Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Church Militant - Bringing Catholic Back

This is a glorious video!

It's time put the Catholic back in Catholicism.

iPad Beer Magic

Remember the iPint app for the iPhone? Here's someone who has taken it one step further to create an entertaining, at least to drunk people, illusion with his iPad.

Sadly the iPint app is no longer available in the US due to copyright issues.

H/T to

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Memorial Day Range Fun

On the day dedicated to honoring those who died protecting our freedoms, our family decided to celebrate one of our basic freedoms by spending the afternoon at the range. It was especially fun for me as our son joined us. He's usually busy with school work or other interests so we've not enjoyed his company at the range for far too long. I'm proud to say he's still quite competent with a handgun. We were also joined by a good friend and regular shooting companion who was visiting for the holiday celebration.

Both pistol ranges were occupied when we arrived so we started with a bit of shotgun work. We shot at some static clays and ran some one-on-one challenges to see who could clear their clays first. There's some work to be done there; I'm not as accurate when I'm racing.

A pistol range cleared and we set up four target stands and worked on various drills, both standing and moving. The training target "Buddy" was along to offer a bit of reality too. We shot at him from behind cover, and also used him as a "good guy" and engaged paper targets set up behind him. He was a good sport about the whole thing. I was happy that my son got to experience a bit of "reality" shooting.

I also tried out the Combat Focus Shooting iPhone app to run some drills. I'll post a review of that soon.

Some hypocrites spent the day giving lip service to our fallen heroes, while they themselves are working to restrict the freedoms those men and women died defending. Our day at the range was good fun, but also a reminder that we are facing a critical point in history when our rights are being challenged on so many fronts.

Confirmed. I'm glad I didn't buy a compact car.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Center Of The Universe Located

Richmond BizSense is reporting that Center of the Universe Brewing Company has signed a lease on a 12,000 square feet building in Ashland, VA, just off Interstate 95.
A fledgling local brewery has finally found its home in the center of the universe. 
Center of the Universe Brewing Company this month leased 12,000 square feet on Air Park Road in Ashland, just off Interstate 95 near Bass Pro Shop. 
The building sits on 1.3 acres and was previously occupied by the Herald-Progress newspaper. 
With its claim officially staked, Center of the Universe, founded by brothers Chris Ray and Phil Ray and named after the unofficial nickname of Ashland, is aiming for a November opening. 
But there’s a lot of work left to be done: There’s the lengthy process of state and federal licensing. They’ll then await the delivery of all the giant tanks, boilers and fermenters that will produce the liquid gold. 
A build-out will give the brothers warehouse space for the brewing components and a front area that will become a tasting room.

This is exciting news for me. The location is one I pass by on my way home from the IDPA and Steel shooting matches held down at Black Creek. Readers know I'm a fan of relaxing with a good beer AFTER shooting. This just may fit the bill perfectly!

See "One hurdle crossed" for more information on the brewery's plans for the space.

A previous Musing on this new brewery is here.

Monday, May 28, 2012

In Thanks & Remembrance

On this Memorial Day as we remember those who gave all, let us not dishonor their memory by allowing our freedoms to be trampled. Those who seek to limit our rights do so in contempt of our fallen heroes. Honor the fallen, and remember what they were protecting.

“Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present Generation to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.”  -- John Adams 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Memorial Weekend Steel Match

The Black Creek Shooters held a special Memorial Weekend match on Saturday. It's been many months since I was able to get down there for a steel match and was looking forward to it very much. It was a small crowd, just 57 shooters total. The small crowd meant a quick match, and I was on my home by 12:30. Still plenty of time to do some chores before settling in for the rest of the three day weekend!

The entire match consisted of falling or swinging steel, with the lone exception of 2 static targets. There were four stages in all, for a total of 109 rounds minimum.

Stage 4, where my squad started, was a quick stage requiring just 18 shots. Multiple shots on two static targets, as well as some spring-loaded targets, and a dueling tree. Let me just say, those dueling tree plates are small! Without really thinking I shot the plates from top to bottom. That wasn't the most logical way to do it, as I was working against the recoil to bring the gun down to the next target. Shooting from bottom up would work with the recoil. On the last static plate which required 3 hits, I wasn't calling my shots well and was not sure I was hitting, so I ended up taking 5 shots. When I was done I asked if I had hit it three or four times. "You hit it five times" was the reply. Despite that, this was my best stage of the match, finishing 14th out of 36 in my division.

Stage 1 required engaging a plate rack through a low port, then 6 poppers and another dueling tree from the middle of the bay, and finally moving to another position with another plate rack. This time I remembered to shoot the dueling tree from bottom to top. It was a fun stage with a good mix of targets. Stage 2 consisted of a mix of falling poppers, including split versions of both sizes, to be shot from 5 different shooting boxes. I struggled on this stage, not seeming to be able to get my shots on target. Those small split poppers were mocking me I'm sure! Stage 3 was the largest of the stages, in shot count, requiring a minimum of 35 shots. All the steel was shot from a single position.

