Saturday, December 29, 2018

Saturday Morning Shooting

I made a last minute decision to head down to the indoor range on Saturday morning. That choice was betting on the absence of traffic on the interstate for the drive down, a not too crowded range, and (still) good traffic for the drive home. As luck would have it, all three came to be.

Let's do this.

Starting off at an easy 7 yard distance, I shot slowly, using two hands, as well as strong and weak hand only for 50 rounds. That was all well and good, so a fresh target was hung and placed at 10 yards. This time I fired off longer strings of 3 - 5 shots, one because it's allowed, and two to get a good feel of how the compact gun moves and returns to target. I repeated this drill also at 12 and 15 yards for a total 50 rounds. Despite the attempt at speed, only two of the shots, both fired at 15 yards, were outside the -0 zone.

More like this please.

Since I know I typically start shooting a little more sloppily at the end of the my range time, I made a concerted effort to do slow, steady shots for my last 50 rounds. My group on the 10 yard target was quite nice. At least until my fun side gave in and the last 10 rounds were blasted off in rapid succession. Still, all -0 hits.

All in all it was a super fun way to spend the morning, even if I did spend 4 times as much time driving as I did shooting.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Starr Hill Little Red RooStarr Coffee Cream Stout

This is one of the beers in the Starr Hill Winter Tour variety pack that we picked up on a whim last week. Little Red RooStarr Coffee Cream Stout is a beer that I thought I had enjoyed previously, but checking my UnTappd list, it appears this is a new beer to me. I was not to be disappointed.

The beer pours a deep, dark brown color with a beige head. The aroma brings faint notes of coffee and sweet caramel malt. The flavor profile leans more towards chocolate, mild roasted malt, and a touch of sweetness. There's a hint of coffee detected but it is mild. The finish leaves a bit of sweet creaminess on the palate.

I decided to enjoy the beer with a CAO Brazilia Gol! cigar for an afternoon treat. The medium bodied cigar presents flavors of cocoa and espresso. The rich thick smoke had a creamy texture and smooth finish. Like the beer, this cigar was also one I had not tried previously. I paired them in a whim and was very pleased with the resulting flavor combination.

I enjoyed the Little Red RooStarr Coffee Cream Stout very much. Often I find mild stouts to be too cloyingly sweet. Starr Hill crafted a tasty balance in the flavor profile. This is one I'd have again. And fortunately there are a couple more in the fridge.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Cavalier IDPA Holiday Match

It's been a couple months since I was able to get to an IDPA match, and I had expected that match to be my last of the year. However, with a fortunate combination of a clear schedule and good weather, I was very excited to be able to attend the December IDPA match the Saturday before Christmas at Cavalier.

For this match I decided to shoot my SIG P320 Compact in the CCP division. I'd recently upgraded the sights on the gun, but had yet to shoot it competitively since the sight switch.

The five stages of the match followed a holiday theme. The first stage our squad shot, called "Who's Naughty & Who's Nice?," had us seated at a table with our unloaded gun and all magazines placed in a box. Nine targets, along with a plethora a non-threats were arrayed out in front of us. Shooting the stage -0 gave me a good start to the match.

"Not Home Alone" was up next. This was a field course where we started holding a wrapped package in our support hand, while our strong had was holding a screw driver that had been stuck in a tire. After engaging an open target we moved through the course to three points of cover engaging multiple targets at each. This was another -0 stage for me.

The next stage saw us hanging Christmas lights in "Get Lit." Here we started with our hand on a stapler high in the center of a wall. It was the shooter's choice to begin with targets on either the right to left side. I started my run moving to the left. After engaging four paper targets around the left end of the wall, I moved to the right side to find a couple of falling steel poppers and two more paper targets. It was fun stage and I felt pretty good about it, until the scoring. I had dropped a shot low into hard cover for a miss, which combined with -3 and -1 targets, left me -9 for the stage.

"Crooked Tree" held an interesting target array. Seven overlapping targets, with lots of hard cover, where arranged in a tree shape. We started at the target array with a Christmas package in hand. Up range were two barrels to either side of a shooting box. All magazines were stage on one of the barrels and our gun was in a box on the other. At the start we retreated up range, retrieved our gear, and engaged the targets.

While there was partial open body area on some of the targets, most shooters opted to shoot all head shots. I did make all 14 head shots, though three hits were in the -1 area of the head, for a -3 stage score.

The last stage was called "Charlie B's Trees." We shot from two sides of a fenced wall. There were four targets visible from one shooting position and two more from the other. Menacingly placed barrels and pine tree branches where located around the targets obscuring any open shots. This was another challenging stage that I felt I had shot well, again until the targets were scored. I managed to shoot not one, not two, but three (!) low or wide shots into non-threats. Not a glorious finish to the match, but fun nonetheless.

Despite the poor shooting on the last stage, I finish 14th of 32 shooters, and 2nd of 4 in CCP. I enjoyed shooting the Compact gun. The 8 round per magazine limit offered a new challenge, a led to at least one miscount in my stage planning.

In a switch from the wet and cold weather we've experienced in the past weeks, the day of the match saw sun and temps in the mid-50º range despite a constant breeze. It was an extremely enjoyable morning of shooting. The stages were creative, challenging, and most importantly, quite fun. The unexpected day of shooting to finish off the year was a most welcome treat.

More pictures of the stages are here.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

It's Christmas!

