Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Year of Shooting IDPA

Even though I had dabbled in IDPA a few years ago, I’d switched to shooting USPSA matches almost exclusively for a few years. Regular readers may have noticed that my focus was on the IDPA game this year. At a match last Spring I was asked, "What brings you over to the dark side?" My quick answer was it was simply a desire to shoot more. It so happens that local IDPA matches fit my schedule better than the local USPSA events. There are also multiple weekday and weekend options for IDPA matches locally.

After a couple of matches I decided to shoot IDPA exclusively this year in order to concentrate on one set of rules. As I thought about it more, and shot many more matches over the summer, I found a renewed enjoyment in competitive shooting. Even though both organizations promote very similar handgun shooting sports, their focus is quite different.

I took up shooting for self defense reasons, my interest in competitive shooting came later. The IDPA founders intended IDPA to be self defense oriented, but I recognize it is still a game, a way to test skills while having fun. There are rules, there’s a timer, there's a score, and thankfully the "threats" don't shoot back. The rules, however imperfect, are intended to apply some defensive fundamentals in a way that can be standardized for competition. It appears that USPSA might be feeling the pressure to attract defensive shooters to their sport as well as they’ve now added a provisional division for "Carry Optics".

IDPA also updated their rulebook this past year, making some changes that helped attract me back to the sport. The rules on reloading your gun on the move became a bit more reasonable. The new Back Up Gun (BUG) and Compact Carry Pistol (CCP) divisions offer options to shoot different guns in the matches. (And provided an excuse to buy a new gun.) The equipment needs in general are much less intense than USPSA. If I have a new gun I want to shoot, three magazine and two mag carriers are just about all I need. I do like the option to be able to compete "as I carry." I will admit, that I usually play IDPA with a full size gun in an OWB Kydex holster and a custom fit concealment vest, rather than my day-to-day carry gun, IWB holster and untucked shirt. However I do plan to shoot in both CCP and BUG divisions in the coming year.

I managed to get to twenty-two local IDPA matches this year. That included weekend matches at Cavalier and Rivanna, as well as weekday matches at Black Creek and Colonial Shooting Academy. I often didn't feel like driving to the weekday matches after a day at work, or I probably would have shot even more.

After a few months, I'd gotten accustomed to the IDPA rules, and kept the cover and reload differences, and the rule against "air gunning" well in mind. It was a little longer before I stopped trying to "run 'n gun" and concentrated on getting the hits. It wasn't a bad season. Rivanna runs a year-long "Top 10" competition, and I managed three Top 10 finishes, ending up 12th overall at the end of the season. I never expected to make the cut, but still it was a bit of a motivator, even if it was a fluke.

I've already marked up my calendar with some regional IDPA matches in 2016 that I might try to attend in addition to local matches. I am still hoping my schedule will allow me to get to the local USPSA match from time to time. In the meantime, for my interests, and schedule, IDPA provides the game I am looking for. If that’s the “dark side” so be it.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Ballast Point Habanero Sculpin

A friend included this bottle of Ballast Point Habanero Sculpin as part of a Christmas goodie bag. I've been anxiously waiting for the chance to try it out. One of the benefits of a "staycation," besides not shaving everyday, is having the chance to relax with some good beer. I grabbed the bottle to try out before dinner one evening.

Habanero Sculpin has an aroma of fruit and citrus, with only a faint note of habanero. I was concerned as I had been told the heat level is variable. Would this bottle live up to the name? I need not have worried. The initial flavor is that of a nice, citrusy IPA, and then it hits — Habanero alert! The pepper heat comes in strong and unmistakable. It's exactly what one would experience from fresh habaneros. But it's a tasty, not destructive flavor. Interestingly, the heat does not linger long. After a minute or two, the habanero heat diminishes leaving the palate is ready for another sip.

