Saturday, December 31, 2016

Merry New Year!

If you choose to venture out tonight, be safe and be alert. I wish you all a healthy, prosperous, and blessed 2017. The future is certainly looking brighter for freedom-loving Americans than in recent years. Let's keep up the momentum in 2017!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Another Trip to the Range

It had only been a little over 24 hours since my son and I were at the range, but since I'm on a "staycation" I decided to squeeze in another outing yesterday. This time I opted to visit the local indoor range in order to get in some practice doing quick followup shots. Where we shoot outdoors, we are allowed to draw from the holster and even shoot on the move, however the rules call for a couple seconds or more between shots; the actual required delay depending on the whim of the range officer. One can't draw or move indoors, but you can shoot fast if desired — go figure.

I had a short wait to get checked in at the range, as the proprietor was processing paperwork and explaining the rules to first timers. It seemed there were a lot of Christmas guns in play, as well as apparent first time shooters. That time was spent observing and sizing up the other folks using the range.

I set out my target between 7 and 10 yards, and varied the number of shots in the fast followup from one to four, depending on how I felt. Shooting in the low light of the indoor range added to the challenge, and I frequently brought my target in to check the hits. I was pleased to see decent groups, at least keeping all the hits within the -0 zone of my practice IDPA target. Eventually I grew tired of hunting down the lone range stapler to change my target, and switched to using some stick-on splatter targets.

Shooting at the indoor range is seldom without some paranoia on my part. I keep an eye on the other targets around me to see how accurate the folks in neighboring lanes are being. I step out of my lane regularly just to see who's around and what they are doing. Watching a woman enter the range and adjust her hearing protection with the same hand holding her rental gun was a gut-wrenching moment. Despite some distractions, it was an enjoyable time. I go through ammo much faster than at the outdoor range with it's multi-second shot delay rule, but still found the practice beneficial, and fun.

After I finished shooting, I used my phone to go online and check out Facebook statuses of some local breweries with new beers I wanted to try. I figured I go have a beer somewhere. (Vacation, remember?) Sadly they were all closed for at least another hour. I guess that's the drawback of being off during the week. Not wanting to wait around, I headed home to raid my own beer fridge.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Annual "Day After Christmas" Range Trip

For the third year in row, a group of us gathered at the range the morning after Christmas for a bit of shooting fun. We had a smaller crowd than in years past; just two friends, my son and myself. (The rest of you missed a good time.)

I packed three different pistols that my son and I took turns shooting. He's been mostly a rifle shooter, but now that he's approaching the age when he can buy a handgun, it's a becoming a more pertinent topic. I suspect before long he'll be outshooting me with the pistol too. As a good dad, I'm working on his appreciation of SIG Sauer craftsmanship. 😀

We enjoyed about an hour of shooting before a large family showed up and wanted to share the range. When it comes to strangers at the range I'm anti-social, so we packed up the gear and let the new folks have the range. We had brought along the rifles too, but the rifle range was full by this time. The boy has a long break before he heads back to school, so I'm looking forward to shooting more in the coming weeks.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas

The first Christmas gift received today was the joy of sleeping in. We celebrated at the Midnight Mass, so the extra sleep was welcome and appreciated. I am sure the rest of the day will entail good food, good drink, and even an extra nap or two. I hope your day is as wonderful.

I wish you all a joyful and holy Christmas. May the joy of the season remain with you all year long.

Birthplace of Jesus, Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem
Photo by Colleen, August 2010
Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Christmas Childhood Favorite

"And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more."

Monday, December 12, 2016

Seasonal Chores, Gun Range, and Craft Beer

Yea, pretty much a typical weekend.

Our weekend was focused on getting the Christmas lights hung. But first, I needed to trim some of the shrubbery in front of the house — there always seems to be a "pre-chore" to the chores. That led to blowing leaves out of the beds, which led to blowing leaves out of the rest of the yard.

Finally, it was time actually get to the lights. Hmm, that string doesn't light. Wait, this one only lights halfway. I have to wonder, how do Christmas light strings go bad between packing them up in January and unpacking them in December? So, it's off to the hardware store for more lights in order to finish the task. I must say, it looks good once we're finally done so it was worth all the extra work.

After Mass on Sunday, Colleen asked "Are you going to the range?" I hesitate and she tells me she's going to do more decorating. "So you should go," she says. Who am I to argue?

I packed up the little Walther .380 that I'm considering shooting in IDPA BUG matches next year. I've not shot it in a few years, so figure it'll be fun. Anticipating the sting, I jerked the first shot, but the next 11 from 7 yards were right on.

I ended up putting 50 rounds through the little gun, shooting from 7-15 yards. I was pretty pleased, even if I did walk away with a bit of blood on the web of my hand. The tang on the handle digs in a bit. It's not too bad, but 50 rounds was enough "fun" with that gun. A bit more shooting with the SIG P226 rounded out the quick trip.

Returning home, it was time to sort through more extension cords and finish the window candles. That task completed, we decided to head over to Harry's Alehouse for a snack, and a beer or two. Having this place so close to home is going to be detrimental to my wallet, and my waistline. We opted for a couple appetizers; Pulled Pork Tostadas and Grilled Texas Wings. Either appetizer would make a full meal, and the tostadas were especially tasty.

Founders Nitro Oatmeal Stout &
Stone Enjoy By 12.25.16 Unfiltered IPA (Virginia Prototype)

Standing outside admiring the lights on the house Sunday evening, it truly seemed like winter. It felt cooler than the 37° shown on the wall thermometer, and is but a preview of the weather to come. The trips to the range may be less frequent, but at least it's always warm at the pub.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Five O'Clock Friday: Stormtrooper "Pew Pew"

In lieu of actual shooting content, I present this for your enjoyment...

