Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Even In Church

The Most Reverend Manuel A. Cruz, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Newark, was attacked during Mass last Saturday by a man who got up from his seat at the service. The Bishop needed 30 stitches in his mouth as result of the punch. The thug who assaulted the Bishop was arrested, though no motive has been released. I'm assuming that unless the goon turns out to be a Trump supporter, we probably won’t hear much more about a motive.

We now have video of the assault.

The recording leaves me wondering why the attacker was allowed to calmly walk up to the altar. During that part of the Mass people are standing, but there is no reason for anyone to be approaching the altar. An Essex County Sheriff's Officer can be seen calmly following the guy, but makes no attempt to stop him until AFTER he sucker punches the Bishop. Inexcusable in my eyes.

Frankly, I am a little surprised the Bishop didn’t react sooner. It just goes to show that one can be blind to a threat when you have no reason to believe there is any danger.

Unfortunately this assault occurred in New Jersey, where good people are defenseless and told to rely on the police to keep them safe. How'd that work out for the Bishop? I am confident that someone approaching the altar in my church here in Virginia would be stopped before he hit the first step.

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

Monday, January 30, 2017

Red Dragon Brewery and Cask Ale

I was excited to read that Red Dragon Brewery in Fredericksburg has added cask ale to their lineup. They acquired a traditional hand-pumped beer engine from a closed pub in the U.K. and tapped the first beer this weekend. Colleen and I stopped by after lunch on Saturday to try it out.

The beer being served from cask was Daffodil Welsh Ale, a 4.1% ABV English Bitter. The beer was an attractive golden yellow with a frothy pump-induced head. The flavor was moderately bitter with a touch of fruitiness. The hand-pump adds a softness to the mouthfeel that "normally" poured beers lack. We thoroughly enjoyed both the beer and the serving style.

The brewery had twelve beers on tap during this visit, in addition to the cask. That made my decision on a second beer all the more difficult. My love for hops finally won out, and I ordered a Sideways IPA. This is a double dry hopped IPA. The flavor is bold, full of juicy hops, and with a moderate 6.7% ABV.

The food available at Red Dragon is limited to snacks, mostly chips and caramel corn. On a prior visit some packaged food from a local caterer was available. Visitors are welcome, and encouraged, to bring along whatever food they wish to enjoy with the beer. Or you can just enjoy the beer.

We've visited Red Dragon on several occasions since they opened last summer. I've tried nine different beers from the brewery and have never been disappointed. The brewery offers a variety of styles, and the beers are solid and well-done. There were a number of interesting sounding beers on tap that I have yet to try, but our time was limited. I'm looking forward to going back soon.

Friday, January 27, 2017

It's Friday And There's Range Time

For this week’s range trip I opted to shoot the compact SIG P239 since I’ll be shooting it in a match soon. It’s also the firearm that I carry most often, so I like to shoot it regularly.

I decided to run Julie Golob’s 50 round drill a couple of times, setting the target at 7 yards. The goal is to only score -0 hits, anything else is considered a miss. While there’s no time limit on the drill, I did try to shoot as fast as I could and still get the hits, though slowing down would have made for a more impressive accompanying photo.

Using the IDPA target outline for scoring, on the first I had seven misses out of 50, five of which were on head shot attempts. On the second run, I slowed a bit for the head shots and only missed two, but dropped five body shots.

After I expended the 100 rounds I had packed, I had the urge to shoot a bit more, so I purchased 50 more rounds from the range. This time I set out a B-34 target and worked on shooting out to 20 yards. I was mostly pleased with that round of shooting, but noticed a tendency to shoot slightly low.

Lessons learned today: I need to concentrate on grip pressure with the slimmer gun, and also watch the height of the front sight to keep from dropping low shots. And that gives me an excuse to go back next week. Even though the shooting wasn’t quite as accurate as I would have liked, the outing was a fun diversion. And now we know there are health benefits too.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Threat to VA CHP Holders in MD

As someone who sometimes travels in Maryland for shooting matches or to visit family, I find this of great concern. When traveling in the not so "Free State" I am aware of the threat of unreasonable searches of my person and vehicle by agents of a state which doesn't respect the Constitution. That threat has become even more worrisome.