"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." --Dr. Seuss

After the shopping, after the wrapping, after the decorating, after the endless barrage of marketing on TV, online, and our inboxes, Christmas is here. The true source of our joy, the Nativity of the Lord, is celebrated beginning today.

Merry Christmas!

Birthplace of Jesus, Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem
Photo by Colleen, August 2010

The celebration continues until Epiphany on January 6. Surprisingly few realize that the season of Christmas only begins today, December 25.  It it is disappointing to see the lights and decorations disappear the day after Christmas. Surely Christians believe the birth of Jesus is an event worthy of more than a single day of rejoicing.

However you mark the season, I wish you a very joyous and peaceful holiday season.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

An Update on Blog Updates (or lack thereof)

Figured I better rattle this thing to see if it still works. It's been an interesting couple of months, but not necessarily interesting in a blogging manner.

Once fall arrives, many of our weekends are taken up by college football. Those events do lead to some opportunities to enjoy a good drink and cigar, as mentioned here. Although the games and tailgating events are fun, they do conflict with shooting events. To my chagrin, it's been over two months since I was able to shoot a match. Even more regrettable, even a quick trip to the range is a nearly month old memory at this point.

I've had a few work-related trips of late as well. Those do take time away from the more pleasurable activities. On the bright side, those trips also offer opportunities to enjoy interesting food and drink in new spots. However, the excursions are also time consuming which limits my time, and energy, to muse about them.

As mentioned previously, cold weather can be the bane of my existence as times. I set up a new humidor recently, and spent some effort and money stocking it. All that came together about the same time the weather turned cold. That has severely limited the time I'm able, and willing, to sit outside and enjoy a cigar. Instead I'm spending some time at a local cigar shop that has decent lounge, in addition to a well-stocked humidor. Perhaps I'll share tales of some events there in the future.

Looking forward, my match schedule for 2019 is coming together. Or at least I have some ideas on IDPA sanctioned matches to consider. I do expect to shoot some fun events in the coming year, assuming I can also get in a reasonable amount of practice. Meanwhile, I am doing some, but not enough, dry fire.

We don't get out to as many beer-related events as we used to. Frankly, I prefer my alcohol consumed at home. There are however, a couple of beers waiting in the wings for review when the schedule allows.

So there it is, my post about not posting. In retrospect, there's lots of stuff happening, I'm just remiss in putting it to paper, so to speak.

Cheers, until next time...

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Sierra Nevada Celebration: A Winter Treat

I often lament the onset of cold weather in these Musings. Despite my aversion to cold and dreary, there are still things I look forward to this time of year. One of those bright spots is the release of Sierra Nevada Celebration Fresh Hop IPA. The beer has been on the shelves for a few weeks, and we finally got some in the house this week. I was happy to also find our logo Celebration glasses for this year's first taste.

The deep amber ale is tipped with a long-lasting beige foam and releases aromas of citrus and pine. Rich flavors of citrus, pine and grassy hops over a biscuity malt backbone treat the tastebuds. The lingering bitterness coats the palate to complete the flavor delights.

One of my all time favorites, Sierra Nevada Celebration is a welcome pleasure in the cold season. I look forward to brightening the days with many more pints of this tasty brew.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Feast of St. Nicholas

Time to dig out a bottle, or two, of Samiclaus.

Reposted from December 6, 2016.

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 a 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 1, 2018

Double Duty Range Snacks

When it comes to range snacks, I'm a fan of beef jerky. It helps keep the hunger away and gives me an energy boost. I always make sure there's some in my bag when I'm heading to a match. Lately I've started carrying a dried fruit mix with me as well.

I've realized a two-fold benefit to this snack. After consuming a handful of the snack, I noticed my hands were slightly tacky. So, not only does it provide a tasty energy boost, the fruit provides a bit of extra grip on the gun in cool weather.

And no messy white powder!

Friday, November 30, 2018

Five O'Clock Friday: Defense Against Spatulas

I have no idea what is going on here, but it's funny.

Thanks to "Checkered Flag" for sending the laugh.

Edit: Sorry for the black image. It showed fine on preview mode. Click the play arrow to view.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Brown Truck Delivered

As did the purple one. And the white one too.

The package tracking app on my phone had me rushing home on Tuesday.

I took advantage of sales over the holiday weekend to stock up on ammunition and cigars. There was also a beer sample delivered that's queued up for a future review. Having everything show up on the same day was like a mini-Christmas. Also in the pile by the door was a portable propane heater to extend the back porch smoking season.

If anyone needs me, I'll be over here enjoying the fruits of online shopping.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Return to the Range

To my chagrin, I haven't gotten in any trigger time for a couple of weeks. Now that the outdoor range closes at 4:00PM it's very hard to get there after work. I also hadn't been down to the indoor range in nearly two months. My reluctance to get to that range was due mainly to summer-time traffic on I-95. The lack of range use is not a good ROI on my membership fees!

A welcome sight.

On Monday I finally had a chance to load up the SIG P320 Compact and do some shooting at the indoor range. Since I haven't practiced in a while, this outing was mostly focused on trigger press. I also took the opportunity to shoot some longer continuous strings than I am allowed at the outdoor range.

After shooting 120 rounds at distances of 7, 10, and 15 yards, I decided to have some fun with the timed turning target. Drawing from the holster is not allowed (without paying an extra $60/year) but even from low ready I was able to get in some target focus shooting at 7 yards. All in all a good session.

