out with some slow fire at seven yards. Remembering my desire for more strong and week hand shooting, I aimed for the "small man" and score record boxes respectively. In both 10 round runs, I kept all shots to each within the outlines. Given my struggles with WHO and SHO shooting at recent matches, that did make me smile.

Moving the target out to 10, 15 and then 20 yards I went through the next 100 rounds. Mostly shooting slow, I was generally pleased. The sharp black target silhouette probably contributing to my ability to sight in on decent groups at distance. I did observe a tendency to let the front sight drop at the end of a run of a few magazines at a fairly rapid pace. That's something to keep in mind at the end of a long match as well I think.

All good things must come to an end, and much too soon I looked down at only empty ammo trays.

A bittersweet picture.

It was a most fun session, with satisfying results. I've been shooting the Compact P320 of late, so it felt good to use the full size gun for a change.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Enjoying the Outdoors at Strangeways Brewing

After our beer exploration at Highmark Brewery, we headed over to Strangeways Brewing to continue our Saturday flavor journey. Since the Strangeways location was (sort of) on our way home it seemed silly not to. As with our previous visit, this was also a "release day" at the brewery so there was another new beer to try.

The weather was quite pleasant this afternoon so we took seats at one of the outdoor tables. Strangeways' patio is dog-friendly and we enjoyed watching the antics of visitors' furry companions. There were also quite a few families taking advantage of the weather and beer. Having made many brewery visits with our son in tow as he was growing up, we always appreciate breweries that accommodate kids, and the parents who bring them.

This day's release was the Gourd of Thunder Imperial Pumpkin Porter. I'm not a huge fan of the ubiquitous "pumpkin beer" so many breweries release this time of year. However, when I do enjoy them, it's typically one of the "imperial" versions, so I was most anxious to try this one.

Gourd of Thunder pours a deep red-brown color, with a moderate off-white head. Aromas of nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove overlay the rich malt hitting the nose. Sipping the beer, the spices hit the palate first, but are actually muted and well-balanced. A malt base and hint of pumpkin flesh carry through in the finish. There's a touch of sweet caramel and vanilla also to be found. At 9.2% ABV, this is a pleasing sipper. I enjoyed the seasonal release very much, and regret not thinking to get a bottle, or two, to bring home. A return trip might be in order.

For her selection, Colleen opted for Gingerbread Boodwooger India Brown Ale. I got a little tongue-tied trying to order this one; the name is a variation of the brewery's popular Woodbooger Belgian Brown Ale. The spicy gingerbread spice flavoring of the beer was the prevalent, capped with a mild hop bitterness, along with hints of pepper and vanilla.

Since this was our second food truck-less stop of the day, we grabbed a bag of tortilla chips and a container of smoky salsa from the cooler. The corn chips and the hot and smoky dip went quite well with both of the beers. It made for a flavorful, if decadent, meal.

Monday, October 16, 2017

It's Monday on Blogger

Looks like the elves at Google managed to fubar the works again. About half the images on the Musings are missing this morning. I'm seeing this on other Blogger-based sites as well, and the other users are reporting the issue on the Blogger support forums. Of course, there's no acknowledgement of the issue by Google/Blogger.

Hopefully they will want to fix this quickly and we'll return to regular posting. Interestingly, the mobile version of the site appears to be working still.

It's true, you get what you pay for.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Highmark Brewery

Highmark Brewery opened early this year, just across the Rappahannock River from Fredericksburg, in Stafford County. Somehow I hadn't even heard about the brewery until this summer, and we finally made a visit this weekend. The brewery is located at the end of an unassuming commercial building, and I've actually driven by it on several occasions without noticing.

Entering the spacious tasting room, the large chalkboard listing the beer menu jumps out. With seventeen selections listed, I turned to Colleen and noted, "We have a few decisions to make." Upon closer examination, some of the beers were marked as being out. Highmark has a large selection of fruit enhanced beers; peach, blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, grapefruit, pineapple all were seen on the board. After a few minutes we had a selection of eight beers to try in our flight.

The beers we decided upon were Ginger Farm Saison, Blue Stone Kölsch, Yellow Belly Pale Ale, Déjà Vu White Peach Pale Ale, Highmark IPA, Sticky Fingers ESB with Strawberry, Amber IPA, and Raspberry Smoke Stout.

We spent some time working through the beers. We both especially enjoyed the Ginger Farm Saison and the Amber IPA. The Saison had a refreshing, moderately yeasty flavor with a hint of spice. Highmark's take on Red Ale featured a pleasing toasted malt base with a touch of bitter hops. This was my favorite of the bunch. 

The Blue Stone Kölsch was the only disappointment of the beers. We felt it was lacking in the expected crispness, and clarity. The flavor was to me "soft," and seemed stale. Leaving that one behind we enjoyed all the others. Overall, the beers were decent, though on the safe side. Granted many of the beers that might be expected to have bolder flavors, the IPA's and Stouts, were unavailable during our visit.