Hope you hit your target this weekend!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Harry's Alehouse

After what seemed a long wait, Harry’s Alehouse finally opened a couple weeks ago. We made two visits to Harry’s last week, and excepting a couple minor hiccups, we liked what we found. Our first visit was for a weeknight dinner, and we opted to sit in the dining room. Harry’s features 24 rotating taps, and I was most interested in seeing what sort of variety would be offered. Our waiter reviewed the menu with us, pointing out beers that were sold out, and ones that had been added. I made my selection, only to have the waiter return minutes later to tell me it was no longer available. Another selection made, and another selection reported out. After the third time, a manager came to the table with a couple samples of other beers, and offered a sincere apology. The beers were turning over more quickly than the staff could keep up. I ended up with a very tasty beer, Space Cake IPA from Clown Shoes Brewing, and chalked the miscues up to opening pains and trying to sort out inventory. To be fair, Colleen got her first pick of beer.

Sierra Nevada Celebration & Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout on Nitro

After a delicious appetizer of a Fried Green Tomato Stack, we both opted to try a couple of the burger varieties for our main course. The burgers were quite flavorful and served with crispy hand cut fries. After dinner, we loitered awhile over our beers, and vowed to return.

We paid another visit this past Sunday, this time taking seats at the bar. As the bar area is our preferred seating at any pub, we took note of the ample seating space, the wide bar, comfortable foot curb, and to Colleen’s delight, a hefty purse hook. Since our last visit, Harry’s had modified their beer menu, adding boxes so tapped out beers could be marked and newly tapped beers in the “upcoming” section could be marked as available. This made making my choice much easier. The Big Papi IPA from Commonwealth Brewing Company served as an introduction to a brewery I had not tried previously. Harry’s is a verified Untapped venue, and I suggested to the bartender they make use of that and display an electronic “live” tap list. He let me know that they are doing that now, but the TV screen was currently in use for Sunday football. When I last checked on Untapped, the list was a few days old, so on another visit I’ll check on how well it’s working.

This visit Colleen and I shared a Bavarian Pretzel with Cheddar Beer Dip. We devoured that appetizer quickly, with plenty of cheese sauce left over. We opted to save the remaining sauce for dipping the fries which we knew were to come with our meals. We both opted for sandwiches this time; Colleen picked a Shrimp Po' Boy, and my selection was a Beer Fish Sandwich. Once again we found the food to be well-prepared, tasty, and of generous proportion.

Oskar Blues Death By Coconut Porter & Commonwealth Brewing Big Papi IPA

The staff at Harry’s is quite friendly, and our service has been prompt. The beer selection is limited to drafts currently, and they have a pretty decent selection of American craft beer. For those opposed to drinking beer with flavor, they also currently list both Bud Light and Miller Light, which seems redundant and a waste of at least one draft line. 😉 Most of the beers are offered in 12 ounce servings, rather than pints. (I wish more American pubs would offer the pint and half pint options we enjoyed in Ireland.) In my opinion, the price point on the craft drafts is a bit high; ranging from $6.00 - $11.00 a glass during our visits. On the plus side, Harry's does seem to be offering some selections not commonly seen in the area.

After much anticipation, we are excited to finally have another local option for enjoying good beer and food. The food is reasonably priced, and there’s quite a variety of what I consider to be good “pub grub.” Everything we’ve tried so far was, simply put, delicious. The service has been attentive and friendly in both the dining room and at the bar. We've long lamented the dearth of good dining and drinking establishments on this side of town. Harry’s Alehouse is a welcome addition to our neck of the woods, and I look forward to more visits and seeing what the future holds as they become more established. I expect we'll become "regulars" at Harry's.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Traditions of the Feast of St. Nicholas

Today, December 6 is the Feast day of St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra. St. Nicholas, was a wealthy and generous man. His generosity towards others led to him being the inspiration for the tradition of Santa Claus and gift giving. He is also one of several Patron Saints of brewing. It's not entirely clear why Nicholas was chosen as a Patron Saint of brewing. Tradition states that Nicholas was having a beer at an inn where the inn keeper had murdered three boys and packed their bodies in a barrel of brine. Nicholas was offered some salted meat with his beer. Due to a local shortage of food, Nicholas became suspicious, found the bodies, and brought the boys back to life. He died on December 6, 345 A.D. or 352 A.D.

Inspired by this feast day, is Samichlaus Bier. Samichlaus is an 14% ABV doppelbock that at one time was billed as the world's strongest beer. The name means "Santa Claus" in the Swiss-German dialect of Zürich. Brewed only on December 6 of each year, the beer is aged for almost a year and released in time for the following year's feast day. Samichlaus was originally brewed by Brauerei Hürlimann, and later by Feldschlösschen Brewery. It is currently produced by Schloss Eggenberg of Switzerland.

We have a tradition of opening an aged bottle of Samichlaus Bier on the evening of December 6. Tonight I'll dig through the boxes in the cellar and find something old to enjoy. Even if you can't get your hands on Samichlaus Bier, raise a pint to St. Nicholas today for his generosity and the traditions of giving he inspired.

Another tradition surrounding this Feast involves children leaving their shoes out the evening before, and St. Nicholas would fill them treats such as candies or fruits so the children know he had visited. It is from this tradition that we get the Christmas stocking.

Big kids sometimes get treats too.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Holes in Paper

I know many readers of these Musings will understand the satisfaction of an afternoon on the range. Personally, I find it a relaxing diversion. This afternoon, after yard work and errands, I was able to get in a quick visit to the range before it got dark.

In playing around with my cell phone camera, I realized there was something mesmerizing about the holes in the target too.

There were no drills or intense training involved, just loading mags and shooting — some slow, some fast, at 15 yards to keep it interesting. I put 200 rounds down range, enjoying the satisfaction of not thinking about anything but the shooting.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Flying Dog Sea Salt Caramel Brown

As is often my first thought when I see a new Flying Dog "Brewhouse Rarities" beer, when I picked up Sea Salt Caramel Brown I wondered just what sort of flavor experience the brewery had come up with this time. I do love caramel. And salt. And ale. So, we'll see...

The beer pours the deepest brown color with a beige, frothy head. The aroma is quite strong, with caramel, toasted bread and a distinctive saltiness. The flavor brings more of the same. There’s also a notable alcohol warming aspect, almost like sherry, that is more than expected from the moderate 7% ABV. The beer has a thick mouthfeel and a dry finish.

