Thursday, April 30, 2015

Wednesday IDPA

Once again, a quick IDPA match down at Black Creek provided a fun mid-week diversion. As I walked down to the range I spotted an array of targets profusely obscured by non-threat targets. "Oh great," I thought. Then I heard something said about strong hand and weak hand only shooting. "Oh great," I thought again. And that's exactly what it was — Great!

Match Director Anton does a remarkable job of putting on a fun and challenging match in limited space. This week the array of six targets and 4 non-threats were used to offer three stages of shooting goodness. For the first stage we were seated with the loaded gun on the table for three strings of fire. Each target got one hit freestyle, then strong hand only, and finally weak hand only. After looking at the target array, I decided I was going to go for head shots only for the entire match.



For stage two we moved back a couple yards and started facing up range hands on a barricade. The gun was downloaded to six rounds. At the start we turned and engaged each target with one round each, reloaded from slide lock and put one more shot on each target. To add to the challenge, the course description required at least one shot on each target to be a head shot. 

The final stage started behind the barricade and required at least 6 shots from either side, and a minimum of two shots on each target. After the debacle last weekend on the barricade stage, I was pleased with my shooting this time. Granted the targets were half the distance away, but the available target area was cut down by about half too.

At the end, I had two hits on non-threats, and (I think) 13 points down, including a couple misses. It was a very fun match and a great practice session on accurate shooting. As I remarked to a friend afterwards, when you're shooting through a crowd, accuracy is important. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Dress Made From Beer

I've heard rumors of beer being used to get someone out of a dress, but now someone is making dresses out of beer.
The Beer Dress is made from fabric produced by a bacterial-fermentation process. Scientist Gary Cass and visual artist Donna Franklin previously collaborated on a fermented-wine dress in 2012. That dress had a distinctive look to it, like it was made from Fruit Roll-Ups. The wine dress looked strange, slightly alien. The Beer Dress looks more like what we recognize as typical fabric, despite its unusual origin. You wouldn't know where it came from if someone didn't tell you.

Well, it sort of resembles a frothy head of beer too.


Monday, April 27, 2015

The IDPA Classifier. Again. Finally.

Since I took a few years off from shooting IDPA matches, I had not shot the official classifier since April 2012. When I started back up this Spring, I still had my old Sharpshooter classification, though it was expired since the rules say that you are supposed to classify every year. This weekend the Cavalier IDPA club scheduled a classifier match, and I was looking forward to getting current.

I'd been anxiously watching the weather forecast for a week, and it was calling for Sunday to be cool and rainy. (We actually had sleet falling here on Saturday.) On Sunday morning it looked like the rain would stop mid-morning so I headed out early for the range. It rained for most of the drive, but had stopped by time I arrived. It was still unseasonably cool out, requiring a jacket while I waited my turn to shoot. Fortuitously, the sun actually came out before I shot, taking off a bit of the chill.

The IDPA Classifier is a three stage, 90 round course of fire, providing a good all around test of shooting proficiency. On the first two stages, I was very happy with my shooting. The third stage was not as satisfying. I went a bit much too fast shooting around the barricade and dropped many points.

Despite needing a current classification, this was really a low-pressure event for me. You retain your "highest held" classification, so I only needed to complete the classifier to be current. At the time I originally made Sharpshooter it was by the skin of my teeth, and the scoring system has been updated since then, requiring a faster time to make Sharpshooter. I did feel some pressure as I wanted to be "legit" and re-earn the ranking under the more strict times. Fortunately, despite the poor performance on Stage 3, I finished safely in the Sharpshooter ranks, dropping over 20 seconds off my last classification attempt.

The match was well organized and, despite being a "test," was a lot of fun. The match folks had repeated the classifier set up in three bays so there was little waiting. I picked a bay, and enjoyed talking with other shooters and pasting targets during my brief wait. And, now I feel "legal" again.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

How I Celebrated Earth Day

I recycled. I put copper and lead back in the ground.

After work Wednesday, I headed south for the Black Creek IDPA match. I hadn't been to the weekday event for a couple of seasons, so I was looking forward to shooting it again. Black Creek IDPA sets up a quick fun match, perfect for a weekday afternoon.

All the shooting this month took place on a single stage of six targets, and consisted of five strings, for a total of 36 rounds. Three center targets were set across a table from the shooter and were always engaged in tactical priority and tactical sequence. The remaining three targets were set further back and obscured by barrels to either side.



