Friday, July 31, 2015

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Irish Bet

A Texan walks into a pub in Ireland and clears his voice to the crowd of drinkers. He says, “I hear you Irish are a bunch of hard drinkers. I’ll give $500 American dollars to anybody in here who can drink 10 pints of Guinness back-to-back.” 
The room is quiet and no one takes up the Texan’s offer. One man even leaves. Thirty minutes later the same gentleman who left shows back up and taps the Texan on the shoulder. “Is your bet still good?”, asks the Irishman.

The Texan says yes and asks the bartender to line up 10 pints of Guinness. Immediately the Irishman tears into all 10 of the pint glasses drinking them all back-to-back. The other pub patrons cheer as the Texan sits in amazement.

The Texan gives the Irishman the $500 and says, “If ya don’t mind me askin’, where did you go for that 30 minutes you were gone?”

The Irishman replies, “Oh… I had to go to the pub down the street to see if I could do it first”.

Hat tip Common Sense Evaluation.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Cavalier IDPA

This weekend I again made it to the monthly IDPA match at Cavalier. The temperature was in the upper 70's when I left the house Sunday morning, but had risen to the upper 80's by the time I was shooting. That's not too bad for July in Virginia, especially with the occasional breeze that passed through.

The first stage was a quick stage with 6 paper targets and a couple of steel poppers. All targets were engaged from behind cover from several shooting positions. I had to take a couple make up shots on the steel, and again on the final target where I was attempting head shots. I still did okay on the stage, with zero down, but that was my clue that I needed to slow down and pay more attention to the front sight.

Stage two had seven targets and started in the center of a wall, where we first ran to the left to engage a couple targets, than across to the other side for a falling steel popper. After that we opened door in the center to engage a target from cover, before moving through the door to find other targets among the walls. I was down 1 for the stage

An interesting challenge was presented on Stage 3. You begin mid-stage, engaging a couple targets while retreating up range. Crossing the stage there was another target to be found. Finally, there were three targets that had to be engaged from behind both vertical and low cover through a picket fence. Once down and shooting under the "wall," only two of the targets could be seen. To engage the third, you had to shift positions to be further over to the right. Some of the younger, more nimble shooters shot the first two targets from kneeling, then dove into a prone position to find the last target. I chose to take a knee for the first two, and then make sort of a hop, switching knees, to the next position to finish. It may not have been graceful, but it got the job done with zero down on the stage.

Finding the last three targets behind some barrels and through the fence was somewhat difficult too. A number of shooters ended up engaging one of the first targets twice, and not engaging the final target at all. IDPA rules allow you to view the targets from the shooting positions, but you can't dry fire the stages and rehearse your positioning. That's something I've commented previously that I like about the sport, but this stage I was thinking I'd sure like to try it before I'm shooting!

Stage 4 required us to make short sprint before shooting and included the longest shots of the match. We started mid-bay, facing down range. At the start we had to run back up range to a table behind a barricade, where we had staged all our magazines. We drew and loaded the gun and engaged three targets from each side of the barricade.

The match ended with a really fast and challenging course of fire. Standing about 7 yards from two drop turners, the gun was holstered and the drop turner activation rope held in the weak hand. At the start signal you pulled the rope and drew the gun, or if you were thinking, drew the gun then pulled the rope, activating the targets. Quick shooting was required to get two hits on each target before they disappeared. I had a -1 and -3 hit on each, but at least got all four shots off and on paper.

I was pleased with my hits and time overall. Since I don't get much practice time on the range these days, each match is really a practice for the next. The match was a lot of fun, with some different challenges. It was also very efficiently and quickly run, our squad was done shooting by around 11:30. I found the "Classic Vinyl" station on the radio, turned it up loud, and had a pleasant drive home through the country side.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Warping the Calendar

The tap room at Sierra Nevada Brewing posted this to Twitter on July 21...

Despite the name, Oktoberfest actually starts in September, and we're used to seeing Oktoberfest in late Summer. But, July? That's just silly.

That said, I'm looking forward to trying this when it's available in stores, in August or September.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Beer, Good. Frosted Glass, Bad.

As I walked by the hotel lobby bar during a visit to Blacksburg this week I spied three tap handles; Hardywood Park Singel, Devils Backbone Vienna Lager and Foothills Hoppyum IPA. That was the entire draft lineup. "This will be good," I thought. I knew how I'd relax at the end of the day.

Late in the evening, as Colleen and I sat down for a late beer and snack, I noticed a Budweiser tap had been added but still, three out of four isn't bad. I was impressed. Then as our beers were set in front of us, we just looked at each other and shook our heads. Frosted glassware! Not just cool, but I can't even hold the glass iciness.