Sea Salt Caramel Brown paired well with a Hot German Potato Salad and Sausage skillet dish Colleen made for dinner. I found it to be an interesting and enjoyable beer. It reminded me of one of those rich, boozy, desserts one might order after a fancy dinner out. Like such a treat, one in a sitting was sufficient for me.

This review was made on an unsolicited sample from the brewery. The drinking was done of my own free will.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanksgiving Day Range Trip

In what's become an annual tradition, I was able to enjoy a trip to the range on Thanksgiving. This time was made even more special since my son, who was home from college, came along for the fun.

The early weather predictions were calling for cool weather with rain on during the day, but it turned out to be a beautiful day; sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-60°. We couldn't have asked for much better on a November afternoon. Even with the good weather, we had the pistol range to ourselves.

A Thanksgiving Table

We spent a couple hours shooting and talking. What a great Thanksgiving treat to spend some time with him, doing something we both enjoy. It was a most enjoyable afternoon that left me with a smile the rest of the day — so much so I even volunteered to clean the guns afterwards.

We're already making shooting plans for Christmas break.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Classic Thanksgiving Humor

This one never gets old.

"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."

Happy Thanksgiving

Today is the day Americans set aside to give thanks for the many graces and gifts that bless our lives. Thought, deleting the dozens of emails this morning promoting "3 Day Black Friday Deals" makes me hope that people are still taking time to remember the reason for the holiday. (Though I did take advantage of some good ammo deals.)

For myself, I am thankful for my wonderful and loving family, for the freedom to worship as I choose, for true friends, and for a roof over my head, food on the table, for this great country, and much, much more. These are things I am thankful for every day, not just on the fourth Thursday of November. To be truly thankful is to be aware of our many blessings everyday. But today, I'll try to think about those gifts just a little more. Let's also keep in mind those selfless Americans who are separated from their loved ones while working to defend our freedoms.

I wish everyone a safe and peaceful day.

"Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me 'to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.'"
-- George Washington, National Day of Thanksgiving Proclamation, October 3, 1789

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Remembering Blessed Miguel Pro

[Reposted from November 23, 2013.]

November 23 is the Feast Day of Blessed Miguel Pro. Born on January 13, 1891, in Guadalupe, Mexico, Miguel Pro was ordained a Jesuit priest in Belgium in 1925. He returned to his home country in 1926, in the midst of that country's Cristeros War. After being falsely accused of an attempted bombing, Father Pro was executed by government forces without trial

Blessed Miguel Pro's final request was to be allowed to pray to his heavenly Father.

After which he refused a blindfold and faced the firing squad bravely, proclaiming ¡Viva Cristo Rey!

Father Pro's executioners initially failed at their task, and the deed was finished at point blank range.

I am saddened, but hardly surprised, at the ignorance of the American public regarding the persecution of Catholics, and of the Cristero War that took place in Mexico in 1926 through 1929. Some 250,000 people lost their lives in a persecution that was supported by the government of the United States with both funds and air support. Given the ever-growing intolerance towards Christians, especially Catholics, in the United States, we would do well to remember.

Christ the King, by the intercession of Blessed Miguel Pro, I beg you to answer my prayers. Give me the grace and the strength necessary to follow your heroic example and to live my Catholic faith in spite of all temptations and adversities. Amen.

Images from Wikipedia.

Monday, November 21, 2016

November Rivanna IDPA Match

This weekend was the final IDPA match of the year at Rivanna. It was also the annual Top 10 match where the Top 10 shooters from the year compete to determine the top shooter of the year. The Top 10 shoot as a group and the rest of us watch while they shoot through.

All four stages at this match were stages which were shot previously during the year, and they were all memorable. Stage 1 started us seated with the loaded gun and all mags on a table. Seven targets were arranged in front of us, to be shot in tactical sequence. One target was placed much further down range than the others to break up the rhythm. It was a fun fast stage, one that I completed -0.

Moving on to Stage 2 we found a stage I remember well from an earlier match. There were three targets engaged while backing up. Then moving behind a wall, we dropped to a prone position and shot through a ground-level port. In that opening we found three open targets, two more targets partially blocked by a non-threat, and two steel plates placed right in front of non-threat targets. I recall shooting the plates successfully previously, which added to the pressure to repeat that feat. In the end, it all worked out, and I shot this challenging stage just -2.

The third stage tested our shooting from behind low cover with eight targets that were all reduced by hard cover and non-threats. The targets were to be engaged in tactical sequence. After my reload I was momentarily confused as to were I left off, but picked up again without skipping a target. I was -5 on the stage, though given the tight shots was not overly disappointed.

The final stage I recall from last month, when we shot it in the opposite direction. This stage started on the right side with three targets shot in tactical sequence. We them moved to the center to engage two targets from cover with two body and one head shot. These two targets were partially blocked by high non-threats, which made getting the body shots a challenge. The final left side position was another tactical sequence group of three targets. This was another -0 stage for me.

There were only 5 shooters on our squad and we moved through the stages quickly. We completed our stages before the Top 10 squad caught up to us. We never had to pause to let them shoot through, but we also didn't get to see the top guys shooting the stages.

I was very happy with how I shot a this match. My accuracy was good — no misses and no hits on non-threats — and I felt that I shot at a decent pace too. In SSP - Sharpshooter I finished first, and despite not qualifying for the Top 10 squad, managed a 7th place finish overall. The combination of interesting stages, good weather, and fun folks to shoot with, made for a great wrap to the season at Rivanna. I think I may be able to get to one more match in 2016, but if I don't, this certainly makes a great finish for the year.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

How Much Longer?

I can't help but wonder, how much longer will good people continue to stand by and watch their neighborhoods burn? How much looting and destruction will hard working shopkeepers tolerate? How many more flash mobs will attack innocents before people start fighting back? How much longer will righteous people stand by and watch anarchists violently oppose free elections?

