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 K├Âlsch 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.