Thursday, November 30, 2017

Range Trip - Two SIGs

We've been living in construction zone for a few weeks as we undertake some renovations at home. Add to that stress from the craziness of catching up after the 4-day holiday weekend at work, and I was more than ready for some range time relaxation. My second P320 was returned from SIG last week after having the upgrade work performed, so I was most anxious to test it out.

I packed both the Full Size and Compact P320 versions for this outing, as I wanted to compare them directly. After spending time jumping back and forth between the two, it's hard to truly feel any difference between them. I did notice that I seemed to shoot the Compact model a bit more accurately then the Full Size. That's not what I would have expected, although I have been shooting the smaller gun more frequently of late. Undoubtably, there's more shooting practice that will need to be done to resolve that difference.

After shooting both guns over several trips to the range, I can say I do like the trigger enhancements performed by SIG as part of the "voluntary upgrade." While I was not worried in the least about the supposed safety issue, I am happy to have taken advantage of the offered "fix."

I shot longer and put more rounds down range than I typically do during a quick lunch outing. I'll have a bit more catching up to do at work, but it's worth it. The break was a most welcome diversion.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Thanksgiving Day Range Trip

In what has become an annual outing, my son and I hit the range early Thanksgiving morning. It was a beautiful sunny, 31° day as we arrived and unloaded the gear. By time we finished about 90 minutes later it had warmed by 10 degrees, but the cool temps didn't dampen the enjoyment.

We hung a couple of the "color shapes" targets and focused on slow fire from the 7 yard line. While he shot his new SIG Legion, I worked with the P320 Compact. I made a brief diversion to my P226 and also fired a few rounds with his gun.

I've found my concentration lately with practicing slow fire with patience in watching the sights during the trigger press is paying off. Working through all eight shapes on the target with 10 rounds each, all but three were in bounds. Considering the blurriness of the targets even at that distance, I'm happy.

The biggest thrill, as always, was shooting with, and advising my son. His groups were quite impressive, and his gun safety awareness is exemplary. He's had a good teacher. ;-)

Finally, looking at the amount of brass on the ground, we decided we better stop and begin the chore of picking it up. And there was also the promise of a bagels and smoked salmon breakfast waiting at home.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

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.

This Never Gets Old

It just wouldn't feel like Thanksgiving if I didn't laugh at this again.

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

A Thanksgiving Day Prayer

Today, like every day, I am thankful for my loving family, my faith and the freedom to practice it, for my health, for my friends, and for the abundant blessings I enjoy as an American. In these perilous times we should be especially conscious of our freedom and never forget how tenuous it really is.

The following prayer was shared by Father Kevin Cusick on his blog "A Priest Life." I found it especially poignant.

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Father in Heaven, Creator of all and source of all goodness and love, please look kindly upon us and receive our heartfelt gratitude in this time of giving thanks.

Thank you for all the graces and blessings. You have bestowed upon us, spiritual and temporal: our faith and religious heritage. Our food and shelter, our health, the loves we have for one another, our family and friends.

Dear Father, in Your infinite generosity, please grant us continued graces and blessing throughout the coming year.

This we ask through Jesus Christ, Your Son, Our Lord Who Lives and reigns with You in unity of the the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

New Gun Owner

Our son is no stranger to firearms. He built his own AR rifle a couple years ago and he's also an experienced handgun shooter. However, he's been looking forward to actually buying his own handgun for a while. After celebrating his first legal beer in the U.S. recently, our now 21 year old son finally made that purchase he's been anticipating for a long time - a SIG Sauer P226 Legion. Detouring by the gun store on his way home for Thanksgiving break, he picked up the gun he had already paid for online. Then on Monday he met me at the office at lunchtime and we headed over to the indoor range to try it out.

After he shot the first few magazines through the gun, I asked for a chance to shoot it. I have to admit to a bit of envy of the high end SIG he opted to start out with. He's long enjoyed shooting my "basic" P226. He's been working hard and saving for some time in preparation, so I don't blame him for "going big."

I also brought along my SIG P320 Compact. I had only put 50 rounds through it since the trigger upgrade, mainly to check function. This time I shot a more organized practice session at 7 and 10 yards. I was more than happy with the groups I was getting. After 100 rounds, I checked on my son, who was doing quite well, and was very happy with his purchase. I watched him for a while longer, much to my own enjoyment. I offered him my last box of 50 rounds, on the condition he let his dad shoot one more magazine with the new gun.