I'm a fan of spicy food. If the top of my head doesn't sweat just a bit, I don't consider the food to be spicy. While I didn't break out in a sweat from the beer, I did get the impression of eating a habanero-laced dish. It was just a couple weeks ago I enjoyed another habanero-enhanced beer, Starr Hill Mango Genius. That beer had a more subtle heat, and was a perfect accompaniment to a spicy food dish. I enjoyed the Habanero Sculpin on it's own, and I think I prefer it that way. It's a novelty beer, and probably not one I'd drink several of in a sitting. That said, it's quite flavorful and enjoyable. I wouldn't hesitate to pick up a six pack if I see it in the store in the future.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Gabriel Possenti Shooters Range Trip

In what is now a holiday tradition, a bunch of us gathered at the range for the 2nd Annual St. Gabriel Possenti Shooters "Day After Christmas" celebration. The informal and wholly unorganized group of Catholic shooters paid homage to the Patron Saint of Handgunners by spending the morning enjoying talking about guns, politics, and of course, shooting.

I was especially looking forward to the event, as my son was coming along for the second weekend in a row, and so was Colleen. Plus I was trying a new gun that Santa dropped off! The day was unseasonably warm but wet, with a light mist in the air all morning. Our family arrived early and staked a claim on the pistol bay, setting up our target stands and loading magazines as we waited for the others to arrive. There were eight of us total, which made for lot of smoke and noise generation.

We had a variety of targets and guns to shoot. Everyone was very conscientious of safety and aware of other shooters. Besides all the paper targets, several of us brought shotgun clays which were placed on the berm as reactive targets. They were fun replacements for the now banned steel targets.

After a couple hours of shooting some folks headed for home, while four of us moved over to another range to shoot rifles for a bit. By this time the mist had progressed to a light rain, so we didn't stay long. Our timing was perfect though, as the rain started in force as we drove away from the range.

It was an exceptionally fun morning spent with good friends. We put many rounds down range, and enjoyed a lot of conversation and laughter. There's no small amount of mud to be cleaned out of the car, and time to be spent cleaning guns afterwards, but that's a small price to pay for good times with friends and family.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Overlords Require A Tribute

Last week, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring revoked the rights of millions of law-abiding citizens to carry concealed hand guns in Virginia. His accomplice in this egregious act is State Police Superintendent Steven Flaherty, a long-time anti-gun activist in his own right. In unilaterally revoking long-established reciprocal agreements with 25 states, this team of elitists, along with Governor McAuliffe, is ultimately attacking Virginia gun owners.

The end result of revoking reciprocity agreements is that Virginia gun owners will lose their rights to carry concealed in other states. This is a blatantly vindictive move against a population, who by and large, did not vote for the Governor or AG. There appears to be an additional motive behind this action as well. It turns out that visitors to Virginia can actually still conceal carry while in Virginia, as long as they pay an extra fee to the State Police.

Lest you think this is just coincidental, on the VA State Police Facebook page, the state's spokespeople wasted no time in "reminding" visitors that "out-of-state residents can readily apply for a Nonresident Concealed Handgun Permit in Virginia." That's right, if non-residents pay the Praetorians an extra tribute, they will be allowed to once again exercise the rights that were taken away by the very people collecting the tribute. The State Police are very protective of this fee they collect for "allowing" rights. Last year a proposed bill to recognize all out of state conceal carry permits was killed in the Senate Finance committee when Flaherty's organization claimed it would lose money should the bill pass.

Remember, if they don’t want you to have a gun its probably because they want to do something to you and you would use the gun to resist.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus
that the whole world should be enrolled.
This was the first enrollment, 
when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town.
And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth 
to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, 
because he was of the house and family of David, 
to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
While they were there,
the time came for her to have her child, 
and she gave birth to her firstborn son.
She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, 
because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields 
and keeping the night watch over their flock.
The angel of the Lord appeared to them 
and the glory of the Lord shone around them, 
and they were struck with great fear.
The angel said to them,
“Do not be afraid;
for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy 
that will be for all the people.
For today in the city of David 
a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.
And this will be a sign for you: 
you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes 
and lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel,
praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
-- Luke 2:1-14

May the joys and blessings of Christmas be yours, every day of the year.

