Thursday, May 28, 2015

Pepsi Okay?

I'll have to rethink my quick acuquiecense to this common question.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Be Prepared: Defense Against Terror, Hoodlums, & Disasters

How ready are you?

Get training. Get supplies. Get prepared. As Whittle says, "It's time to grow up."

Monday, May 25, 2015

Cavalier IDPA Match

I'd been looking forward to shooting the monthly Cavalier IDPA match this weekend. When the alarm went off Sunday morning, I was still feeling the affects of a springtime cold that had been clogging my head and lungs, but decided to go shoot anyway. After all, you don't get to pick only when you're totally healthy to need your gun for self defense.

After checking in at the match, I put on my ear protection, and thought "That doesn't feel right." It turns out one of the ear pieces was partially broken from the headband, and the cup wasn't fitting tight against my head. I typically keep emergency foam ear plugs in my bag but I had given the last of them to another shooter at a recent match. "Does anyone have duct tape?" I asked. Fortunately a friend had a spare set of ear plugs that he graciously loaned me to supplement my broken gear. 

Now properly equipped it was time shoot! Stage 1 was an eight target course that had the views of the threats strategically hidden with walls and barrels. The was a lot of movement, and careful use of cover was required. I used some time bobbling to find the proper shot views, but ended just 3 points down on the stage.

Stage 2 had us starting seated, with the loaded gun on the table, and looking at an interesting array of targets and two swingers. Hitting a stomp plate under table with our foot set the swingers in motion. One swinger held a non-threat that moved back and forth in front of two threat targets, while the other was a threat target swinging back and forth from behind a non-threat. Those were engaged while seated, as well as a fourth target to the right. After that we moved down a hallway to find three more targets. It was a fun stage and I managed to avoid the moving non-threat, though I was 7 points down for the stage.

The third and fourth stages were quick runs that shared the same bay. Stage 3 had five threat targets and 2 falling steel poppers. We started facing a wall and moved towards the left, engaging the first three targets, before moving out to find the two steel and final two targets. I was zero down for the stage. 

Stage 4 started with three close targets that were engaged in tactical sequence. The final three targets were hidden behind a wall a few yards down range. The shooter had the choice of engaging one of the latter group from the start position, and then run to the wall for the last two. Alternatively, the three final targets could be all engaged from around that back wall; from either end or both ends, depending on how far you wanted to lean around cover. I opted to take the longer shot, mainly to avoid the hard lean around the wall. Frustratingly, I dropped just one point by moving too fast away from a close target before turning to take the longer shot.

The match was a lot of fun with some interesting stages. Despite the stuffy head I still managed to finish 10th of 27 in my division, and 16th of 41 overall. I still feel not smooth when moving into position behind cover, after so many years of USPSA and running to blast targets in the open, but the I've been practicing that on the dry fire course see up in my basement. I left the match with a smile on my face, and overall was pleased with how I ran the stages. And I think the bit of exercise in the sun helped me fight off the head cold too. I'll add that to the "health benefits of shooting" list.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Between the Pool Parties and Cookouts

Remember the reason...

As you enjoy time with family and friends over this long Memorial Day weekend, take a moment to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. It is those sacrifices that helped to maintain the freedoms we value and enjoy today.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Drone Defense

You can shoot them down, or let the wildlife take care of the problem.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Fordham Sunseeker Wheat

That previously mentioned package from Fordham & Dominion Brewing also contained a few bottles of Fordham Brewing's new Sunseeker Wheat. This German-style Hefeweizen is another year-round addition to the brewery's lineup.

The unfiltered wheat ale pours a cloudy straw color and exhibits a short-lived white head. The aroma is sweet malt with hints of clove and banana. The flavor is similarly sweet with cloves, coriander, banana and lots of wheat flavor. There's an apple-like tartness in there as well. Copious carbonation tingles the tongue. The finish is moderately tart and a little drying. A low 5% ABV is in keeping with the classic "Summer Wheat" beer theme.

Wheat beers may not be my favorite style, but I do enjoy a well-done Hefeweizen. Fordham Sunseeker is an impressive domestic German-style wheat beer. I always keep some Hefeweizens and Wits in the beer fridge since Colleen enjoys them very much. She wasn't home when I opened this one, but after I share the remaining review bottles with her, I wouldn't be surprised to see Sunseeker on the shelves downstairs soon.