Highmark's website features a long list of food trucks that visit the brewery regularly, unfortunately there were none on site during our Saturday afternoon visit. As we sipped our beers, we detected the aroma of something cooking coming from the back. Soon, bags of fresh popcorn were delivered to the bar, and we promptly grabbed a couple (well, three eventually.) The popcorn was popped in coconut oil giving it a wonderful flavor. That was a nice treat to go along with the beer.

There were other local beers we wanted to try during our afternoon outing, so after finishing our flight, we headed out to another brewery and more beer.

To be continued...

Friday, October 13, 2017

It's All About Responsibility

I've written on the subject of beer and firearms together previously, and it's not an uncommon topic of discussion among friends and acquaintances. In my opinion, nothing beats a good beer after a fun day at the range. Quite often I have to make a decision between the two activities. The enjoyment of firearms, like the enjoyment of alcoholic beverages, requires a high level of responsibility and respect on the part of the participants.

I've often stated that if a person can't be trusted to walk in public with a gun, that person probably shouldn't be out on the streets unsupervised. If someone fails a background check because they were deemed too dangerous to own a gun, why should we allow them to walk around free to find other ways to do harm?

Recently I saw an online comment posted in response to article touting the typical anti-gun screed which raised the same discussion. (I won't dignify that article with a link.) The commenter pontificated thusly:
But, all that said? I truly am on board with the rest of it. I recently decided against buying a handgun for one of her reasons. I drink fairly often. Should I have a gun on me, or even in the house, when I've had three beers? No. So I have finally decided that a gun is simply not for me.

That statement elicited a migraine salute from me. Sadly this is not uncommon "logic" as exhibited by people who have little experience with firearms. What I read in the statement is an admission, that after three beers, this person feels they may become a danger to himself or others. Seriously, if you can't be trusted to have a locked up gun in your house after three beers, perhaps you really ought to skip those three beers.

In other words, if you know that doing something could cause you to act irresponsibly, don't do that thing.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Dangerous Anti-Gun Legislation Introduced

By "republicans." Though that's not really surprising.

Read the bill here:

Unfortunately these weasels are more interested in doing something than they are in doing something. This cannot be allowed to stand.

BTW, the NRA opposes the proposed legislation.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Potomac Grail IDPA Match

On Saturday, I made the 2 1/2 hour drive to Thurmont, MD to shoot the Potomac Grail IDPA Match. I opted to shoot in the afternoon session, and so enjoyed a leisurely Saturday morning before I headed out. The drive was pleasant and on mostly rural roads, although I did have to fight with the Google Maps app to avoid the Interstates. The weather for the match was a little warmer than I had hoped for, but it was not unbearable.

The twelve stage match (match book here) was held at the Thurmont Conservation & Sportsman's Club. This a nice facility with plenty of parking close to the bays. With one exception, the stages were set up two per bay, and the same SO crew ran each squad through both. Small squads and spacing between squads generally kept things moving, excepting when one squad got out of order, causing a cascading backup. It was a long but fun day of shooting and we completed the twelve stage match just before sunset. I enjoyed seeing friends and making a some new ones as well.

The Tier 2 match was promoted as a BUG/CCP self defense themed match. There was also a specialty division for "Carry Optics," a division that to me seems somewhat contradictory to me. A late addition was made for Stock Service Pistol (SSP) in order to increase an early low registration count. The CO and SSP shooters were limited to loading 8 rounds in their magazines to keep some parity across divisions. I shot the SIG P320 Compact in this match.

When I first looked through the matchbook, I kept thinking, "Well, that's different." There were a lot of interesting props and scenarios which were sure to keep it interesting and challenging. I was not disappointed. I heard shooters throughout the day commenting on the uniqueness of the stages. It's hard to pick my favorites, but I will describe some of the more interesting situations we faced.

In "Caught in the Kitchen" we began sitting or prone underneath the "kitchen table" with our gun on the ground near us. All shooting had to be done with our head under the table. The target placement was such that we had to shift our position between each of the three target arrays. As I crawled out from underneath after doing my walkthrough I was still unsure exactly how I was going to position myself. Interestingly, once I started shooting everything fell into place. This actually turned out to be one of my best stages, which I shot with just one point down.

"Spear Him" required us to simultaneously knock over a target with a two-handed throat punch, while stepping on a stomp plate the activated a drop turner and a swinger. The drop turner was fast and you had to be quick drawing your gun to shoot it before it disappeared. I did manage to get my two hits on it. Four stationary targets completed the stage.

"Food Court Terrorism" began by shooting a falling popper that activated an up-and-over target. After shooting that we went prone behind a row of barrels to engage the final three targets. Shooting prone is not all that common, at least in the matches I shoot regularly, and here were two prone stages in the same match. I enjoyed the chance to do so, especially since shooting from a prone position is forbidden at my local range.