Good men can only be pushed so far...

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

This Text Made My Day

I'm sitting in endless meetings when Colleen sends a text message...

Suddenly the day seems so much brighter.

Monday, November 14, 2016

There's Always More Virginia Beer To Try

When I'm out for a beer, or two, I always look for beers from Virginia breweries, putting my focus on ones I've not tried previously. With well over 200 breweries in operation in Virginia, that search is generally successful. Yet, I am still amazed at the number of new beers consistently showing up on the menus at my favorite craft beer haunts.

This weekend Colleen and I stopped by Capital Ale House on Sunday afternoon. Perusing the draft list, I was faced with numerous options from Virginia breweries. I settled right away on VIPA Virgindia Pale Ale from Hardywood Park Craft Brewery. This is a very tasty, citrusy IPA brewed with local ingredients; "Virginia-grown hops from Piedmont Hops, LLC, Huguenot Hops and Misty Mill Hops at Rockmill Farm, as well as two-row barley grown by Bay's Best Feed in Heathsville, VA and malted at Copper Fox Distillery in Sperryville, VA." How good was it?  When Colleen took a sip from my glass, she asked. "Can we get this in the store?"  (Yes, we can.)

As tempted as I was to enjoy another pint of VIPA, there's alway another Virginia beer to try. In this case, it was Christmas In June from Fair Winds Brewing Company. This hoppy lager features a tropical citrus and pine flavors balanced by grassy bitterness in the finish. This is only the third beer I've had from the brewery, but I've yet to be disappointed. One of these days we need to make the trek up I-95 to Lorton and pay them a visit. 

There were still more Virginia beers listed on the menu, including a few more I've not tried. Those were left for another outing. Fortunately, there's will always be more interesting Virginia craft beers to try.

Saturday, November 12, 2016


The precious snowflakes have, quite appropriately, chosen a diaper pin as their symbol of unity. I'll rely on another sort of "safety pin."

Friday, November 11, 2016

Veterans Day

Today, the nation pauses today to offer thanks to our veterans. Unfortunately, the past few years have seen growing disrespect and neglect of our veterans, a trend headed by the left and the outgoing administration. Despite the ramblings of this ingrate population segment, the times are changing. All veterans should know that there are those of us who remember, and appreciate, your service. Our nation is forever in your debt.

Cheers veterans!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

At Least There's Airsoft

I'm no fan of winter, especially the shorter days. But even before winter arrives, the range days are even shorter. For reasons known only to those who make the rules, the range closes at 4:00PM once Daylight Savings Time ends. This despite the fact that, today for example, sunset is not until 5:03, with last light at 5:31 —plenty of time to shoot.

It's been two weeks since I made it out to the range, so to help make up for that, I decided to shoot the air soft gun for a bit. Setting up a target in the back yard, I looked to see how visible I was to the neighbors. Fortunately, there are still plenty of leaves on the trees to keep me hidden, for now.

I practiced from various distances in the yard, shooting while moving for most of the time. I noticed that the holes the BBs made in the paper closed up and were near impossible to see. At least that matches my shooting with the real gun, since I can't make out the bullet holes out past 7-10 yards anyway. Interestingly, I did note the difference in the sound made when the hits where in the center of the paper, where the cardboard backer was open, and the sound made when they hit cardboard too. That gave me some feedback on how I was doing.

Shooting the airsoft gun is enjoyable, though not nearly as fun as shooting the real thing, but it's something to do. Given the restrictive range hours, and shorter days, I suspect it'll make up much of my practice in the coming months. Maybe I'll even try some low-light shooting soon.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Friday, November 4, 2016

Five O'Clock Friday: Be Early This Weekend

It's that time of the year when we screw up outdoor activities, like range trips, once again.

I hate it, but will have to go along I suppose.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Ammo Review - Winchester USA Forged

A couple weeks ago I was contacted by Ammo To Go, asking if I'd be interested in doing an ammo review. They offered to send some Winchester USA Forged ammo, a product with which I was not familiar. Checking out the description online, I learned this was a new steel-cased ammo with conventional brass jacketed lead core (FMJ) bullets, that is intended to be a budget option for shooters.

This also put me in a quandary. I haven't and don't shoot steel cased ammo. The Tula/Wolf steel ammo we typically see is Russian-made and of dubious quality in my opinion, and that of others as well. (I also recycle my brass casings to help with the shooting budget.) However, the Winchester ammo is American-made, from a respected company, and made with what seem to be quality components. And this offer from Ammo To Go was cost-free way to learn about it.

Ammo To Go sent along 300 rounds of 115 grain 9mm USA Forged ammo, and they included a few boxes of the familiar Winchester "White Box" 9mm for comparison. Colleen and I took the ammo out to the range over the weekend to try it out. We brought along a variety guns in which to trial the ammo; a SIG Sauer P226, a SIG Sauer P239, and the Smith & Wesson Shield.

Let the testing begin
The first thing we noticed, while loading magazines, was that the coating on the steel cases rubs off quite readily, and our fingers we coated in black in short order. I believe this to be typical of steel-cased ammo. I've loaded some dirty "traditional" ammo in the past, but this exceeded anything in my prior experience. When being cleaned later, the guns seemed extra dirty, but the cleaning was no more difficult than that done after any range outing.

But our real interest was in the shooting. We started out by firing a magazine's worth out of each weapon, simply to see how the ammo fired. Since we experienced no failures or malfunctions of any type, we loaded up more magazines and started shooting our typical range routines. We did most of the shooting from about seven yards, and could see no variation from the groups we typically experience in practice. Shooting into an IDPA target from 15 yards gave me 7 hits in the -0 zone, with three just outside -- again about par for me.

I shot some of the White Box ammo to see if I noticed any difference between the two. I had an impression in my mind that the USA Forged ammo was ever so slightly softer shooting. However, when I loaded a magazine with alternating rounds, I was hard pressed to note any difference in either recoil or accuracy.