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

Monday, May 18, 2015

Saturday Morning IDPA Match

I headed out to Charlottesville on Saturday morning for the monthly IDPA match at the Rivanna Rifle & Pistol Club. The drive took me through some early morning fog, but that quickly burned off as the afternoon temps climbed into the high 80's. Not unbearable, but certainly a hint of what's to come later this season.

Due to range scheduling conflicts, the match director made some last minute adjustments, setting up one of the stages in the indoor range. For this quick and fun stage, we started facing up range, holding and looking through the view finder of camera. At the signal, we turned and engaged eight targets placed among four non-threats. Finishing that stage, we jumped in our cars for the short jaunt over to the rifle range for the final two stages.

The next stage simulated being seated in the back of a bus when bad guys entered. From your seat, you engaged three threats which were well-blocked by other "passengers." A careful aim was required. Those threats taken care of, there were 5 more "outside" the bus; three to the left, 2 to the right, with additional non-threats on both sides. Despite a number of shooters, myself included, having hits on non-threats, I think most folks really enjoyed this challenging and creative stage.

The third and final stage had the longest shots of the day. The eight targets were all engaged from behind cover from several openings in a long wall. I was reminded on this stage that I still need work on shooting while leaning around cover, as I was very inconsistent in my hits, earning several misses on the stage. Sometimes I wish I could shoot a stage over, not for score, but just to do it differently.

This was a fun match, with lots of variety. The delays due to having two stages on one range were actually minimal and when we did wait, the time quickly passed in conversation. Still, we were done shooting before 1:00 PM. Despite the issues on the last stage and a few other poor shots, I was happy for a decent finish; 6th of 22 in my division and 9th of 41 overall. Kudos to the staff at Rivanna for handling the last-minute range issues and putting together a great morning of shooting fun.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Google Broke It

Just an administrative note. It appears that in striving for increased security, Google has broken the search gadget at the top of the page. Given the support we can expect for a "free" product, I won't hold my breath waiting for a fix. Since I use the search feature frequently myself, I've added a new search widget in the side bar. Use it until such time the built-in menu bar search might be fixed.

Update, May 20: To my delight and surprise, Google actually fixed the search bar they broke. Typically, Blogger issues don't get fixed that fast. I've removed the side bar search for now.

7 Course Irish Meal

Although, from what I recall of our trip to Ireland, there needs to be at least three potato dishes in a proper Irish meal.

Pic found here.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Dominion Hop Lips IPA

Just a couple weeks ago we were at an event where the bar was stocked with good beer, including selections from the Dominion "Pinup Pack." I was telling friends about an upcoming addition to the series, Hop Lips IPA, that I hadn't had yet but was looking forward to trying out. As if the brewery heard my laments, just a few days later a smile-inducing box appeared from Fordham & Dominion Brewing, containing samples of that new beer.

Being an IPA fan, I was of course anxious to try it out, and finally had the chance this week. Dominion Hop Lips IPA pours a deep marmalade color with a thick white head. The foam is persistent, leaving behind copious lacing. (The head was either persistent or I drank the beer too quickly.) The aroma is earthy and malty, with a hint of tropical fruit. The flavor profile contains all of the above, with the addition of bitter citrus hops. The finish had lingering bitterness and a hint of white wine-like astringency. Hop Lips hits a tasty balance of the rich malt base and citrus fruit. At just 6% ABV, it's at the lower end of the range for an IPA, making it quite suitable for Summer sipping. Hop Lips should be appearing on Mid-Atlantic beer shelves soon.

Even though founded in Virginia in 1989, Dominion Brewing has never before brewed an IPA. I'm glad they finally got around to it in 2015, adding Hop Lips as a year-round addition to their lineup. Dominion Brewing and Fordham Brewing joined forces in 2007.

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

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Saturday Practice Match

This morning was the monthly practical pistol "practice match" at the Cedar Mountain Youths Range. As I headed out for the range, there was a steady misting rain falling but it fortunately stopped before we started shooting, though it remained overcast all morning. Fifteen of us enjoyed the six interesting stages that match director Mike had set up. The stages were not complex but offered varying challenges.

