Tuesday, April 24, 2018

AAF&G Lt. Col. Matt Mathys Memorial IDPA Match

The Anne Arundel Fish & Game Association held its first sanctioned IDPA match last weekend. The Maryland club hosts three IDPA matches a month but the Lt. Col Matt Mathys Memorial IDPA match was the group's first Tier 2 match. Frequent travel companion Stuart and I made the early morning drive to shoot the match. Squadding with two more friends at the match added to the fun.

The event was superbly organized. Nine stages were fit into 4 shooting bays. The shooters were moved from stage to stage efficiently and safely. The 50 or so of us who shot Saturday completed all the courses of fire in about 4 hours. Each squad was divided into two groups of five, and we alternated through the two stages in each bay. The same "warm up" stage was set up in each bay and each shooter shot it to begin the match.

Shot in three strings, the warm up stage mandated freestyle, strong hand only, and weak hand only body and head shots. This was a little more challenging than most of the "get the match jitters out" stages I've encountered, but it got the job done.


In bay one, "Mall Rampage" started out with us dragging an "injured person" being cover and then shooting from low cover at partial targets. The theme of shooting from low cover appeared several times in the match. This provided the opportunity to shoot from positions rarely seen, and never practiced, but was still the source of much moaning throughout the day. In the same bay we found "Trash Raid." Here we started out shooting from retention before moving on to hit a stomp plate which started a swinger appearing behind a non-threat. Additional points of cover provided close, but tightly angled targets.

Moving to the next bay, we encountered "Save Your Neighbors!" Two targets were engaged on the move, before we again took low cover. Shooting from kneeling or prone, three targets were placed at 15 yards, with both hard cover and non-threats adding to the challenge. All targets required three hits each. However, I soon discovered that the left most target had a very nice group of three hits, all in the hard cover! Three misses for me right there.


Shaking that off, I moved on to "Save my kids... No, I mean goats!" After retrieving the loaded gun and spare magazines from a table, we moved to (again) a low barrel laid on its side through which we engaged the targets.

One of the stages I found the most fun was "Convenient My A--." The course of fire started with a close target requiring both a body and head shot. Moving to the end of a wall, there were two long shots to be made on a partial target and another head-body combination hit on a target from the cover of the wall. Advancing down range we stopped at another cover position for two more hits on the lone long target, as well as another target requiring head and body hits. Moving further down range we again engaged the same lone target with 2 more shots, and then leaned around cover to find two more head-body targets.

Me. Photo courtesy C. Claxton

The end result of the stage required a body and a head shot on five targets, and 6 hits anywhere on the target we had engaged from three positions. Given the non-threat covering the target, and the distance involved initially, I took care to avoid the penalty target, even if it meant hitting the target wide. When I reached the final shooting position, I fired the two required shots, as well as 4 fast make up shots, ensuring six -0 hits, before shooting the final two targets.

Another much talked about stage was "Peace and Quiet?" We started out seated on a the "porcelain throne" with the loaded gun at our feet. Retrieving the gun, we dropped to low cover (!), engaging the targets "under the stall wall." The targets presented close shots, and were arranged in three groups of two, with a non-threat in the center of each group. The decision facing the shooter was to slow down and make all heads, or shoot body shots and risk hitting a non-threat. My focus was on making the head shots.

My targets on this stage were all -0. However, I had also shot one of the non-threat targets — with two perfectly placed head shots! I retrospect, I realized my preparation for the stage involved the choice to make all head shots, and how to position myself to quickly and accurately make the shots. I never actually went over the target order in my head. Shooting slightly upwards from the crouch, the "jazz hands" marking the non-threats were obscured by the firearm. On the first array I simply moved across all three heads and shot them. A costly mistake, but a lesson learned.


In "Abducted" we shot five partial targets that were arranged behind a couple of non-threat targets. The targets were close but the -0 zones limited to either head shots or partial body zones. It was a stage that easily tempted you to shoot too fast. "Robbery In Progress" was the final stage I shot. Seated at a table, the shooting kicked off by shoving a briefcase off the table, grabbling the gun from a box, and loading it with a magazine also left on the table. Two partially exposed targets were shot on either side, followed by two more partial targets which were also obscured by a swinging non-threat that had been activated by the falling briefcase. There was a lot going on for such a small stage.