When I first got to the range, it was as crowded as I've ever seen it. All the lanes in my bay were in use. I was relieved however that most folks seemed to be shooting .22 rifles, so the noise factor was low. That is until the shooter in the lane right next to me started sighting in his .30-06 hunting rifle. That reminds me, I need to add more foam ear plugs to my range bag in case I need to double-plug again.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Beware the Thought Police

A New York (of course) democrat (of course) wants to require a review of your internet browsing history as part of the background check to buy a gun.
People applying for a pistol permit or renewing a license could have their social media accounts and internet history reviewed. It's part of a newly proposed bill in the New York State Senate.

State Senator Kevin Parker of the 21st District introduced Senate Bill 9191 in attempts to keep firearms out the hands of people who may be violent.

The measure requires, "social media and search engine reviews prior to the approval of an application or renewal of a license to carry or possess a pistol or revolver; requires a person applying for a license to carry or possess a pistol or revolver or a renewal of such license to consent to having his or her social media accounts and search engine history reviewed and investigated for certain posts and/or searches over a period of 1-3 years prior to the approval of such application or renewal; defines terms."

In order to facilitate this dismantling of the 1st Amendment of the Constitution, the state would demand your passwords to online accounts. What shouldn't be overlooked, is that having your private account information also will allow government agents to control and alter your accounts at their will.

Related news from another part of the world, ironically posted the same day, offers a clue as to where the leftists in this country draw their inspiration. China is moving forward with a plan to rank citizens by their social behavior.
China’s plan to judge each of its 1.3 billion people based on their social behavior is moving a step closer to reality, with Beijing set to adopt a lifelong points program by 2021 that assigns personalized ratings for each resident.

The capital city will pool data from several departments to reward and punish some 22 million citizens based on their actions and reputations by the end of 2020, according to a plan posted on the Beijing municipal government’s website on Monday. Those with better so-called social credit will get “green channel” benefits while those who violate laws will find life more difficult.

How long before democrats demand we be chipped?

See "NY State bill would review social media, internet history as part of background checks" and "Beijing to Judge Every Resident Based on Behavior by End of 2020."

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Fire Exposes Illegal Still

According to the report, an "illegal distillery" was found by official investigating a fire at a home.
The Stafford County Fire Marshal’s Office says it discovered an illegal distillery Tuesday afternoon while investigating a garage fire at a home in Falmouth.

Investigators reported the setup to Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control agents, who confiscated a makeshift stovetop distillery and a copper still outside of the split-foyer home in the 100 block of Kelley Road. They also discarded a 5-gallon bucket of mash, according to a news release from the Fire and Rescue Department.

The fire marshal did determine that the fire was caused by an extension cord short, and not anything related to the distilling equipment.

One tenet of making moonshine is staying under the radar of the revenuers. A fire in your home is not a good idea.

Read "Stafford officials discover illegal distillery while investigating garage fire" for more information.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving Classic

I post this every year, and I still laugh at it every year.

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

I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you enjoy good food, good drink, and fun times with friends and family.

(Sorry for the sloppy embed. The original clip I used previously is no longer available.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Bullets and Beans. And Lingerie.

Last month, we reported on the "Controversy Over Guns and Coffee" in Loudon County, Va. The local government was resisting allowing the owners of Bullets and Beans gun shop to sell coffee to its customers. It appeared promising that the shop would finally be able to sell caffeinated beverages.
Alas, it was not to be.
After more than two months of meetings, rescheduled votes and anticipation, the Bullets & Beans gun shop in Hamilton is officially prohibited from selling coffee.

The Town Council voted unanimously Monday night to deny shop owner Kevin Jones the special use permit he applied for in August 2017 that would have allowed him to sell coffee in the Retail Sales and Service Commercial District, since town zoning for that district prohibits food sales in buildings adjacent to residences.

Although the council previously announced that it would vote on a trial period that would have allowed Jones to sell coffee for six months while town staff assessed the impact it had on the town, the council voted to end the coffee selling idea altogether.

In a not-so-shocking admission, one of the Councilman who voted against the shop, confesses that the opposition was based on guns not coffee,
Councilman Craig Green said that the pushback wasn’t necessarily because of opposition to a coffee shop, but because of opposition to a gun shop.
That admission is especially onerous and proves the gun-grabbers will resort to any tactic in their fight against legal gun ownership.

The outcome doesn't surprise me though. I had the opportunity to drive through Loudon County before the recent elections. Based on the content of the the prolific political signs I saw, the area is home to a large population leftists.

Since the residents got their panties in a wad over guns, it's only fitting that the shop owners will get the last laugh.
Jones and his wife, Tammy, said that they’re now going to work on a plan to sell lingerie in the 108-year-old bank building, which they can do without special approval from the council.

See "Hamilton Council Denies Bullets & Beans Coffee Sales; Owners Opt to Sell Lingerie" for the story.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Consolation Beverages and Cigar

Other fun family activities have conflicted with my shooting opportunities for much of the fall. Fortunately, some of those other events still permit me to indulge in some of life's other pleasures. To that end, I covered all three of my favorite beverages at our recent college football tailgate. In addition to the different drink choices, the mild weather also allowed me to enjoy a long smoke, one that went quite well with all the selected libations.

Shortly after getting our tailgate set up for last weekend's college football game, I lit a Rocky Patel Vintage 2006 San Andres. It was still "before noon" so I sipped a milky latte purchased from a ubiquitous chain. Typically my coffee is fresh-brewed and enjoyed black, but the creamy, vanilla-flavored drink presented a nice pairing, even if the actual coffee content was minimal.