It was a fun match. I still need to work on consistancy when shooting these steel matches. I suspect I may be looking over the gun to see the steel hit when I shoot. The last time I shot a steel match was in October of last year, and then as far back as April prior to that. Overall, I finished 25th out of 36. I need to get to more of these matches and spend more time shooting the various steel targets. I probably need to devote more time to dry firing as well.

As I was waiting for the match to start, I saw a familiar face walk by. It was someone I recognized from church who also happened to be shooting the match. We ended up on the same squad so got to spend some time chatting. It was a nice surprise, and it turns out we have mutual friends who are also shooting enthusiasts. It really is a small world!

Stage 3. Photo by Black Creek Steel Shooters.

It's More Than Food & Drink

Happy Memorial Day. Please remember all who sacrificed for our freedom.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Innovation You Could Use This Weekend

The days of fighting to get ketchup out of the bottle may soon be a thing of the past. The scientists at MIT have put their smarts to good use. They created a non-stick coating for food containers that may solve this scourge of picnic tables everywhere.

See more demonstrations at "MIT’s Freaky Non-Stick Coating Keeps Ketchup Flowing."

(For those reading via RSS, you'll need to click through to see the video.)

Weekend Plans

Two of my favorite subjects again.

My plans include having fun with both this weekend.

I think my first stop will be the Black Creek Memorial Weekend Steel Match.

Friday, May 25, 2012

All Is Well. Really.

On Thursday an "oily sheen" appeared on multiple bodies of water in our area. The mysterious substance appeared on the Rappahannock River and the Canal, and also two local ponds. City officials determined that the sheen was not petroleum based, but have unable to identify the substance or its source. Today, however, they declared that there were “no apparent safety risks to humans or the environment.”

Don't worry folks. Officials have declared "all is well."

Starr Hill Undertakes Major Expansion

The new legislation recently signed by Governor McDonnell is providing some impetus for major expansion underway at Starr Hill Brewery. is reporting:

Starr Hill founder and brewmaster Mark Thompson helped write the new laws and worked on seeing them passed. His brewery will take advantage of being able to sell beer for consumption on premises by tripling the size of their tasting room and adding a more space with a new deck as well. Over the next five years Starr Hill will raise their production level from 275,000 cases to 826,000 case of beer in a year. They will also add 10-15 jobs to the region. The new tasting room should be open this fall.

See "New Bills Allow for Better Brewery Business" for more information.

(For those reading via RSS, you'll need to click through to see the video.)

NoVA Beer Fest Tickets Available

The Northern Virginia Summer Brewfest will take place Saturday & Sunday, June 23 & 24 in Leesburg, VA. Discounted tickets go on sale today. Online tickets are $20, while the cost jumps to $30 at the gate. The price of admission includes a tasting glass and four sampling tickets.

Visit for festival and ticket information.

This is always a great event with lots of good beer and food. Go if you can.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Local Rag's Gun Bias Shows

There was a tragic and fatal shooting in our area Tuesday. A homeless person used a knife to attack an innocent person and was killed when the victim shot him in self defense. The shooter was sitting in a car with a friend when the homeless man requested money from the couple and was refused. He left only to return a short time later to attack his intended victims with a knife. The man in the car retrieved his legally possessed handgun and used it in defense of his life. In reporting the story, our local newspaper let its bias show with this headline:

That's right, the editors of this paper stated clearly their opinion that the "slaying" was the result of a "snub." They focus the blame of this death on the victim of an assault. It's apparently not clear to the editors that the tragic death of the homeless person was the result of him assaulting someone with a knife. In addition, throughout the article, the person killed in the commission of a crime is referred to as the victim. In unbiased reporting, the "victim" is the person against whom a crime was committed. No charges were filed against the shooter, who did not commit any crime in defending himself. The person killed was the assailant, not the victim.

I wonder if the Free Lance-Star would consider placing the blame for a rapist's death on the woman who defended herself against a sexual assault. The bias of this paper doesn't really come as a surprise. This is the same group that uses it's liberal recklessness to endanger the lives of gun owners by publishing the addresses of conceal carry permit holders.

An online report of this incident, without the inaccurate and biased headline, is posted here.

Rahr & Sons Iron Thistle

I had hoped to share another Wednesday IDPA match writeup, but thunder cells were popping up all over the area Wednesday afternoon, so I opted not to chance the 70 mile trip to the range. What shall I do now that I have some unexpected free time? I know, I'll try one of the beers 45er sent me last week!

I opted for the Rahr & Sons Iron Thistle. (If I can't shoot my iron, I'll, um, never mind.) This "Scottish-style Ale" pours a deep brown color. A hard pour creates a moderate light brown head, but one that lingers for a long time. The aroma is rich with sweet dark malt, with a bit of coffee thrown in. The flavor brings a pleasing combination of sweet malt, nuttiness and some roasted bitterness. As the beer warms there is a also a hint of smoke added in. The mouth feel is somewhat creamy and the sweet malt and smoke flavor lingers.