Foothills Hoppyum awaits the thaw

With such a fine selection, it was surprising to see how the beers were served. Obviously somebody is placing good beer in the lineup, but missed the memo about serving them. Buyer, brewers, distributor, somebody should care.

Anyway, once the ice melted, the glasses dried, and the lake that had formed on the bar mopped up, the beers were quite enjoyable. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Bier mit helium!

I laughed until my face hurt...

Yea, it was published on April 1, but it's too funny not to share.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Rivanna IDPA Match

Saturday morning I headed out to Charlottesville for the monthly Rivanna IDPA match. It was a hot and humid morning (i.e., Virginia, Summer) but tolerable. None of the stages required drawing from the holster, so no concealment garment was needed for the match, which was a nice treat given the temperature.

The first stage I shot had eight targets arranged behind various barrels in a V-shape. Starting at the center of the stage, you engaged the targets while retreating. The arrangement required swinging from side to side as you backed up, being careful not retreat past any unengaged targets.

The next course of fire had the targets set up in a narrow "alley" down the range. All targets required three hits, and no extra shots were permitted. You started with the gun in the week hand at low ready and engaged the left most target with three shots, weak hand only. The next target out was engaged strong hand only. Target #3 required head shots only, and the remaining three were shot freestyle. I was pretty pleased with this stage, although I missed one of the head shots.

Next up was a really interesting and fun stage. All targets were engaged while seated and required three hits on each. At the start you pushed back on a falling popper, putting a swinging non-threat into motion in front of three targets to be engaged in tactical sequence. After that, there were two almost hidden targets down range to take care of. I missed matching the cadence of the swinger and had to wait for it to pass at one point, but overall was happy this run.

The final stage consisted of just three targets in a line; the gun and all reloads were placed on a barrel in the center. The twist was that the targets were to be engaged in sequence with only two shots, three times through. If you reversed direction each pass, the shot count went 2-2-4-2-1-reload-3-2-2. I had to think about that one.

I was pleased with my scores and finished well, despite the one miss and a few -3 hits. It was a fun match with interesting shooting, and thinking, challenges. Working hard in the heat, the SO's kept everyone moving through the stages quickly and efficiently, and I was on the road home, with the A/C going full blast, around noon. There was plenty of time left in the day to mow the grass, dinner out with my wife, and of course relaxing with a good beer.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Naked Guy Likes Hams and Hamm's

This is taking your love for bacon, and beer, a bit too far.
MILLERSVILLE, Pa. (KRON) — A Pennsylvania man is facing a charges after a nearby farmer busted him in a barn having beers with his pigs. In the nude.

64-year-old Larry Henry told police, “I just like pigs” when they found him in the hog barn June 26 about 10:15 p.m.

According to the story, Henry was enjoying Hamm's beer.  I wasn't aware they still made Hamm's, but it's a MillerCoors product so not exactly on my radar.

See "‘I just like pigs’ naked man drinking beer arrested in barn" if you really want to read more.

Friday, July 17, 2015

These Quotes

"Do you really know what Islam is? There's this misconception that Islam is a violent religion. Muslims are actually peaceful."
-- Yasmeen Abdulazeez, sister of Chattanooga muslim terrorist, 2010

"Michelle and I hope today brings joy to all of your homes, both here in the U.S. and around the world. From my family to yours, Eid Mubarak!"
-- White House statement, just hours after the Chattanooga muslim terrorist attack

Cooling Off at Center of the Universe

After a quick and fun pistol match at Black Creek, I decided to stop by Center of the Universe Brewing in Ashland to cool down with some good beer. Even though I pass by the brewery fairly often, I haven't had a chance to stop in for a couple of years. COTU has a large outdoor patio, but I opted to sit at the bar, in the air conditioning. Hopefully any leftover, um, perspiration, wasn't picked up by the other patrons.

The first thing I noticed, to my relief, was the glassware. During my last visit, the beers were being served in plastic cups. I was happy to see proper glasses being used. I started out with the newly released 2015 Wort Share Session IPA. This 4.5% ABV ale was very tasty. The aroma was mild but citrusy. I was surprised by the fresh, "juicy" citrous flavor. The beer was very light bodied and refreshing. My glass was emptied quite quickly.