This was the first match I shot since getting a match bump to Expert at the VIR match a couple weeks ago. I was looking forward to the new challenge that created, and also slightly intimidated. Unfortunately too many mistakes prevented a good showing. I finished 6th of the six SSP EX shooters, and 15th of 36 in the SSP division. However, I've learned a few things, and will be all that much better prepared for the next time.

I found this to be a challenging match. There were lots of tight shots, long shots, and awkward shooting positions. Tightly angled shots under low cover are especially challenging. I was generally happy with my shooting on most of the stages. However, when I did poorly, I did very poorly. I would be lying if I said it didn't affect my mood afterwards. But still, it was fun overall. If it wasn't I wouldn't keep doing it. The failures at the match simply mean more reasons to practice.

The match was extremely well run and, to this shooter's point of view, went off without a hitch. No detail was overlooked by the staff. Parking lot attendants, donuts at checkin, water at every stage, attentive SO's who kept us moving and safe, creative stage design; the organization was superb. Adding to the pleasure were sunny skies and moderate temperatures, one could hardly have asked for a more pleasant day.

After the match, I enjoyed a relaxing BBQ lunch and a cold beer with friends before beginning the drive home. There was even time to shop for distilled spirits, as is our tradition when traveling to Maryland. It made for a most enjoyable day. Now, I am looking forward to getting back to the practice range and preparing for next time.

A few more photos from the match are posted here.

Monday, April 23, 2018

An Award and a Match Bump

My award from the Virginia Indoor Regional IDPA match arrived on Saturday. I happened to be shooting another match that day, where I did not do as well as I had hoped. The arrival of the plaque was a nice treat to find when I returned home.


The match win meant I was also bumped up to Expert in the SSP division. Placing high in sanctioned matches will be made a bit tougher going forward. I'm looking forward to the challenge.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Must Watch: PA Rep. Jeff Pyle

Listen to Representative Jeff Pyle speaking to the Pennsylvania's Judiciary Committee regarding new gun laws under consideration.


"Taking one person's rights, takes all of our rights."

Friday, April 20, 2018

Another Quick Range Trip

Depending on traffic, it's a 45 minute or more drive to the indoor range. The more I make the trip, the less onerous it seems. Still, sometimes I have to wonder if the 30 - 40 minutes spent shooting is worth it. Then I get to the range and start shooting, and I think, "Yea, totally worth it."

After work on Thursday, we made our way down I-95 for a bit of fun. My goals for this session were to work mainly on head shots at 10 yards and some 20 yards drills. I can generally keep the hits in the head area of the IDPA target at 10 yards, but they do creep out of the 4" -0 circle at times. Sight alignment is critical.

After a while I pushed the target out to 20 yards and made a few dozen holes. When I ran the target in I noted, although centered, the majority of the hits were low. Even though it seems I am holding the sights over the current place on the target, apparently my aim is low. Conscientiously holding higher, the next batch was much better. The large front sight covers so much of the blurry target at that distance that I really need to be aware of where on the target I am holding. (Before you ask, I've tried narrow front sights, I can't see them.)

I also decided to get in some practice with the S&W Shield, using the small 7-round magazines. Due to warmer weather and social conditions, I've found myself carrying that set up recently. I thought it important to get in some refresher shots. After 50 rounds, fired in fast groups, I felt good (still) about the gun. It was wiped down and put back on my belt.

I was a fun time, but too soon it was time to make the long, but worth it, drive home.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Target Barn Recognizes Match Directors

Without hard working match directors, we would not have all those fun shooting matches we all enjoy. The folks over at TargetBarn.com have come up with a great idea to honor the folks that give so much to the shooting sports.

The Target Barn team knows and appreciates the hard work and time match directors dedicate to their clubs and ranges, and we want to reward those who exemplify what it means to be a part of the shooting community.