This is a very enjoyable beer. It's a seasonal selection from the Forth Worth, TX brewery. I'm reminded of why I'm found of the Wee Heavy / Scotch Ales. (Even if I do typically gravitate to the hoppier Pale Ales and IPAs.) At 8% ABV, Iron Thistle is a beer to sip slowly and enjoy. That is unless one is inclined to take repeated sip after sip in order to make notes for a review. The things I suffer for this blog...

Thanks to 45er for sending this along. It certainly helped overcome the missed match disappointment.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Perhaps It's A Rounding Error

If this was July I'd believe it, and we'd be under an advisory I think.

I went outside and checked for myself. My skin did not burn off.

For Greater Glory

When they outlawed freedom, free men became outlaws.

This movie tells the true story of Mexico's Cristero War. This conflict, which took place from 1926 - 1929, caused the deaths of more than 250,000 people, was touched off by an anti-Catholic president who called for the eradication of religion in Mexico. This is not ancient history, nor did it take place in some far off land.

I've been reading about, and waiting for this movie to come out for some time now. I think it is indeed Divine Providence that it is finally being released at this point in time.

For Greater Glory opens in theaters on June 1. Check the website to find a showing near you. This could be the most important movie you see this year. Let's pray it's not prophetic as well.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Wine, Whiskey, Craft Beer

Do I have your attention now? Thought so. A couple of months ago I came across this Groupon offer of a "Grape & Grain" tour of the Fredericksburg area. Now it appears we have an expanded version of such a tour being organized. Bill Freehling writes in the Fredericksburg Business Browser,
A new tourism initiative aims to promote the Fredericksburg area’s various alcoholic-beverage producers. 
The Grapes and Grains Trail allows people to buy a $12 ticket that gets them a tour of the Hartwood Winery, Potomac Point Winery, Lake Anna Winery, Mattaponi Winery, Blue & Gray Brewing Co. and A. Smith Bowman Distillery. 
The ticket also includes a stemless wine glass for tastings with the Grapes and Grains Trail logo on it, and a 20 percent discount at each facility’s gift shop.
The Grapes and Grains Trail partnership officially kicks off Father's Day weekend, June 16-17. There will be special events at the participating wineries, distillery and brewery. This is a great way to promote tourism in the local area. We'll have to find a weekend, and a designated driver, to do a tour and report back.

Grapes and Grain tour has a Facebook page where updates are posted.

See "Fredericksburg area gets its own alcohol trail" for more information.

Incendiary Image of the Week

In preparation for a peaceful night's sleep when traveling.

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Pale Ale Surprise

As mentioned earlier I spent this weekend inside a hotel in Williamsburg. It was all for a good cause, even if it did conflict with my desire to participate in the VA/MD USPSA Sectional. I was at a convention with a lot of outstanding people who are devoted to doing good works and helping folks in need. It was quite an inspiring weekend.

During one break, I managed to sneak into the hotel pub for a quick afternoon pint. The usual suspects in the factory beer style were available, the lone craft beer offering being Williamsburg AleWerks Cheaspeake Pale Ale. It was available both on draught and in the bottle.

Chesapeake Pale Ale pours a clear, bright amber color with a moderate frothy head.  The citrus and earthy aromas are easily detected. I found the aroma to be a bit more intense than many pale ales I've tried. The predominant flavor is a juicy, citrus tang that's balanced with a mild bitterness. The dry finish brings ever so mild sweet, malt notes.

Overall, I enjoyed this new-to-me pale ale quite a bit. Given the rest of the available beer options, I was quite happy to find the Chesapeake Pale Ale. I wasn't surprised that Williamsburg Alewerks produced such an enjoyable beer, but I was surprised that I don't recall ever having it previously.

Yes, I did get back for a second round.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Wednesday IDPA

It's been four weeks since I shot the IDPA classifier, and I finally got back down to Black Creek this week to shoot another IDPA match. It was a small course of fire, just 38 rounds minimum, but still a lot of fun. I didn't shoot as well as I would have liked, but trigger time is trigger time, and due to my busy schedule I'll take a match when I can get one!

The first three strings made use of the same target array, shown below. On the first string the shooter started seated, facing up range. On the signal you turned and engaged two targets on one side, with 2 body and 1 head shot each, from behind the barricade, then moved to the opposite side to repeat. The next string required engaging the two strong hand side targets, with one head and one body shot, strong hand only. Then the string was repeated for the weak hand side, using only the weak hand. Good stuff there.

Black Creek likes to mix it up with some steel in the IDPA matches on occasion. Some purists get upset by this but I welcome the opportunity. This week the plate rack was set up with the six plates painted in three colors, and the plates had to be knocked over in the prescribed order. This was done three times; free style, strong hand only, weak hand only.

In the end I finished low, just 10th out of 12. However since all the shooters except one were ranked Sharpshooter or above, and I'm ranked at the low end of Sharpshooter, I placed about where I expected. And there are plenty of upcoming matches at which to work on my IDPA skills.