Coffee completed, I moved on to one of my favorite sipping whiskies, Bulleit Bourbon. Obviously no complaints with this pairing, which served to alleviate the remaining morning chill.

A short while later, I still had plenty of cigar left and lots of time before the game. Not shown in the picture, the afternoon's choice of beer was Devils Backbone Cold Room Violation. This Imperial Red Ale was brewed in collaboration with Sibling Revelry Brewing. The slightly sweet caramel and mild bitter citrus flavors presented no conflict with the rich smoke.

This Saturday football outing unfortunately conflicted with the Rivanna IDPA Top Ten Match. After several years of shooting at the club, I was excited to have finally made the Top 10 cut. These pre-game indulgences helped to alleviate the disappointment of missing the match. Even though our team isn't doing well this year, spending a moderately warm November Saturday afternoon sipping and smoking is a pleasurable consolation.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Five O'Clock Friday: Selective Hearing

This was sent by a friend. It's an old one, but still funny.

Screw top bottles, it's been a while.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

A Dunkelweizen and A Smoke

We headed over to 1781 Brewery on Sunday afternoon. I was interested in trying the Dunkelweizen I had seen mentioned on their Facebook page. After getting my beer I also checked out the humidor in the brewery picked up a Crowned Heads Le Carema cigar to enjoy as well.

Although the beer in the picture above seems to have a reddish tint with the sun shining through it, the beer was actually dark reddish-brown in color. The flavor profile had a creamy, malt base with a touch of roasted bread. At just 4.7% it was an enjoyable mid-afternoon libation. The rich leather and creamy notes of the smoke made for a perfect match.

With the time change and cooler fall weather, once the sun dropped below the trees, the temperature dropped as well. Although I was tempted to enjoy another round, of both these pleasurable treats, it was time to head off in search an early Sunday dinner to wind down the weekend.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Windy Day At The Range

A busy work schedule and seemingly endless days of rain made it hard to get out to the range last week. On Saturday, the wind was blowing steady but it was still a good day for a little range time. As I have the last couple outings, I was shooting the Compact SIG P320.

The range was muddy in places and had standing water in others. I found some relatively clear ground around the 10 yard mark, so did all my shooting from the same spot. Two targets were hung so I could work on some target transitions. The range rules prohibit more than two shots per string so I was limited to one shot on each target. Given the temperature, I practiced drawing from under my jacket too. On a few occasions I had to wait for the targets to return to their vertical positions after being pushed horizontal by the wind gusts.

At each magazine change I alternated the direction of the transition, or switched to two quick shots on the same target. I did also devote 50 rounds to shooting SHO and WHO. Despite being a shorter gun, I think the Compact is better balanced for one-handed shooting than the Full Size version.

By the end of my 200 rounds, I noticed some degradation of my shooting and concentration, but still felt it was a great practice session. Even more, it was simply good to spend some time outside and on the range. The coming weeks looks just as full as the past few, making this range opportunity all the more welcome.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Fall Colors on the Range

Red, orange, yellow, and brass.

More to come...

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Spontaneous Range Time

It's been cold and rainy for so long, I was actually surprised to pick up my phone Tuesday afternoon and see 70° on the display. That's too nice to be inside! I decided to leave the office a little early and get in some range time. Stopping by the house I grabbed a target, a couple boxes of ammo, and the SIG P320 Compact.

I started my time at 7 yards, drawing from the holster and going for a quick hit on target. I also kept my "resolution" to expend at least one magazine each devoted to both SHO and WHO shooting. Moving back to 15 yards I became intrigued by the bits of clay targets littering the berm. I started alternating between the cardboard target and the broken clays, with surprising success.

Loading my last 20 rounds I moved back to the 25 yards line. (I was feeling bold I guess.) Most of those shots were fired at the clay bits as well. That exercise proved that the new sights were dead on, and that, with careful aiming, even I can hit a pretty small target at distance with regularity.

I soon lamented my decision to pack just 100 rounds. But, the quick outing gave me plenty of time to get home and finish up some of the work I had foregone at the office, thereby alleviating any guilt.

I think I will throw some clays in the car for the next outing too.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

The Pre-Game Was Fun

Arriving at our tailgate spot, we got our limited setup ready to go. It was a Thursday evening game so the festivities were somewhat subdued. I quickly had my essentials ready to go.

The beer options for the day were from Devils Backbone. I kicked things off with India Black Lager, brewed in collaboration with Wynwood Brewing Company. The dark, mildly hoppy beer was paired with a Perdomo 20th Anniversary Connecticut cigar. The beer went down quickly, although I didn't think it was an ideal flavor match, being a little heavy for the lighter cigar.

My second try was Mile 842 Hoppy Lager. This is a malty lager with a nice touch of citrus. I was a bit surprised how well it paired with the mild, but slightly spicy smoke.

The tailgate area is crowded, and folks are friendly. I had no complaints about the long smoke, and even met a couple other folks enjoying their cigars. I did observe that we had less people cutting through our space and bumping into our seats while I was smoking.

The cool weather, good beer, fine smoke, and plenty of food made for enjoyable afternoon. Unfortunately the game was less satisfying.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Rivanna IDPA and Weapons Master Match

The biennial Weapons Master match was held this past weekend at Rivanna Rifle and Pistol Club in Charlottesville. The match consists of 3 pistol stages, 2 shotgun, and 2 rifle stages. Shooters can compete in just the pistol portion or the complete match. I have shot neither my shotgun nor rifle in quite some time, preferring to focus my time with pistol shooting, so I opted to just shoot the handgun stages.