We're giving away more than $5,000 in prizes, including a $2,000 check to the winning match director and a Target Barn prize package valued at $1,000 to his or her home shooting range/club. We're taking nominations through April 23rd, then a pool of finalists will be made available for the shooting community to vote on.

If you know a match director that goes above and beyond for your local shooting community, you can nominate them and find more information at  www.targetbarn.com/match-directors.

We'll announce the finalists on April 26th and voting will then begin.

Please nominate any match directors you feel deserve the recognition. 

There's only a few days to get your nominations in. I'm working on my submissions now.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Take A Gun Owner to the Range

Taking a new shooter to the range is a great way to convert law-abiding citizens into gun owners. Most shooters very much enjoy taking new shooters to the range. I've introduced a number of folks to the fun of shooting, and to the armed lifestyle. In fact, my offer posted here still stands. But I believe there's another segment of the population that we need to (re)introduce to shooting. I'm talking about people who already own guns yet who infrequently, if ever, practice with them.

How many gun owners do you know who support the natural right of self defense and gun ownership, and even own firearms, yet never shoot those guns? Shooting is a perishable skill. Simply buying a gun and shooting a box or two of ammo through it does not prepare you to use it to defend your life or the life of a loved one. You must shoot it, and shoot it properly, on a regular basis. If you aren't shooting your handgun on a monthly basis, you probably aren't truly prepared to shoot that gun if called to do so. You're also, quite frankly, missing out on a lot of fun.

Going to the range regularly helps to develop and maintain shooting skills. Participating in competitions will help even more. You'll shoot under some pressure, you'll be put in uncomfortable or unusual positions, and you'll become a better shooter.

I'm extending that offer I made to new shooters, to include those "inactive" gun owners. If you own a gun, yet have not shot it in months, I will help you rectify that. Maybe you just haven't felt like going to the range alone. I'm always up for it so will join you. If it's been a while and you're nervous about shooting again, I'll help. I'll take you to the range as my guest. I'll even provide the ammo and targets. Want to try an IDPA match? I can help with that too. All you need to do is put forth the effort to do it. Let's have some fun!

Obviously, this is applicable only to readers local to me. However, I do encourage everyone to reach out to the non-shooting gun owners in your area. Let's fill those ranges.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

More Practice at the Range

After the exciting Virginia Indoor Regional last weekend, I was anxious to get back to the range for more practice. Family and work commitments finally allowed that to happen on Thursday. I'd been dedicating a lot of range time the last couple months to shooting with the flashlight in hand. Now that I can relax on that for just a bit, I decided that one-handed and distance shooting would get my attention in the coming weeks.

I started with an easy warm up, shooting the usual Julie Golob 50 round drill at seven yards. I then moved the target back to 15 yards. After emptying a couple magazines, I pushed the target back to 20 yards. It's difficult for me to aim at a specific point on the distant and blurred target. Shooting slowly, I dropped a few shots low, but was pleasantly surprised to see the shots being generally centered, instead of drifting and low left as often happens.

30 holes at 20 yards

I'm rather enjoying shooting at the longer distance. I'm not getting 2 inch groups, but they're "combat effective" and generally -0. There was a time I was happy to even hit the paper at 20 yards. After another 50 rounds I started rushing, which had a detrimental affect on my accuracy. Since I found myself speeding up anyway, I set the target carrier for some timed exposures at 7 yards for a bit. Static weak hand and strong hand only shooting rounded out the session.

As I packed up, I commented to the range officer, "I'm out of bullets." He replied, "We can fix you up at the counter." I am proud of myself for resisting the temptation.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Fastest Growing Virginia Breweries

The Brewers Association has tabulated the 50 fastest growing small and independent craft breweries. Three Virginia breweries made the list.

Vanish Farmwoods Brewery in Leesburg, Virginia, ranks No. 25 on the list of 50 fastest-growing craft brewers in 2017.