After I finished shooting there were no other shooters waiting at the time, so the range master asked if I wanted to shoot the stages again or shoot the plate rack for a while. I don't get the opportunity to practice on a plate rack outside of matches so I took him up on that. I loaded up a few mags and took 6 or 7 runs on the rack. It's pretty amazing how much easier it is when there's no clock running!

I spent more time driving to the range than I spent on the range, but it was still fun. On the way down I was passed by the Google Maps Street View car. I don't know if it was recording or not but I figure it didn't hurt to fix my hair and smile as it went by.

They Toy With Me

I'm in Williamsburg, VA for the weekend for an annual meeting / convention event. I open my "goodie bag" and there, right on top of all the touristy brochures, is a coupon promoting Williamsburg AleWerks. It's not too from the hotel. As is typical with these events, the schedule is jammed. There's no open time to escape.

However, they do apparently have the brewery's Chesapeake Pale Ale in the hotel pub. I think I can sneak in there at some point.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Vital Message From Rabbi Dovid Bendory

You need to watch this. It's important to all Americans, not just our Jewish compatriots.

See more at "A vital message from JPFO's Rabbi Dovid Bendory", IF you believe in personal freedom.

Oysters and Beer

Actually, in this case it's oysters in beer. Last November, Flying Dog Brewery released the limited edition of Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout, brewed with Rappahannock River Oysters. The beer was produced to benefit the Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP), one of the region’s leading nonprofits restoring oysters back into the Chesapeake Bay. Due to the success of the beer, and to continue raising money for the cause, Flying Dog has added the beer to its regular, year-round lineup. Proceeds from the sales will continue to go towards restoring the oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay.

Growing up near Baltimore, I enjoyed many Chesapeake Bay oysters. On the half-shell is my favorite serving method, but I'll eat them cooked too. When this beer came out I wanted to try it, but never had the chance. Now that this oyster stout is being brewed regularly, the good folks at Flying Dog provided me with a sample for review. And I didn't wait long to try it out.

Flying Dog Oyster Stout pours dark cola brown, with a mocha-colored head that drops fairly rapidly to a thin ring. The aroma is dark roasted coffee with a touch of dark chocolate. The flavor sweet dark roasted malt. There is a mild, salty aspect to the flavor, I assume from the oysters. No, there weren't any oysters in the bottle, but there is a hint of brine in the flavor. The roasted malt and bitter hop notes linger in the aftertaste.

I didn't find this stout to be as darkly roasted as some stouts, but the oysters did add an interesting twist. If I were to grab this one again, it would be more for the novelty and to support a good cause. Flying Dog has another stout, although seasonal, that would be my first choice..

Writing this review gave me pause to reminisce about the times spent standing at a raw bar in Baltimore and watching the expert shuckers opening oysters and sliding the half-shells in front me to enjoy. It's harder to find good oysters these days, but maybe through the efforts of the Oyster Recovery Partnership that situation will improve.

Disclaimer: This bottle of Oyster Stout was an unsolicited gift from the brewery. This review written of my own free will.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Beer & Bullets: Delivered

The big brown truck of happiness arrived today and dropped off three boxes of goodies. We received 2,000 rounds of 45ACP and, coincidently, a box of beer from 45er who writes the Barrel Smoke blog.

I plied 45er with some Virginia beers recently and he's returned the favor with some Texas beers. He's also picked up well on my fondness for Pale Ales and IPAs. All of these beers will be new for me so I'm looking forward to trying them out.

I May Live Forever

A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine is suggesting that coffee, lots of it, may indeed be good for you.
The new study is by far the largest of its kind to date. As part of a joint project with the AARP, researchers from the National Institutes of Health followed more than 400,000 healthy men and women between the ages of 50 and 71 for up to 13 years, during which 13% of the participants died. 
Overall, coffee drinkers were less likely than their peers to die during the study, and the more coffee they drank, the lower their mortality risk tended to be. Compared with people who drank no coffee at all, men and women who drank six or more cups per day were 10% and 15% less likely, respectively, to die during the study.
The researchers note that there are over 1,000 compounds associated with coffee, other than caffeine, and it is possible that some of these may contribute to decreased chronic decease.

We've already heard about the health benefits of beer. As soon as they figure out that red meat and gelato is good for you I'm all set!

See "Coffee drinking linked to longer life" for details on this report.

Dot Torture Shooting Drill

This challenging drill found at is a fun way to assess your shooting skills. It's 50 shot drill, on 2 inch circles. The drill tests your sight alignment and trigger control using a variety of shooting skills; from the draw, low-ready, strong hand, weak hand. It's suggested you start out shooting it from three yards, increasing the distance only after shooting a perfect score. My lovely wife insisted we attempt the Dot Torture on a recent trip to the range.

My first miss was on circle 3. The goal was to draw and put one shot on 3 and one on 4, repeated four times. I dropped one shot just below the 3, and then pushed one down into the 6. 

The next miss was on 5 when I put one of the five strong hand-only shots just left off the paper. 

It was smooth sailing for the next three circles, even for the five weak hand only shots. The last miss was just low on 9. 

My total score was 46 out of 50. This was just my third attempt at the Dot Torture, though the previous two attempts were over a year ago. The idea is to do this "test" on a regular basis and track your improvement over time. I'm going to try to remember to do just that.