As with my pleasure over his choices for good beer, I'm also glad he has good taste in firearms too.

My son told me that when he bought the gun, the person who handled the paperwork and the person who verified the purchase, both wished him a happy birthday. When the range proprietor checked his ID he too remarked "Happy Birthday." It seems I'm not the only one who enjoys it when someone makes that first purchase.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Sinkland Farms Brewery

We visited a new brewery this weekend. It's not often we check out a new place as soon as it's opened, preferring to let the kinks get worked out first. But we happened to be in the Blacksburg area for the second day open for Sinkland Farms Brewery in Christiansburg so we stopped by for drinks and food.

It was already dark as we drove down the road to the brewery, relying on the address entered in Google Maps. As it turns out, the GPS had the location a bit off and when we were informed "You have arrived" we saw nothing. Colleen noted that she saw cars in a field a short way back and we found the brewery. Unfortunately, the sign as the road was not lit and we had driven by. But, finally arriving, we were in for treat.

Passing through a large sliding door in the barn, we entered a spacious seating area, complete with several large umbrella heaters and two fire pits. Copious light strings hung from the rafters added to the festive feel. We stopped at the bar first to review the menu. After ordering a couple beers we headed outside to the food truck. The Creole That food truck was on site serving hearty cajun-style meals.

My opening beer was Sink Or Swim IPA. This "sessionable" 4.7% ABV IPA has rich citrus and fruit hops, but notably low bitterness. It made a perfect accompaniment to my Shrimp & Grits food choice. Colleen opted for the Yukon Cornelius Stout, which she enjoyed with Cajun Shrimp Mac & Cheese.

We sipped our beers while enjoying some live Blues from the Howling Mudbellies. We both remarked how the music volume was load enough to be heard, but not too loud to preclude conversation. That's a balance often lacking, and why we often avoid venues when they have live music, even if we would otherwise enjoy it.

Thoroughly enjoying the food, the music, and atmosphere, and most importantly, the beer, we opted to try out a few more of the offerings. I ordered a pint of Elvis On Velvet. This Amber Lager is described as "malt forward, barely any hops." Another well-done beer, though a little mild for my personal preferences.

We also ordered tasters of Pumpkinfest Lager and Sophisticuffs Belgian Strong. The pumpkin lager had a nice balance of sweetness and the classic "pumpkin spice." I was sorely tempted to order another, this time a full pint. Colleen drank the Belgian Strong, which I neglected to try.

John Bryce, the owner and brewmaster at Sinkland Farms Brewery brings extensive experience to the Blacksburg venture. He's served as a Manager of Brewery Operations at Starr Hill Brewery, a Production Manager and Shift Brewer at Old Dominion Brewing, and as Head Brewer at Capitol City Brewing, among other brewing experiences.

It was fortuitous timing that we were in the area for the opening weekend at Sinkland Farms Brewery. We had quite a pleasant evening enjoying a tasty dinner and several excellent beers in a relaxed, fun atmosphere. I have no doubt we'll be making return visits to the brewery during future stays in the Blacksburg area.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Now It's a Family Affair

He grew up visiting craft breweries and hearing all about good beer. This weekend our son got to do more than watch.

The beer was Right Mind Brewing Tommy Dinkus 80 Shilling Scottish Ale as we celebrated his 21st birthday with dinner and beer, for the whole family.

This dad is proud the "factory beer" stage was skipped.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Another Week Gone By

Well, shoot. (Or not.) Another week has passed in which I managed no visit to the range. After last week's meeting schedule I had even preemptively blocked off time on my calendar for this week. Alas, life intervened. I did get in a little dry fire; practicing drawing from under the heavier clothing of the season, but it's truly not enough.

This cannot stand.

I now set my sights (heh) on next week. Good health depends on it.

On the bright side, it's Friday.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Sacred Sig

I've never understood the mindset of surrender that would leave one to believe the wooden doors of a church were talismans which prevented the deranged from entering with guns, or any other weapons of mass destruction. (No pun intended.) As recent events have made abundantly clear, personal safety requires personal responsibility, no matter the location. The growing threats come in many forms.

I have mused on the topic of Catholics and guns previously. Relevant to Virginia residents, a former Attorney General also opined on the legal aspects of carrying in a church, noting that "carrying a weapon for personal protection constitutes a good and sufficient reason under the statute to carry a weapon into a place of worship while a meeting for religious purposes is being held there."