No issues there
We did not use a chronograph, shoot from a rest, or into ballistic gel or phone books for this review. Our intent was to shoot like we would at any range outing, and note our experiences. Other than the dirt on our hands, this outing no different than any other. The Winchester USA Forged ammo shot reliably and without any issues. I prefer a heavier bullet for competition, but this is a perfectly acceptable option for practice and "recreational" shooting. Searching for the steel cases in the range gravel was a bit of a challenge admittedly.

As I am sure most will agree, ammunition supplies will likely become more restricted and more expensive in the near future. Because of that I regularly purchase ammo in bulk, to stock the secret bunker, and as a hedge towards future issues. With that regular purchase routine, fluctuations in prices and stock are very apparent to me. As such I keep a watchful eye for options and price breaks, and have list of manufacturers and suppliers I check regularly. Although perhaps not my first pick, in a shortage I'd be willing to purchase the Winchester USA Forged ammo in order to keep my own "stash" full. Options are good to have, especially if you don't mind cleaning your guns.

Notice: The ammo reviewed in this post was provided at no charge by Ammo to Go. The content of the review was written with no compensation or influence from them or Winchester. The only benefit derived by the writer was a fun afternoon at the range with his wife.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A Better Way To Halloween

Rather than spend the evening getting up repeatedly to answer the door bell for the trick or treaters, this year we set up the portable fire pit at the end of the driveway. With a supply of wood, candy, and some Blue Mountain Kölsch 151, we were ready for the hordes to descend.

The long driveways and spread out houses mean the kids arrive in groups, generally hauled in decorated utility trailers pulled behind cars. The ebb and flow of visitors meant we had a lot of time to sit quietly and enjoy the fire.

Once it got dark, we had three cars in a row drive by without stopping. Perhaps they thought we were merely sentries guarding the homestead. I set a lantern on the table with the candy bowl, and that seemed to allay any questions on whether we were "open" or not.

After a couple hours, the trick or treating stopped. We doused the lantern and watched the fire die down. It was, I thought, an exceptional way to spend an evening.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Sunday at Spencer Devon

What better way to cap off a pleasant Sunday, indeed the weekend, than with some good beer? After a couple range trips the past week, I spent time Sunday afternoon doing some overdue gun cleaning. Then it was time for the reward of good beer. Colleen and I haven't been to Spencer Devon in quite a while, so that was our choice for this Sunday outing.

There were a number of new beers on the menu since our last visit, so we took time to peruse the beer list before deciding. I eventually settled on Market Square Kettle-Sour IPA. This is an interesting citrusy IPA with a funky, tart accent. It actually took a few sips for my palate to adjust, but then the beer went down quit smoothly, and quickly. Colleen ordered another unique beer, the La Guerre Rouge Saison. I hadn't paid attention to the description before she ordered, and was surprised to see the dark red liquid placed before her. In truth, I initially thought our beers had been switched. I stole more than one sip from her glass.

Of course we ate too. After I finished a hearty bowl of shrimp & grits, and Colleen enjoyed a mushroom and spinach omelet, we decided to try out a couple more of the new Spencer Devon beers. This time Snead's Squash Harvest Ale, brewed with locally grown squash for me, and Hazel Run Dubbel for Colleen. The Harvest Ale had an unusual, but enjoyable roasted and nutty flavor.

As we were finishing, owner Shawn came by to chat. We were talking about Spencer Devon's win of a Bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival this year. The medal is not yet on display, but Shawn asked. "Do you want to see it?" Of course, we did.

Shawn is rightly proud of Spencer Devon's recognition at GABF. This is the first time a Fredericksburg area brewery has garnered such prestigious recognition. The kudos are well-deserved and we look forward to more acclaim for local beers as the craft beer scene continues to grow in the region.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Five O'Clock Friday: Winter Prep

If anything can get you through the flu, it's Twizzlers.

Click to embiggen

Thanks Staples.

Rainy Day Range Trip

As I sat at my desk yesterday finishing up some work before a planned range trip, I was pulled out of my stupor concentration by the sound of thunder and heavy rain. I thought, "That could put a damper on things." But the thunder and lightening soon stopped, leaving only a moderate rain coming down. “That’s better.” A little rain rarely stops us. Soon, Colleen, 'Checkered Flag' and I were at the range for some overdue practice and fun times.

We're fans of using different target types, just to add variety and fun to our outings. This time 'Checkered Flag' had brought along some new targets he had found. The "Essentials Target" from RE Factor Tactical has a range of aiming points that can be used in for a variety of challenges. There’s a drill that’s designed to go along with the target, but we opted to do our own thing.

Colleen was spot on

We did all our shooting from the 7 yard line this day. The focus was to be on accuracy, and ease of brass pickup in the rain. We started out shooting the corner circles, either singly or alternating back and forth. Then we moved through the various sized shapes, and included some single hand shooting as well.

We all avoided calling for hits on the tiny #15 square, until it was the only non-shot number left on the targets. "There’s no avoiding now" I thought. It’s odd that when you shoot a 1 inch target how awful a slightly missed shot seems, even if the whole group is still only about an inch wide.

One of the fun drills we used to challenge ourselves, was shooting the number 1 - 6 circles in a single string, moving through each circle in order and back again. At the end of our range trips, we typically save the last few magazines for "do your own thing," rather than any formal drills. I used my last three magazines to shoot those 6 circles, in one long string, trying to speed up after each mag change. Only 2 of the 30 shots fell (barely) outside the intended circle. It was a fun way to wrap up an afternoon of shooting in the rain.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

"Walking Dead" IDPA at Cavalier

Last weekend, the monthly Cavalier IDPA match took on a seasonal theme and the stages were based on the Walking Dead TV show. Since I've never watched the show, much of the meaning behind the props was lost on me. (Me to the SO: "Does the 'W' on the head of the target mean something special?") But that didn't reduce the fun to be had.

Gloves were a last minute addition to my range bag in the morning. I certainly needed them while waiting for the match to start. The temperature quickly rose as the morning progressed; I shot the first few stages wearing a fleece jacket, before switching to a vest for the final stages. All in all, it was just about perfect shooting weather.