Go to to download the target and take it with you on your next trip to the range. It's fun. And just a wee bit humbling.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Virginia Breweries Get A Break

Virginia has a history of supporting and promoting her wine industry. Virginia breweries are often treated like the red-headed step child. However, this week Governor McDonnell signed two recently passed bills in support of Virginia brewers.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell signed into law two pieces of legislation aimed at helping Virginia-based brewers. 
House Bill 359 lets established brewers lease space to start-up and small scale beer brewers. Senate Bill 604 allows for retail sales and sampling on the premises of Virginia breweries. 
"The legislation signed today will make it easier for our breweries to serve as destinations for potential customers and allow some of our talented small-scale brewers to lease space from established brewers and overcome some of the significant start-up costs," McDonnell said at the signing ceremony, held at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery in Richmond.

Read the complete story at "New Virginia laws to help craft beer brewers."

More on Senate Bill 604 here.

Jeff Fitzpatrick, president of Blue & Gray Brewing Co. and Gov. Bob McDonnell at the signing.
Photo courtesy of Fredericksburg Business Insider's Facebook page.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Bottle Opener At The Ready

I've kept a bottle opener on my keychain for years. There was one time many years ago when I was stuck in a hotel room with no opener, and vowed that would never happen again. And have you ever noticed there always seems to be a line at the party beer cooler waiting to use the lone opener? (In all honesty, I've never figured out the belt buckle trick.)

There are options to keep an opener handy of course. We've previously looked at this iPhone case with the built-in bottle opener. Now a creative iPod owner has realized that Apple actually provides a bottle opener with its portable products.

Credit for this goes to @EvaZebra on Twitter. And thanks to Al over at Hop Talk for bringing it to our attention.

Aggressive Denizen of the Range

We met this gal (?) guarding the berm at the range today. Her shell was about 12" end to end. Unhappy with our arrival, she had no hesitation in advancing aggressively as we approached.

Wikipedia accurately notes "Common snappers are noted for their belligerent disposition when out of the water." She was eventually moved. I won't be surprised to see young ones exiting the berm later this year.

Monday, May 14, 2012

They Can't Have a Rational Discourse

Even when you want to have a conversation with these people it seems they are incapable of rational reasoning. Our county is considering a change to the law regarding where gun owners can shoot. They are discussing allowing shooting on lots larger than 1 acre. They will be having a public hearing on the proposal in the future. Our local paper ran a story this week on the discussions.

As expected the accusations and hyperbole started in earnest. Here's one example from local resident Bob Sergeant:
What kind of cousin-loving, gap-toothed trailer-dwelling, Elvis-worshipping (remember Elvis almost blew away his girlfriend, accidentally) moron would even consider shooting on a minimum of an acre as the proposed law states.
As is typical for the "I'm pro-2A but..."crowd, Mr. Sergeant begins the name calling in earnest, rather than debating the actual issue. Currently this is not law, it's not even a formal proposal. There aren't any details to discuss, but the commenter extrapolates to the extreme. He rants on with this statement:
So, you can't hunt deer with solid shot in much of VA due to safety offsets, but you can shoot a .50 Barrett on your property if you have more than an acre? 
I'm reminded of this study on the anti-gunners reflection of the their own mistrust of themselves when creating their anti-gun arguments.

See "Spotsylvania supervisors ponder shooting-ordinance change" to read more on the proposal, and the outrageous and irrational diatribe.

Update, May 21, 2012:  It appears the Free Lance-Star has removed the comments from the posting. Perhaps they don't like their fellow leftists looking like idiots. Fortunately I grabbed a screenshot before the comments went away. View it here.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

Dedicated to my wonderful wife, who's also a great mom.
And to my mom, I love you and miss you.
♥ Happy Mother's Day 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Practice Deck For Shooting Drills

Going to the range and just shooting is fun, but going to the range and shooting skill-improvement drills is both fun and beneficial. I admit sometimes I show up at the range and don't have a specific plan in mind, and then draw a blank on what to set up. That's where Practice Deck for the iPhone comes in handy.

Practice Deck is based on a training tool from DR Performance Shooting. Using a deck of cards theme, the iPhone app provides 52 different shooting drills from which to choose. The drills are categorized by specific skill sets, such as Draw, Reload, Barricades, Strong Hand Only, Transitions, etc. The user can pick a specific drill, or "deal" one out randomly. Each drill shows a diagram of the stage layout and gives brief instructions.

The drills are a pretty simple to set up. They require at most three targets, a couple of barricades, and a shooting box marked on the ground, and are designed to be used with standard USPSA or IDPA targets. The author gives a simple "time plus" scoring suggestions for tracking your practice and improvement.

One additional feature I'd like to see added is the ability to record my scores on specific drills over time. The Practice Deck website mentions a future feature to track scores via the website. We'll have to wait and see how that is implemented.

Practice Deck is available in the iTunes store as a free download with a limited number of cards. An in-app purchase unlocks the full deck. If you are looking for more variety for your trips to the range, try it out.