From the alert sent by the Virginia Citizens Defense League:


There have been some real problems with Virginia CHP holders being stopped in Maryland and the Virginia State Police telling Maryland law enforcement that the driver has a Virginia CHP.

There is a bill in the General Assembly that will put an end to that issue, BUT THE SITUATION HAS JUST GOTTEN EVEN MORE URGENT.

Two days ago the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, whose rulings affect Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, and South Carolina, said that during a stop an officer can frisk ANYONE AT WILL if he believes THEY HAVE A GUN, whether possessed LEGALLY OR ILLEGALLY - including being possessed by those who have a CHP!

So now, if you are stopped in Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina, or South Carolina, and the officer finds out you have a CHP, he can frisk you without the need to have either reasonable, articulable suspicion or probable cause that you are armed AND dangerous.

This was a horrendous decision.


Senator Stuart's SB 1023 is the solution. SB 1023 prohibits the Virginia State Police from sharing a person's CHP status with any state that does not honor a Virginia CHP. That makes perfect sense. If a state considers our CHPs to be nothing more than toilet paper, why even bother telling that state that you have such a "worthless" permit?

The good news is that HB 1023 cleared the Senate Courts of Justice today and is headed to the Senate Floor and then to the House.

Our critical challenge is that we need to get as many legislators of both parties on board to be in a position to override a possible veto by the Governor.



This is one bill that many Senators, who normally are not good on guns, might well support!

Click here to send the pre-written message to your Senator and please do this NOW:



If you are a Virginia resident, please use the link above to contact your senator. Even if you are not a CHP holder, or don't travel in Maryland, please show your support. This is a concern to all citizens who value freedom and the right to free travel.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

9 Things You Didn’t Know About the Second Amendment

Interesting information to contradict the FUD of the anti-gun crowd.
Reprinted from Policy Mic.

1. The Second Amendment codifies a pre-existing right
The Constitution doesn't grant or create rights; it recognizes and protects rights that inherently exist. This is why the Founders used the word "unalienable" previously in the Declaration of Independence; these rights cannot be created or taken away. In D.C. vs. Heller, the Supreme Court said the Second Amendment “codified a pre-existing right. The very text of the Second Amendment implicitly recognizes the pre-existence of the right and declares only that it “shall not be infringed ... this is not a right granted by the Constitution” (p. 19).
2. The Second Amendment protects individual, not collective rights
The use of the word "militia" has created some confusion in modern times, because we don't understand the language as it was used at the time the Constitution was written. However, the Supreme Court states in context, "it was clearly an individual right" (p. 20). The operative clause of the Second Amendment is “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” which is used three times in the Bill of Rights. The Court explains that "All three of these instances unambiguously refer to individual rights, not 'collective' rights, or rights that may be exercised only through participation in some corporate body" (p. 5), adding “nowhere else in the Constitution does a 'right' attributed to “the people” refer to anything other than an individual right" (p. 6).
3. Every citizen is the militia
To further clarify regarding the use of the word "militia," the court states “the ordinary definition of the militia as all able-bodied men” (p. 23). Today we would say it is all citizens, not necessarily just men. The Court explains: “'Keep arms' was simply a common way of referring to possessing arms, for militiamen and everyone else" (p. 9). Since the militia is all of us, it doesn't mean “only carrying a weapon in an organized military unit" (p. 11-12). “It was clearly an individual right, having nothing whatever to do with service in a militia" (p. 20).

4. Personal self-defense is the primary purpose of the Second Amendment
We often hear politicians talk about their strong commitment to the Second Amendment while simultaneously mentioning hunting. Although hunting is a legitimate purpose for firearms, it isn't the primary purpose for the Second Amendment. The Court states “the core lawful purpose [is] self-defense” (p. 58), explaining the Founders “understood the right to enable individuals to defend themselves ... the 'right of self-preservation' as permitting a citizen to 'repe[l] force by force' when 'the intervention of society in his behalf, may be too late to prevent an injury' (p.21). They conclude "the inherent right of self-defense has been central to the Second Amendment right" (p.56).
5. There is no interest-balancing approach to the Second Amendment
Interest-balancing means we balance a right with other interests. The court notes that we don't interpret rights this way stating “we know of no other enumerated constitutional right whose core protection has been subjected to a freestanding “interest-balancing” approach. The very enumeration of the right takes out of the hands of government the power to decide on a case-by-case basis whether the right is really worth insisting upon. A constitutional guarantee subject to future judges’ assessments of its usefulness is no constitutional guarantee at all” (p.62-63). This doesn't mean that it is unlimited, the same as all rights (more on that below). However, the court states that even though gun violence is a problem to be taken seriously, “the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table" (p.64).