"Girlfriend’s Ex Pepper Spray" had us starting out spraying a target in the "face" using an inert pepper spray trainer. We engaged targets while retreating, and again from behind cover. "John Wick Deadly Pen" was another stage with an out-of-the-ordinary start. We began in an elbows-forward blocking position holding a pen in our hand. The run started with us stabbing the pen into the bad guy's "head" — an overripe melon. Then, running to retrieve our tabled gun we hit a stomp plate which activated a swinging non-threat before engaging the rest of the course of fire.

I always find "pick up" gun stages in IDPA to be fun challenges. I've not shot a large variety of hand guns and it's interesting to try something new, and I also enjoy the mystery of what that first, cold shot will be like. As opposed to the truly awful trigger on the pick up Taurus at the Maryland State match this spring, on "John Wick One 7 Round Mag" we picked up a really sweet Remington 1911. (I'm not a 1911 fan, but maybe a full size 1911 might be a fun addition.) We did get to dry fire the gun a few times before shooting it.

Starting with the loaded gun in our strong hand, we had to engage seven targets, one shot to each, with the 1911. We then deposited the gun in a bucket, drew our own weapon, and finished the course. The targets engaged with the 1911 were set in three arrays that were arranged in a line, but placed with just enough separation in distance to require shooting in priority rather than down the line. I bobbled a bit picking out the order while I was shooting. The other threat targets on the stage were marked with black gun silhouettes, and interspersed with black hand non-threat targets, which caused me a few second looks. I finished just 2 points down, but learned a lesson to have my planned target shooting order better in mind.

"Mine Shaft Rescue" was an indoor stage built outdoors. The course of fire was encased in black plastic tarps. A small amount of light leaked in, but the optional flashlight was essentially a requirement. I was actually looking forward to some additional experience shooting with the light, even if it was only one stage. I ended up just two target points down on the stage, but also had one hit on a non-threat.

Another unusual shooting position tested us on "John Wick Shotgun Left." In this we simulated being attacked in the middle of a shotgun reload. We were required to have the shotgun slung around our neck with the stock on our strong side shoulder, holding the barrel in our support hand, loading port up, and holding a dummy round at the port in our strong hand. We had to maintain the positioning of the shot gun while engaging three targets weak hand only. This should have been a clean run for me, but despite a lot of weak hand practice lately, I dropped three points. It was still fun.

In what was likely the most talked about stage, our strong hand shooting was really put to the test in "Hurricane Rioting." For this challenge we held a ballistic shield in our support hand and at the start used it to push through a wall of four barrel "attackers," knocking them over in the process. We then engaged six targets on the move, strong hand only, while looking through the window in the shield. Arriving behind cover, we dropped the shield and reengaged the targets with two more rounds each.

This was quite a unique challenge. At one point during my advance, I got a little off balance and staggered side to side a bit. I recovered but did give the SOs a good laugh. Though finishing seven points down for the stage, I was generally pleased. Again, it showed me that I need a bit more practice with one-handed shooting, although I have no range where I can add movement to any of my practice.

The low point for me in the match was when I had a brain synapses misfire and shot a strong-hand-only string freestyle, earning a 10 second Flagrant Penalty on one of the Standards stages. That, and the hesitations on the 1911 stage, reminded me that I need to be sure to do a final, specific, mental run through right before shooting. In both these cases, I think my mental prep amounted to "shoot them."

I thought this was an exceptionally fun match. The stages were unique in their design, and while not overly difficult, provided challenges to both the shooting and mental games. I look forward to any match opportunities since my practice time is hampered by the limits of the indoor range, and an even more restrictive outdoor range. No matter the results I look appreciate the chance to do some non-static shooting.

In addition to the stage planning issues mentioned above, I found myself shooting a bit too fast and with less concentration toward the end of the day. However, I was generally pleased with my shooting on Saturday. A finish of 14th of 30 in CCP SS was not my best, but it was not my worse either. The Potomac Grail will be my last major match of the year, though there may be a couple local matches I can squeeze in for the balance of 2017. In any event, this would make a fitting and memorable conclusion to the season.

In my book, the inaugural Potomac Grail IDPA match was a success. As originally planned, the event was to include demonstrations by local self defense trainers as well. Unfortunately those did not pan out. I do like the concept behind this match, and I certainly hope it becomes an annual event. I'll be there if it is.

I've also uploaded a few more photos here.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Targets Restocked

I noticed a couple weeks ago that the target boxes were feeling light. I quickly got off an order of some of our favorite paper targets. A stack of two hundred arrived this week.