Vanish Farmwoods grew to 62 employees in the two years since it opened, and it says it is adding more production capacity and a barrel-aging facility to its farm.

“One of the things that is significant for us is that over 90 percent of our beer sales is consumed on-site in our farm tasting room instead of through distribution,” said Vanish Farmwoods owner Jonathan Staples.

Vanish Farmwoods is on a 61-acre farm and has two separate tap rooms, three indoor bars and one outdoor bar. It also has more than 30 taps and live music on weekends.

Big Lick Brewing Co. in Roanoke, Virginia, is No. 45.

Fair Winds Brewing Co. in Lorton, Virginia, is No. 47.

Sadly, I've never visited any of these breweries. Although I have enjoyed some beers from Fair Winds  at local pubs. Looks like my "to do" list just got longer.

See "3 Virginia craft brewers among 50 fastest-growing" for more.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

2018 VA Indoor Regional IDPA Match

On Saturday, a group of us made the trek down to Chesapeake, VA, for the 2018 Virginia Indoor Regional IDPA match. I shot this match for the first time last year, and have been anxiously awaiting this year's event. It provides a unique opportunity to compete in the dark, with a hand held flashlight. I was concerned earlier in the week that I'd be able to make the trip, due to the possibility of significant snow on Saturday. As it turned out, the weather was mostly just wet and cold, although it was quite cool inside the range when the ventilation fans were running.

I've been preparing for this match for the past couple months. There have been many dry fire sessions devoted to getting my handheld flashlight in position, and doing magazine changes with the light in hand. I've also used it frequently at the range. My recent work shooting at 20 yards also came in handy, even though that was mostly motivated by my experience at the Chesapeake Cup in February. I shot a new personal best at VIR, earning a first place finish in SSP Sharpshooter.

The match consisted of eleven stages. We shot a quick "warm up" stage, then five stages in the dark, follow by five stages shot with the lights on. The five light stages were the same or variations of the dark stages. Our squad was divided in half and each shooter in the group shot one of the five stages, as the other half waited. After scoring those five runs, the rest of the group shot the five stages. We then rotated to the next stage in the queue. The process was repeated until everyone had shot all five dark stages. After a few stage adjustments, the process was repeated for the light stages.

The warm up stage had a close, three yard target which required 5 shots to the body, and one to the head. After we all burned the pre-match jitters on it, we divided into the two groups and began the five dark stages.



Stage 1, "Fighting Retreat" had us starting with the gun loaded with just six rounds. We engaged three targets while retreating to wall with a port. Through the port we found a paper target, a steel popper the started a fast flip over target, and a round steel plate that activated a flip up target. The round plate was placed at the shoulder of a non-threat making careful aiming a requirement. Holding the flashlight, I struggled to hit the popper. When I finally did, I moved to the plate, forgetting the flip over target until too late, earning a couple misses. Interestingly, I hit the round steel plate on the first shot.

The scenario was altered for Stage 6, "Different Fighting Retreat," in the lighted half of the match. The falling popper was replaced with a paper target and the shooting requirements changed. We shot the first three targets weak hand only, and the remaining targets through the port strong hand only. I was relieved to hit the steel plate and avoid the non-threat again, even shooting one handed.

The course of fire set for Stage 2, "Going Back" in the dark, and Stage 7 "Fighting Advance" in the light provide the distance challenge. Two targets had a non-threat placed between them with part of each covered, and barrels were placed at approximately 7, 10, 15, 20 yards. For both stages all magazines were loaded with just six rounds. For the dark run, we started behind the close barrel and moved up range to the shooting positions behind each barrel, engaging the targets with two rounds from each position. In the dark, behind the smoke, hitting those 20 yard targets while holding a flashlight was quite the challenge. I made all the hits, and avoided the non-threat, feeling much relief to be only 4 points down. In the with the lights on, we began at the furthest distance and moved down range. The 10 yard position required strong hand only shooting, and the closest was done weak hand only.