6. The Second Amendment exists to prevent tyranny
You've probably heard this. It's listed because this is one of those things about the Second Amendment that many people think is made up. In truth, this is not made up. The Court explains that in order to keep the nation free (“security of a free state”), then the people need arms: “When the able-bodied men of a nation are trained in arms and organized, they are better able to resist tyranny" (p.24-25). The Court states that the Founders noted "that history showed that the way tyrants had eliminated a militia consisting of all the able bodied men was not by banning the militia but simply by taking away the people’s arms, enabling a select militia or standing army to suppress political opponents" (p. 25). At the time of ratification, there was real fear that government could become oppressive: “during the 1788 ratification debates, the fear that the federal government would disarm the people in order to impose rule through a standing army or select militia was pervasive" (p.25). The response to that concern was to codify the citizens' militia right to arms in the Constitution (p. 26).
7. The Second Amendment was also meant as a provision to repel a foreign army invasion
You may find this one comical, but it's in there. The court notes one of many reasons for the militia to ensure a free state was “it is useful in repelling invasions” (p.24). This provision, like tyranny, isn't an everyday occurring use of the right; more like a once-in-a-century (if that) kind of provision. A popular myth from World War II holds Isoroku Yamamoto, commander-in-chief of the Imperial Japanese navy allegedly said “You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.” Although there is no evidence of him saying this, there was concern that Japan might invade during WWII. Japan did invade Alaska, which was a U.S. territory at the time, and even today on the West Coast there are still gun embankments from the era (now mostly parks). The fact is that there are over 310 million firearms in the United States as of 2009, making a foreign invasion success less likely (that, and the U.S. military is arguably the strongest in the world).
8. The Second Amendment protects weapons "in common use at the time"
The right to keep and bear arms isn't unlimited: “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited” (p. 54). The Court upheld restrictions like the prohibition of arms by felons and the mentally ill, and carrying in certain prohibited places like schools and courthouses. What is protected are weapons "in common use of the time" (p.55). This doesn't mean weapons in common use “at that time,” meaning the 18th Century. The Court said the idea that it would is “frivolous” and that “the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding" (p.8). The Court's criteria includes weapons in popular widespread use “that [are] overwhelmingly chosen by American society" (p. 56), and “the most popular weapon chosen by Americans” (p. 58).
9. The Second Amendment might require full-blown military arms to fulfill the original intent
The Court didn't rule specifically on this in D.C. vs. Heller, but noting that weapon technology has drastically changed (mentioning modern day bombers and tanks), they stated “the conception of the militia at the time of the Second Amendment’s ratification was the body of all citizens capable of military service, who would bring the sorts of lawful weapons that they possessed at home to militia duty. It may well be true today that a militia, to be as effective as militias in the 18th century, would require sophisticated arms that are highly unusual in society at large" (p. 55).

They further added that “the fact that modern developments [in modern weaponry] have limited the degree of fit between the prefatory clause and the protected right cannot change our interpretation of the right" (p. 56). A full ruling has not been made, as this was not in the scope the court was asked to rule on in the D.C. vs. Heller case, but they left the door open for future ruling.

Tip of the hat to Give Me Liberty for the link.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Cavalier IDPA Match

I was fortunate to be able to shoot two IDPA matches last weekend. After the demoralizing BUG match, it was fun to shoot another match on Sunday at Cavalier. This time I shot a full size pistol, with much better results.

The weather was "iffy" on the morning of the match. There was a light drizzle falling most of my drive to the range, but the precipitation stopped by the time I arrived, though the skies remained overcast. All the targets originally had plastic bags covering them, but the bags were removed for shooting. (Thankfully! I hate pasting bagged targets even more than shooting them.)