I now have to find time to actually take them to the range.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Battle of Lepanto

October 7 marks the anniversary of The Battle of Lepanto in the year 1571. In this historically significant battle, the Fleet of the Holy League defeated the much larger fleet of the Ottoman Empire. This Christian victory stopped, but for a while, the aggression of the "religion of peace" into the Mediterranean, and into Europe as well. Untold hundreds of thousands of innocent people were saved from slavery, execution, and other barbarisms the moslems were bringing imposing on the conquered lands.

We have a good idea what an islamist victory at Lepanto would have brought to Europe and the rest of the world. Witness the genocide of Christians in the Middle East and the application of "islamic law" in those same lands, as well as the growing islamic unrest and killings in Europe. We should offer a prayer of thanksgiving for those Christian warriors of long ago, even as we face the resurgence of islamic conquests at home and abroad.

Lest we be complacent, heed the words of Robert McMullen,
Many Christian knights, soldiers, and sailors have died defending Christendom against the onslaughts of Islam down through the centuries. Today, the borders of many European countries, Canada, and the United States are practically wide open, and the old enemy is invited to come in and make himself at home. And many 'Christians' in the West are just too busy enjoying their material prosperity to be bothered with unpleasant history. 

But the enemy has not forgotten history. He remembers it all too well, and he is still deadly serious about his religion. His goal over the years has not changed in the slightest, and he is very patient. The enemy within is now smiling, just biding his time.

And also the reminder from Theodore Roosevelt, writing at the start of the 20th Century,
Christianity is not the creed of Asia and Africa at this moment solely because the seventh century Christians of Asia and Africa 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 eighth 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.

Sadly, history proves that islam is not, and has never been, peaceful. It is also true that a majority of muslims aren't actively killing Christians and other non-mulsims. That does not mean they don't support those who do.

The "lone wolf" attacks on our country have been occurring for decades. How long before we face a renewed, and modern, version of the moslem fleet that sailed against Lepanto?

Full Auto Hilarity

I laughed out loud at "mil-spec butter knife."

I have no doubt that the gun ban crowd will run with this and screech about how easy it is to modify a weapon to full auto. Frankly, I think we should let them.

Friday, October 6, 2017

A Hardywood Coffee Stout Afternoon

I occasionally get to work from home, which typically means I start early and finish early. And that means I might get to enjoy an early beer. This week those conditions aligned. We also happened to have a friend visiting so it was an excellent time to break out a special libation.

Rummaging through the cellar I found a bottle of Hardywood Sidamo Coffee Stout. I am not sure when we acquired the bottle, but it was likely at least two years old.

Perfect for sharing

This Russian Imperial Stout is brewed with locally roasted Ethiopia Sidamo coffee. As soon as I poured I was hit by the aroma of rich roasted coffee. It even looked amazing in the glass; the deep black beer is topped by a short-lived tan head. As I passed the glasses out to Colleen and "Checkered Flag" they both commented immediately on the aroma.

Roasted malt was the predominate flavor. It was backed by coffee and a hint of vanilla and bitter chocolate. The mouthfeel was creamy and smooth. This is definitely an easy sipping beer and I sipped up my share in short time.

This was a most excellent beer and a fitting treat for an afternoon of relaxation. The 9.3% ABV undoubtedly contributing to another rare, but enjoyable pleasure — the afternoon nap.

10 Years of Musing

Today marks ten years and 2,700 posts for this blog.

It doesn't seem like that long, and I do still remember the first day quite clearly. I was sitting in my home office and playing with the platform just to see what it could do. And suddenly I had a blog. I was much more in to tinkering with code at the time, and broke more than one Blogger template.

Even after ten years, I still ask myself "Why?" on a regular basis. I don't make any claim to being an expert on anything I about which I muse, just enthusiastic. The main reason for writing is simply because I enjoy it. The exercise serves as a journal for my benefit especially of the beers and breweries, shooting matches and range trips, and all the other fun happenings that life brings. It also can be quite cathartic after a match to truthfully examine the good and the bad. Doing so publicly keeps me honest I suppose.

A big thank you to those of you who actually come back to read these musings regularly.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Afternoon Range Visit

I didn't think I was going to get in my "fix" this week, but some time opened up Thursday afternoon. I got to the range later in the day that I usually do, and had the place to myself for most of my visit. I might shift my timing a bit if this holds true in the future.

This time I had packed some of the colors & shapes targets for something a little different. I also figured it wouldn't hurt to force myself into some slower, more precision shooting with the Compact SIG.

Running through a hundred rounds, shooting the various spots on the paper was an interesting experiment in patience and concentration. I varied my speed at times, noting how precise of a sight picture I needed to keep the hits in the color. Even at 7 yards it was easy to drift out. I found it very interesting that my tightest groups were on the small yellow circle; an aiming point that I found it extremely difficult to distinguish — the required extra concentration surely making a difference.

