Sunday, May 12, 2019

Saturday Beer and Cigar

We headed over to 1781 Brewing on Saturday with the hope getting in a few beers, and a smoke, before the rain. We knew we had just a couple hours before the predicted weekend of precipitation began. I grabbed a "glass" of König Fruhling Doppelbock, and a Dunkelweizen for Colleen. Aware of the clouds rolling in, I lit up my RoMa Craft CroMagnon Aquitaine Blockhead LE. right away.



The Doppelbock had lightly toasted malt and caramel flavors, and well as a moderate 8.4% ABV. The Dunkelweizen was a lower 4.7% ABV and featured a bready yeast behind the malt. Both were quite enjoyable.

The RomaCraft cigar is one of my favorites. It's a full bodied cigar with earthy and espresso notes, touched with a hint of spice. While I started out enjoying it with the Dopplebock, I knew it would pair just as well with the Dunkelweizen. But, just to be sure, I grabbed a pint of that beer as well. (I was right.)

As we finished the beers and the smoke was down to the nub, the rain started falling. It was a short but pleasant afternoon break.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Another Glock?

In addition to the exciting stages in a well-run match, the Maryland State IDPA Championship features an extensive prize table. This year, fourteen guns were given away by random drawing. During that portion of the post-match awards ceremony, I was standing in the back of the crowd enjoying a cigar with some other smokers. Admittedly, I wasn't paying close attention to the names being called. With 184 registered shooters, I wasn't expecting to hear my name.

And then I did. I made my way to the front and was awarded a certificate for a free Glock pistol, courtesy of GLOCK, Inc. That makes two Glocks won by this SIG Sauer fan in less than year. 


I only recently received the Glock 19 I selected with the certificate I won at the IDPA National Championship. It's not even come out of the box yet. At least I have over a year to decide what to do with this certificate. 

Don't get me wrong. I would never complain about a free gun. However, the irony is not lost on me.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

MD State IDPA Championship

Last Saturday I made the trip across the Potomac River to shoot the Maryland State IDPA Championship, held at the Sanner's Lake Sportsman's Club. This annual event was upgraded to a Tier 4 match this year, so I was hoping for an especially exciting, and challenging, match.

The match lived up to both expectations, with twelve stages offering some quite unique and interesting shooting opportunities. (Match book here.) The club makes use of electronics to control many of the movers. Rather than just simple swingers, those targets move in programed intervals. Though the entire match was a blast, there were a few stages that especially stood out to me. As I have done in all matches this year, I competed in the CCP (Compact Carry Pistol) division.

The first stage our squad shot, after the opening "warm up" stage was called "Home Defense." Beginning with targets in the open, the course of fire ended with us shooting from a prone position. The only time I am able to shoot prone is in a match. Although the requirement often elicits groans from my fellow competitors, the be truth be told, I generally welcome the opportunity. Perhaps due to that feeling, this turned out to be my highest finishing stage.



Another stage was entitled "Coming Down the Hallway." With laser activated movers, a variation of the fun course seems to pop up in the club's sanctioned matches often. Triggered by entering a hallway, an extremely fast "up and over" target appears very briefly. A swinging target further down the hallway is set in motion at the same time, and makes just four appearances before being hidden. The key to hitting the first is to start shooting as soon as you enter the hallway, not waiting to actually see the target. Then, you must get to the end of the hallway before the swinger disappears for good. I managed just one hit on each those targets, and ended up 13 points down on the stage. Despite that, this stage tied for my second best stage finish.

Probably the most talked about scenario was "Hi Jacked Again." The entire stage was shot prone, from inside the trunk of a car. We began with our gun laying next to us in the trunk, with the trunk closed and latched. Pulling a handle released the trunk lid and we then engaged the targets, which included an up and down mover activated by a hit on a steel popper. Shooting prone, over the edge of the trunk, meant some neck strain for me, but I still got a kick out of shooting this one. Interestingly, this was the stage finish that tied with the previous stage mentioned. It seems I shoot better when the scenario puts me in extra awkward positions — probably because it forces more concentration and careful aiming.



"Out for a stroll" placed us in the woods shooting targets set along a trail through the trees. Not only was it fun, but the shade of the trees was a welcome respite from the afternoon sun. The eight targets were all laid sideways as simulated wolves, so we had to keep in mind just where the -0 zone was in relation to the target.



Stage planning was an important aspect of the match. Seven of the twelve stages required downloaded guns, unloaded guns, or guns and/or ammo left on a table or in a box. Adding to that the limited 8 + 1 round count required for the CCP division, meant I did quite a few tactical reloads. One stage started all semi-auto shooters with nine rounds in the gun. That gave me a chuckle thinking about the majority of the shooters who were shooting in the typically 10 + 1 divisions.

We enjoyed a tasty lunch from Southern Bobby-Q. The lunch options included chips, green beans, corn, baked beans, pulled pork, chicken, hot dogs, and Italian sausage. One could have indulged in quite a feast, though I opted to restrain myself, somewhat.

