Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Shooting Stock Guns

In the nine or so years I've been attending pistol matches, be it USPSA or IDPA, I've always shot in the "stock gun" divisions. Other than some experiments with sights and adding grip tape, I prefer the guns as they come from the factory. Some of that affinity may come from the fact that I became interested in shooting originally for self defense reasons, and only came to competition as a way to test my skills.

The USPSA Production and IDPA Stock Service Pistol divisions have fairly strict limits on what you are allowed to change on the gun. Sure, I've admired some sweet Limited (USPSA) or Enhanced Service Pistol (IDPA) guns that friends have, but it's still stock that holds my attention. My BUG and CCP guns are also "out of the box." I will also definitively that I've never been tempted in the slightest by the Open gun phenomenon.

Though I often shoot the same guns I carry in competition, I admit to switching holsters and concealment garments when competing. That said, I also practice with my carry holsters and "street clothing" often.

I'd rather spend money on bullets than doodads.

Cartoon found via Twitter.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Saturday Morning Shooting Fun

My son and I headed down to Winding Brook Indoor Range on Saturday morning. We weren't sure what the crowd would be like on a Saturday morning, but we had accepted that we might have a wait. We could have shot without delay but we opted to wait until two adjacent lanes opened up.

Using some IDPA practice targets, I started out shooting multi-shot strings at 7, then 10, then 15 yards. After emptying the first box of 50, I moved the target carrier to 10 yards, and set it to expose the target for 3 seconds, with a 4 second interval. From extended and compressed low ready positions I shot 2, 3, or 4 rounds on the target as it turned. The next 50 rounds were very quickly expended. This is as close as I can get to match-like practice, and that alone made long drive to the range worthwhile.

I finished up with more 15 yard work, and then some close SHO and WHO shots. I was done a few minutes before my son, so spent a little time watching him shoot. He's had a good teacher so does well. :-) He's getting ready to head back to school so this was likely our last chance to shoot together for a few months. We also got in lots of good conversation during the drive time and post shooting lunch making it a super fun and memorable morning.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

John B. Keane On Drink

Irish playwright and pub owner John B. Keane shares his views on alcohol and life.


Friday, January 12, 2018

VCDL 2018 Legislation Tracking Tool

The Virginia Citizens Defense League has posted the 2018 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'll see who's defending your rights, and who's "goose-stepping toward gun-control."

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

This is an extremely important year for gun owners. The Governor-elect has stated that his number one priority for his administration is disarming law abiding Virginians and making them the victims of predators.

It's actually not hard to understand why leftists constantly make the absurd claim that disarming law abiding people keeps criminals from committing crime. It's well known that liberal men prefer defenseless victims. In truth, gun control advocates are concerned only about their own power and keeping others subordinate.

Sic semper tyrannis

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Indoor Range Trip

My plans to shoot last weekend were sent awry by the extreme cold. After the match at Sanner’s Lake was cancelled, I hoped for a visit to the indoor range at Winding Brook. In the end though the drive on a cold Sunday morning did not inspire. Instead I got in a couple of long dry fire sessions, and Colleen and I enjoyed a very relaxing weekend at home avoiding the cold.

However, the end result was that I itching to hit the range this week, and so scheduled a lunch break to do just that last Tuesday afternoon. On the first day in what seems a long time, it was above freezing outside when I pulled into the parking lot. As good timing would have it, the only other shooter was sweeping up his brass as I entered. I had the range to myself as another patron did not arrive until I was picking up my brass and preparing to leave.

Despite the relative warmth outdoors, a balmy 48°, upon entering the range I noticed I was seeing my breath fog in front me. I set out a small thermometer I had in my bag and watched the digits drop as I shot. As is often the case in the older facility, the indoor and outdoor temps were essentially the same. (We really do get spoiled with the conditions provided by modern indoor shooting facilities.)

After a couple weeks of intense, but quiet, dry fire, that first live fire shot was admittedly somewhat startling. Cool temps notwithstanding, it was a very productive and satisfying practice session. I have been experimenting with some minor changes in my grip, especially for SHO and WHO shooting, and was quite anxious to try it out in live fire. It's an ongoing trial but I was happy with the results so far.