Yesterday, Fr. John Zuhlsdorf tackled questions on the propriety of being armed, for both laity and clergy, on his blog. Among the topics covered, somewhat tongue in cheek, was a suggested prayer to be used by a priest when vesting with his firearm before Holy Mass.

Domine, scutum noster et salvator, firma manus meas ad debellandas inimici insidias et digitos meos doce ad proelium contra omnes diabolicas potestates.

Translated from the latin, the prayer reads, "O Lord, the shield of our God and the Savior of the law, without prejudice to the hands, teach my hands to war, and my fingers against the wiles of the enemy, and cleared away all the diabolic powers."

That's rather a nice thought I think.

Read Fr. Z's entire post at ASK FATHER: Firearms at Mass, laity and priests.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sunday Humor

Today's pre-church chuckle.
Sitting by the window of her convent, Sister Barbara opened a letter from home one evening. Inside the letter was a $100 bill her parents had sent. Sister Barbara smiled at the gesture.

As she read the letter by the window, she noticed a shabbily dressed stranger leaning against the lamp post below. Quickly, she wrote, “Don’t despair. – Sister Barbara,” on a piece of paper, wrapped the $100 bill in it, got the man’s attention and tossed it out the window to him.

The stranger picked it up, and with a puzzled expression and a tip of his hat, went off down the street.

The next day, Sister Barbara was told that a man was at her door, insisting on seeing her. She went down, and found the stranger waiting. Without a word, he handed her a huge wad of $100 bills. “What’s this?” she asked.

“That’s the $8,000 you have coming Sister,” he replied. “Don’t Despair paid 80-to-1.”

Happy Sunday.

H/T to Old NFO.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Thank You Veterans

To all the men and women who have given so much to make this country great and who have fought to maintain the freedoms we cherish, today we pause to say "thank you." Your service is not forgotten.

Thank a vet today. Better yet, thank a vet every day.
"Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today's world do not have." -- Ronald Reagan

Friday, November 10, 2017

VCDL: Legal Protection Plan Comparison

The Virginia Citizens Defense League has put together a comprehensive comparison of legal protection plans available to civilians in the event they are involved in a self defense shooting. One can face daunting expenses and legal obstacles as the result of a self defense shooting, even when it's justified. As such, these plans are recommended by many experts in the field. There are many types of protection plans available, covering different situations and levels of service. Choosing the one that's right for you can be a difficult process.

The VCDL document currently compares seven different offerings. The online resource will be updated as plans change and new products or service providers become available.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Chainsaw Bayonet?

Yep, they really are that clueless.

I have little doubt that there's a democrat Congressman clucking his tongue and planning legislation to ban such an abomination.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Need. Range. Time.

I've mentioned my post-match desire for range time previously. This week instead of wanting to hit the range to fix some errors made when shooting a match, I feel a need to hit the range to spend time emphasizing the things I did right. I felt I shot pretty well last weekend, and that makes the urge for range time even more intense.

Alas, my work schedule is full of meetings and out of town visitors this week, which leaves little opportunity for a lunch break away from the computer. Unfortunately, now that the clocks have been set back, the outdoor range closes at 4:00PM. As a result, after work shooting is not an option until the return of Daylight Saving Time next spring.

The gun that I enjoy shooting the most, the full size SIG P320 has been shipped off to the manufacturer for the trigger enhancements. If I do squeeze in a range trip, I'll select an alternative weapon or two to shoot. Now is not the time to slack off on the practice level. With the continuing leftward political shift in Virginia, I expect the violence and oppression of personal rights that accompanies leftist politics to grow in fervor. Keeping up the skill level is important.

See you at the range!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Things Atheists Say

Recently I saw an online comment that made me scratch my head. The poster was stating his wishes for a departed friend. He said something along the lines, "I don't believe in God, but just in case there is a heaven, I hope ...." He then went on to state how is friend might find joy in heaven.

If you don't believe in God, I would presume you don't believe in Heaven. But if you allow that Heaven might be a reality, by extension you allow that God might also be a reality. If wish for a friend to find a joyful Heaven, you must actually believe in God, despite your claims to the contrary.

Years ago I had a similar exchange with a coworker, also an atheist, who had a friend going through serious health issues. She called me one day and asked, "I know you are a faithful person, so would you please pray for my friend?"