There were but twenty hearty shooters who braved the weather that morning, and we were treated to a fun match. We all shot in one large squad, but the match progressed quickly with everyone pitching in to help score and paste targets. Shooting with the extra large squad was a lot of fun and there were equal amounts of advice and good natured rubbing being given out.

The first bay held two courses of fire, which consisted of six targets each. We found ourselves weaving around walls and barrels to find the targets on both courses. After shooting the first course, we immediately reloaded and started the next one. On the final shooting position I mistakenly shot the targets out of order, earning a Procedural Error penalty.

The third course of fire started with three targets in the open, but with barrels providing a vision barrier. Moving to cover we engaged a lone target down a hallway. Advancing down the hallway we moved to a shooting position on the right before crossing back to the left for the final two targets.

The final stage had us seated at a table, with the unloaded gun in a box and all reloads on the table. At the start we loaded the gun and engaged three targets with three rounds each, followed by three falling steel targets. All shooting was done while seated.

This was a fun match, and I was pleased to shoot well. I ended up with just three target points down, plus the regrettable three second PE. The match went quickly, and we were able to finish before the rain started. It was a treat to get to shoot two matches over the rainy weekend. Despite some post-match coffee at home I still needed, and enjoyed, a Sunday afternoon nap.

This was the first match I shot under the 2017 IDPA rules. The most noticeable, and widely discussed, rule changes are the addition of fault lines designating "cover", and the one second per point down scoring. I actually found it easier, and certainly quicker, to get into each shooting position. The tactile fault lines made it simpler than looking down at my feet before shooting. Countering the faster movement, it's very obvious that accuracy is going to be a bigger part of the game than in the past. So far the changes, from my limited experience, are for the better.

Many thanks go out to Match Director Chris, and to Tess, Rich, Mike and everyone who came out to put on a super match, despite the gloomy weather. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Sierra Nevada Beer Recall

Check your beer fridge. Sierra Nevada Brewing has issued a recall of some beer bottled at their Mills River, NC brewery. A flaw in the packaging may allow for bits of glass to break off into the bottles.

The affected beers as have a package date between Dec. 5, 2016, and Jan. 13, 2017, and a brewery code of "M'' printed on bottles and the packaging of cardboard cases. Affected beers include Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Beer Camp Golden IPA, Sidecar Orange Pale Ale, Torpedo Extra IPA, Tropical Torpedo, Nooner, Hop Hunter and Otra Vez.

The widespread recall applies to these 36 states:  Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin and West Virginia

See "Sierra Nevada brewery issues 36-state recall of select beers" for more information on the voluntary recall.

Rivanna BUG Match

The first match of the season for the Rivanna IDPA group was the annual BUG (Back Up Gun) match. I headed over to Charlottesville on a foggy Saturday morning to shoot the match with the S&W Shield that I practiced a bit with last week.

The club's rules for this match allowed any BUG legal gun according to the 2015 IDPA rulebook. However the match was scored using the new 1 second per point down scoring method for 2017. This allowed folks who hadn't had opportunity to acquire new equipment, matching the latest restrictions, to shoot the annual local match. Since the latest edition of the rulebook was published just 15 days prior to the match it was a good compromise. 

I can't claim that my recent practice session helped a whole lot, but the match was fun nonetheless. There were four stages, each with two, 5 shot limited strings, for 40 rounds total.

Stage 1 presented us with five targets, each with copious hard cover leaving very limited scoring areas. The loaded gun was placed on a barrel and at the start we dropped to kneeling behind the barrel and shot from cover. Each target required 1 hit. We then shot the same string a second time.

Stage 2, which was the first stage I shot, started with the gun at low ready, and while moving across the bay we were required to put one hit on each of five targets. The second string was shot moving in the opposite direction. 

Stage 3 was a challenging stage with 5 head-shot only targets.We shot this course of fire seated, with the loaded gun starting on the table. As with the other stages, two strings were fired for score. 