I purchased the Practice Deck app of my own free will and received no compensation for this review.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Hardywood Park Expands

Richmond's Hardywood Park Brewery has been in the news frequently after bursting on to the Virginia craft beer scene late last year. Their beers are getting very favorable reviews, and they even brought home a Bronze medal from the World Beer Cup last week. Even though the brewery opened just a few months ago, they are already in expansion mode, as reported by Richmond BizSense,
One of Richmond’s newest breweries is doubling its production capacity. 
In late April, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery added two 80-barrel fermenting tanks to their 12,000-square-foot warehouse in an industrial part of town near the Diamond 
“We’re getting them hooked up now and hoping by the end of the week to start filling them up,” said Eric McKay, who started brewing with business partner Patrick Murtaugh in September.

Hardywood beers are distributed to about 90 Richmond-area restaurants. The brewery also has a tasting room where the beers are available.

See "Brewery gains 60,000 pounds" to read more on the new tanks and the brewery's plans.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

At The Range: Reason Prevails

It's always refreshing when that happens.

I had a lunch date with my wife this week — at the range. We both had new ammo we wanted to try out, so Colleen suggested "Let's just take the steel. It's quicker to get set up." (Eat your heart out boys.)

We set up the two 10" steel targets and got to shooting. It was a beautiful day, honeysuckle fragrance in the air, nice breeze... However we only got about 50 rounds off each when we were approached by the Range Master who informed us "You can't shoot those targets here." Trying to remain calm I pushed for an explanation. We've been shooting the steel once or twice a month there for two years. He kept saying the targets had to be "falling," and had to direct splatter down. Unfortunately he didn't seem in the mood to discuss it. We packed up to leave but I decided to stop by the clubhouse to talk to him again, hopefully after we both calmed down.

I explained that the bullet splatter was directed parallel to the target, and even showed him the lead staining on the target bases. I talked about the AR500 steel used in the construction and how it was safe since it didn't dent, which would cause dangerous ricochets. He listened and agreed to look into it further.

Later that evening he called me back. He explained that he had received a call at home about illegal targets in use and, I think, got himself a little worked up on his ride out. To his defense, he's been dealing with some trouble at the range recently with rule violators. He told me since the targets are professionally made and designed to direct splatter down then they fit within the rules. He suggested I keep a copy of the Nevco web page with me that states "... splatter dissipates in a pattern parallel to the target surface and when used as designed our targets will not throw anything back at the shooter." If anyone objects I can show them that and tell them that the RM approved their use.

I am still disappointed and somewhat perturbed, that the folks who complained couldn't be bothered to speak to us directly. I know what group it was, and they never came within 100 yards of us. Their interference cut short a pleasant afternoon with my wife. However, I do give the range official kudos for stepping up to call me back and straightening it out. We ended up having a good discussion about various target styles, and rule violations we've both witnessed. He even invited me to contribute to updating the range rules to be more specific with regard to what is or isn't allowed. And I learned that construction on a new pistol bay will begin this week! All and all a good ending.

Mr. Steel, we'll be shooting at you again.

Seems Like A Bad Idea

I actually got a knot in my stomach reading about this. A water balloon game in which your children can simulate "Russian Roulette" using a plastic pistol and water balloons. If the balloon doesn't pop, the gun is passed to the next person.
Less 'bang bang you're dead,' more 'boing, pop, you're slightly deaf.' The Balloon Russian Roulette is a harmless version of classic Russian Roulette, taking away the blood, murder case and disposal of a body. Ideal Birthday and Christmas gifts, Balloon Russian Roulette involves pointing a 'gun' at another persons head with a balloon attached to the front, pulling the trigger will either produce nothing...or a pin that pops the balloon!
I've never had any issues with toy guns for kids. Playing "Army," or "Cowboys and Indians" is part of growing up. And games with toy guns even can involve pointing the toy guns at your playmates. This pushes the envelope. One of the comments on the Amazon page stated, "This game is a wonderful way to teach kids of all ages about statistics, probability, and handgun safety." I see the wrong lessons coming out of this. Here's a better idea, take them to the range teach your kids actual gun safety. And show them what a bullet will do to a watermelon.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Budgets and Bombs

Airline bomb threat headlines always get my attention, but I wasn't prepared for what I read on my Google News page.

That's just wrong.

Blue & Gray - Cap Ale House Anniversary Beer

Blue & Gray Brewing Company and Capital Ale House are both celebrating their 10 year anniversaries this year. In recognition of the event, Blue & Gray has created a special beer to mark the milestone. There is an announcement on the Capital Ale House website.
Blue and Gray Brewing Company has brewed our latest anniversary beer. The new Capital Ale “Kollaboration Kolsch”, brewed by brewer David Achkio of Richmond, is a refreshing golden ale, hopped with Saaz and Splatz.  It’s bright, with a light delicate body.  A great session beer for the warmer weather, it is a straightforward fresh Kolsch, true to its German origins accentuated by the noble hop character. The ceremonial tapping will be at our Fredericksburg location with a brewery representative this Friday, May 11th at 6pm. The beer will be available at all five Capital Ale House locations while it lasts.

