Monday, March 18, 2019

Shooting With My Son and a New Gun

Our son was home last week for his Spring Break. His extended visits home are always fun, especially since we usually hit the range together a time or two. This visit was made more exciting since only a few hours before he arrived I had finally picked up that SIG P365 I've been eyeing. And, now that the DST time switch has occurred, the range is actually open late afternoon and early evening, allowing more time to shoot.

I brought along my SIG P320 Compact, the new P365, and he had his P226. Copious amounts of ammo and targets completed were brought along. Upon arriving we noticed the bay had a new layer of gravel. We've endured a few years of bare dirt (mud) so that was a nice surprise.

I started out shooting a couple of mags through the P365 from 7 yards. After that we did all our shooting from the 10 yard line. I was generally pleased with how I shot the little gun. It's pretty easy to control, despite the small size and a bit of kick. The aggressive stippling on the grip helps, but also leads to sore hands after a while. I used both 115 and 124 grain ball ammo, as well as some Speer Gold Dot Self Defense rounds. There were no issues with any of it. I'll try to get several hundred more rounds through the gun before t-shirt season when it will be added to my carry rotation.

We alternated between all three guns. I soon realized that I should bring out the SA/DA gun a little more often. 

Due to range restrictions, we did spend more time standing idle than actually shooting. The latest rules at the club forbid more than one person firing at a time, even though everyone stands on the same line. If you find yourself pulling the trigger at the same time as another person, all shooters must sort out a plan to avoid that offense. More than one person shooting is seemingly too difficult for the range officers to distinguish from a single shooter doing "rapid fire." Strings of fire are limited to two trigger pulls. This leads to a lot of "You shoot two rounds, then I'll shoot two, then you..." Shooters are also forbidden from even loading up magazines when another is shooting, using up even more precious time. On the bright side it allowed more conversation during the breaks together to load magazines.

Despite the restrictive rules, the outing was a lot of fun, and provided enjoyable father-son time. It was good to continue working out the "bugs" from my down time. Given his busy work load in school, my son had not been shooting in several months and appreciated the tune up time as well.

It's good to have a target repair minion.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Happy St. Patrick's Day


It's that time of the year when a Saint revered by many, especially in the Irish-Catholic community, has his good name and works twisted into an excuse to drink to excess and abuse the color green. As a Catholic of Irish decent, and a lover of naturally-colored beer, it pains me to see what this day has become.

It strikes me as odd that this day, meant to honor a great man and Saint, has evolved the way it has. Whether you accept the traditions associated with his life or not, there can be no denying the good he did. (As much as some of these stories cannot be proven, they cannot be disproven either.) Kidnapped as a young boy and sold into slavery in Ireland, he grew to love the Irish people. Late in his life, he was around 60 at the time, Saint Patrick returned to the Emerald Isle to teach and convert the people he had grown to love so much. Certainly that is worthy of our respect.

Odd is it may seem, we actually have to remind people, and pubs, that St. Patrick was a man, not a woman. His name is Patrick, which comes from the Irish, Pádraig. Shorten his name to Paddy if you must. However, we do not celebrate "St. Patty's Day." Patty is a shortened version of Patricia, a girl's name. Feast-related debauchery is one thing, but transgendering our Saint is unacceptable.
So, celebrate the memory of St. Patrick. Enjoy a drink or two and some good food. There's nothing wrong with bringing a little revelry into the world, we certainly need it. I like a good party as much as the next guy. (And I certainly appreciate a good Irish drinking joke.) Drink your green beer if you must. Dress up in silly clothes. Dye your water fountain green. But please, remember the reason for this feast. Take a moment to honor the man and all the good he did. In our house we'll raise a toast, and a prayer, to St. Patrick in honor of his deeds and his country.

All the children of Ireland cry out to thee:
Come, O Holy Patrick, and save us!

Saturday, March 16, 2019

St. Patrick's Day Lesson

No matter how you celebrate tomorrow, please remember. . .

Note to marketing folks, St. Patrick was a man, not a leprechaun.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Regina Cigars - Supporting Good Works

Just because I'm on a short break from cigars, doesn't mean I can't make preparations for my future enjoyment. Recently, Colleen told me about a company called Regina Cigars that she had come across online. Run by faithful Christians, the company is using the sales of its cigars to support good works. From their website...
Our goal is to bring you finely crafted cigars that are lovingly hand rolled using exquisite blends from around the world. Part of our mission is also to help raise awareness and financial support for persecuted & displaced Christians, particularly those suffering hardship as a result of the recent conflicts in the Middle East. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Regina Cigars will go to "Aid to the Church in Need" which seeks to supply emotional, material & spiritual support to hurting Christians around the world.

Obviously, I was intrigued. And when your wife suggests you buy cigars, it's best to jump right on it. The company lists about 20 different cigars of Honduran, Nicaraguan, and Dominican origins. All of the cigars feature exquisite religious artwork on the bands. I made a trial purchase of a sampler consisting of five Honduran blends. These particular cigars were blended by Christian Eiroa, founder of CLE Cigars and former owner of the Camacho Cigars company.

The cigars are resting in my humidor now. I am looking forward to lighting them up soon. Already though, I'm tempted to acquire the rest of the line to support the charitable works, and to collect the bands!