String 1: Draw and shoot the three center targets with one body shot each, followed by one head shot each, freestyle.
String 2: Same as above, strong hand only.
String 3: Pick up gun from chair, shoot as above, weak hand only.
String 4: "Neutralize" all 6 targets, with a minimum of a -0 or -1 hit on each.
String 5: Engage all targets with two hits each.

That was it. Despite the quickness of the stage — even my slow shooting times came to just 48.90 seconds total — the shoot was fun and challenging. The tactical sequence shooting still requires thought on my part after so many USPSA matches.

This quick match allows for folks to optionally reshoot with multiple guns, which I may try to do in the future. The Black Creek IDPA match is a fun mid-week diversion and I look forward to being a regular this Summer. It's a bit of a drive from Fredericksburg, as most things are. But it's not a bad drive, with 80's rock streaming from my phone...

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Blue Mountain Beer Dinner

On Tuesday evening we enjoyed a beer and food pairing with Blue Mountain Brewery at Capital Ale House. The beers were not ones that are usually available at the restaurant, and the food dishes were specially created for the event as well.

The Menu
Hors d'ourves
Toasted smoked Gouda and vegetable brushetta
Paired with Maggie Maibock

Salad
Wedge of romaine with almonds and dates finished with carrot ginger dressing
Paired with Steel Wheels ESB

Appetizer
Beer battered avocado with lime crème fraiche
Paired with A Hopwork Orange

Entrée
Surf and turf of cilantro lime steak and cocoa coconut shrimp with Duchesse potatoes,
paired with Prizefighter IPA

Dessert
Bacon and carrot cake truffles with vanilla cream,
paired with Local Species Belgian Pale Ale


The food was all quite tasty and the pairings worked well. The toasted smoked Gouda and vegetable brushetta that started off the evening was exceptional. A bunch of us suggested to the manager that it would make a good addition the Capital Ale House menu. I know headquarters will be getting a few emails with that same suggestion. The Maggie Maibock went well with the appetizer and was a good "easy" beer to start the evening. The salad course, though simple, was surprisingly enjoyable with the ESB.

The beer battered avocado was an unexpected treat. I wasn't sure at first how if would work, but it did. The selected beer, A Hopwork Orange, raised some questions at our table. I had the beer last year, and I recall it being candy sweet with an orange flavor. The beer poured this evening was a citrusy IPA. The brewery rep also described it has having a wheat beer base, which none of us detected.

Moving on to the main course of "surf and turf" we were treated to tender, juicy steak bits and nut encrusted shrimp. The menu noted "cocoa coconut" but the crunchy coating was all peanut flavor. The Prizefighter IPA was quite similar in flavor to the beer served in the previous course.



And finally dessert! The bacon and carrot cake truffles were either a hit or a miss with the diners. I enjoyed them but I saw some who rejected them outright. Local Species is one of my favorite Blue Mountain beers and it was a fitting finish to the meal.

The speed at which the courses came out seemed to be a bit rushed and I frequently found myself gulping down the last of my beer as the next course was being placed. Colleen noted the absence of any of the brewery's dark beers, and the last three beers were quite similar. But, overall it was a very enjoyable evening. The beers were all poured in generously sized samples, so there was plenty to go along with the food. The food was well prepared and as a whole enjoyed by all and the evening finished with smiles all around. It's been a long time since the Ale House hosted one of these events, and this one was very reasonably priced. I hope CAH does more of these events in the future.



Now, I'm off to email Capital Ale House headquarters with my menu suggestion...

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Pizza Box Recycling

I've often seen used pizza delivery boxes used to hold targets at the range, but Palmer City Alehouse in Alaska makes their reuse even easier.


Neat idea. And cardboard takes up much less room in the recycle bin if it's full of holes.

H/T to Miguel at Gun Free Zone.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Cedar Mountain Practice Match

On Saturday morning, three friends and I headed out to a local practical pistol "practice match." The monthly sessions at Cedar Mountain Youths are a chance to get in some practice with your pistol and at the same time help raise funds for the youth programs at Cedar Mountain.

I enjoy these gatherings for the chance to shoot, and as a great way to introduce others to competitive pistol in a low-pressure environment. Last year, my friend Greg got his introduction to the sport here, and this weekend we took two other friends who were experienced shooters, but had not participated in competitive matches. This year the Cedar Mountain events are even more low pressure, as the hits on the targets are recorded and the score sheets are yours to take, but the results are not tabulated or posted online. It's all for your own information.