Stage 4 tested us with some strong-hand, weak-hand embarrassment exercises. Starting with the gun on a barrel, the course of fire required two shots on the each of the outer targets, and one head shot on the center target. For added challenge, there was a non-threat target placed below the head shot. The first string was shot strong hand only and the second string was support hand only. At least I didn't hit the non-threat.

This was a fun, but quite challenging match. I shoot the S&W Shield infrequently, and the copious tight shots required exacting sight alignment and trigger control. I had more than a few misses, and with a penalty now of 5 seconds each, they add up fast. The head shots and ample hard cover made it difficult to know if the misses were close or wide, high or low, left or right, so I didn't get good feedback on what I was doing wrong. I'd like to shoot the small gun at a few more matches this year, but first more time at the practice range is in order I think.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Biology Behind Shooting

I found this infographic to be very interesting. I've often noted the stress release and renewed vigor found after heading to the range at my lunch break. Endorphins, of course. The same reason I like spicy food.

Source: The Biology Behind Shooting: What Goes On In The Human Body When Shooting A Gun?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Tomorrow Could Get Interesting

The peaceful transition of power is one of the cherished hallmarks of this great country. But there are those walking among us who don't believe in such a freedom and resort to third-world tactics. Anarchists and other thugs are planning massive violence during the inauguration. The left has been showing its violent nature all through the election process, and their depravity may come to a head on Friday. We should pray they prove to be all talk and no action. Security will be tight around the Capitol and National Mall, but it's probably a good idea to stay alert and prepared wherever you are in the coming days.

I wonder if the mentally ill liberals at the State Department were successfully treated. At least they won't have to show up for work on Friday.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Solitary Range Time

Much of my outdoor range time is spent shooting alone. That's not the case for the indoor range, where it's generally busy and I often find myself distracted by the antics of other shooters. However, I got to spend most of my 30 minutes at the indoor range this week as the sole shooter. There was somebody finishing up as I loaded mags, and then there was no one shooting until I was just about done. Perfect.

I brought out the S&W Shield this week. I plan to shoot it in a BUG match this weekend and wanted to get a bit of practice with it, using the 7-round mags. IDPA just updated, again, the BUG gun size limits and the 8-round mags, with the extra finger room, are no longer legal. (And of course, I just bought extra 8-round mags last month.)

The front sight on this gun is noticeably shifted to the right so I worked to compensate for that, with some success. I'll need to get that fixed at some point. (The range proprietor related that he's seen a lot of new Smith & Wesson guns come in with poorly installed sights. What's up with that?)

It was a fun and very quick outing. I had a nice refresher on the gun and look forward to shooting it this weekend. I hope the targets are close.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Five O'Clock Friday The 13th

That can only mean one thing....

It's the weekend!

First Range Trip of the Year

It’s not been from lack trying, but I just haven’t been able to get to a range in over two weeks. Inclement weather last weekend caused the cancellation of a match I had planned to attend. Hoping for a quick escape from the office, I’ve been blocking out an occasional lunch break on my calendar, in theory to avoid anyone scheduling something for me. Then I find the rest of the day filled up and I need that blocked time for other work. Oh well, one must pay the bills, and pay for the bullets.

Global warming was in full effect for a couple days this week, so it was unfortunate there was no time for a visit to the outdoor range. I did manage to get out for a quick “lunch break” this week and hit the local indoor range. This was more “recreational time” than any organized “training.” I stuck the target out around eight yards, and simply spent the time pulling the trigger. I shot for about 30 minutes, putting 150 rounds down range.

Aaargh! That flyer. 😠

It was simply good, relaxing fun. As an unrepentant multi-tasker, who works through lunch most days, I look forward to some time behind the gun, where I concentrate on one and only one task, to the exclusion of other concerns. Now I’ve entered a couple of “reserved time” entries in my calendar for next week. Maybe one of them will stick...

Thursday, January 12, 2017

VCDL Legislation Tracking Tool

The Virginia Citizens Defense League has posted the 2017 Legislation Tracking Page. This is a handy way to keep track of bills affecting gun owners in Virginia. Follow the page for the latest information as bills work their way through the legislature. Here you can see who's defending your rights, and who's working to take them away.

You can also get updates as they happen via the VCDL Twitter feed.