Wort Share Session IPA

As much as I enjoyed the Wort Share Session IPA, I was even more interested in trying another of the brewery's beers. I was intrigued by the Main St. Virginia Ale listed on the chalkboard. It's an Altbier, a style that I enjoy, but one which many breweries' attempts have often been disappointing. I've only had a sip of this one during the prior visit. The beer was not available on draft, only cans at this time. ("Yes, in a glass, thank you.") The beer poured a dark amber color with a beige head. The aroma was sweet malt and yeast. The flavor profile had a rich malt backbone, with grass, biscuit and grain notes with a pleasing bitter finish. No disappointment with this one!

Soon I was sufficiently "cooled down" from the pistol match and it was time to head for home. I was glad I made the time for the short detour. The beers I had at Center of the Universe were refreshing and quite well done. I just might have to make this a regular part of my mid-week shooting plans. Most of the COTU beers are available in cans, so at the very least, I'll be picking up some "to go" supplies.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Wednesday Fun Match

Instead of the normal weekly IDPA match at Black Creek, this week's event was designated a "fun match." This was done to make a short, quick event, in deference to the heat and humidity, and possibility of storms. Even though we shot in IDPA divisions the similarity ended there. Three plates racks were set in front of three "Q" style targets to create a stage shot in three strings.

For all strings the shooter started facing up range, hands above shoulders, gun holstered and loaded to division capacity. The first string required two hits on each paper in any order, and all the red plates knocked down. On string two, the three paper targets were engaged in tactical sequence, followed by the white plates. The final string required the paper to be shot in tactical priority and tactical sequence before knocking down the blue plates.

The narrow "down 0" area on the paper targets made for a nice challenge. It's also been a few years since I got to shoot at a plate rack. I needed a few make up shots on the first two attempts, but cleaned it the third time. Of course, that third run was when I had my only miss on paper! Overall though, I was pleased with my shooting.

Even though the match was short, total time shooting was just 48.3 seconds before penalties, it was still worth the trip. I had debated about going at first, but I had a good time shooting, and enjoyed getting in even that bit of range time. Since I can't get in much good practice due to restrictions at my local range, I'll take the opportunities I get. To top it off, on the way home I had time to stop by Center of the Universe Brewing to cool down with some good beer. And that's a story for another post.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Dinner, Beer and the Evening Parade

Friday evening we made our annual trek into Washington, DC to enjoy the Evening Parade at "8th and I," the Marine Barracks Washington. In order to avoid driving, and parking, in DC we make an extended travel routine; drive to the southern most Metro station, take the subway into the city, and walk the last few blocks. It's long and time consuming, but easy.

We plan our trip to include a leisurely dinner at Molly Malone's Saloon. The pub is directly across the street from the Marine barracks, which means we can relax and not worry about the time needed to arrive at the parade. It's also a chance to try out local beers.

I opted for a beer, and brewery, I was not familiar with, Rowdy Rye Beer from Atlas Brew Works. The beer pours a dark cola color with a tinge of caramel with a thin, but persistent beige head. The aroma is bready and sweet with a hint of citrus. An earthy flavor base combines toasted bread, peppery spice and a touch of sweetness. It's somewhat ESB-like. My light-fare dinner of grilled wings allowed me to squeeze in a second glass before heading over to the festivities at the Marine barracks.

The Evening Parade is an impressive event in an historic setting. The music and pageantry, and the precision drills, never fail to impress. Despite it being a July evening in the city, the temperature was not overly oppressive, and we even had a nice breeze on occasion.

After the long trip home, as with previous trips, I had to be up early in the morning to head out for a pistol match. Unfortunately heavy rains caused the cancellation of the event, but not before I was up and showered. I even went out to the rendezvous point where I was to meet some new shooters going to the match, in case they hadn't gotten the word. It was a disappointing turn of events as this was the second time in a week that my plans for shooting had been cancelled. Instead, I had a lazy Saturday at home; which I guess in itself is not all a bad thing.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Counting Change Is Hard

Everyone has stories to tell of kids working the cash register these days who can't make change, even when the computer tells them how much to give back. Here's a contender for the Hall of Shame.

I stopped by the local Rite Aid and made a purchase totaling $5.78, for which I handed the cashier a twenty dollar bill.

Register Dude: "Do you have 78 cents?"
Me: "No I do not."
RD: Hands me $15 and says, "I'll have to give you the last 4 dollars in quarters."
Me: Stares. 
RD: Starts counting out quarters...
Me: Stares some more...

Shaking my head I realize I have $5.00 in my wallet and some change in my car. I return the $15 and ask for my $20 and I say I'll get the exact change from my car. 

I return from the car and hand register dude $5.80 for my $5.78 purchase. He puts the money in the register, and...