Eventually I felt the need to speed things up a bit, so the practice was concluded with a quick 50 round Julie Golob drill.

It was fun, then I had to go back to work...

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Seven Years Today: RIP Mom

It's been seven years since my mother passed away. After seven years, it still feels as if it was yesterday.

That smile. That ever present smile. I don't ever want to forget that.

Requiescat In Pace.

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.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

More Trigger Time

In a fortunate turn of events, I had some free time after work Wednesday afternoon so I ran over to the range for a quick bit of trigger pulling. Since I'm shooting a large match this weekend, I figured a few extra rounds down range wouldn't hurt.

It was a simple and short session; 150 rounds mostly shot from 15 yards. At that moderate distance, I often find myself aiming for the center of the blurry brown object, instead of the upper half of the IDPA target. Concentrating on the where on the target results in better hits. I've noticed also that putting a black paster in the center of the -0 zone is a good training aid, but that helper isn't present in a match.

I'm as ready as I can be for the weekend. Shooting by myself on the range is a poor approximation of a match under pressure, but at least I go in feeling good. And it will be fun no matter what!

The mental picture for the weekend

That's Not Even Coffee

I found myself in the drive-thru lane buying overpriced chain coffee on a Saturday morning. I could overhear the driver in front of me ordering, "Doppio decaf espresso."

Huh? At first, I wasn't sure I heard correctly. Apparently neither did the barista, and she had the customer repeat his order.

In my opinion, decaf coffee is, by definition, not coffee. Decaf espresso to start your morning is even more non-sensical. And a double no less.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Range Trip to Beat the Monday Blues

After a fun weekend away, I faced not only Monday, but a yard in need of mowing. Getting home from work I knocked out the grass, with still enough day left to get out to the range for a bit of practice. I had considered taking along some "terrorist targets" to mark the day, but opted to stick with the standard IDPA targets as I had specific drills planned. Again, I took along my current favorite guns, the two SIG P320 pistols.

The fun started with the Compact pistol from the 15 yard line. Right off the bat, the day was looking better with the first 10 rounds all hitting tight in the -0 zone. Feeling confident, I moved closer to the 7 yard line, and started working on strong hand and weak hand only shots, using the head zone of the target. Still, I was in the zone it seemed. I finished the rest of the box of ammo back at the 15 yard line.

Switching to the Full Size P320 for the rest of my time, I again started at the 15 yard line and then moved in for the SHO and WHO drills. Interestingly, I think I shot the smaller gun a bit more accurately when using just one hand.

Since I hadn't shot from distance very much recently, I ventured back to the 25 yard line. Shooting about 50 rounds from 25 yards, I was feeling good with my shooting. Good hits increase the pleasure of the rang time. Now confident and perhaps a bit cocky, I hiked the target down to the 50 yard berm. Just seeing the target at that distance is a challenge for me. A return hike after 10 rounds fired from 50 yards beat back my confidence a tad. Hitting paper 6 times, but with 5 in the -1 zone, led me to decide to work on that more. Another day.

Returning to a more sensible 15 yards, I worked on drawing from the holster and trying for a shot on target as quickly as the distance would allow. The session was capped off with a magazine's worth of fast pairs from the holster on the 10 yard target.

Overall, it was both a satisfying and fun practice session. The range has overly strict (IMHO) rules on fast shooting, a limitation I am trying to make some use of for mental preparation. I often find myself shooting too fast in the heat of competition, and getting ahead of my sights. Perhaps if I tell myself, "range speed" during the match I'll have better results. At the very least, successful practice sessions make for fun memories when relaxing with a beer later in the evening.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Rising Silo Brewery

I am not sure how we missed this place for so long. We've been visiting Blacksburg, VA regularly for several years, and had somehow never heard of Rising Silo Farm Brewery. The brewery is located just a couple miles from where we frequently stay, and after seeing an article online recently we decided to check it out during our last trip.

The brewery is located on a working farm, Glade Road Farm where visitors can also buy fresh vegetables, meats, and dairy products. A small kitchen is on site offering a limited selection of freshly made foods. An outdoor seating areas offer great views of the mountains and farm.

We made our visit to Rising Silo before dinner on a Friday evening, and there was quite a crowd already enjoying the beer. The brewery was offering 11 different beers and we debated on getting a flight. They also offer 8, 12 and 16 ounce pours. It's great to see options in serving sizes at craft breweries.

We eventually decided to forgo the flight and picked a couple beers. I figured I could always order another round. Colleen picked Blue Hefer-weizen. The beer had an interesting reddish tint to it, and Colleen found it very flavorful. I opted for Goat's Eye Rye Pale Ale. The spiciness of the rye was quite apparent, along with a mild bitterness. I thought this was a most exceptional beer, and enjoyed it very much.