The Church at Shepherds' Field, Bethlehem
Photo by Colleen, August 2010

Thursday, December 24, 2015

When a Man Sat in the Oval Office

President Ronald Reagan's Christmas address to the Nation on December 23, 1981.

Here was a man who never called for civilian disarmament, even after an assassination attempt on his life. 

Legend Winter White

I picked this one up last week to serve to some friends. Everyone seemed to enjoy it so much, I decided to kick off my holiday vacation this week with a glass of Legend Brewing's winter seasonal. Even though it's not my typical style preference, it was a good choice for some late evening relaxing.

Legend Brewing Winter White "Belgian Style Ale" pours a cloudy amber-orange color with a thin white head. The aroma contains hints of pepper, banana, bread, and a bit of yeast "funk." It's a pleasant but not overpowering combination.

The flavor is what is expected in a Witbier. There's a tingly carbonation that releases flavors of white pepper, lemon zest, banana and a touch of bread. Some subtle spice and citrus lingers in the end. The mouthfeel is moderately thick and leaves a sticky finish.

Legend is Virginia's oldest production craft brewery, established in 1994. I don't think they get as much attention as some of the newer craft breweries  —only their Brown Ale shows up with any regularity on local taps. The Winter White is enjoyable, though not complexly flavored beer  At just 5% ABV, it's refreshing and easy to sip. I can see keeping it on the list for our next holiday gathering.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Stockings Where Hung by the Chimney With Care

A few last minute chores and then I'm on holiday!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a very good night.

Found here: Shut Up And Take My Money.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Doing The Work Twice

Converted this...

to this.

Which overnight became this...

so we did it again.

At least I can laugh about it now.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Heavy Seas Deep Six

Last week I was picking up some beer for an evening with friends at our home. As I perused the aisles, I spied a cart of Heavy Seas Deep Six English Porter being unloaded in the store. I was shocked since I had just seen an email from Heavy Seas announcing the new beer the previous week, and hadn't expected to see it locally so soon. (In fact this sighting was two days before the official release party at the brewery.) Having long been a fan of Heavy Seas, I added a six pack to my shopping cart.

Deep Six pours a deep, dark brown color with a moderately thick cocoa head. I picked up rich aromas of dark chocolate and roasted coffee. Likewise in the flavor, dark roasted coffee and bitter chocolate, with hints of dark fruit, combine for a flavorful porter. The mouthfeel is creamy with a dry finish.

Deep Six English Porter is a great addition to the Heavy Seas lineup. There's plenty of bitterness and roasted malt, but at the same time the beer is smooth and mild. We quickly went through the six pack I picked up last week, so I think I'll make a return trip for more. This will be a good one to have on hand for the cool winter evenings.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Father and Son Range Time

Our son is home from college for a long Christmas break, and the fun times over the next month kicked off with an early morning visit to the range. It's been a while since we got to shoot together, so I was excited for this opportunity. It was a cold and breezy 30° as we set out our gear. At least we knew we'd be undisturbed as most "normal" people were probably home enjoying hot coffee still.

We started out on the pistol bay. Shoot a little bit, warm our hands, reload mags, warm our hands again, and shoot a little more. Despite not having been to the range in over a year, the kid shot quite well. I actually didn't put as many rounds down range as I had planned, as I was enjoying watching him shoot so much. After a while I handed him the brass bag and sent him off to pick up brass as I packed up the gear. No bending over for me this trip!

Despite the cold, we moved over to the rifle range for a bit. Neither of us had shot the AR in a long time. As expected, the boy was dead on with the rifle too. We didn't stay too long though. Even with a bit of sun peaking through the trees, it didn't help to warm things up at all.