I tell RD he only owns me 2 cents, and at this point he is totally lost. Fortunately the manager notices there's an issue and comes over. I tell her I appreciate the offer but I am not owed $20 in change. I got my 2 cents in change, and as I left the manager had not yet spoken, but was only looking at RD in disbelief. 

And this is why they have to put directions on shampoo bottles.

BadWolf Brewing Expansion Video

BadWolf Brewing in Manassas is nearing the end of a major expansion. Manassas' first nanobrewery is growing, in a big way. Starting with this:

And growing to this:

That the first brew on the new system is an ESB is exciting to me. It's one of my favorite styles, so I definitely need to plan a visit. Soon.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Five O'Clock Friday: To Each His Own

Received from a friend:
After a Beer Festival in London, all the brewery presidents decided to go out for a beer.

The guy from Corona sits down and says, "I would like the world's best beer, a Corona." The bartender dusts off a bottle from the shelf and gives it to him.

The guy from Budweiser says, "I'd like the best beer in the world, give me 'The King Of Beers,' a Budweiser." The bartender gives him one.

The guy from Coors says, "I'd like the only beer made with Rocky Mountain spring water, give me a Coors." He gets it.

The guy from Guinness sits down and says, "Give me a Coke." The bartender is a little taken aback, but gives him what he ordered.

The other brewery presidents look over at him and ask, "Why aren't you drinking a Guinness?"
The Guinness resident replies "Well, if you guys aren't drinking beer, neither will I."

Order well this weekend.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Spencer Devon Soleil Levant Witbier

We headed down to Spencer Devon Brewing Friday for dinner, and specifically to try out the new Soleil Levant Witbier being debuted that evening. I had read the release announcement and description posted the brewery's Facebook page, and was intrigued.
Members of two local homebrew clubs, the Fredericksburg Brewing Insiders and The Stafford Brewers Club, teamed up with our brewers to design, test, and brew this beer. We took a traditional wit recipe, which uses wheat and coriander, then added a little rye malt, some orange zest and hopped it with Azacca hops. The result is a crisp, slightly tart, mildly spiced, citrusy and tropical Witbier, the likes of which you've never tasted before.

There was a short queue for a table when we arrived, but while we waited a couple of seats opened at the bar. That being our seating preference we jumped to grabbed them and soon had our drinks in hand.

Soleil Levant pours a bright yellow-orange color, with a very thin head. The aroma is rich citrus over biscuit notes. I could detect the traditional wheat flavors, but they are topped and enhanced by juicy, tropical fruit notes; grapefruit, pineapple, with a hint of lemon zest in the background. The finish was clean with some lingering citrus flavor left behind.

The beer is very refreshing and flavorful. The ABV isn't noted in the description, but I'm guessing it's on the low end. We both opted for another glass of Soleil Levant Witbier with our meals. Colleen rarely has a second beer with dinner, but she opted to have another pint of this Summer beer. As for me, I lean towards the hoppy beers, and will typically order a Pale Ale or IPA, (Spencer Devon Lauck's Island IPA for example) but this Witbier had enough bold citrus flavor to satisfy me as well. The photo above was taken by Colleen when our second round was delivered.

We had a very enjoyable dinner while we enjoyed the beers. Spencer Devon is quickly becoming one of our favorite stops for good food and good beer.

In case you are wondering about the name, Soleil Levant is a tribute to the The Rising Sun Tavern, the oldest tavern in Fredericksburg.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Independence Weekend Range Time

After shooting two IDPA matches in the past week, the only shooting-related activity I had planned for the Independence weekend was gun cleaning. But then a friend texted Thursday evening asking if I wanted to hit the range Friday morning. As much as I prod my friends to practice, I really wasn't in a position to say "no."

We met early in the morning, and except for someone shooting what sounded like a cannon on the rifle range, we had the place to ourselves. No range officers to tell us we're shooting too fast, or remind us about target rules. (The latest decree from on high is that "Targets supported by wooden fabricated stands are less acceptable because of the debris that might be left.") We set up our "less acceptable" stands and had a couple hours of fun and good practice.

The end result of a good practice

Most of our range time consisted of drawing from the holster and firing one, two, or three hits on the target. After each mag's worth of shooting we moved to shoot a different distance, to mix it up a bit; shoot at 7 yards, move to 15, to 10, to 20, etc  That's about as much "training" we're allowed to do there. Despite the limits, we both still considered it a beneficial practice, and fun.