The folks putting on the match went all out, adding Walking Dead-based signage, body parts, and blood throughout the eight stages of the match. More importantly, the stages were a blast to shoot. Several of the bays held stages providing two courses of fire. We took extra mags to the line, and shot both courses of fire at once. This really sped up the match and kept things moving.

The first stage our squad shot was made up of two quick strings, which provided a quick warm up for the more complex courses of fire to come. For the first, we started holding a pull behind “stretcher” and engaged three nearby targets in tactical sequence. Moving to the next position, we knelt by a "bloody body” with the gun on the ground, then engaged four targets from kneeling. It was on the third target that I had the thought, “You really should look at the sights.”  A -3 hit on one target would be my worse shot of the day.

Another interesting stage took place at “Carl’s Garage.” There were also two courses of fire to be shot here. The first consisted of 16 t-shirt covered targets that all required one head shot. We started with a six target group, before engaging two more by shooting under a low opening. There were more targets to be found moving down range. I managed to bump my head on the overhang during the walkthrough and once while pasting targets. Fortunately during my run, I cleared it safely. Moving to the back of the stage we ran another quick course.

For another fun course, we started with our gun in a tool bag, and holding a crowbar, which was “impaled" on a bloody target, while facing up range. I joked to the SO that in “real life” I’d never leave my gun off-body in my tool box — ignoring the idea I’d likely not be impaling zombies with crowbars either. At the back section of the bay there was another course with multiple hallways to negotiate.

The bay labeled “Terminous” also presented us with two fun courses. For the first, we started in the “boxcar”. This stage included a couple of long shots on falling steel in addition to the paper targets placed amongst the walls. Moving to the back of the bay we entered a “butcher shop” complete with dismembered body parts.

Lately I’ve noticed I’ve been shooting fairly accurately, but slow. I made a conscience effort to speed up a bit for this match, and I think it paid off. With just 10 points down for the match, I missed placing first in SSP Sharpshooter by .18 of a second. Any -3 hit is frustrating, and that -3 hit (-1.5 seconds) on the second stage was made all the more painful — although just one more -0 hit on any target likely would have changed the finish order.

The matches at Cavalier typically feature interesting and challenging stages with lots of props and plenty of movement while shooting. This month's match was no exception and was extremely fun to shoot. It was quite obvious that a lot of planning went into the preparation of the match. The match officials kept things moving, and we finished all eight stages by about 12:30.

The thing about putting off chores at home to shoot, is that they are still waiting when you get home. After the match it was time to strap on the backpack blower and work on the leaves in the yard. A morning of shooting, and an afternoon of yard work made the evening beer taste all that much better.

I’ve posted a few more pictures from the match here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Not Dead. Just Busy.

And maybe a little tired. It's been a week since I put anything new on these Musings. And to those who are looking for something new here, I apologize. It's not that life hasn't been interesting. I've got a few interesting beers to talk about. And there's been some really fun range outings. And how about them Hokies?!? But lately I've only been staring at a blank piece of paper computer screen when I sit down to post.

This shall pass. Stand by.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

October Rivanna IDPA Match

It's that time of year in Virginia when cool mornings give way to warm afternoons. It complicates preparing for a match; vest or fleece jacket for cover garment, long pants or short, t-shirt or flannel shirt? At Saturday's Rivanna IDPA match, it appeared I was not the only one consternated over clothing. I saw everything from short pants to flannel jackets and wool caps. I opted for a fleece jacket, which worked for the first two stages, was too warm for the third, but thankfully the fourth stage would require no cover. Skipping Postponing some planned chores, I left the house in the early dawn and arrived at the range to still chilly temps and an overcast sky.

The first stage had us shooting at "wild pigs," represented by sideways targets with the -3 zone removed. We shot while seated with the empty gun and all reloads on the table. The targets required two body shots each, in tactical priority, followed by a headshot on each in any order. The last headshot took me to slide lock, and I called the shot good and opted to not reload for another shot. Unfortunately the shot was called outside the perf and was ruled a miss. 

Next up was a challenging stage, shot kneeling, that required some very tight shots between non-threats. At the start, we drew the gun and dropped to a kneeling position behind a barrel. Getting all the shots in required leaning from side to side. I remarked that my front sight post was nearly as wide as the opening between the targets! Few folks that I saw shot the stage clean, myself included.

The next stage was the only one requiring movement. We started facing three targets which were engaged in tactical sequence. Then moving towards some stacked barrels, there were two targets to be engaged with two body and one head shot each. These targets were partially block by a non-threat target. Finally we moved to a third position for three more tactical sequence targets.

It was on the last stage where I hoped my regular practice shooting one-handed would pay off. There were three targets, two of which were partially obscured by a non-threat. We shot two strings of six shots, first strong hand only, then support hand only. Alas, I nicked the non-threat, just breaking the perf, even though the hit was also in the -0 zone on the threat target. 

The match, as always was both fun and challenging. The non-threat targets provided an extra element of risk to the match. In fact when reviewing the results, I noticed that only 10 of the 42 shooters got through the match without hitting at least one non-threat. The "leader board" seemed about the same as usual, but I did place a bit lower than I typically do, though I was still generally happy with my shooting.

The crowd seemed smaller than usual, and the stages ran quickly, which boded well for getting home to spend time with my son who was home from college for the weekend.

Time for some more one-handed head shot practice...

Monday, October 17, 2016

A Saint For Our Times: José Sánchez del Río

I've written about José Sánchez del Río previously in these Musings. The fourteen year old boy was martyred for his Catholic faith during Mexico's Cristeros War on February 10, 1928.  This past Sunday, the young fighter was among seven Saints canonized by Pope Francis.

The story of the Cristeros War is not well-known among American Catholics, but it's an important and poignant part of history. Sadly, the story is largely ignored in the history books and that's most assuredly a purposeful oversight.