Despite almost daily dry fire practice, this was my first range trip of 2018. It felt like a good start to the year.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Dry Fire Time

I am thankful for an understanding wife who tolerates the practice targets hung about our home.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Spittle Spirits? No Thank You

Waste not, want not? A distiller in Australia may have taken that idiom to the extreme.
An Australian distiller has taken the concept of recycling to a whole new level by taking the spat-out wine at a wine tasting conference and turning it into a spirit aptly named Kissing a Stranger. 
Peter Bignell, of Tasmanian Belgrove Distillery, was first struck by the idea at the Rootstock festival in Sydney, a gathering of winemakers from all over the world promoting sustainable practices in the winemaking industry. He was in a group tasting wines, and as per tradition in wine-tasting, the majority of it was spat out in a bucket. This practice enables tasters to experience a lot of different wines while avoiding drunkenness. Bignell, however, saw it as wasteful.

Bignell took 500 liters of spit out wine, replete with bits of biscuits and cheese, and obviously saliva, then distilled it into a spirit which he claims tastes similar to brandy.

I'm pretty adventurous when it comes to trying new foods and drink, but this just seems like a gimmick with no redeeming gastronomic value. It reminds me of the brewers who aim for shock value in order to sell a product. I'll pass.

See "Distiller Makes Booze Out of Wine Spat Out by Strangers at a Tasting Event" for more.

Hat tip to Wirecutter.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Five O'Clock Friday: She's A Maniac

I needed a laugh and this provided a good one.

Have a splashing good weekend. And stay warm.

There's A Reason Bears Hibernate

Until recently, I had never heard of a "bomb cyclone." Apparently that is the meteorological term for the conditions that brought the severe cold to the east coast this week. Fortunately for us, the storm brings little snow accumulation, but it is blanketing a large area with extremely cold temperatures.

I've been anticipating shooting the monthly IDPA match at Sanner's Lake on Saturday, and have been watching the weather forecast closely. A few weeks have passed since the frigid match last month, and the memories of the cold have faded somewhat. I was determined to persevere and give it another shot. Heavy winter gloves, complete with chemical hand warmer pockets, were dug out. Boot liners located. Wool cap dusted off. Insulated clothing was brought out from the depths of the closet.

Then I saw this forecast for Saturday morning...

Does that say "feels like" -4° at the match start time? It's time to face fact; I would not have fun in that. The decision was made and I disappointingly submitted my withdrawal request to the match director. Instead, on Saturday morning I'll enjoy the fireplace and an extra cup of coffee. Maybe a visit to a warm, well-lit indoor range later in the day...

One the bright side, I learned something new this week.

UPDATE: Shortly after posting this I received an email announcing "Due to the low temperatures and snow/ice on the range, the IDPA match scheduled for tomorrow, Jan. 6 is cancelled."  If I had waited a day before bowing out I could have gotten away without admitting my weakness.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

American Spirit: A Story of Virginia's Liquor Laws

Here's an interesting video highlighting Virginia's ridiculous liquor laws.

Bottom line, it comes down to government theft, i.e., taxes.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

When The Match Is The Practice

Very often I hear it stated that "Matches are not practice." In fact, I'm currently listening to the 2017 Shooters Summit recordings and that is a common theme among the guests. Yet for some of us, it ends up that way. Even though I can visit a range often and easily, getting in proper "action pistol" practice is nigh on impossible. Sadly, it isn't a lack of a range nearby that presents an issue, it's restrictive and often nonsensical rules put in place that are the problem.

One would expect an outdoor range to offer the best opportunity for practicing shooting skills, either self defense or competitive. The range at the nearby "conservation club" has gotten increasingly restrictive over the years. When we first joined, there were few restrictions other than the ability to set up targets at different distances. As all targets had to be at the base of the berm we worked around it by combining reduced targets with full size targets. For a time, we could even use steel targets. 

First steel went away. Then came a prohibition on "rapid fire," although rapid fire was never defined and left to the mood of the range officer on duty. Using multiple targets became controversial as well; transition drills using two targets set up was allowed, but set up three targets and you were deemed "out of control."