Blue and Gray Brewery President Jeff Fitzpatrick said "We are proud to work with Capital Ale House to develop an anniversary ale for them.  Capital Ale House and Blue & Gray Brewing both celebrate their ten year anniversary this year.  I like to think the success of our respective beer enterprises is related. Happy Anniversary to us!  Cheers."

Both of these businesses have had a profound effect on the craft beer scene in Fredericksburg, and indeed Virginia. Blue & Gray certainly had a major influence on my own interest in craft beer. Capital Ale House provided the opportunity to, well, expand those horizons.

Cheers to both!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Another Colorado Brewery Considers the East Coast

Breckenridge Brewery in Denver, Colorado, is at capacity production at its current location. The brewery is considering building a new brewery to handle increased demand. Breckenridge also operates a brewpub where its beers are be sold. Under current Colorado law a brewery producing more than 60,000 barrels a year cannot also operate a brewpub. Breckenridge is approaching that threshold. A bill that was under consideration would have raised the limit to 300,000 barrels. Unfortunately the bill was dropped without consideration by Colorado legislators.

According to the Denver Business Journal, "large brewers and beer distributors complained that allowing a brewery making more than 60,000 barrels a year to operate restaurants and sell its own beer out of those locations would give it an unfair competitive advantage."

So now the brewery is looking at other options. According to Breckenridge President Ed Cerkovnik, those options include building a brewery on the East Coast. The new brewery would employ 50 - 75 people and involve a $15 million investment.

One can't help but wonder if the recent expansions of Oskar Blues and New Belgian breweries to the East was in part forced by the same Colorado brewpub rules. If Breckenridge does indeed consider the East Coast, I hope Virginia is among the states considered. We've missed out on three West Coast brewery moves recently, perhaps it's the Old Dominion's time to win one.

See "Breckenridge Brewery will take new brewery, jobs to East Coast" for more on this story.

How Math Should Work

Got this from my son.

Yea, I laughed out loud too.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Congrats to Virginia Brewers

The 2012 Craft Brewer Conference was held May 2-5 in San Diego, California. The biannual Brewers Association World Beer Cup competition was held in conjunction with the conference. Five Virginia breweries won awards this year.

Devils Backbone – A Gold Medal in the Vienna-Style Lager Category for Vienna Lager.

Great American Restaurants (Sweetwater Tavern) – A Silver Medal in the Extra Special Bitter Category for GAR Pale Ale.

Hardywood Park – A Bronze Medal in the Herb and Spice Beer Category for Gingerbread Stout.

Rock Bottom Arlington – A Bronze Medal in the Coffee Beer Category for Coffee Stout.

Blue Mountain – A Bronze Medal in the American-Belgo-Style Ale Category for Blue Reserve.

Congratulations to the breweries and the brewers for bringing more recognition to the Virginia craft beer scene.

You can see the compete awards list here.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Beer and Food Tasting Event

This weekend we held the first of two beer and food tasting events we donated to benefit the school's fund raising activities. These tastings are always a lot of fun to do, and always a lot of work. Admittedly, I had the easier part. I selected the beers and did a lot of talking about them. Colleen spent the day before, and the morning of, cooking all the food to be served. She also worked in the kitchen to prepare the dishes for serving. Food serving, and clearing between each course, was handled deftly by our son.

I selected beers that were readily available in our area, and represented some of the variety of American Craft beer. Of course, there were many beers I could have included but we did want these folks to go home eventually!

Jomo Lager
Starr Hill Brewery, Crozet, Virginia
Amber Lager (4.6% ABV)
Paired with Artichoke Dip and Tortilla Chips

Prima Pils
Victory Brewing Company, Downingtown, Pennsylvania
German Pilsener (5.3% ABV)
Paired with Cheddar Bacon Bites

Port City Optimal Wit 
Port City Brewing, Alexandria, Virginia
Belgian White Ale (5.0% ABV)
Paired with Peaches and Cream French Toast Casserole

Bell’s Pale Ale 
Bell’s Brewing, Kalamazoo, Michigan
American Pale Ale (5.2% ABV)
Paired with Buffalo Chicken Sliders

Dale’s Old Chub
Oskar Blues Brewing, Longmont, Colorado
Scottish Strong Ale (8% ABV)
Paired with Spicy Beef and Provolone Ciabatta Panini

Flying Dog Wildeman
Flying Dog, Frederick, Maryland
Farmhouse IPA (7.5% ABV)
Paired with Olivada and Mozzarella on French Bread Crostini

Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout 
North Coast Brewing Company, Fort Bragg, California
Russian Imperial Stout (9.0% ABV)
Paired with Brownies and Ice Cream

Brooklyn Local 2
Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, New York
Belgian Dark Ale (9.0% ABV)
Paired with Stilton Cheese, Sugared Walnuts, and Pears

Saturday, May 5, 2012

It's Called Responsibility

"The decision to not carry a firearm is a conscience decision to pass the responsibility for your own safety on to someone else."