Friday, March 8, 2019

Five O'Clock Friday: DST

Daylight Savings Time starts on Sunday. I look forward to enjoying the added time in the evenings.

Mornings are long enough. Why don't we just agree to keep the clock set on DST next fall?

Have a great, even if shortened, weekend.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Returning to Normalcy: IDPA Match

My long-awaited return to shooting an IDPA match arrived last weekend when I was able to shoot the monthly match at Sanner's Lake. I had been almost two months since my heart attack and I was nervously awaiting the event. I was worried I'd be delayed even longer when I went back in the hospital last weekend to have another stent put in. But upon my discharge the cardiologist stated, "Do your normal activities as much as you can." Okay. Game on!

I have been walking regularly, but I was still under restrictions on lifting. I was confident from a health perspective, but was still feeling some angst and nervousness. It was a cold Saturday morning when I met my two travel companions and we headed to the range in Maryland. I wasn't sure if I was shaking more from the cold or from the nerves

This month, the organizers did something a little different. Instead of the typical 6 stages in 6 bays, the match consisted of 12 short stages requiring 5-12 rounds each, and shot at distances of 3-10 yards. Two stages were set in each bay. At least I wouldn't have to worry about a lot of running.

As I approached my first stage, my heart was racing and I was feeling atypically tense. The stage was simple; gun and reloads on the table, all loaded with 6 rounds. The requirement was two shots on each of three targets, reload, then two shots on each of the targets support hand only. I was reminded of my early days of shooting — flinging bullets downrange with abandon. Sights? What sights? I actually did better with my support hand as I was forced to slow down a bit.

That first stage over, I went back to my chair to think happy thoughts and force myself to relax. The rest of the match went better, though my two month break certainly showed both in shooting and stamina.

The stage with the most movement had us running downrange to engage targets as they appeared behind barrels, finishing with three low targets behind a wall of barrels. This was the fourth stage we shot and I was at last feeling a bit more relaxed.

Another stage required three hits on a close target before moving along a wall to shoot a steel popper and a target that intermittently appeared from behind a non-threat. Instead of the the falling steel activating the mover, shooter stepped on a pad, either on the way to the popper or by taking a step back to activate. Most folks opted to shoot the popper first, then reach back with a leg to activate the quickly appearing and disappearing target. I enjoyed the stage quite a bit despite putting a very nice 2-shot group on the non-threat in my rush to hit the disappearing target. That 10 second penalty did me no favors in the standings.

We started another fun stage by holding down a swinging non-threat that would move in front of three targets placed at increasing distances down range. Releasing the fast moving swinger, you stepped back and put four shots on each target. This turned out to be my best stage of the match.

Four of the stages in the match were set up as the four strings of the IDPA 5x5 Classifier. I was happy to see that included as I can check the box on having current classifications in all the divisions I might shoot in the next year.

I generally prefer longer stages with more movement, to the shorter, standards types stages. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the match very much. The format worked for this point in my return to normalcy. My friends were most generous in pulling the gear wagon and filling in for my pasting duties. I was able to sit when not shooting. They also offered support in a way only good friends can; including remarks about toe tags and splitting up my gear in the event of an incident. And really, I wouldn't want it any other way.  :-)

It was a small step, but one in the right direction. After a heart attack and two hospital stays, and only one limited range trip this year, I really can't complain. There's still some healing and recovery on the road ahead but I'm very excited to be on the way back to the usual fun activities. It's a few weeks until the next match, so I have time to brush up with dry fire and maybe even a range trip or two.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

St. Gabriel Possenti: Patron Saint of Handgunners

Today, February 27, is the Feast Day of St. Gabriel Possenti.

Legend holds that Gabriel Possenti was a Catholic seminarian in Isola del Gran Sasso, Italy. In 1860 he is said to have used his skills with the pistol to drive off a band of marauding soldiers who were terrorizing the town. Possenti faced the troublemakers after grabbing revolvers from two soldiers. As they laughed at the young student, he took aim and accurately shot a lizard that was running across the road. Impressed, the soldiers left the town, escorted by the seminarian, who had become the hero of the town.

Like many Saints, there's an unclear line between the facts of the Saint's life and the "tradition" associated with him. However, this story about Gabriel Possenti has led to him being promoted as the Patron Saint of Handgunners. The St. Gabriel Possenti Society was created for the purpose of promoting the Saint's cause. The society also promotes the study of the historical, philosophical and theological bases for the doctrine of self-defense.

A few years ago, our parish was presented with a relic of St. Gabriel Possenti, under the title St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows. It was an exciting moment when I saw the blurb announcing the displayed relic in our weekly bulletin. Since then, I've enjoyed sharing the story of Gabriel Possenti with many parishioners. I dare say most of our Catholic friends who also enjoy shooting are now familiar with the Saint and his story.

In another interesting "coincidence," my Virginia Concealed Handgun permit was originally issued on February 27, the Feast Day of the Patron Saint of Handgunners!

St. Gabriel Possenti ora pro nobis!

Today would be a great day to hit the range. If that's not possible, buying some ammo would be a fine recognition of the Saint.