My finish in the match wouldn't win me any awards. I was disappointed in a couple stages, but still thoroughly enjoyed myself. All things considered I was generally pleased. And that, not trophies, is the whole reason I do this.




The day was long and exhausting. It was also immensely enjoyable. Shooting started at 9:00AM and finished around 4:00PM. Shooting with many of my regular match companions made it a day of good humor and mutual support. After the match we made our customary run to the local liquor store for supplies. The drive home after the awards ceremony kicked off with a filling meal at a local Mexican restaurant. I should go without saying, I slept soundly that night.

More photos from the day are here.

Monday, April 29, 2019

A Sunny Day For IDPA

The Saturday morning sky was blue and bright as I drove to the monthly IDPA match at the Cavalier Rifle and Pistol Club. A light jacket was required while we waited for shooting to begin, but the air quickly warmed, despite an intermittent strong breeze. By the end of the day I would have sunburn on the back of my neck and legs. I guess it's time to dig out the sun screen.

Stage 1 had us starting with just six rounds in the gun, and facing a row of three close targets. Each target in this stage required a minimum of three hits. After shooting the first two targets, we reloaded and engaged the third before turning to move through the rest of the course. Since I was shooting CCP, with just 8 rounds loaded I had a decision to make at that point. In order to avoid a standing reload later, I opted to shoot 4 rounds on targets three and four, to set up for reloading on the move. SSP capacity shooters had a different strategy.

The next stage had a classic "seated at a table" start, with a twist. The unload gun was placed on the table, spare mags on the belt, and the third, starting magazine was "on the shooter's body." Some folks stuffed the mag in their waistband, others in a pocket. The first three targets were engaged in the open, either seated or standing. The shooter also had the choice of which side of the table they ran to, depending on which direction they were going to shoot the stage. There was also an array of three targets, that were engaged from either end of a wall, or depending on the shooter's confidence, from just one side of the wall. There were plenty of choices on strategy here. For some, there was also the decision to do a tactical reload while moving down their chosen path.



The third stage was the "standards" stage, shot in two, three target strings. A symmetrical course of fire was set up with a pair of open, partial targets to the left and right of the starting position, and a third target pair behind wall. For the first string, the gun was held in the right hand, at a 45 degree angle. The right two targets were engaged, then we moved to shoot the third around the right side of the wall. The second string was the same, but was shot left-handed using the left side targets. I had no misses, but I definitely need more practice shooting one-handed.

Stage 4 started us with hands on a wall, then turning to engage to open targets while on the move up range towards a wall set across the bay. The first shooting position center on the wall was through a narrow opening where we saw a couple of distant targets with non-threats menacingly placed midway to the targets. The final position had us shooting a couple more targets, again with dangerously located non-threats. The middle array of targets were also open to make up shots form the last position.



Walking through the stage I kept thinking, "Those are really tight shots." Heck, even if I planned to take the makeup shots at the end, there was still a good chance of hitting a non-threat. Interestingly, as I shot the course, those narrow gaps seemed less foreboding than they did during the walk through. At the end, I shot the stage clean.

The last two stages were quick ones, set up in the same bay. Stage 5 had two very close targets separated by a non-threat, each requiring two body and one head shot. This is one of those stages that can lure you into shooting too fast. I recently experienced that on a similar stage at the Virginia Indoor Regional. At that match I ended up pulling the trigger too fast and had a -1 hit on one of the body shots. This time I kept telling myself to slow down and shoot no faster than I could see the sights. Funny thing is, when it was all said and done I found I had shot really fast, but I recall seeing the sights on every single shot. My time of 3.26 seconds, and zero points down, ended up being a fifth overall stage finish.



Stage 6 began with just a single round loaded in the gun, the gun in hand at low ready. The initial target had only the head available and required one shot. Reloading after that initial shot, the stage finished with an array of three targets set up behind wall and fronted by two non-threats. That array offered options of shooting either from the left side or right side of the wall, or using both sides, depending on the shooter's comfort level. The non-threats all but forced head shots on two of the targets, at least from my perspective, when shooting around the right end of the wall.

This was just my fourth match this year. It was though, the first one at which I've felt truly comfortable and relaxed. I managed to just squeak in to the top half overall, finishing 19th of 40 shooters. The simple highlight for me was that I had no misses and hit no non-threats for the entire match. As I continue to recover from my "event," each outing is just a bit better than the last. I am not up to my previous performance level but it was certainly a most enjoyable morning spent shooting and visiting with friends. I can't wait for the next time.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Joyful Easter

On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we don’t know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture
that he had to rise from the dead.
-- John 20:1-9

It's Easter. This is the fulfillment of Our Lord's promise of eternal life. It is the ultimate triumph over evil. We are reminded that our daily struggles are not for nought, that our final reward is eternal. However, the evil one refuses to give up. He knows that if we give in to despair we won't experience the promise of the Resurrection. He fears that we might reject his tricks and lies. Satan hungers for us to join him in his eternal torment. With his never ceasing attacks on our faith, attacks on our freedoms, attacks on the sanctity of life, it's a battle that evil has already lost, but continues to fight.