When people think of the persecution of Catholics, and Christians in general, the impression is often that it happens in far-off lands and long ago. That's far from reality. The Mexican government's war on the Catholic faithful took place less than 100 years ago, in 1926 - 1929. And it took place just south of our border.

Another misconception is that our own government would have no part in such abuses. Again, this is disproven by the Cristeros War. The United States supplied arms to the Mexican government for use in the war, and even provided military air cover for the Federales in their battles with the Catholic faithful.

There's another twist to Saint José Sánchez del Río's story, and something I find quite interesting. The picture (above) of the young boy with Cristeros fighters is one that I've seen hanging in Mexican restaurants, among other old photos. Probably not too many diners know that a Saint and fighter for Catholicism is looking down on them while they eat.

Saint José Sánchez del Río is truly a Saint for our times. His faithfulness in the face of torture and death should be a model for all of us. I pray we can be as strong. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Jeff Fitzpatrick, RIP

I am saddened to receive word that Blue & Gray Brewing founder and craft beer pioneer Jeff Fitzpatrick passed away on Friday. Founded by Jeff in 2002, Blue & Gray was the first craft brewery in the Fredericksburg area. The annual St. Patrick's Day and Oktoberfest celebrations put on by Jeff at the brewery were always extremely popular, and benefited first responders and local charities. Jeff was a big supporter of local Knights of Columbus and Ancient Order of Hibernians organizations as well.

In years past I spent so much time at Blue & Gray, and wrote about so many of the beers, people often thought these Musings were run by Blue & Gray! Tours of the brewery were frequently given by Jeff himself and he was always excited to talk about the next new beer coming from the brewery.

Jeff's generosity and cheer will be missed. I'll raise a pint to you my friend.

Jeff Fitzpatrick, Requiescat in Pace

Friday, October 14, 2016

Wifely Wisdom

I was telling Colleen I had some things I wanted to do around the house Saturday morning, but there was also an IDPA match at Rivanna in the morning. In her wisdom, she replied...

"Do you want to shoot or do you want to do chores?"

Well, when you put it that way, I guess I'll be hitting the road early Saturday morning.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

GABF Winners From Virginia - and Fredericksburg

The winners at this year's Great American Beer Festival were announced yesterday in Denver, CO. I always look through the winners list to see what Virginia beers came out on top — it gives me a target list of some new beers to try.

Looking through the list I was happy to see that Fredericksburg's own Spencer Devon Brewing was among the medal recipients. Their ever-popular, and tasty, Sunken Road Belgian Blond was awarded a Bronze medal in the Belgian-Style Blonde Ale or Pale Ale category. Congratulations to the folks at Spencer Devon Brewing!

See the list below for other winners from Virginia.

That's thirteen medals from eleven Virginia breweries. Hats off to all the winners. 

Now to search out the ones we haven't tried...

Saturday, October 8, 2016


Sad range bag had to stay home today.

So it's an indoor chore day. But there will be college football on TV. And beer.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Five O'Clock Friday: Thanks Famous Actors

Aren't you glad we have all these super smart people making sure we don't screw up?

Without the Hollywood elites and those obviously intelligent professional athletes warning us about how oppressed we are, we'd surely be lost.

Remembering the Battle of Lepanto

[Repost from October 7, 2014]

October 7 marks the anniversary of The Battle of Lepanto in the year 1571. In this historically significant battle, the Fleet of the Holy League defeated the much larger fleet of the Ottoman Empire. This Christian victory stopped, for a while, the aggression of the "religion of peace" into the Mediterranean, and into Europe as well. Untold hundreds of thousands of innocent people were saved from slavery, execution, and other barbarisms the moslems were bringing to conquered lands as they spread their violent and tyrannical agenda.

We have a good idea what an islamist victory at Lepanto would have brought to Europe and the rest of the world. Witness the genocide of Christians in the Middle East and the application of "islamic law" in those same lands, as well as the growing islamic unrest in Europe. We should offer a prayer of thanksgiving for those Christian warriors of long ago, even as we face the resurgence of islamic conquests at home and abroad.

Lest we be complacent, heed the words of Robert McMullen,
Many Christian knights, soldiers, and sailors have died defending Christendom against the onslaughts of Islam down through the centuries. Today, the borders of many European countries, Canada, and the United States are practically wide open, and the old enemy is invited to come in and make himself at home. And many 'Christians' in the West are just too busy enjoying their material prosperity to be bothered with unpleasant history. 

But the enemy has not forgotten history. He remembers it all too well, and he is still deadly serious about his religion. His goal over the years has not changed in the slightest, and he is very patient. The enemy within is now smiling, just biding his time.

And also the reminder from Theodore Roosevelt, writing at the start of the 20th Century,
Christianity is not the creed of Asia and Africa at this moment solely because the seventh century Christians of Asia and Africa had trained themselves not to fight, whereas the Moslems were trained to fight. Christianity was saved in Europe solely because the peoples of Europe fought. If the peoples of Europe in the seventh and eighth centuries, and on up to and including the seventeenth century, had not possessed a military equality with, and gradually a growing superiority over the Mohammedans who invaded Europe, Europe would at this moment be Mohammedan and the Christian religion would be exterminated.

The uninformed, the willfully ignorant, along with the islamic mouthpieces in our own government, continue to spout off about the "peaceful muslims." Yet history shows us islam is not, and has never been, peaceful. That a majority of muslims aren't actively killing Christians and other non-mulsims, does not mean they don't support those who do. It in no way changes the true basis of the islamic creed. The truth is, you cannot separate terrorism from islam. There is nothing in islamic theology that proves this aggression as un-islamic. All of Christendom once knew this, but sadly over the centuries many have forgotten, or surrendered to political correctness.

The violent acts of faithful followers and imitators of mohammed, those who actually do as their "faith" commands, are occurring daily around the world, ignored by the leftist media, and excused by inept politicians and the clueless Hollywood elite. The "lone wolf" attacks on our country have been occurring for decades. How long before we face a renewed, and modern, version of the moslem fleet that sailed against Lepanto? The head of the FBI says is coming, "very, very soon." Let us mark this anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto with an increased awareness of the very real threat to civilization from this satanic and barbaric ideology.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Blogging For Nine Years

It seems I've been spilling these Musings now for nine years.