Despite the cold, we had a great time. It's pleasing to me that hitting the range is enough to get a college kid, home on break, out of bed early on a cold Saturday morning. Arriving home, Colleen treated us all to a big omelet and bacon breakfast. I also enjoyed a couple mugs of hot coffee while we planned our next outing to the range.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Don't Be A Willing Victim

In practical terms, this only applies to local folks, but I'm joining other enthusiasts and putting this offer out there. If you're an upstanding American and ready to take responsibility for your own safety, and that of your loved ones, I will devote the time necessary to help you get started safely.

If you aren't quite ready to shoot yet, we can just talk about first, over a beer even. Of course, going to the range and buying a gun are only the first steps. I'm not a professional trainer. I'm just a guy who believes strongly in the 2nd Amendment, who believes people should stand up against crime and thugs, AND who also simply enjoys shooting. So once our introductory work is done, I will connect you with the experts who will help you get more training and become well-informed on self defense laws and the responsibilities of living an armed lifestyle. (If you aren't willing to do that, you probably aren't serious about the decision.) 

In my opinion, anyone who can legally and responsibly carry a gun and doesn't has already surrendered to criminals and thugs. Don't do that. The first box of ammo is on me.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Free Glasses From Sierra Nevada

Free stuff! A couple weeks ago I came across this offer from Sierra Nevada Brewing. In exchange for uploading a picture of Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, the brewery would send a couple of free glasses. Since I had just taken a photo my beer for the VA Tech celebration post, I uploaded it to the site as my entry. And I promptly forgot about it.

Lo and behold, the other day a package arrived and there were two nicely decorated Sierra Nevada Celebration glasses from Sierra Nevada. Time to celebrate with some Celebration, again!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Liberal Mindset

The office cleaning service is coming a day later than usual this week. One of the liberals in the office, the one with 2008 and 2012 obama stickers still on his Prius, is complaining that the trashcan by his desk stinks. He walks into my office and says, "I'm debating if I should empty my own trash." 

And thus is illustrated the entitlement mindset that got obama elected.

Celebrating Victimhood

The Fredericksburg Police Department held a gun "give back" this weekend. Because state law requires guns acquired through buy back events to be offered for sale to gun dealers, the slick city lawyers labeled the event a "give back" and arranged a donation to charity for each gun. Extending their twisting of words even further, the police department expressed joy that they "reclaimed" 32 guns during the event. They gloss over the fact that the guns [I assume] were never owned by the police department in the first place, so they weren't "given back" at all.

As one might easily guess, I found the whole idea of this event ludicrous. No thug is going to turn in his gun, so no guns being used for criminal acts were taken off the streets. One participant noted his gun had been sitting in a locked box for 10 years, yet he had a fear that the gun "would likely end up in an accident or used against me." This unfortunately is illustrative of the victim mentality of so many in this country. He admits that he is "no longer comfortable [he] could use it accurately." At the same time he is acknowledging that there are people who would willingly use a gun against him. So, instead of stepping up, getting the training to protect himself and his loved ones, he surrenders the gun and chooses to leave his family defenseless. Such a mindset makes me sad for society.

This event served no purpose other than helping clueless people feel good about themselves for doing nothing. 

Or I thought there was no purpose served, until I read this, 
“This way, they know the gun is out of harm’s way.” Sgt. Jim Kuebler, Fredericksburg police.
Well, heck, if we can get those poor innocent guns out of harm's way so they are in no danger, then I'm board!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Starr Hill Mango Genius

After an afternoon of stacking firewood and other yard chores, we decided to hit Capital Ale House for an early dinner on Sunday. (Or was it a late lunch?) While deciding on our beer selections, our server suggested a "mango habanero IPA from Starr Hill." I was intrigued but not convinced, so she offered a taster. After that I was convinced.