The first stage was a basic "shoot and move" stage with three targets. We put two hits each target, performed a mandatory reload while moving to a closer shooting position where all three targets were engaged again. As I sometimes do on close and fast stages, I pulled across the middle target too fast and earned a miss. I knew it when I did it, so why I didn't take a make shot will remain one of life's mysteries.

On stage 2 we started seated, with the unloaded gun and all magazines on a table. The course required one hit on each of six targets, a mandatory reload, and one more on each. The twist on this stage was that the fifth target was placed much further downrange, about twice as far away as the next closest target. More than one shooter swung right by that far target, failing to shoot it. I did swing past it once but stopped myself before moving all the way to the last target.

Next up was a "simple" stage consisting of a swinging target with two pieces of falling steel on either side. The swinger was activated by the shooter pulling a rope held in his strong hand at the start. The moving target required six hits, instead of the usual two, so it took a few passes of the target to complete the stage.

Probably the most challenging course of fire, Stage 4 had three targets all shot from the same position. The course consisted of a single string of fire — 2 shots on each target freestyle, a mandatory reload, 2 shots on each strong hand only, another required reload, and two shots on each target weak hand only. Surprisingly, I had my highest finish on this stage.

On Stage 5 the shooter stood behind a barricade and barrel combination facing three targets set up down range. Each target was to be engaged from three positions — the right side of the barricade, the left and through the barrel — with a mandatory reload anytime before the last shot.

The final course of fire had six targets spread in a large "L" at the corner of the bay. The first three targets were engaged while moving to a shooting box down range. The last three targets were all shot from a stationary position. The last three targets were the furthest in the match, so after moving quickly past the first three on the stage, it was necessary to slow down and make accurate hits.

To summarize, we had near targets, far targets, moving targets, steel targets, shooting on the move, shooting around barricades, reloads on the move, shooting through a tunnel while kneeling, shooting while seated, as well as strong hand and weak hand only shots. For an informal match, that's a wide variety of shooting. Since it's just for practice, it's low pressure. It's all about shooting for fun and enjoying a morning on the range. And as a bonus, we were done shooting and had the match put away before noon. That's a decent way to spend a Saturday morning, and it has amazing health benefits too.

Friday, May 8, 2015

I'll Be Getting Healthy This Weekend

There have been numerous posts on these Musings over the years about the health benefits of alcohol. I've also long considered shooting to be beneficial to my mental and physical health as well. It's a great stress reliever and being outdoors is always a plus. Now, the folks at HeathFitnessRevolution have compiled the Top Ten Health Benefits of Shooting. To start...

Builds physical discipline: In an age of the “couch potato,” this sport can help build many physical disciplines that are not only healthy but enjoyable. Increased strength, stamina, hand-eye coordination, and fine motor skills are just a few of the physical disciplines acquired in the shooting sports that apply, not only to this sport, but to all of life. 
Arm strength: Shooting a gun requires strong, sturdy arms and hands; in order to aim and shoot your target you must keep your hands and arms steady. 
Focus: Keeping your eyes on the target while aiming a gun requires a lot of focus. Removing your mind from any other activities, you find yourself in the present moment in which there is only one thing at hand to do, and it straight in front of you. 
Eyesight: Practicing your shooting can’t fix any eye deficiencies, but it can exercise the eye capabilities that you already have. By giving your eyes a break from staring at computers, TVs, phones and tablets, you will be relieving this eye stress.
The list is continued here.

I wonder if my health insurance would reimburse the cost of ammo under their wellness coverage.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Spencer Devon Brewing

We've been anxiously awaiting the opening of Fredericksburg's newest craft brewery since last year, and the wait is over. Located in historic downtown, Spencer Devon Brewing held its official grand opening on April 24. However, it wasn't until this week that we finally were able to visit. And it was well worth the wait!

Joined by our friend "Checkered Flag," Colleen and I ventured in for dinner Wednesday evening. Naturally we got the beer ordering out of the way first, choosing from the six beers being poured. I selected Fall Line APA, Colleen the Sunken Road Belgian Blonde, and Rocko's Milk Stout for our friend.

The first impression we all remarked upon was the fresh and unique aroma of the beers. To me, the aroma is as important as the taste, and these ales were deliciously fragrant. And then the sipping commenced...