The Virginia Constitution
Article I. Bill of Rights
Section 13. Militia; standing armies; military subordinate to civil power
That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state, therefore, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

It's Called Concealed For A Reason

People use the term, but I don't think they comprehend the meaning of "concealed."

It's hardly a guess if you advertise it on the back of your car.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Short on Ammo: Perspective

Received from a friend...
You may have heard on the news about a Southern California man who was put under 72-hour psychiatric observation when it was found he owned 100 guns and allegedly had 100,000 rounds of ammunition stored in his home. By Southern California standards, someone owning 100,000 rounds is considered... "mentally unstable."

In Michigan, he'd be called "the last white guy still living in Detroit."

In Arizona, he'd be called "an avid gun collector."

In Arkansas, he'd be called "a novice gun collector."

In Utah, he'd be called "moderately well prepared," but they'd probably reserve judgement until they made sure that he had a corresponding quantity of stored food.

In Kansas, he'd be "a guy down the road you would want to have for a friend."

In Montana, he'd be called "the neighborhood 'Go-To' guy."

In Alabama, he'd be called "a likely gubernatorial candidate."

In Georgia, he'd be called "an eligible bachelor."

In North Carolina, Virginia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky and South Carolina he would be called "a deer hunting buddy."

And in Texas he'd just be "Bubba, who's a little short on ammo."

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Seeing Less. Shooting Better.

I've been writing for some time on my struggles with aging eyes and their effect on my shooting. I'm a bit out of the norm in that my distance vision began its degeneration well before my close up focus was affected. To this day, I need glasses to see sharply more than a couple feet out, yet can see close in without aid. This leads to a lot of time spent taking my glasses on and off throughout the day. Eating a bowl of ice cream in front of the TV is an exercise in frustration; I can either see my food OR the television, never both.

Back in 2012 I began experimenting with mono-vision correction for shooting. I started wearing shooting glasses with prescription inserts. The lens for non-dominant eye was set up with my standard distance Rx, while the dominant eye lens was corrected to bring the focus on to the front sight. I used this technique for about three years, but I was never entirely satisfied with the results.

My dissatisfaction mainly centered around the doubled up lenses in front of my eyes. The two layers of plastic caused some distortion, not to mention added to the weight on the bridge of my nose. During the summer months, sweat would get between the lenses, creating even more issues. The two different focal points didn't cause too much of an issue, my brain worked it out. However, I found I developed the habit of closing my non-dominant eye when shooting. This affected my peripheral vision, and resulted in a lot of blinking during a course fire. There had to be a better solution, but I didn't know what it was.

Then in 2015 I started noticing that the front sight was getting out of focus. My vision was changing and it was time to change the prescription for up close focus. (My distance Rx has not changed significantly in almost a decade.) I also noticed that the front sight of my gun generally sat right at the point where it was now in focus with the naked eye. Every so often I tried not wearing any prescription lenses at the range. I could shoot okay, but I just could not get comfortable seeing distant objects, and people, out of focus. Eventually I forced myself to shoot a match without the Rx. The range bay was small so there weren't any far off things to see, and I shot okay to boot.

The decision was made and from that day forward, I decided to shoot with no vision correction. I accepted seeing the targets blurred, as well as other objects and people in the distance. I know where on the IDPA or USPSA targets the -0 and A zones are located. Even with a partial target, one does not need to actually see the perforations. You don't need to see the target clearly if your sights are in focus and aligned. Hitting a 6" steel plate at 20 yards is still possible even if it's blurred. (I'm never going to be a bullseye shooter.) Focusing on the sight alignment, with a sharp front sight is the secret to hitting the target.

Even people with "normal" vision can't focus on two distances simultaneously, in my case I can't focus at distance at all. Out past about 7 - 10 yards, I can't see the holes in the target so there's no looking for confirmation of a good hit. In retrospect, I truly believe this limitation has helped, rather than hindered, my shooting performance. It's led to a greater concentration on the sights and trigger control. I've long heard the admonition to "call your shots." We even did a drill related to the concept in the Steve Anderson class I took back in 2013. But it never clicked as a real thing until I really couldn't see the hits on the target. Early in the transition I took a lot of extra shots, just because. Sadly, I don't always react fast enough and skip taking a needed make up, and I still occasionally don't call a bad shot.