It was a somewhat cool morning, with scattered rain showers as I drove to the range. Fortunately the rain clouds dispersed before the shooting started, giving us quite a pleasant morning for shooting.

The first pistol stage was a "standards" stage, with one long string of fire that required freestyle, strong hand and weak hand shooting. We started at 15 yards and engaged three targets with two rounds each. Advancing to 10 yards, the targets were engaged again SHO. Finally we moved to 7 yards and repeated the engagement WHO. I ended up 7 points down, one jerked SHO shot into the -3 some contribution significantly to that score.

The next two stages were fun adaptations of stages we shot last weekend at the Potomac Grail. On the  first we started facing a wall with a narrow gap in the center. There targets were shot from retention with our wrists held to our chest. We then moved to both ends of the wall to find six more targets shot from cover. A few low shots saw me -3 for the stage.

The final stage had us pinned in a corner and shooting two targets from strong hand from retention. There were three more arrays of three targets each placed further back that we then engaged in priority. Two of the arrays presented some tight shots due to non-threats centered in front of the target pairs.

Though the pistol match was brief, requiring about as much time to shoot as I spent driving to the range, I was glad I went. I enjoyed the shooting, and as always the camaraderie with other shooters. I finished 6th of 40 in the pistol portion and 2nd of 16 in SSP.

This match is likely the final one of my shooting season. I was a fun wind down. Now I look forward to preparing for next year with dry fire and range visits.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

1781 Brewing Company and Em.bargo's Cigars

After (enough) chores for the day were done on Saturday afternoon we decided to head over to 1781 Brewing Company and Wilderness Run Vineyards for a quick beer. I had seen a posting about a fall release that I was interested in trying out, L’ Automne Red Ale,

L’ Automne is an 8.5% ABV Imperial Red Ale with a rich malt backbone and a touch of hoppiness to balance. The beer is quite hazy and "thick" in appearance, with a creamy mouthfeel to match. Colleen opted for the Saison De L'Orange, and crisp, slightly tart, Farmhouse Ale.

Quickly finishing our beers, we opted to enjoy another round of the same. We also grabbed some food from TÄ-KO Taqueira food truck. The beef and pork tacos were fresh, full of flavor, and we gobbled them down quickly.

Em.bargo's Cigars sets up a small seating area at the brewery on weekends, complete with a couple warm fire pits. There is also a selection of cigars on hand to purchase. I grabbed a RoMa Craft Intemperance to enjoy with my beer. Smoking is permitted throughout the grounds and we opted to find a seat at a picnic table located in some dappled sunlight. It was a moderately cool afternoon but the sun was bright, making for a pleasant time outside enjoying the view of the surrounding vineyards.

About when we were preparing to head home, some friends who we hadn't seen in a while arrived to have some drinks and listen to the band performing that evening. We were persuaded to stay a while longer, and enjoyed the conversation, the music, and another beer. 

Monday, October 22, 2018

No Pasting Needed

I've been so pleased with the Dawson sights I put on my full size SIG P320 this summer, I decided to order a set for the Compact P320. I installed the sights recently and I finally had a chance to try them out last week.

I hung a slightly used IDPA target and shot my first 10 shots from 7 yards. All seemed well at that distance, so back to 10 yards I went. Still good. Now 15. I'm having a good day. Let's try 20 yards. Yep, I can live with that. After the first 50 rounds it was confirmed, the sights are well within my own shooting ability.

Since I hadn't shot this gun in a while, I also expended a couple magazines shooting strong and weak hand only. The rest of my 100 rounds was shot from the 10 yard line while trying to use target focus rather than sight focus. 

When I'm practicing with cardboard targets, I typically will only paste holes outside the -0 zone. I was pleased that I didn't need to break out the target pasters for this outing. (The pasters shown were left from a previous practice.)

Even though my match schedule is sparse for the rest of the year, I think I'll be shooting this gun for a change of pace.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Thursday, October 18, 2018

2018 Potomac Grail IDPA Match

I've been looking forward to the Potomac Grail IDPA match for some time. Held at the Thurmont Conservation and Sportsman's Club near Frederick, Maryland, the Level 2 match featured 13 interesting and unique stages. Last year's inaugural event was shot in a half-day format, which led to a race to shoot all the stages before dark. This year shooting was done in full day format. (After the IDPA Nationals I've had my fill of shooting until, and after, dark.)

The Thurmont facility is very nice. Parking is on grass and right at the shooting area. It's a short walk from end to end to get to all bays. The event was very well-organized and seemed to run smoothly. We started shooting promptly at 9:00 AM, took a short break for lunch, and still finished by 2:30 PM. I was on the road home by 3:00 PM. The timely finish was most welcome as the traffic on the drive home, especially through Loudon County, VA, was horrific.

The match director for this match is Cody Claxton, the IDPA Area Coordinator for Virginia, Maryland, DC, North Carolina, South Carolina, and, wait for it, Iraq. Match directors generally have a style in their matches that one will come to recognize. In Cody's case, he likes to put us in odd positions, either at the start, or while shooting. The stages at the Potomac Grail were no exception. It would take too long to describe in detail all thirteen stages, but I will touch on some of the most interesting. I've also uploaded the match book here for those who want to follow along.