We grabbed a couple pieces of locally made pita and focaccia breads to munch on as we enjoyed the beers. As we did, we struck up a conversation with a local couple who are regulars at the brewery. who told us how it was a popular spot among local residents as well as students. There were indeed a lot of families with young kids running around. 

I started reviewing the beer menu with the intent of trying another beer. Unfortunately, we had very little time for this visit, and the line for beer had gotten quite long. While it seemed to be moving quickly, I opted to forgo trying to squeeze in a second round.

As we left, we noticed that the crowd had grown significantly. The large parking area was quite full. and there was now even a parking attendant helping to direct people to open parking. Obviously, this is a popular spot, and not unknown to the residents of Blacksburg. The couple we spoke to earlier deemed it "the best beer in Blacksburg." We will definitely be back.

Monday, September 11, 2017

September 11: A Day That Must Never Be Forgotten

It's been sixteen years. Memories fade. There's a whole generation that doesn't remember the reality of that day. The events of September 11, 2001 brought horrors to our shores that the world should never be allowed to 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.

Never in its 1400 year history has islam "coexisted" in peace with the rest of the world. It is foolhardy, and deadly, to believe it ever will.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

September 9 is "Buy a Priest a Beer Day"

A tradition initiated by the folks over at The Catholic Gentleman, "Buy a Priest a Beer Day" seems a worthy event.
On this festive day, faithful Catholics all over the world take their priests out for a beer and get to know them better. It’s a beautiful Catholic tradition that goes back to the time of St. Hopswald of Aleyard, the first man to take his priest out for a beer.

Okay, St. Hopswald wasn’t real, but your priest is real. Priests are people too, and they enjoy socializing over good food and drink as much as anyone. They also have a thankless and difficult job, a job that we couldn’t get to heaven without. Priests are the lifeblood of the Church, and they deserve some appreciation.

Even if you can't do it today, most of the priests I know would appreciate the gesture any day.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Armed Lifestyle: Packing for a Weekend Trip

When one is dedicated to an armed lifestyle, packing the suitcase for a weekend trip goes beyond just considerations of clothes personal items. It occurred to me recently how many more decisions I go through before leaving on even a short trip, and all the "extras" that might be needed.

Unless I am planning on shooting for recreation during the trip, I prefer to bring along just one gun. Therefore the first consideration is always the permissiveness of the venues I'd be visiting. Unless one will be traveling to familiar places, that could entail much research. That information determines how much gun I'll be carrying. All further decisions that follow are based on the selected weapon. First up of course is the holster decision. Will my usual IWB carry method suffice? Is there a need to also pack a pocket holster? Rarely do I travel with a just a single holster.

After the holsters are selected, the spare magazine needs go under consideration. Is my typical belt carry sufficient? Will I need the pocket magazine carrier for deeper concealment? Not to be forgotten, depending on the weapon selected, how many spare magazines are sufficient?

When I'm at home, going about the normal routines of home and work, my choices are routine and established. However, travel even to a familiar place, can be full of unknowns. Well before I leave I spend time thinking about where I'll be, who I'll see, and what I'll doing. Being prepared for self defense on the road is as important as being prepared for the weather or a nice evening out.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Brief Range Trip

I was plagued by out of town guests at work last week, which meant later days in the office, and therefore was unable to get to the practice range. Unfortunately, my weekend match plans were also scrapped due to inclement weather. Needless to say I was quite anxious to get in some range time, which I was finally able to do after work on Tuesday.

Based on my observations from the last few matches, my live-fire practice plans for the immediate future are to focus on sight alignment and that elusive smooth trigger press.

For this quick before dinner outing I brought just 100 rounds, and planned to shoot fifty with the SIG P320 Compact and the other half with the Full Size P320. The target distance was 10 yards.

The 50-shot routine was 10 rounds slow fire at the -0 body zone, 10 rounds slow fire to the head, 20 rounds in controlled pairs to the body, drawing from the holster between each pair, and the last 10 rounds at a slightly picked up pace at the -0 body zone.

Despite the low round count and the brevity of the session, it was a beneficial and enjoyable outing. I was pleased with the hits, though I noticed that on the controlled pairs I had a tendency to drop the second shot lower than the first. Next time I do this I'll increase the number of multi-shot strings and work on that further. I was pleased to see no discernible difference in accuracy between the two guns, at the speed I was shooting.

Switching to the P320 Full Size after shooting the Compact showed another reason I've grown fond of the P320 platform — there was no need to change the holster or the magazine pouches between gun. That makes it even easier to pack for the range, which I hope to be doing again, very soon.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

First Oktoberfest Beer of the Season

The Labor Day holiday marks the traditional end of Summer. And the cool, wet weather we're having certainly emphasizes that. One thing I do like about this time of year is the appearances of the Oktoberfest beers. Oktoberfest doesn't start until September 17 and Fall doesn't officially start until September 22, but we're kicking both off a little early.