No animals or small children were harmed in the making of this blog. A few liberal feelings may have been hurt.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Delaware State IDPA Match

This past weekend Colleen and I enjoyed a fun mini-vacation on the Delaware shore. The impetus for the trip was for me to shoot the Delaware State IDPA Championship Match held at the Bridgeville Rifle & Pistol Club. Our weekend started Friday evening with good food and beer at a Seaford, DE restaurant with some friends from Virginia who were also shooting the match. I shot the match on Saturday morning, then Colleen and I spent the rest of the weekend sightseeing.

The Level 4 match was put on by an amazingly dedicated staff. Due to weeklong inclement and destructive weather, the match volunteers had to rebuild the match stages several times before the event. Originally planned for eleven stages, the final match consisted of ten stages. One stage had to be pulled due to range conditions, while a few others were modified to adapt to flooded or unusable range bays. Despite the extra effort and frustrating conditions, the SOs and staff remained cheerful and friendly.

A light mist prevailed for most of the morning, but the moderate temperature and overcast skies made for generally pleasant shooting weather. A quick wipe down of the front of my glasses was required before shooting, and the targets had to be bagged for much of the match, but otherwise the inclement weather had little affect on the shooting, at least for the Saturday morning squads.

The first stage, aptly called “First Shots” was a single-target standards stage, and was set up in each bay. Every shooter shot the exact same stage to start the match. I thought that was an interesting concept, providing an even playing field for the “warm up." The rest of stages had a home invasion scenario as a common theme. From start to finish I found the stage scenarios to be interesting and well thought out.

I was very impressed with the club’s attention to detail at this weekend’s match. They worked hard to make it “real." After the standards stage, the first scenario stage I shot, "Lindbergh’s Revenge" was set in a bedroom where your kids were being held hostage. The scene was complete with a bed and dresser, and a bad guy on a ladder in the window. When you opened the door, a non-threat target ran towards you, passing in front of the threat targets.

“Come Clean” was based in a bathroom scenario. After engaging targets while moving towards the door, the rest was shot from the doorway. The threats were "hiding" in the shower and behind a countertop. When the match storyline turned to a basement setting in “Basement Scene", the attention to detail was continued; a fake water heater included PC pipes running from the top, and even a length of electrical cable.

“Poolside” was an exceptionally elaborate, and fun, stage. Starting seated at a table, we shot two close threats, then turned to engage a steel activator. Leaving the table, we passed a well-stocked backyard “bar” to engage a mover. Passing a swimming pool and clothesline, we moved through a narrow opening lined with live plants, through which another threat was engaged. More threats where found through a window.

The stage “Children of the Corn” was shot mostly on the move. It was one of several stages that required careful attention to the timing of reloads to avoid running dry in the open. “Dirty Pond Water” had us engaging threats on the move while crossing a wooden suspension bridge. That the bridge provided passage over actual water was a coincidence created by days of heavy rain. “Burglar Has Friends” started with some SHO shooting while backing up. The stage targets included a couple of moving targets, one of which was a swinger target fronted by an also-swinging non-threat target.

Two stages involved automobiles in driveway scenarios. In “Homecoming” we started with our hand on an open car door, and the gun loaded with just 6 rounds. Closing the door, we drew the weapon and engaged a single target until slide lock. After a reload there were more targets shot from cover and on the move. In “Driveway Assault” we started out holding a heavy bag over a stomp pad. Dropping the bag activated a drop turner, which required a fast draw to get at least two shots on it before it disappeared. Next there were four targets behind “windows” at about 20 yards to be engaged, two from each side at the back of an SUV. Moving forward we found one target to be engaged on the move, then two more targets shot from cover around the front of the vehicle. I enjoyed both of these stages very much.

From start to finish, the match ran quite smoothly, at least from the competitors’ point of view. We even had a “squad mom” assigned to keep us organized. Debbie kept us informed on the shooting order, verified our scores, and made sure we knew where to go next.

There were plenty of door prizes and giveaways at checkin as well. I drew a raffle ticket for a set of custom molded ear plugs donated by Hearing Protection Company. I sat for the molds before the match and picked the finished product up when I was done shooting. I can’t wait to try them out.

A tasty lunch was also included in the match fee. A local Knights of Columbus council served a grilled chicken meal for all shooters. That was a nice touch after a long morning of shooting.

After getting back to the hotel for a quick shower, Colleen and I headed over to Lewes, DE for a late lunch. After lunch and a beer, we stopped in for a treat at a local ice cream shop. We had visited Lewes some 20 years ago and we drove around a bit reminiscing and looking for places we visited.

We started our Sunday with Mass at a local church and then went for a big, old fashioned diner breakfast. Checking out of the hotel, we drove back toward the shore. We then spent several hours driving around the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. Due to the recent rains, there was a lot of high water, and many of the roadside pullouts were underwater. However, the high water also meant that many of the wading birds were standing at the road’s edge for easy viewing. In fact, often the birds were standing directly in the road. Instead of dodging deer like we do had home, the obstacles at Prime Hook were Great Blue Herons and Egrets.

I enjoyed the match, and indeed the entire weekend, immensely. Overall, I was very pleased with my shooting. There was a few low points; I hit two non-threat targets in the match, and earned a PE when I reshot an ineligible target on "Dirty Pond Water." But in the end, there was much to be happy about.  I finished up 30th out of 118 shooters overall, with 34 total points down. Breaking the score down, in the SSP division I was 12th of 51 and 10th of 43 in my classification (SS). In the combined Division/SS ranking, it works out to 5th of 16 in SSP SS. Not earth shattering but I’m pleased. That’s not too shabby for an old guy with bad eyes and knees.

Although we’ve gone way for some football weekends and college visits recently, Colleen and I were happy to enjoy a fun mini-vacation weekend. Perhaps I’ll find some other matches in interesting places we can visit in the future.