I thought, if you don't believe that God exists, why would you think that my prayers to Him would help your friend?

I offered those prayers nonetheless.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Sanner's Lake IDPA Match

This weekend a group of Virginia shooters ventured into Maryland for the monthly Sanner's Lake IDPA match. Three of us rendezvoused on this side of the border to carpool, while two other friends drove by another route. Together, we made up half of our squad.

This month's seven stage match incorporated a quick "warm up" drill set up on all stages, and shot first by all shooters; one close target, two shots to the head, reload, 4 shots to the body. I'm seeing this done at more and more matches lately, and it's a feature I really like. And a few more rounds down range is never a bad thing. For me, this was a -0 stage.

The first scenario stage for our squad had us facing nine targets arranged in a semi-circle, with four non-threats placed menacingly in front. The stage required one body shot to each, followed by one head shot on each. I opted to make up a -1 head shot and finished -0 on the stage. Whether I actually gained that one second back is debatable, but I wanted the -0 score.

The next stage provided a number of challenges. Starting out, we engaged two close targets while backing up. Then turning, we found a challenging two-target array obscured by both a non-threat and reduced by black hard cover. Adding to the difficulty, the shots were made around a wall, requiring a hard lean. I saw a lot of wood flying on the this stage from errant shots hitting the wall, including on one of my own shots as well. I also had a hit on the non-threat. After engaging the targets from that point of cover, we stepped on an activator pad on our way to the next position which set a rocking target in motion.

After engaging the rocking target at the next point of cover, we also found three steel poppers and three more paper targets. One of the targets had barely more than the head available. Although the hit on the non-threat and a miss contributed to 12 seconds in penalties, I thought the stage was a lot of fun.

Simulated theatre seating was the setting our next stage. From our seat we faced six targets, each requiring three hits. The arrangement of threat and non-threat targets meant leaning and shifting in the seat. Drawing and reloading while seated adds a level of complexity to the shooting that is not often encountered. Most seated stages I've seen involve table pickups of the gun and magazines. This was a quickly shot stage and though I finished -1, it was my highest placing stage; 5th overall. 

There's always some WHO and SHO shooting at the match, and this month the challenge included an extra twist. The stage consisted of three identical 5-target arrays. The first group was shot through a small port in the wall. Backing up we shot the other two arrays around cover, using on our inside hand! Shooting around the left side of barrels meant using our right hand only, and moving to the right side of the stage we shot using the left hand only. Each target required one hit. 

I rehearsed my plan in my head repeatedly before shooting, I did not wish a repeat of the mistakes at the Potomac Grail of using the wrong or both hands. I was just 3 points down, two of which were earned on the "easy" two-handed shots.

The penultimate stage of the morning had the most movement required of the day, with five threat targets shot from three points of cover. A wide swing with the gun was required for the first three targets shot from cover, two of which were partially blocked by non-threats. Moving down range to the left we found a target near some barrels, then crossing the final position another partial target was engaged. Interestingly I opted to shoot two make up shots, on the second and fourth targets despite, as it turns out, already having two -0 hits on each — gotta learn to have confidence in my shooting.

Me taking aim, thanks to friend Larry for the pic

Our squad finished the match on a super fast, and fun stage. Starting with six rounds in the gun, we shot to slide lock at an open target. After a reload we engaged a popper that released a very fast out-and-back disappearing target, then finished up on another popper. Many of us were happy to get two holes on the quick mover. My -4 stage score included a -3 hit on the swinger.

One of the hallmarks of the Sanner's Lake monthly events is how quickly the matches are completed. The course designers create stages that are both interesting and challenging, but can also be shot in a remarkably short time. We faced no backups all morning and progressed rapidly through the courses of fire. After a quick stage breakdown, we were loaded up and in the car for the drive home before noon.

I was really pleased with my shooting this day, and things just seem to gel for me. I finished 10th of 57 overall, 4th of 28 in the SSP division. The good shooting only added to fun of the morning, however the real pleasure of the day came from the time spent with friends. It was a most enjoyable adventure.

More match photos here.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Rayner Johnson, RIP

Virginia craft beer fans have lost a friend and good beer advocate. Rayner Johnson passed away on Saturday, after suffering a stroke last Tuesday. Ray was perhaps best known as the force behind the successful and popular Blue Gray Breweriana show and was an avid collector himself. He was also a ubiquitous presence at craft breweries and beer festivals throughout Virginia. Chances are, even if you didn't know it, you probably saw him, somewhere, over the years.