The six stages set up were fairly simple, only two involved movement, and only one with a required reload. There were stages with quick close shots and others with longer, tight shots with "no-shoot" targets in the way. The skills tested were the same you might come across in more formal match. Despite their simplicity, the stages were interesting even for the experienced shooters in attendance. And since the practice "match" is not scored, it's a great time to push yourself in ways you might not want to when shooting for a score. Our squad even had time for some shooters to who wished to try a stage twice; for example to see the difference between shooting on the move or while stationary.

We started shooting around 9:00AM were done shooting and had the props put away by 11:30. On our drive home, it was apparent that the two new participants were hooked. (Actually, I do not recall a time when I had a first-time shooter or competitor who was not hooked after the first match.) I shared info on the many sanctioned USPSA and IDPA matches in the area, and I expect I might see some of these guys at other matches soon.

If you want to introduce friends to practical pistol, or are just looking for a chance to practice on stage setups that your local range doesn't permit, the CMYI monthly practical pistol practice might be the ticket. Of course, there's the fun of being on the range for a few hours of shooting with good people too! The normal schedule for the event will be the 2nd Saturday of the month through the Summer and Fall. Conveniently this doesn't conflict with other matches I might attend, so I expect to take advantage of the practice opportunities often.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Proper 88th Birthday Celebration

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI celebrates his birthday Bavarian-style today at his residence in the Vatican today.



Happy Birthday Your Holiness!

More photos on the Zenit News Agency Twitter feed.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ted Cruz: "The 2nd Amendment is not for hunting."

Although I sure know who I won't support in the next presidential election, I've not made any decision on where my support will go. I do however, like what Ted Cruz says here.
"When it comes to Constitutional rights, what matters is what the Bill of Rights says, it doesn't matter what might be popular at the moment."
Watch the whole thing.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Flying Dog Earl Grey Black Wheat

The sample box from Flying Dog arrived just before we left for our Florida vacation. When I saw the bottle of Earl Grey Black Wheat I was intrigued, and it didn't take long after our return home for us to decide to crack it open. Colleen, being the tea fan in the house, wanted to try it as well, so right after the photo op I split the pour into two glasses to easily share.

The beer pours a dark, mahogany tinted color with an attractive mocha head. The aroma is yeasty with roasted and nutty aspects, and a hint of citrus comes into play as the beer warms. The tea influence is evident in the tasting and the tannic bitterness and citrus of the tea is readily apparent. This combination of the tea with the roasted coffee and cocoa notes works surprisingly well. Mouthfeel is moderately thick and the finish exhibits a strong tea astringency. 

Earl Gray Black Wheat Dunkelweizen is the second in the brewery's Brewhouse Rarities series for 2015. As with most beers in the series, it's not exactly "typical." It still has the dark malt and chewy wheat traits expected in a Dunkelweizen, but the tea influence is an interesting, and tasty twist.

The beer reviewed here was a promotional sample from the brewery. My impressions are provided of my own free will.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Florida Brewery Visits

We spent last week in Clearwater Beach, Florida enjoying some much needed warm weather and sunshine. While there, we took a day to visit a few local breweries. The St. Pete/Clearwater Craft Beer Trail ties in 15 breweries between Tarpon Springs and Gulfport, and though we only took in three, it made for a pleasant afternoon enjoying some good beer.


After a hearty breakfast at a great diner we happened upon, our first stop was Dunedin Brewery in the town of Dunedin. Established in 1996, this is Florida's oldest craft brewery. We ordered two flights of samplers and tried out eight of the brewery's beers.

The beers in the flights were were Bier de Cafe American Brown Ale, Leonard Croon's Old Mean Stout, IPA Chronicle 5: American Classic, Bier de CafeLowland Wheat AleDunedin Apricot Peach Ale, Brown Ale, and Batch 1000 Imperial Brown.


All of the beers were well done. We found the Pale Ale, the IPA, Wheat and Peach ales to all be tasty, though not memorable. The brewery seems to shine when it comes to the "darker" beers though. The Bier de Cafe Brown Ale had a rich mocha flavor and a creamy mouthfeel. Leonard Croon's Stout was also exceptional with a roasted coffee aroma and flavor. The Batch 1000 Imperial Brown was our hands down favorite. Even at 11.5% ABV, it was still smooth with pleasing bourbon and espresso flavors.

Our next stop was 7venth Sun Brewery, just a few blocks over from Dunedin Brewery. The tap room had seven house beers on tap, plus three guest taps. We opted to try four of the 7venth Sun beers. After I gave the server our list of beers, she started pouring into full size glasses, and I reminded her we just wanted the 4 ounce samples, please. She let me know that due to limited space they use the same glass for the samples as well as full pours. Indeed, I saw later that the 16 ounce glasses had fill lines for 4 and 12 ounces pours as well. Colleen and I both remarked that it was nice to be drinking from full size glassware even though we ordered taster pours. Nice touch there, 7venth Sun.