So on this most glorious of days, we are reminded that we must continue to face oppression and persecution head on. The Prince of Darkness is hard at work in this world. His minions do his bidding willingly, if naively, deceiving with false promises, and twisting the truth until evil is mistaken for good. We are led to believe that evil doesn't exist, and that material happiness outweighs the value of human life. Government fiat replaces personal responsibility. We are tempted to live like there's no tomorrow. But today, the empty tomb reminds us otherwise. The promise of Easter gives us the strength to persevere.

Here's wishing you a blessed and joy-filled Easter. May the joy of the Resurrection remain in your life all year long.

Mass at the tomb of Jesus
The Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem
Photo by Colleen, 2010

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Simple Fun at the Range

When it's a busy week at work, few things beat a trip to the range to unwind. My first attempt in the week was interrupted by, well, work. (So I settled for a relaxing cigar break on the deck.) On Thursday my purposefully cleared calendar actually stayed clear, allowing time to shoot.

Since I've been shooting the Compact P320 a lot recently, for this outing I packed both the Compact and Full Size versions of the SIG P320. I had intended to split the ammo between the two guns, but in the end I stuck with the larger gun for most of my time.



For the first 100 rounds I shot at distances from 10 to 20 yards, pushing the target back every ten shots. I then set the target closer, at 7 yards, and activated the intermitted target exposure for 3 seconds each time. From low ready, I fired 2 - 3 shots each time. Often when using the turning target I end up just getting off the shots quickly. This time I concentrated on seeing the sights settle on target — a unique concept I know.

Finally I did some shooting with the Compact P320, working out to 20 yards. After I packed up my gear and started to leave the bay, I realized I had forgotten to retrieve the target carrier which was still sitting at 20 yards. I turned around and the RO said he'd get it, but I told him "I can't see it from here, so I should check the hits." I had felt I shot well, and indeed most of the holes where in the -0 zone.

This wasn't intended as a hard core "practice" session, but simply a diversion from a busy and slightly stressful work week. And you know what? It worked.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Limbo

A 3:00 thought for Good Friday.
The ancient greyness shifted suddenly and thinned like mist upon the moors before a wind.

An old, old prophet lifted a shining face and said:

“He will be coming soon. The Son of God is dead; He died this afternoon.”

A murmurous excitement stirred all souls. They wondered if they dreamed

save one old man who seemed not even to have heard.

And Moses, standing, hushed them all to ask if any had a welcome song prepared.

If not, would David take the task?

And if they cared could not the three young children sing the Benedicite,

the canticle of praise they made when God kept them from perishing in the fiery blaze?

A breath of spring surprised them, stilling Moses’ words.

No one could speak, remembering the first fresh flowers, the little singing birds.

Still others thought of fields new ploughed or apple trees all blossom-boughed.

Or some, the way a dried bed fills with water laughing down green hills.

The fisherfolk dreamed of the foam on bright blue seas.

The one old man who had not stirred remembered home.

And there He was, splendid as the morning sun and fair as only God is fair.

And they, confused with joy, knelt to adore

Seeing that He wore five crimson stars He never had before.

No canticle at all was sung. None toned a psalm, or raised a greeting song,

A silent man alone of all that throng found tongue — not any other.

Close to His heart when the embrace was done, old Joseph said,

“How is Your Mother, How is Your Mother, Son?”
-- Sister Mary Ada

Monday, April 15, 2019

Fratello Cigars & Adroit Theory Collaboration

Fratello Cigars and Adroit Theory Brewing joined forces to release a beer specifically brewed for pairing with the Fratello Bianco cigar. The new Imperial Stout, named Terminal Decent, is the result of a collaboration between Fratello owner Omar de Frias and Adroit's Mark Osbourne. Developing Palates reports...
Mark Osbourne owner of Adroit and Omar wanted to create the perfect beer pairing with the Fratello Bianco. “Fratello Bianco is all about earthiness, cocoa, coffee notes and liquor.” said de Frias “We felt like Bianco would be fantastic for this pairing as we brewed Terminal Descent with Chocolate Malt for sweetness and Chocolate Rye for a spicy bite without the normal astringency or bitterness associated with such a deep roast.” said Osbourne.

Terminal Descent will be available at some Virginia and Maryland Total Wine stores and Adroit’s tasting room in Purcellville, VA on May 1. I look forward to trying this cigar and beer pairing — as a public service for readers of these Musings of course.

See "Beer News: Fratello Cigars And Adroit Theory Brewing Announce Terminal Descent" for more on this upcoming treat.

UPDATE: As I published this post, I saw this tweet from Adroit Theory. The beer is now available at the brewery.