It wasn't unusual to find Ray holding court in a brewery's tent at one of the local festivals. One more than one occasion he pointed me toward some rare or interesting beer being poured at an event. I had the pleasure of Ray as a travel companion for the May 2009 World Beer Fest in Raleigh, NC. Even outside of Virginia, Ray knew where to go and we enjoyed many a local beer that weekend.

Rayner Johnson, (r) Raleigh WFB, 2009

I last saw Ray when we visited 6 Bears & A Goat Brewing in February. I spotted him at the end of the bar as we were sitting down. We got settled and when I turned to go greet him he had left. I have regretted missing the chance to talk ever since.

Virginia beer blogger Tom Cizauskas captured Ray and I in conversation at the NoVa Beer Fest in 2009. It's a photo I've long cherished. I don't recall exactly what Ray was telling me, but I was quite obviously memorized.

Requiescat in pace, Raynor Johnson. You will be missed.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Weekend Activities

Decisions, decisions.

Options are good to have.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Rights Exercised

I voted today. Since my presence will be required in some extended meetings on November 7, and not voting is simply not an option for me, I opted to vote early at our county elections office. I was somewhat surprised to find a steady line of folks doing the same.

My usual polling place is in a school. As such I must give up my right to "keep and bear arms" in order to exercise my voting rights. I always find it ironic that my Conceal Handgun Permit is a valid ID to vote, but my concealed handgun is not permitted in the polling place. Not so this year.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

A Beer to Honor Benedict XVI

As reported in the Catholic Herald...
The 'Beer-nedict XVI' wheat beer was unveiled at a conference in Ohio
An Ohio brewery has produced a specially-commissioned beer in honour of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

The Bavarian-style hefeweizen, called Beer-nedict XVI: Pint-ifex Maximus, was launched at the conference of the Society for Catholic Social Scientists in Steubenville, Ohio last Thursday.

The Benedict XVI Centre of St Mary’s University, Twickenham, organised a fringe event at which the beer was unveiled and the first kegs received a priestly blessing.

The beer was made by a local Ohio brewery, the Hightower Brewing Company.

The writer Marc Barnes, a graduate from Franciscan University of Steubenville and a PhD student at the Benedict XVI Centre, said: “What better way for the British and American allies to meet than over beer – certainly, a party over tea would have brought up old feelings between the nations.

“My hope is that the joy of being Catholic will spill over from this particular feast and inspire new, creative work among all the academics and intellectuals milling about between the bar and the bluegrass band.”

The Benedict XVI Centre, a hub for research on religion and the social sciences, was launched last year with the approval of the Holy See.

The Holy Father is known to appreciate a good beer from time to time.

See the complete article about the Pope's beer honor at the Catholic Herald.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Range Trip: "Enhanced Trigger" Edition

I received my P320 Compact back from SIG Sauer last week after having the voluntary upgrade work performed. I was pleased to get the gun back in just one week. Finally getting out to the range on Monday, I was anxious to see if there was any discernible difference with what SIG termed "enhancements in function." In dry fire, the trigger did feel somewhat smoother, with a clean surprise break.

Arriving at the range, I fired off a quick 10 rounds at a seven yard target. Moving the target back to 10 yards, I finished off the box of ammo in short order. The new trigger certainly gives nothing to complain about. The difference is subtle. To me it feels to be the same pull weight, with a very even and cleaner, smooth feel. I intend to send the full size P320 off as soon as my schedule allows.

I had reserved another 150 rounds for my "usual" practice, this time with the full size P320 that I hope to use this weekend for an IDPA match. Putting a new B-34 target on the 10 yard line, I spent a box of ammo shooting slowly at the 3" wide head area. This seemed good practice for the new 4" -0 scoring zone on the IDPA target head. As I noted previously, if only I maintained the same sight patience at the match.

The next 50 rounds was spent shooting 2 - 5 shot groups, from low ready, at a 10 yard IDPA target. Besides the followup shots, the focus was on getting the gun on target quickly. The final 50 rounds was used for another run at the 50 shot Julie Golob drill; a drill I have frustratingly yet to shoot all -0 on. I should try it more often at the start of the session, instead of the last thing when I tend to rush more.

The extra long practice session was fun and I think beneficial. I typically learn something each time I hit the range. Even if I didn't, it's always good fun.