Colleen remembered the photo - Pale Ale and Belgian Blonde

"Wow." "Wonderful." "Delicious." Those are some of the words we exclaimed. To a person, despite different personal style preferences, we were unanimous in liking each of the beers. My selection, the Fall Line APA, I would rank as one of the best Pale Ales I've had recently. The hops were sharp and fresh. Citrus and pine notes in a flavorful balance led to a glass that was empty much too soon. The finish was clean and refreshing. If I wasn't determined to try another of the brewery's beers, I would have had another. However, in the interest of research, I next ordered a pint of Bitter Sweet IPA. This too was an excellent beer. A dark copper color with an earthy fruitiness, it is a fine English-style IPA.

Since we were there for dinner as well, I shouldn't forget to mention the food. Chef Justin Cunningham has created an interesting and unique menu. It so happened that the night we visited coincided with the first appearance of burgers on the food selection. Spencer Devon has teamed up with Monrovia Farms to purchase sides of beef to be made into steaks and burgers. The tasty, juicy burgers are served with pickled carrots and asparagus on the side (delicious!) and I enjoyed mine with a side of tangy potato salad instead of fries. I'm very much looking forward to those steaks too.

In order to do a proper review, we decided to splurge and have dessert. I ordered the bread pudding, while Colleen opted for Creme brûlée. The bread pudding was formed into a "cupcake" with ice cream on top. The third member of our party went back to the dinner menu and ordered the enticing Sausage Stuffed Pork Belly from the appetizer menu. This threw the chef for a loop and he came out front to consult with our server, wondering if the first part of our meal had been forgotten. The appetizer consisted of the pork belly layered with sausage, rolled into a loaf and sliced. It had a crisp crust and wonderful smoky bacon flavor. I described it as "bacon bread." I suspect next time we'll order it properly at the start of our meal.

We immensely enjoyed our visit to Spencer Devon Brewery. Owner Shawn Phillips was there and we were pleased that he spent time to share some of his future plans. Fresh beer is always a treat, and all four beers we had were exceptional. The beers are distinctive and well crafted. A combination of excellent beer, tasty food and friendly service, makes Spencer Devon a hit in my book, and a welcome addition to the local craft beer scene. I know we will be back soon, and often. I can't wait to see what the brewers, and the chef, come up with next.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Tuesday IDPA

I finally made it back down to the Tuesday evening Colonial Shooting Academy IDPA match. The last time I was there was March 17, St. Patrick's Day. I realized this match day happened to fall on Cinco de Mayo, another drinking holiday excuse. I prefer shooting to over-indulgence.

The first stage of the match involved downloading all the magazines to six rounds and leaving them staged on barrels. The unloaded gun was also left on the first barrel. Starting seated, you retrieved and loaded the gun, engaging the six targets as you moved down range. Unfortunately, as I turned to engage my third target, I zeroed in on the first target of the second stage! I should have taken another step to the right to see the proper target. That cost me two misses and a Failure To Neutralize penalty. Ouch!

D'oh! Shoot where the green arrow is, not the red.

That misstep behind me, I moved on to Stage 2, where the target I neglected to shoot previously stood mockingly at the starting position. There were five targets arranged across the stage which could be shot on the move across the stage, or while stationary from a couple positions. The final and sixth target was hidden behind a vision barrier at the end of the stage. Finishing the stage 3 points down, I was pretty happy with that run, although I fumbled my reload. I started to reload on the move, but hesitated when I became unsure if I could, and then started to pocket instead of dropping the empty mag. I imagine it looked like I was doing a bit of two-step around the barrel.

The final stage was a simple stage that began facing up range, and the gun loaded with just 6 rounds. At the start you turned and put two hits on each target, performed a mandatory reload and engaged each target with two more rounds. After the stumbles on the first two stages, I had little to lose at that point and just ran with it. Even though I ended up 5 points down, I placed well on the stage. At least that helped to offset the first stage errors a little.

Despite some less than satisfactory shooting, I had a good time. After all, the reason I play the game is to get in practice with the gun and to have fun. And both of those goals were met.

Monday, May 4, 2015

A Sunday Respite with Good Beer

We capped off the weekend with a quiet dinner at Capital Ale House on Sunday evening. That meal was highlighted by a couple of excellent beers recently tapped at the restaurant. Colleen chose a Peach Berliner Weisse from Perennial Artisan Ales. My selection was Hardywood Park Hoplar IPA.