I make an effort to try as many different Oktoberfest beers as I can each year. A dinner out at BJ's Restaurant was the start of the 2017 Oktoberfest season for me.

BJ's Oktoberfest pours a bright, transparent reddish-orange. The advertising glamor shot to the contrary, there was but a thin ring of head at the top of the glass. The beer itself is extremely low in carbonation with a flat mouthfeel. The flavor was a rich maltiness with very little bitterness.

I'd rank BJ's Oktoberfest as average. Not bad, but not exceptional. Surely, it will be just the first of many Märzen style beers I enjoy in the next couple months.

Friday, September 1, 2017

"Match Cancelled"

It was disappointing to see those words jump out at me from my inbox. I was looking forward to the road trip with a friend tomorrow to shoot the September IDPA match at Sanner's Lake in Maryland. But alas, inclement weather has brought those plans to a screeching halt.

With the wet weather we've been having, I have no doubt the conditions at the range are poor, and will only worsen. Looking on the bright side, I was motivated last night to clean my gun in anticipation so it will be still clean the next time I use it. And, given the wet weather, I will get a reprieve from cutting the grass it seems.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Ignoring The Law

From the Code of Virginia...
§ 18.2-422. Prohibition of wearing of masks in certain places; exceptions.It shall be unlawful for any person over 16 years of age to, with the intent to conceal his identity, wear any mask, hood or other device whereby a substantial portion of the face is hidden or covered so as to conceal the identity of the wearer, to be or appear in any public place, or upon any private property in this Commonwealth without first having obtained from the owner or tenant thereof consent to do so in writing. However, the provisions of this section shall not apply to persons (i) wearing traditional holiday costumes; (ii) engaged in professions, trades, employment or other activities and wearing protective masks which are deemed necessary for the physical safety of the wearer or other persons; (iii) engaged in any bona fide theatrical production or masquerade ball; or (iv) wearing a mask, hood or other device for bona fide medical reasons upon (a) the advice of a licensed physician or osteopath and carrying on his person an affidavit from the physician or osteopath specifying the medical necessity for wearing the device and the date on which the wearing of the device will no longer be necessary and providing a brief description of the device, or (b) the declaration of a disaster or state of emergency by the Governor in response to a public health emergency where the emergency declaration expressly waives this section, defines the mask appropriate for the emergency, and provides for the duration of the waiver. The violation of any provisions of this section is a Class 6 felony.

The recent events in Charlottesville and other places around Virginia have made it abundantly clear, Attorney General Mark Herring has no intent to enforce the laws he swore to uphold.

Yet the cops around here will not hesitate to ticket you if your car window tint is too dark. Apparently the Virginia State Police find that holiday DUI checkpoints are better revenue generators.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Cavalier IDPA Match

For last Sunday's IDPA match at Cavalier, I decided to shoot in the Compact Carry division. I used the SIG P320 Compact in an IWB holster. I've only put about 700 rounds through the gun, all while standing at the "square range." I figured it was time to run it in a match.

The weather was very pleasant as we shot the three stages. We started the first stage standing at the center of a wall. Moving to either side, we engaged three paper and two steel targets. Moving then to the opposite side of the stage, we found a mirrored target set up. The four center targets were partially blocked by non-threats. I shot much too fast on the stage, and my shots were not well placed. As a friend noted, "You can't shoot as fast as you do with the 5" guns."

The second stage consisted of two strings. For the first string our unload gun was staged in a box, sitting on a barrel, along with the magazines. We started out seated on the other side of the wall. Running back to our gun, we loaded and engaged four targets from cover. Grabbing a reload from the barrel we then dropped to a knee to shoot under a wall at two more targets. It was a quick, fun run.

For the second string, we started with the gun loaded and holstered. Progressing through the course of fire, we maneuvered around walls shooting targets from cover. Arriving at the final position we faced two steel poppers that were narrowly exposed between steel hardcover and a barrel before hitting the final two targets. After I finished the SO tapped me on the shoulder, pointing a still standing popper, "That ping you heard was a hit on hard cover." My brain heard the hit and registered a hit on target, but I had instead hit the hard cover steel and didn't even notice the target steel hadn't fallen. Well, they say call your hits, don't watch for them. Oh well.

The final stage saw the use of a somewhat creepy prop, we called Chuckie, which we cradled lovingly in our off hand for the start. We had to carry the "baby" with us as we moved through the course of fire. It was our option to shoot one-handed holding the baby, or set him on barrels that were placed at each of four shooting positions. I chose, as most shooters did, to set the doll down each time and shoot two handed. Fortunately we were only required to hold him in a caring manner at the start.

After that last stage I felt as if I was finally finding my groove. As I reloaded my mags, I was looking forward to the next stage. It wasn't until the last shooter in the squad finished that I realized that the match was over — there were no more stages on which to play!