This was also chance to get more feel for shooting without my (now incorrect) prescription shooting glasses. It's a little odd to not see the targets and other distant objects clearly, but at the same time, it's quite thrilling to see the sights in sharp focus. With the old mono-focus prescription, I did need to squint the non-dominant eye when shooting from beyond 12-15 yards. Without any Rx, that's not necessary. Even with the out-of-focus targets, at 25 yards I was able to put 8 of 10 shots in the down 0 zone, with the remaining two in -1. (Disclaimer: Results in practice are no indication of future results in competition.)

I think I was able to shoot as accurately and as quickly, if not more so, than with the prescription inserts. Perhaps I've been forcing the issue in trying to see both distant and close up through my shooting glasses. Without my glasses I can see in the distance well-enough to find targets, and recognize people, although I wouldn't drive a car without them. Even fairly close in, I couldn't pick out the holes appearing in the target, but I was also usually aware when I pulled shot. I'm looking forward to more shooting and experimentation with vision and sight picture. (Fixed it.)

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Irony. And Oppression.

I have some fired brass to ship off to an ammo supplier for credit. So on the day we celebrate our Nation's independence I headed to the local post office to pick up a few Flat Rate boxes to prepare the shipment. I found it ironic, and extremely irritating, that in order to support an interest that is guaranteed by the 2nd amendment, I must give up that very same Constitutional right.

During the drive I was thinking about the people who promote, pass, and enforce limitations on the our liberties, especially the 1st and 2nd Amendments, and how they have willfully and consciously made a decision to ignore the Constitution of the United States. Their motives should worry free men.

Mood Music

Getting into the spirit of the day.

A little slow, but a noble effort.

I began my Independence weekend celebration at the range. The sounds were music to my ears, though they couldn't be described as melodic. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

These Old Eyes at the IDPA Match

I've written about my experiences with vision correction and shooting previously. It's been just over a year since I last updated the lenses in my shooting glasses and a regular eye exam about 3 months ago showed no significant change in my vision. However, recently I've begun see a less than sharp view of the sights when using the prescription inserts. Earlier this week during some dry fire it became abundantly clear (heh) that I wasn't seeing the front sight in focus. I wrote it off as being due to low room light, and I found the practice session went a lot better not wearing the Rx glasses.

At this Wednesday’s Black Creek IDPA match as I did a few practice draws in the safe area, even in the filtered sunlight, it was still difficult to see a outline of the front and rear sights. Removing the prescription insert from my glasses allowed a very sharp sight picture. I finally decided to shoot the match without the Rx inserts. Sure the targets were blurry, but they’re supposed to be with a proper sight picture, right?

The match went pretty well for me. As always, the match director made good use of the single shooting bay by using the same targets in multiple stages, and shooting them from different positions and with different requirements. Stage 1 started with the gun on a barrel, shooting six shots through a tunnel created by a sideways barrel and barricade combo, to a target with only the center portion available. One miss and one low shot left me 6 down. The narrow and blurred target zone gave me a good feeling of the vision challenge to expect on the rest of the match.

The next two stages involved shooting four targets from cover behind stacks of barrels and wooden wire spools. Each of the targets required 3 hits each. The shooting order and gun start location changed between the stages. There were options on how you engaged the targets, and most of the views were fairly limited.

The fourth and final stage made use of the entirety of targets and props that made up the first three courses of fire. There was an added twist of requiring a varied number of hits on the targets. We started at the first stage, and put a minimum of two hits on the narrow target through the barrel. Next, we advanced toward the positions used for stages 2 and 3. The right two targets required 3 hits each, and the last two on the left required 4 hits each. Positioning was interesting as there were numerous ways to shoot the stage, all the while keeping in mind cover and engagement order. I lost track of my shot count at the last position, between a reload and a quick malfunction clearance, so ended up putting extra shots on the targets. It all worked out in the end as I finished the stage down 0. 

It was a fun, but hot, match. I didn’t have time to shoot a second gun this time, but after the clean finish on the last stage it was good to stop while I was ahead! The lack of focus in the distance didn’t appear to have much of an effect, and by the end of the match, I didn’t really notice. I couldn’t see my hits on the targets but they say you should “call your shots” anyway and not look for the holes in cardboard. I’ve talked to some other shooters with distance correction who just accept the blur of targets in the distance when shooting. I’ll wait a bit before deciding if I need to update my prescription. I do especially like the idea of not looking through a double layer of lenses, and I found I didn't need squint my left eye to pick out the front sight. I recently switched to a fiber optic on the front sight which also helps in finding that front post.

Sometimes the limitation in shooting is the equipment, not the store-bought stuff, but the parts we are born with.