Some quick Google-fu at the bar helped me learn that the beer was called Mango Genius and was a collaborative effort with Brothers Brewing. The beer pours a bright golden color with a white head. The aroma is citrusy and fruit-like. Sipping the beer, the flavor is what I can best describe as tropical citrus "juiceness." The habanero makes its presence known at the end. A subtle warmth slowly comes into play in the finish. It never burns, but teases in the back of the throat.

This was an excellent suggestion and beer I'd definitely order again. In fact I did, to go along with a very spicy Mexicali salad. The salad, with copious raw jalapeƱos, went well with the "cooling" citrus fruit of the IPA. 

And that beer in the foreground? That's Colleen's glass of Heavy Seas Red Sky at Morning. This is a version of the brewery's delightful Red Sky at Night aged in Chardonnay barrels. Two excellent beers from two of our favorite breweries, with a Redskins win on the bar TVs, made for a enjoyable afternoon.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Your Government at Work

Department of Homeland Security. The bureaucrats charged with keeping you safe.

Kelli Ann Burriesci, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Screening Coordination Officer of Policy, Department of Homeland Security, appears to have ascended to her highest level of incompetence.

Or maybe her parents made a large donation to the obama campaign. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Sheriffs Who Get It

Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, AZ might be the most well-known and outspoken Sheriff who regularly shows his support for armed, law-abiding citizens. However, he is not alone in speaking out. I've noticed a frequent news item recently about these elected officials.

Sheriff Clarke: The 2nd Amendment Is Treated Like the Constitution’s Bastard Child
Milwaukee County, WI

Police Chief Craig: Armed Detroiters cut terror risk
Detroit, MI

New York Sheriff Urges Citizens to Carry Guns After San Bernardino Mass Shooting
Ulster County, NY

Second NY Sheriff Urges Licensed Gun Owners to Carry Their Weapons
Sullivan County, NY

Florida sheriff calls on people to be ready to take on terrorists themselves
Brevard County, FL

Missouri sheriff discounts concealed carry permits to encourage armed citizenry
Laclede County, MO

Boone County Sheriff Michael Helmig calls on concealed carry permit holders to always carry gun
Burlington County, KY

NY Sheriff Urges Concealed Permit Holders to Carry 'at All Times' to Fight Terrorism
Steuben County, NY

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple: Bad Guys Win “When We Live In Fear”, Promotes Concealed Carry In His County Alongside Training
Albany County, NY

We the people are the first line of defense against thugs and terrorists. Law enforcement is rarely present at the start of a violent crime, rather arriving after the fact to take a report and bag evidence. These gentlemen are to be commended for speaking out and showing that the safety of their constituents is their primary concern.

All that said, it's sad that a law enforcement officer declaring his support for the Constitution is considered "news."

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Governor McAuliffe Fights Gun Violence

A most excellent analysis:

Governor McAuliffe Creates Gun-Free Zones to Stop the Carnage in State Agency Buildings!

Richmond, December 4, 2015:  Virginia Governor McAuliffe, in order to stop all the continued bloodshed in state-agency buildings, has made an EMERGENCY regulation to ban guns in those buildings effective immediately!

The reasons this is an emergency action are numerous:

* There has been a horrendous and eye-popping ZERO shootings in state-agency buildings!  The Governor plans to fix that problem with this gun ban.

* Virginia’s 400,000 concealed handgun permit holders, with a pretty much ZERO PERCENT violent crime rate, are clearly a serious and ongoing threat to all of our state agencies!

*  Likewise, off-duty police officers, another proven group of untrustworthy, unbalanced, and potentially murderous time-bombs, could start shooting up state agencies because of long lines. Only on-duty police should be allowed to carry a gun!

*  Importantly, terrorists and active shooters have shown NO interest in violating gun-control laws by attacking in gun-free zones.  Gun-free government buildings are especially safe from attack!

*  Anyway, it’s far safer for citizens to be executed one-at-a-time than for those same citizens to have a gun to fight back with!  Why, somebody might get hurt!  Only the Governor’s 24/7 security team needs guns, as it goes without saying that some lives are much more important than others.