I shot no where near as well as I would have liked. I made a few mental errors, but most of my trouble was, frankly, shooting too fast. If I look at where the four CCP shooters fell overall, it doesn't feel as bad, but frankly I know I can do better. Despite that, I had a great time shooting the smaller gun. Interestingly, I didn't experience any issues drawing from the inside the waistband holster rather than my usual competition, OWB holster. Despite a poor finish over, it was fun morning spent shooting interesting stages with good people. That's what it's really about after all. I have plans to shoot the compact gun in the CCP division in the future, but perhaps a little more practice is in order first...

More match pics here.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Strangeways Brewing & Sugar Shack Donuts

Last Saturday was the release day for Sugar Shack Samoa Porter at Strangeways Brewing in Fredericksburg. This beer is inspired by the Tastes Like A Samoa™donut from Sugar Shack Donuts. To compliment the beers, a "donut hole" Samoa donut was given out with each glass of beer. Colleen and I headed over early and enjoyed a late "breakfast" of a donut and beer.

Sugar Shack Samoa Porter pours a deep black color with a thin beige head. The aroma is sweet chocolate and molasses. The chocolate theme carries into the flavor, adding a hint of bitterness. The mouthfeel is smooth and moderately thick. We both enjoyed the beer, and the Samoa donut hole, though we agreed that having full sized examples of the donut available for sale would have added to the pleasure.

Since we were bringing a couple bottles of the Samoa Porter home, we opted to try a few more beers from Strangeway's extensive tap list. Colleen opted for the Strangways classic, Woodbooger Belgian Brown Ale. I selected Always Forward New England Pale Ale.

Of course, one does not survive on breakfast alone. So as we sipped our beers we also enjoyed some delicious Puerto Rican food from the Will's Place food truck. We started with Nachones, a dish of fried plantains with slow roasted pork, lettuce, tomato and Coqui Sauce. A couple of "Zeke" empanadas, made with jalapenos and pimento cheese, rounded out the meal. The food was very flavorful and reasonably priced. Will's is a regular visitor at many of the local craft breweries, but this was our first chance to try out their food. We'll definitely keep an eye out for Will's mobile food in the future.

The weather was extremely pleasant and we were enjoying our outside table. With no other plans for the afternoon, I opted to try Strangeways Nottingham Striker English Mild. We also could not resist ordering a couple more of those tasty empanadas from Will's. The English Mild was not as strongly flavored as the prior beers, as expected, but was well done. At just 3.8% ABV is was a fitting finish to a most relaxing Saturday afternoon.

Monday, August 28, 2017

St. Augustine of Hippo

We've had this quote from St. Augustine on the sidebar for several years...
"Though defensive violence will always be 'a sad necessity' in the eyes of men of principle, it would be still more unfortunate if wrongdoers should dominate just men." 

August 28 is the Feast Day of St. Augustine of Hippo. Now considered a Doctor of the Church, he died in 430 A.D. Augustine led a life of debauchery until, through the ardent prayers of his mother, St. Monica, he converted to Christianity. The Saint merits mention in the Musings for a couple of reasons.

Reason # 1, St. Augustine is one of the patron Saints of Brewers. For reasons not fully clear, his conversion from a life of debauchery earned him that title.

Reason # 2 are his writings on the Doctrine of Just War. The theory of a just war holds that violence should not be the first answer to violence, however resorting to only peacefulness in the face of a grave wrong would be a sin if violence is the the only way to prevent such a wrong.

"The purpose of all war is ultimately peace."
--Saint Augustine

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Millennials At The Bar

Waiting to pay my tasting room tab I overhear the millennial in front of me ordering a beer...

Server: "Do you want the 13 ounce pour?"

Millennial: "No, just the beer."

After some back and forth, the question is settled. He finally walks away with his drink. That's when I see he's wearing a "Punch More Nazis" t-shirt.

Yeah, should have seen that coming.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Range Outing: Carry Gun Edition

I escaped the office a little early one afternoon this week and decided to use that found time for a quick range visit. This time I decided I would shoot my current carry gun, using the IWB holster it rides in, instead of my competition gear. As I dropped some ammo into my range bag, I felt odd to not be loading guns into the bag. Now that my son is back at college there's also less gear and ammo to pack so it was a quick load up.

When I got to the range I realized that the change in routine led to me forgetting to grab the extra magazines for the gun. No matter, I still had two with me — the one in the gun and the spare on my belt. It meant going back to the bench more frequently to reload, but I could still shoot. 

I did a few dry fire drills to warm up, drawing from the IWB holster and getting the gun on target. I then used the 150 rounds I had packed to shoot from 7, 10, 15 and 20 yards, as well as getting in some strong and weak hand only shooting.

The weather was extremely pleasant and no one else was at the park. It was a most enjoyable hour of shooting.