Our squad began our day on "Police Lines." This quick stage required us to shoot strong hand only while carrying, and looking through, a police riot shield. We experienced a brief rain shower at the start of the match which led to the clear window being rain covered when I shot, adding to the challenge. In retrospect I should have asked for a towel to clear the window, but I shot the stage fine nonetheless.

The next stage, set up in the same bay, "Caught In A Corner" had us shooting while jammed in a tight space. The first very close targets were shot from retention, before the final four targets were engaged freestyle.

"Train Terminal Terrorism" was a unique stage, which made use of a full-size replica caboose. (I'm assuming this is used by a Cowboy Action crew that shoots at the club.) Starting outside the caboose we turned to engage a target, with six rounds, through the entryway. Moving into the rail car, there were three target arrays, of four targets each, set from 2 to 15 yards. Those twelve targets required just one hit on each. Most of the targets had only head shots available. The 15 yard targets "technically" offered part of the body area, but for all intents and purposes, they were head shots too. Not feeling confident I took one or two extra shots on the far targets. I was later informed that I actually had made 2 or 3 good hits on each. Go figure.

One of the more unusual stages was "Grappling Fight." The starting position had us lying on our support side, our arms around the chest of a body dummy, weak arm underneath, strong arm on top. Our firearm, downloaded to six rounds, was placed on the ground in front of us and our "grappling partner." Three target arrays were down range with each target requiring three hits. Non-threats and hard cover added to the challenge. At the start we engaged the first two targets strong hand only. Then after a reload we shifted our position to kneeling, with one knee on the chest of the dummy, and finished freestyle.

It was my turn to shoot first on this stage, and I had a moment of "What do I do next?" when it came time to move to kneeling. Despite the challenging shooting positions and tight shots required, I was just three points down for the stage. When I first read the matchbook entry for this stage, I wasn't sure how it would work. After shooting, I literally wore a smile having enjoyed the challenge greatly.

Next up in the same bay was "Compressed Standard." This one offered indeed the most unusual shooting position I've encountered. We stood in front of a wall with a narrow opening in the center. The fault line was a mere 14" back from the wall. We stood between the  fault line and the wall, with the gun at our chest. Our wrists had to remain against our chest the whole time and the gun barrel extended into the opening. Three open targets were shot through the opening, and we aimed by turning our bodies like a turret. It was good shooting fun.

"Sharks All Around" had as walking a 2x12 plank for the entire course of fire. Open targets, t-shirt covered targets, hard cover targets, and non-threats were engaged from various locations along our balanced walk. Staying on the boards was actually easier than expected and the stage was fun to shoot.

"Hold On To Your Kid" saw us carrying a "child" in our support arm. The entire stage was shot strong hand only. Eight threat targets with one swinging, one steel popper, and four non-threats, were found on the course. There were SHO shots taken from both side of cover as we moved between positions. I had a mental error shot one of the targets only once. I still can't explain how I muffed that. The PE and -5 miss added to what would have been a -2 run.

Up until the last stage our squad shot, most of the targets had been within 15 yards. That trend was broken on "40 Yard Standards." Eight targets were placed in a line, requiring increasingly longer shots as you went down the row. The first two targets were shot from a standing position, the next two while kneeling, and we went prone for the last four. Two required hits on each meant a minimum of 16 shots fired, but there was a limit of 18 shots allowed on the course. I saved my "extra" two shots for the final two targets. I didn't shoot well on the last few targets, apparently shooting low. I do wish I had the opportunity to practice my prone technique outside of a match.

As noted previously, the match was exceptionally well run. Our squad had only 6 shooters while most others I think had eight. We occasionally backed up to other shooters, but never had to wait too long. The longest down time was the 30 minute or so lunch break we took.

I had a great time at the match. We had a friendly squad of shooters who encouraged, and also ribbed each other as required. The staff all worked hard to keep the match going smoothly and promote an enjoyable experience. I was generally pleased with how I shot, although I don't feel I quite shot to my ability. Even 13 quick stages challenges my consistency and stamina. I had one regretful HNT and earned one PE for a mental error. Overall, I placed 58th of 129, a total which included 4 PCC shooters. The stats work out to 17/41 in SSP, 26/34 in EX and 6/7 for SSP EX.

Overall, the Potomac Grail was an exciting match that offered some out-of-the-ordinary shooting, without being onerous. I enjoyed the challenge of shooting from some positions that I don't, and can't practice. That mental error PE stuck in my mind for much of the weekend. Interestingly, the exercise of compiling this review, helped to remind me of the rest of the match, and the enjoyable and entertaining day of shooting we had.

I've posted some additional stage photos here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Controversy Over Guns and Coffee

Who knew that selling coffee could be so controversial?
WASHINGTON (WMAL) – For two years the owner of a gun shop in Hamilton, Virginia has been fighting to sell coffee, and Monday he may finally get approval to do it.

Zoning restrictions have prevented the owner of Bullets and Beans from selling coffee at his shop to people who are waiting for background checks or doing other business. Monday the Hamilton Town Council is scheduled to take up a proposal that would allow Kevin Jones to sell coffee for a 6-month trial period.

They must be selling some really good coffee, as one of the community's concerns is "coffee sales could snarl up traffic in the area." Frankly, a two year battle to sell coffee seems more like a path of obstruction by the gun grabbers than anything else.

See "VA Gun Shop Owner Continues Fight To Sell Coffee" for more.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Bill Coors Dies at 102

The former chairman of Coors Brewing Company passed away this weekend.
Bill Coors, a pioneer in the American brewing industry and former chairman of the Adolph Coors Company, died peacefully at his home Saturday at 102.