Soon, the allowed number of shots in a string was placed under limits; two shots only, either on a single target (defined as "double tap,") or one shot on each of two targets (defined as a "controlled pair.") That rule also came with a new prohibition on movement. An additional rule warned against having your shot go off at the same time as someone on the same firing line. If an inadvertent simultaneous shot happens you are required to stop and discuss a solution for avoiding a repeat. The rule specifically forbids you from even coming to the range with another person if you plan to shoot on the line together. The irony is that the rules also remind shooters that bays are to be shared. Using a barricade to practice shooting from cover is considered "tactical training" and is also forbidden.

So what about an indoor range? Naturally, no movement or multiple target setups are possible with typical indoor shooting range design. The local indoor range does allow rapid fire, but does not permit drawing from a holster. Practicing with one's carry weapon is complicated as the gun range is, for all intents and purposes, posted as a gun free zone. Armed citizens must handle their weapons at their cars to unload and case them before entering. Once actually in a lane, the gun can be uncased. Upon leaving, the fondling process is repeated in the parking lot.

One can practice holster draws, target transitions, reloading, and movement in dry fire. However, the confirmation of technique really comes during live fire. As Ben Stoeger writes in Dryfire Reloaded, "This dry fire stuff doesn't just exist in a vacuum. You need to be actually shooting the gun..."

Not willing to give in, I continue to shoot matches whenever I can. Sometimes my motivation is more for "trigger time" than competition. Hardly a match goes by where I don't wish I could reshoot as stage. The desire is not to change a recorded score, but for some more practice. When it comes to perfecting a skill, repetition is key.

I even have a garage full of target stands, steel targets and various props, but alas, no earth on which to set them...

Monday, January 1, 2018

Another Year Gone By

Sometimes I think the highlight of the New Year celebration is the knowledge that the days are, ever so slowly, getting longer and we'll soon see more sun, and eventually more warmth. It doesn't take long for me to tire of cold weather! That aside, it's time to review a few highlights from last year.

I was able to spend a little more time shooting this year than I did last year. I managed to attend 25 IDPA matches, including five sanctioned events; the Chesapeake CupVirginia Indoor RegionalMD State ChampionshipCommonwealth Cup, and Potomac Grail.

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend any training events during the year. I had hoped to attend at least one self defense related class as a well as a competition based class. I will add both to the "resolutions" for 2018.

A quick look through my beer list on Untappd reveals that I tried about 175 new-to-me beers during the year. That tally can partially be attributed to the growing number of new breweries in the Fredericksburg area. Our beer explorations were enhanced also as a result of frequent weekend trips, the majority made this fall to attend college football games.

In family news, the year ended on a down note. Colleen's mom passed away a few weeks before Christmas. Her dad is currently undergoing cancer treatment, while we look forward to celebrating his 90th birthday this year. My dad suffered a series of strokes just two days before the holiday and is still affected by serious side affects. Your prayers are appreciated for all of them. We also lost our beloved "Colonel" in February after 14 years of faithful companionship.

On a brighter note, our son continues to do well in school and still makes time for the enjoyable parts of his college years Since he turned 21 this fall, it's been fun to share a few good beers with him. He was also able to purchase his first handgun. Now when we hit the range he has his own gun to clean afterwards, though I still gladly supply the ammo.

In looking to the year ahead, I find I have yet to make many specific plans. I am once again attempting to stay regular with my dry fire practice. My dedication last year was woefully irregular. I picked up a few new books that will hopefully assist in adding more motivation. As noted, I'll look to attending a training class or two in an attempt to advance my skills and knowledge.

I'm unsure what adventures the coming year will hold. I expect we'll continue to take some long weekends throughout the year to explore interesting places, and taste good food and drink. Maybe there will be some travel to shoot an interesting match or two.

I'd like say thank you to those of you who have read these Musings over the past year. Once the weather warms and life's current distractions settle, posting should once again be somewhat regular. I hope you'll continue to find something of interest here. I wish you all the best for 2018.

Happy New Year!