We carried our beer outside and enjoyed them in the shade of the porch. The beers we tasted were Dancin' In The StreetGraffiti Orange Creamsicle Wheat, Time Bomb Session IPA, and Hopeless Bromantic.


Dancin' In The Street was a refreshingly tart ale, described as a "Bret Berliner with Watermelon," though I didn't pick up the watermelon flavor. Creamsicle Wheat did indeed bring memories of the Creamsicle ice cream treats of my childhood, along with mild sweetness and wheat. Time Bomb was a bitter IPA made with Cirta and Nelson hops and checking in at just 4.5% ABV. Finally, Hopeless Bromantic was another sour ale with some "funk," described as a "Brett Farmhouse with Italian Plum." All of these beers were extremely tasty and I could have stayed longer to enjoy larger servings, but there was one more stop we wanted to make for beer and food.

Finally, we headed over to the Lagerhaus Brewery and Grill in Palm Harbor. We selected this stop not only for the German beers, but because we read they also made their bratwurst in-house. We weren't disappointed in the beer or the food. We set ourselves up with a bacon-wrapped pretzel, homemade Spätzle, and assorted Bratwurst. The Bratwurst is made without filler and cooked in the brewery's beer. We had four different varieties on our platter; chicken, curry, chipotle, and "regular." I got the impression the flavors offerings vary but all of these were delicious. I personally enjoyed the somewhat unusual chipotle bratwurst the most.


Along with our food we ordered two traditional German beers; Fischer Hefeweizen and Royal Bohemian Pilsner. After we made our selections the bartender informed me it was "two for one" happy hour. I was a bit shocked when I realized we were getting two glasses of each! Well, we did have a lot of food to consume. The Pilsner had a nice, dry crispness to it, as I would expect from an authentic Pilsner. Likewise, the Hefeweizen adhered to the style, with grainy wheat and a mild citrus flavor in a bubbly body. We had a great time chatting with the friendly bartender as well as brewer Franz, while enjoying the good beer and food.


I found it somewhat surprising that the many restaurants and pubs we stopped in to for our meals during our stay did not feature local beers. Most beer menus focused on "factory beers." The one exception was Cigar City Brewing Jai Alai. This IPA was offered at several places. While I would have liked to visit more local breweries, we more so wanted to spend time enjoying the sunshine and beach. Conveniently, our hotel had bar service on the beach, so we didn't have to look far for more frosty beverages.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Leftist Hate and Hypocrisy Towards Christianity

As Christians celebrate the holiest of all liturgical times, the Octave of Easter, I'm left pondering the ongoing, and increasing, persecution and prejudice thrown at Christians by the left, the likes of which we have not experienced in years, if not centuries. As I reflect on the Roman "police state" under which our Lord lived and died, I shudder to think how close we are to facing the same situation again. So many in our country today, led by a pompous cheerleader in the White House, wage an ongoing war against faithful Christians.

It's not only islamic persecution that Christians face today. An even more immediate threat in the United States is an ever increasingly emboldened and violent left that is threatening our religious freedoms while promoting their warped version of "tolerance." Tolerance to the left means accepting only those who profess allegiance to the same immorality du jour they currently champion. In recent weeks we saw a Christian-owned pizza shop attacked for nothing more than expressing their privately held beliefs. More correctly, they were attacked because a leftist reporter lied and distorted their stand. The violent nature of the leftists, especially the LGBT mafia, was further illustrated when a public school teacher threatened to burn down the family's business. The vitriol and hatred directed at Christians by the "inclusive" left is hardly distinguishable from what we hear spewing from islamists around the world.

Recently another sodomite group demanded that Christian churches which do not promote homosexuality be shut down. Seemingly ignorant of their own hypocrisy, the group made no statement on mosques where the killing of gay men and women is preached. Even at an Easter breakfast, the idiot-in-chief couldn't resist a jab at Christianity, while remaining silent on the ongoing genocide perpetrated by faithful moslems, most recently in Kenya. We've also heard sniveling from the head of Apple condemning religious freedom laws in the US. All the while his company profits by opening stores in Saudi Arabia, where the killing of gays, along with the oppression of women and Christians, is a hallmark of the legal system.