"Family Hostage," Stages 3 and 8, simulated sitting in our car. From a seated position we engaged three "threats" before moving to three more points of cover. There were three paper targets and a falling steel popper to be found. The steel was placed menacingly directly in front of a non-threat target. The light version of the stage contained an additional non-threat target. Again, during the lights out run, I had an issue with the steel, hitting the no-threat before the steel. I shot it clean during the run in the light.


Stage 4, "ISIS Assassination Attempt," was the stage on which I started out. Facing down range, kneeling, with my hands behind my head, the unloaded gun and a magazine was on the ground in front of me. There were four targets to be shot while avoiding two non-threats. The placement of the non-threats made for some tight shots and hard leaning. Picking up the gun and magazine while holding the flashlight was an added challenge. After each target was engaged with two rounds, two more shots on each were made strong hand only. For the lighted half of the match, two additional targets were added. Each threat then required one shot using the weak hand, then one shot each strong hand only, followed by another single shot on each made freestyle.

"Practice Session" was the scenario for Stages 5 and 10, and was unchanged between the dark and light rounds of the match. There were three widely spaced targets, two partially blocked by non-threats, and barrels marking three shooting positions. The gun was loaded with 6 rounds, one of the barrels had another magazine staged with 6 rounds, and a mag loaded to division capacity placed on a third. We started shooting from cover, and engaged all three targets with one body and one head shot. The gun now empty we moved the the center barrel, reloaded and engaged all targets, again with one body and one head shot while in the open. Moving to the third barrel, we reloaded and again shot each target with one body and one head shot, this time from low cover. Tactical priority requirements at each position required a different target order of engagement. A number of shooters earned PE's on these stages for forgetting that.

The match flowed extremely well. The match staff is well-organized and we were moved through each stage efficiently and quickly. The entire match is shot in under four hours. There's very little down time between your stages, however I never felt rushed. After each shooting round of five stages, the targets are scored, and we reloaded magazines while the other half of the squad shot. There was always time to review the written stage briefing before heading to the bench to await your next stage. It's nice to keep shooting, and not sit around waiting for your turn to shoot again. Shooters were also relieved from pasting targets, so we could concentrate on preparing to shoot.



The stages were all a lot of fun and offered a wide variety of shooting. The match also required you to think; one had to be aware of things like target priority, fault lines, switching hands, not to mention finding the targets in the dark. Near or far, there were few completely open targets. The well-thought out stage designs were challenging and tested both skill and awareness. Doing well was not just a matter of shooting accurately, but situational awareness as well.

I was mostly pleased with my shooting. There were a few shots I didn't like, and two hits on non-threats. I earned some PE's from lack of attention to my feet. I don't shoot many indoor matches with tape lines on the floor, relying too much on the tactile feedback of wooden fault lines of outdoor matches. Perhaps the need for more practice indoors will motivate some future attendance at the Monday evening matches at Colonial Shooting Academy.

I was very pleased to finish 26th of 83 overall, and 5th of 16 in the SSP division. Coming in first in SSP Sharpshooter is especially gratifying in such a challenging match. It was my best finish in a sanctioned match since my 4th in SSP SS at the Maryland State match last May. Needless to say, I'm now really anxious to get back to the range for more practice.

It was a long day that was made all the more fun by traveling with friends. We enjoyed a delicious BBQ meal on the way home. During the final hour of my drive, I drove through several squall lines of heavy snow, fortunately it sticking only to grass and trees along the highway.

I am already looking forward to next year's Indoor Regional. Stages shot in the dark offer a unique and seldom seen challenge. I think I'll practice with the flashlight on a regular basis over the next year just to maintain the skill.

Monday, April 9, 2018

If You Need a Laugh on Monday

"Kirkland Light! Available in 48 packs where you buy your pants!"

Randy Colpek loves his Kirkland Light beer from Costco.
Budweiser has its Clydesdales, Corona has its beaches, and Dos Equis has its Most Interesting Man Alive. But Kirkland Light Beer, Costco's very own house brew, has Randy Colpek. And Randy Colpek is a beer-drinking force to be reckoned with.