In the end, I think not being able to look for confirmation on the target has been beneficial. It has forced me to become more confident in my shooting. I've also come to believe that trying to see the hits, as opposed to knowing the sights are aligned, leads to subconsciously peaking over the gun, and shooting low. One doesn't need to see the hit on the target if the gun is on target when the bullet leaves the barrel. After much work, I've also retrained myself to do most of my shooting with both eyes open.

After arriving at the range for practice or a match, I'll take off my regular prescription glasses shortly before it's time to shoot. There's a few minutes of uncomfortable vision degradation, but once I get to the shooting, I hardly notice. In the lower light of an indoor range it's more noticeable. I often use "splatter targets" indoors so I can check out the hits without reeling the target carrier all the way in. And rest assured, I put my glasses back on for the drive home!

I know that my near vision will continue to degrade, and over time I'll require correction to see the front sight in focus. I already see some slight blurring of the front sight on occasion, depending on the ambient light, and where I'm holding the gun. But when that time comes, I'll still ignore making any distance correction for shooting.

I've been warned that I'm a candidate for cataract surgery some day. I figure if I can get my knees fixed too I'll be a "young" shooter someday!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Wrapping Up Vacation

I'm sitting here drinking my second cup of coffee on the last day of vacation and listening to the rain falling outside. I feel the start of a cold coming on, but at least it didn't start during the week off. I take a "staycation" this time each year. Unlike my summer time vacation, many of my co-workers are off as well, so I get few "emergency" texts, and my daily email check is done quickly.

Reflecting on the past week, it was a fun time away from the daily grind. Most of the time was spent doing nothing more than, well, nothing. A lot of time was spent reading and watching TV, and falling asleep doing both. I only got out shooting twice; first our the annual Day After Christmas range trip with friends, and then a quick visit to the indoor range.

We did get away for a few days to head down to Charlotte for the Belk Bowl. How 'bout them Hokies?!?!  It was an exciting game and we enjoyed some good BBQ while we were there as well. In proof that you can never hide even in a crowd, we heard from several friends that we were shown in one of the crowd shots on TV during the ESPN broadcast. I hope they got my good side.

I suspect today will be one last lazy day before it's time to become a slave to the alarm clock once again. On the bright side, it's a four day work week.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

A New Year

There are two ways to go with the requisite New Year's Day post — reminisce about the past or make resolutions for the future. I certainly enjoy reminiscing about fun times in the past. That's why I write these Musings; it is fun (for me) to go back and re-read posts.

I see from my shooting log that I visited the range on 64 days in 2016. I shot 20 IDPA matches, including the West Virginia and Delaware State matches. On the training side, we attended Massad Ayoob's Armed Citizen’s Rules of Engagement class and John Murphy's "Minuteman Rifle Course". 

On the craft beer scene, I enjoyed around 166 different beers this year, the majority of them new to me. We also visited 36 different breweries or pubs over the course of the year. 

When it comes to looking forward, I don't make resolutions. I have some goals for the coming year — things I look forward to doing differently or better in the future. For example, I've already stepped up my live fire practice, and I'm attempting to dry fire more. I am looking forward to being able to shoot more matches this year, if the calendar and other activities cooperate. I expect to take at least one defense-related shooting class this year, and hope to get a competition-based course in as well. 

There is still a long list of Virginia breweries we've yet to visit. I also am going to make a concerted effort to try the new releases from our local brewers as they come out. Given the goals in the preceding paragraph, that will be a challenge, but I feel up to the task. 

Since we don't go out to celebrate on New Year's' Eve, and haven't in decades, the first day of the new year arrives like any other Sunday morning. I am quite happy to spend New Year's Eve watching college football or a movie with my family, while enjoying a good beer or two of course. My favorite thing about the New Year's holiday just might be that it serves to extend my annual Christmas vacation. That, and it moves us a bit closer to warmer weather and longer days.

However you choose to mark the end of 2016, I hope the future brings good things to all of you. Events of recent months do leave me optimistic for positive changes for our country in the coming months. Domestic enemies have been dealt a blow, and that doesn't bode well for enemies foreign.