I posted an editorial entitled "You Are Responsible For You" over on the Gabriel Possenti Shooters blog. Read it here.

Design Flaw?

What could possibly go wrong?

Not that I typically drink from the bottle anyway.
Found here.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

And Now, Oskar Blues

First it was Sierra Nevada. Then New Belgium. Now the state of North Carolina has attracted another west coast brewery, Oskar Blues Brewing Company. Our friend Dave over at Fermentedly Challenged has the story.

Longmont, CO. Funky little Oskar Blues Grill & Brew started 15 years ago when Dale Katechis and his high school sweet-heart stumbled across the small town of Lyons, Colorado while on a road trip north from their home in Alabama. That Rocky Mountain trip continues east as Dale finds the same downhome feeling in the rolling hills of Pisgah National Forrest of Brevard, North Carolina. 
Oskar Blues, named “The hottest place to be on a Saturday night in Colorado” by Rolling Stone Magazine, has announced plans for a restaurant/music venue and brewery location just off the bike path to Bracken Mountain in the small downtown of Brevard, N.C. The brewery plans to have the soul-savin’ live music venue and brewery up and running by December 2012.

I'm partial to Virginia, but I'll celebrate any east coast craft beer expansion. I got to spend some time at an Oskar Blues restaurant in Longmont recently, and also the brewery, and had a great time. For all intents and purposes, the future location in North Carolina isn't any more convenient than the one in Colorado for me (in fact I may be able to visit the Colorado venues more often), but the folks around Brevard are in for a treat.

Read the complete article at "Oskar Blues makes plans for second brewery in NC".

Next, A Shotgun

As regular readers know, my shooting has up to now been limited to pistols. I've been itching to expand my skills for some time now, but just haven't made the leap. I spent some time in a local gun shop ogling the various AR clones recently, but that's not in the budget right now. A few weeks ago we were discussing shotguns, both for fun and defensive purposes, then about that time I came across an article on the latter that really got me thinking. You can read the article yourself over at the Gabriel Possenti Shooters blog.

A couple of weeks ago a friend brought over his Remington 870 for our trip to the range. After we finished shooting the pistols we went over to the shotgun field to familiarize ourselves with the weapon. I've not shot a shotgun as an adult, so it was for all intents and purposes a new experience for me. And a fun one!

This past weekend we got back to the range and spent more time with the shotgun. As with our pistol shooting, simply standing and aiming down range doesn't do it for us. So we set up some clays on various stumps throughout the firing field. The idea was to shoot a clay from the closest group, advance and hit one or two more. Then continuing to advance to the first target group, take the next next further out target. Advance to somewhere near where that target was and engage the next one out. Finally advancing to the last stump to engage some of the clays on the berm.

Keeping in mind, this is a new weapon for me, the movement and reloading was slow, and awkward. But the intent is to learn to get the shotgun mounted in a consistent position, and shoot accurately while still adding a bit of stress and variety. The gun we were using is set up for waterfowl hunting so can hold only three shots total. So there was ample opportunity for grabbing shells from pockets and reloading.

We had a lot of fun with this exercise and of course we're just getting started. I'll be shopping for a shotgun of my very own, as well as doing some related reading. Besides the added skills, when we head out for a range day and the pistol bays are all in use, we'll have another option for shooting.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Beer Shopping

Picking up the liquid portion of this weekend's event.

Betcha wish you had bid, eh?


While loading up the car recently for a trip to the range, I was struck by the number of different target styles we have on hand. I thought I'd share a few of them.

There's the USPSA practice target, for obvious reasons. I've have similar targets on order with the IDPA layout. We occasionally use the headshot / hostage target. You can alternate which figure you want to hit. And yes, even as a paper silhouette it adds to the pressure. The two targets with the colored shapes are part of Rob Pincus' "Balance of Speed and Precision" series. There's an unlimited number of drills and games you can create with these. Of course, we also use the ubiquitous "man with a gun" poster. The numbered circles on the side add to the options. The body silhouette with scoring rings is one of the earliest targets we started using. Affectionately known as "postage stamp" guy for the small tiny target in the upper left. There's more than one tiny postage stamp guy with a center hit posted as a trophy on a shooter's refrigerator or office door.

Most of these paper targets are 24 inches wide, which is wider than the typical 18" cardboard USPSA/IDPA targets, and stands. When I made my stands I set them up to accommodate the wider targets. I keep a constant eye out for scrap cardboard wide enough to use with the stands.

Why so many targets? Mostly for the fun of it. We like to mix things up at the range, and we sure don't want to get bored. A lot of our range trips involve "games" we make up, and the various targets add to our options.

Of course, that's just the commercial paper targets. We also use paper plates, index cards, sticky notes, colored construction paper, the occasional lottery ticket or novelty target. We'll haul out the steel targets regularly too.

Both in sport and self defense, one doesn't want to train to always look for an X. I believe that using a variety of targets, and mixing up the drills and games we play, helps to avoid complacency in practice. And we certainly never get bored!