By his estimate, Randy Colpek drinks 18 cans of Kirkland Light Beer a day, five days a week. Last time he tried to haul his cans of Kirkland Light Beer to the recycling center, he exceeded the 100-pound limit. He is—and I'm not sure this phrase has never been used before—a diehard Kirkland Light Beer fan boy.
Warning: Language.


Saturday, April 7, 2018

Friday, April 6, 2018

Thursday Range Visit

After work yesterday, Colleen, "Checkered Flag" and I drove down to Winding Brook Indoor Range to get in a little trigger time. Even though we all enjoy shooting together, and we're willing to share a lane, we still prefer to do our own thing in our own lane. The folks at Winding Brook opened up another bay in order for us have adjoining lanes. We had the bay to ourselves most of the time. As I was trying out new ear protection, I was actually a little disappointed in this rare trip without a rifle going off next to me. :-)


I began with the 50 round Julie Golob drill, shooting quickly, but at a close 7 yards. It's been a while since I ran this favorite drill. 

Next I grabbed the flashlight and did a little more flashlight work at 7, 10, and 12 yards. I tried to get in some rapid groups too, just to test the stability of my hold. Taking several strings of 10 yard headshots, I ended up putting a few outside of the -1 head circle, but still in the head zone.

Feeling mostly satisfied with the flashlight, I put it down and moved the target out to 20 yards for some slow fire. My confidence up, I didn't recall the target until I'd shot the whole box of 50 rounds. A dozen -1 hits, with the rest in the -0, greeted me when I finally brought the target into viewing range.

Finally, another run of Julie Golob drill finished my session. Usually near the end of a 200 round practice session, my shooting degrades a bit. I didn't experience that this time, probably because I took a few more breaks than usual. Since we were the only people in the bay, there was the opportunity for some friendly conversations with the range officer. I also enjoyed stopping occasionally to move over to watch Colleen and our friend shoot.

The three of us hadn't been able to shoot together since February, and we enjoyed much shooting talk on the drive home. (Which was in contrast to the drive to the range when my passengers took the opportunity to nap.) A quick cleanup at home and we were off for a fine Italian meal, marking an early kickoff to the weekend.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Two Kinds of People

Where do you fall?


If you don't know, it's high time you head to the range and find out.

Cheers!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Must Watch: Gov. Matt Bevin

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin gives a perfect response to a thinly veiled allegation of hypocrisy from an "independent consultant."


Like Virginia Delegate Nick Freitas, Governor Bevin reminds us there are still a few politicians out there who value freedom and honesty, and who are not afraid to speak out.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Easter Comics

I've had these two cartoons stored on my computer for years. Both of them are scans made from the originals I cut out of newspapers, the originals long lost.




I appreciate the subtlety in each. 

Happy Easter

When the sabbath was over,
Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome
bought spices so that they might go and anoint him.
Very early when the sun had risen,
on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb.
They were saying to one another,
"Who will roll back the stone for us
from the entrance to the tomb?"
When they looked up,
they saw that the stone had been rolled back;
it was very large.
On entering the tomb they saw a young man
sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe,
and they were utterly amazed.
He said to them, "Do not be amazed!
You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified.
He has been raised; he is not here.
Behold the place where they laid him.
But go and tell his disciples and Peter,
'He is going before you to Galilee;
there you will see him, as he told you.'"

-- Mark 16:1-7

"He is not here." With those words the reality of the Resurrection was revealed to the world.

Today we rejoice in Our Lord's promise of eternal life. On this most glorious of days, our worries and fears are laid to rest. We are reminded that the war between good and evil has already been fought, and that good has forever triumphed. For three days, Satan believed he had won. The empty tomb was proof he had not.

Easter gives us the strength to persevere against the evil of the world. We are given strength to face our daily trials. The ultimate triumph of good over evil is proof that good will always prevail. The promise of eternal life is reiterated. Today we celebrate in gratitude for His sacrifice some 2,000 years ago.

May the hope and joy of the Resurrection remain in your life all year long.

Mass offered at the Tomb of Jesus,
Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem.
Photo by Colleen