Molson Coors confirmed his passing in a statement published Saturday.

Bill Coors began working for his grandfather Adolph's brewing company in 1939. Twenty years later, he became company chairman, during which he created and developed the aluminum can, a key milestone for the beer industry.

Despite a lot of skepticism at the time, the aluminum can contributed greatly to the expansion of the craft beer movement, especially in recent years. They are lightweight and preserve the flavor of the beer much better than glass bottles. But, the bigger part of the story is that Bill Coors lived to 102.

Maybe I need to drink more Coors.

See "Beer giant Bill Coors dies at 102" for more.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Relaxing Before the Match

I spent the evening before the Potomac Grail IDPA match at a hotel in Frederick, Maryland. Searching for local attractions I saw that there was a cigar shop just a few minutes from my hotel. Rather than sit in my room, or a local pub, I headed over to Quartermasters Cigars to browse.

Besides the well-stocked humidor, the shop has a large lounge that’s open to the public. I decided to pick up a couple cigars and enjoy one there.

There were a lot of regulars in the lounge on this Friday evening, and I may have been the only visitor. I saw many folks with cigar travel cases and a plethora of beverages. Unfortunately I was not prepared with a beverage other than a bottle of water, but that sufficed for this evening.

I enjoyed the smoke while catching up with email and news on my phone. Then it was time to head back to the hotel room for a little dry fire before the match. It was a most pleasant evening.

A report on the match will be a few days coming.  Now posted.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Musing For Eleven Years

Today marks the 11th birthday of these Musings. I think that's something like 77 in blog years. It's been a fun journey so far. The blog has been through some changes, with varying amounts of activity over the years. Since the summer, posting has slowed due time constraints. I did manage to keep up the shooting related posts, mainly for my own use in journaling the range trips and matches. I'm looking forward to some recreational time this fall to explore more beer, bourbon, cigars, and of course, more shooting.

Thanks for playing along the last 1.1 decades.

October 6 also marks the date of the first train robbery in the United States in 1866. Take that for what it's worth.


Friday, October 5, 2018

A Glock for the SIG Guy?

I was surprised to get this letter the other day informing me I had won a certificate for a Glock pistol at the IDPA Nationals.

I've never owned a Glock. I've never fired a Glock. But a free gun is a free gun! I have a few months to decide what I'd like. A big .45? Or a compact 9mm perhaps? Maybe I'll build a PCC from it.

That's two guns won now. In both cases, the prizes were outside my normal interests. At least that's a good way to try new things.

Thanks to GLOCK, Inc. for their support of IDPA.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Monday Range Time

Even though I shot three IDPA matches in September, including the IDPA Nationals, I did not get in any trips to the indoor range for practice. I sure didn't get a good ROI on my membership fees in August! On Monday, I finally made it down to Winding Brook Indoor Range, for the first time in five weeks.

This visit was a quick one, and I brought along just 150 rounds. For the first 100 rounds, I hung an IDPA target at 10 yards and shot at various speeds. After each mag of 10 rounds, I altered my pace; shooting slow, single shots, or rapid groups of two or three shots. For a few of mags I concentrated on head shots.  A couple of mags were also devoted to one handed shooting, alternating between strong and weak hands.

Finishing up with the target hung at 20 yards, the last 50 rounds were dedicated to slowish fire for distance practice. This was the most time consuming part of the outing as I had to bring the target in every 10 rounds or so to see the holes. With close, rapid fire, a drift to the left is not uncommon. However at this longer distance I was seeing the holes drifting to the right. I am probably concentrating too hard on not pushing to the left and creating the opposite issue. For my very last 10 shots, I focused intently on that side-to-side push and saw a very nice vertical line of hits right in the center. Vertical consistency is a point for next time.

I was fun to finally get back to doing some basic practice and simple shooting. Hopefully the frequency of range outings will pick up for the fall.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Friday Beer and Smoke

We're getting an extended break from days, no weeks, of rainy weather. After finishing work and errands Friday, Colleen suggested that we do a fire. I uncovered the wood pile and hoped it was dry enough to burn. It wasn't long before we had a nice fire going as we watched the sun set.

I opted to enjoy O'Fest from Devils Backbone. Despite gravitating to the hoppy beers in general, I always look forward to the Oktoberfest beers that fill the shelves and draft lines this time of year. The Devils Backbone offering pours an attractive dark amber color with a thin white head. The aroma has notes of sweetness, bread, and caramel. Rich, malty sweetness, bread, and a hint of grassiness greet the palate. I found this to be quite a tasty lager.

I grabbed an Ave Maria Immaculata to smoke with the malt-forward beer. The flavors of the beer and the cigar were in harmony and were very fitting for fireside enjoyment. Soon enough I had to go inside to get a refill for my glass. Imagine my disappointment when I realized that the six-pack was empty and there were no more to be had.

Sticking with the style, I did find a Sierra Nevada Octoberfest in the fridge. This one is, in my opinion, not quite as good as the Devils Backbone but certainly enjoyable. Soon the fire burned down, and our glasses were empty. With the approach of fall, I'm looking forward to many more evenings sitting outside around the fire pit.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Holy Archangels, Intercede For Us

September 29 is the Feast of the Archangels — St. Gabriel, St. Raphael and St. Michael. These are trying times for Christianity and freedom in general, both at home and abroad, with attacks coming from all directions.