*  As a bonus, the Commonwealth has a glut of chalk used to draw lines around dead bodies.  This will reduce those inventories, saving space in the State Police headquarters building!

To the blood-thirsty naysayers of his gun ban, the Governor says:

* I am NOT paying back Michael Bloomberg’s million dollar campaign donation by pushing his major issue - more gun control!  That’s merely a coincidence.

* I am not pushing Hilary Clinton’s favorite issue - gun control - because I want to be Hillary Clinton’s Vice-Presidential running mate!  That’s merely a coincidence.

* I do have a thorough understanding of state gun laws!  I know, for example, that it is illegal for Virginians to own machine guns.

All hail the Governor for doing SOMETHING to make Virginia safe from those evil and dangerous concealed handgun permit holders and off-duty police officers, and making state-agency buildings SAFE for active shooters and terrorists!

H/T to VCDL.

More on the executive order signed by Bloomberg's puppet in Virginia.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Blinded By The Light

I opened the beer fridge Sunday evening and was momentarily blinded by a bright light. I was temporarily shocked and confused. "What is that?" I thought.

Then I realized, it was an empty shelf! That light bulb hasn't been visible in a very long time.

The second shelf is not looking so well-stocked either. I guess I have some shopping to do.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

More Cookies & Beer

As the sun went down Sunday afternoon, I cracked open a bottle of Flying Dog Fig and Fennel Stout. This is one of the beers in the Flying Dog Holiday pack of beers paired with Otterbein's cookies, that we started exploring a few weeks ago.

Per the brewery's directions, I first tried the stout with Otterbein's Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. The beer pours a deep brown with dark red hint. Extremely faint roasted and dark fruit aromas were present. The initial roasted malt flavor was followed by some citric tartness and a dry finish. I happen to like figs, so I was disappointed to not detect fig, or fennel notes, in the beer. Sampling the Oatmeal Raison cookies brought out some mild dark fruit notes, but the cookies were the best part of the pairing.

Coincidently. Colleen was also baking Chocolate Chip cookies as we tasted the Flying Dog beer. So naturally, I grabbed some fresh-from-the-oven cookies to try with the beer as well. The warm, milk chocolate in the homemade cookies moderated some of the bitterness of the stout.

The stout was acceptable, the Otterbein's cookies delightful, but neither beat the joy of the warm, homemade chocolate chip cookies. The beer gone, I decided I'd pair a couple of fresh cookies with a bowl of ice cream later, after all, it is the Feast of St. Nicholas.

The beer, and Otterbien's cookies, reviewed here were promotional samples from the brewery. My impressions are provided of my own free will.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

What? Me Worry?

Meme of the Week.

Here's wishing you a stress-free weekend!

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Gun Control Song

Arguing with "brain dead" leftists is pointless. It's more fun to laugh at their so-called "logic" instead.

And already they are calling the San Bernardino terrorist attacks a "wonderful opportunity... to make changes" to our gun-control laws. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Memories of "Plinking"

Last week over at the Brookston Beer Bulletin, Jay Brooks shared a story about the Targeteer Beer Can Launcher. This "toy" from the 1960's used .22 blanks to propel empty beer cans through the air. The post brought back memories of my youth. Many fun times were spent in the woods and gravel pits near my home shooting at cans (and bottles) with .22 caliber rifles and pistols, as well as air rifles and powerful slingshots.

Those were fun times, and reminiscing made me realize that I actually have no access to a place to just plink as an adult. All the ranges I go to forbid anything other than "real" targets — paper, clays,
 steel . Shooting at "trash" (and now steel) is strictly verboten.

I suspect the fun that comes from ringing steel targets is a holdover from those youthful plinking adventures. And perhaps those memories are also what made this "bottle" target so appealing.

More and more craft brewers are taking advantage of modern canning techniques these days, so if I did get out to plink, my target variety would certainly go beyond the rusty cans of my youthful adventures.