The Berliner Weisse was refreshing with a crisp tartness backed with a hint of wheat. There was a pleasant peach fragrance, but the peach flavor was mild and just moderated the sour aspect. Although the server warned Colleen it was very sour, it was not excessively so. The almost-sparkling carbonation made for quite a refreshing and light feeling beer. Perfect for summer evenings and warm weather!

The Hoplar IPA is Double IPA aged on Virginia Tulip Poplar wood. The aroma is a mix of pine and citrus, with an earthy note. The aroma is rich but balanced. The first sip of the beer put a smile in my face. This is what a DIPA should be. It's a strongly flavored, 100 IBA beer that is complex and amazingly well balanced. The resinous pine and bitter citrus combine with earth and wood undertones create a rich and robustly flavored beer that doesn't coat or kill the palate. A moderately creamy body with a thick mouthfeel that finished clean leaving just a touch of bitterness left behind.

I enjoyed my Hoplar with an extremely spicy Mexicali Chicken Salad consisting of grilled chicken breast tossed in a spicy habenero pale ale wing sauce with roasted corn relish, avocado, pickled red onions, jalapeño peppers and bleu cheese. My rule on spicy food is if my head doesn't sweat, it wasn't done right. However I found myself leaving some of the jalapeños behind. But still, the rich Hoplar held its own.

We were enjoying the beers so much, that we decided to stay a bit longer and enjoy another round. It was an easy decision to stick with our same beers as we finished dinner. I enjoyed Hardywood Hoplar very much and I hope I can get back to CAH for more, or perhaps even find it locally in a bottle.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Flying Dog Numero Uno

Numero Uno Summer Cerveza is the new summer seasonal from Flying Dog Brewery. This beer was originally released last June as part of the Brewhouse Rarities series. I didn't realize I'd had it before until I started drinking it and then I had the "flashback" to last year. As previously, although it isn't the type of beer I'd normally drink, I did enjoy it.

The beer pours a bright golden yellow with a thin white head. The aroma is that of grain with lemon and lime zest. The overall flavor is toasted malt with a refreshing citrus twinge. It finishes dry and clean.

This might also be a good beer to keep on hand to share at those summer cookouts with your less than adventurous friends. It's much more flavorful than the popular swill that requires a lime wedge (or salt) to be palatable.

At just 4.9% ABV, Flying Dog Numero Uno Summer Cerveza would make a good beer for those warm summer afternoons. It's light bodied and goes down easily. I cracked this one open as we sat down for a family movie night, and I think I finished it before the opening credits were done.

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

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Saturday Range Time

A friend sent a text Friday evening inviting me to join him and another friend at the range Saturday morning. My first thought was to decline in order to get some chores done. But I soon came to my senses and agreed to meet them for some early morning shooting fun.

When we arrived, we had the range to ourselves and quickly got to waking the Boy Scouts who were camping across the road. I didn't have anything specific planned to work on, but I did bring the extra mags for my EDC and spent a lot of time shooting it. I was reminded once again just how well the compact Sig P239 "fits" and shoots. It may be a heavy gun, but it's a fine shooter. I think I'll bring it out for to the new Compact Carry Pistol division in IDPA soon.

One of the guys had a FN Five-seven with him and offered to let me shoot it. The natural point of aim for me was high, but once I really concentrated on keeping the front sight down, I was hitting where I aimed. It was a fun gun to shoot and I was happy to get the chance to shoot something new.

We spent some time at the 25 yard line too. I don't do that much, but I've been wanting to refresh my distance shooting. Usually I'll shoot a single mag from the back of the bay, but this time I went through about 50 rounds "stressing" myself. It was stress since there was no way I was seeing the holes in the target at that distance, and relied on "calling the shot" as it went off. Although there were no tight groups, I pleased to keep the shots mostly in or near the A zone.

I fired more rounds this morning than I have in one outing in a long time, at a match or in practice. But it was a blast to enjoy the camaraderie of friends doing something fun, and after a cool, rainy week, the weather couldn't have been nicer. The other two guys headed over to the shotgun range to break some clays, but I opted to go home and tackle the chores, with the cleaning of two guns now added to my list.