One does not have to look long on social media to see the increasing frequent and violent threats perpetrated against Christians. I find it ironic that the two biggest threats to Christianity today, adherents of islam and promotors of the homosexual agenda, could not actually "coexist" outside of a tolerant Christian society.

At Easter, we are reminded that good has already triumphed over evil. When our Lord rose from the dead, He conquered Satan. We may not yet fully enjoy the results of His triumph, but we know the real war has already been won. Those who would attack us today, while they may win a skirmish here and there, are actually no more than the last, and desperate, remnants of Satan's defeated army.

The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose; it will defend itself.
― St. Augustine

Monday, April 6, 2015

James River Steam Brewery Historic Site

This is old news, but interesting. I hadn't heard of this of this piece of Virginia beer history which is listed on the US National Register of Historic Places.

The James River Steam Brewery was built along the banks of the James River in Virginia in 1886. The brewery was founded by David G. Yuengling Jr., son of the founder of the D.G. Yuengling and Son Brewery in Pottsville, Pennsylvania.



See "1886 US Beer Cellar Listed As Historic Site" for more info on the history of the site.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter - "He is Risen"

During the Easter Vigil on Saturday evening I often find myself thinking about the sense of awe and wonder experienced by those women and men at the empty tomb that morning. Fear and sadness was replaced with joy as they witnessed first hand the reality of the Resurrection. Now, two thousand years later, the truth of the Resurrection of Our Lord stills bring us joy and the promise of eternal life. The hope of salvation that Easter brings is sorely needed in these troubled times. While it may seem as if the world around us is failing into chaos, and the whole of Christendom is under attack on many fronts, as we reflect on the events of Easter we know that the biggest battle has already been fought and won on our behalf.

So on this most glorious of days, we are reminded that we must continue to face opposition and persecution head on. Satan is hard at work in this world. His minions do his bidding willingly, if naively, deceiving with false promises, twisting the truth until evil passes for good. We are led to believe that evil doesn't exist, that morality is subjective, and that material happiness outweighs the value of human life. Government fiat replaces personal responsibility. 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 Jesus' Final Resting Place
The Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem
Photo by Colleen, 2010
And on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalen cometh early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre; and she saw the stone taken away from the sepulchre. She ran, therefore, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and saith to them: They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. ... For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.
--John 20: 1-2, 9.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

"I forgot my holster!"

I have this long standing worry that one day I'll drive an hour or more to a pistol match, and realize I have forgotten some important piece of a equipment; eye protection, ammo, gun, or holster. To hopefully avoid that, I have a checklist on my phone that I review as I pack up for a match. But I didn't use it Friday morning when heading to the local range for some practice time.

I awoke Friday morning to the sound of falling rain against the windows. Since I had the day off I was planning to hit the range, but it seemed that was not going to pan out. However, later in the morning as I enjoyed my coffee, it struck me that the sun was shining, so I (too) quickly loaded my gear into the car and headed out for some shooting practice. When I arrived that I realized that in my haste I had neglected to pack the holster and mag pouches for the gun I planned to shoot. (I had the weapon I was carrying but only one spare magazine, and no time to clean the gun before my other commitments.) So I adapted and drilled from low ready instead of the holster.

After some trigger-control head shot drills, and a bit of 25 yard work, I spent most of my time shooting on the move. Traveling back and forth between the 7 and 15 yard lines, I concentrated on steady, level movement and accurate shooting. Paying particular attention to a rolling step and stable gun, I gradually worked up my speed, at the same time being aware of the group of range officers gathered in the next bay. I didn't want to be admonished for shooting too fast or for engaging in forbidden "tactical training."



Despite the missing equipment, it still ended up being a good practice session. And the timing of my trip was just right. Near the end of my practice, the sky was getting gray again. No sooner did I begin picking up my brass did I feel rain drops hitting the back of my neck. Even though my brass was spread out around the bay and had to be hunted for, I was on my way home before getting very wet at all.

This is not my brass.
It also occurred to me that people who shoot cheap steel-cased ammo must not think the rules about picking up their "brass" applies to them. That's just lazy AND thoughtless if you ask me.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Good Friday Sacrifice

Today we take comfort in knowing that the worse thing that could ever happen, has already happened - God himself was hung from a tree. And we know that His sacrifice was for our salvation.


'Nuff said.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Holy Thursday

Try to imagine what these olive trees have witnessed.



The Garden of Gethsemane, Israel, August 2010

And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony, he prayed the longer. And his sweat became as drops of blood, trickling down upon the ground. --Luke 22:43-44

Wednesday, April 1, 2015