Politicians and activists continue to push laws to restrict the free practice of religion. To my utter amazement, people actually stand in the street proclaiming how proud they are to have killed their own children. In the past week we saw a "trial" that would make Stalin proud. People with evil in their hearts, worked to destroy a man and his family, simply because they feared he might uphold the Constitution of this country. The satanic forces of islam continue hundreds of years barbarism and remain relentless in attacking and killing Christians around the world, including right here at home. The Catholic Church is being attacked from within by men who have given in to Satan and his perversions. To anyone paying attention, it's obvious that the evil one has established a stronghold in this world.

We must fight, physically and spiritually, and never surrender to the evil that seems so prevalent. Now is the time to implore the intercession of these warriors to fight for us, and with us. I pray daily to the most powerful of these Holy warriors, St. Michael, to ask his aid and guidance.

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
cast into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

A Rain Break and an IDPA Match

Once again, Mother Nature smiled upon the Cavalier IDPA match. Like last month's match, the morning broke clear and relatively cool. Despite rain the night before, and later that evening, the sun shone during the morning's shooting event.

Our shooting began on a deceptively simple, two string stage called "Get Off My Lawn." Starting with hands on a lawn mower handle, we engaged five threat targets in tactical priority in the first string. There was a lone non-threat target to draw in anyone tempted to go too fast. The second string started the same way, but we had to move the left to find a single steel target hidden behind a barrel.

The next stage, "Unlucky 7," started with engaging two close targets while retreating cover. After engaging a lone target at that position, we moved forward and left across the stage. Targets found at two more points of cover tested our skills in shooting with sharp leans around cover.

In "Holy 7" we were seated in the pew in a simulated church. Our gun and magazines were in a bag at our feet. (Off body carry is always a bad idea, IMO.) There were three closely spaced non-threat targets directly in from us.  The placement of seven targets down range required careful aim between and around the non-threats.

There was a slight slowdown during my shooting of the stage as I lost my place in the targets. Even though I had a plan, and ultimately shot the targets in the planned order, not being able to see more than one or two of the targets at a time combined with the multiple levels of priority led to some hesitance. I have no doubt that challenge was by design.

"Hall of 7" was based on a stage at the National match; the stage designer was one my companions on that trip. Gun and all mags were placed on a table where we were seated. After engaging two targets in the open, we moved right across the bay, stopping at four positions to shoot from cover. After the far right most position, we moved down range to finish the stage. Lots and movement and lots of cover made for a fun course of fire.

We finished the match on "Deja Vu 7." Starting with our gear on a barrel, we loaded and took care of two close targets. After moving backwards to a point of cover, we then progressed left and forward to shoot from three more points of cover. Short target distances made this a stage where one might be tempted to shoot too fast. A couple of non-threat targets made that a dangerous temptation. I avoided the non-threats, but aimed too high on the target with a non-threat tacked to the front. Interestingly, I hit the target exactly where I was aiming, but apparently misjudged where on the target I needed to hit, and made a tight group of two holes — right in the -1 zone. I was -3 on the stage, but those 2 points were exceptionally frustrating, and I credited that mistake with dropping me three spots in the overall standings. But, I hit no non-threats the whole match. :-)

The range is under some temporary restrictions to shoot only in to the back berms while they establish the grass on the side burns. Despite that restriction, the match designers put together some very good stages. The creative use of walls and target placement provided a wide range of shooting angles and challenges. One would hardly notice the limitations.

I felt pretty satisfied with how I shot. My 14 points down was a little higher than I would have liked, but I still managed to finish 11th of 45 shooters, with one of the top 10 being a PCC shooter.

After the work and stress of last week's IDPA Nationals, I was very much looking forward to the relaxed enjoyment of this local match. It was indeed a pleasurable morning of shooting. I got to visit with friends, including some I had not seen in a while, and meet some new ones as well. Good shooting is best when paired with good people and this was an especially enjoyable match.

More match photos here.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

IDPA National Championship

I've been meaning to write about my experience at the IDPA Nationals, but have found it hard to organize my thoughts. I'll post some thoughts here, and perhaps more in the future.

Held at the impressive CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park, the match was large, and long. The stages were generally challenging, without being overly difficult. There were some hiccups as can be expected in a undertaking this size, though they detracted little from the overall experience. I was expecting a little more stage "pizzazz" than we saw though. I did enjoy the pneumatically-powered and electronically-controlled targets. That so many of the stages were similar to what I often see at regional, and even local matches, serves as a compliment to our area match directors.

As noted previously, the shooting day was long. Since our group was on the low end of the points needed to qualify to shoot the match, we had last pick of the time slots. That meant instead of shooting in two half days, we shot the entire 18 stage event in one day. Shooting started promptly at 9:00AM. We finally finished around 8:30 PM. Our final stage was illuminated by car headlights. I felt there were a few match administration issues that added delays and extended the day. That the complete match could not be shot in the light is my biggest disappointment of the experience.

The weather for the day was hot, and humid, with a couple rain showers mid-afternoon. In a great example of watching out for shooters, there was a water wagon that made continual runs up and down the bays all day delivering cold water and soda. The much needed refreshment arrived several times while we were in each bay. Even if one was shooting when the water wagon came by, it was only a short time before it came through again. This touch was very much needed and appreciated. Another welcome detail was the trailer ride provided when we needed to move from the last bay up the long distance to the other end of the range. The transportation of shooters and gear was a welcome saver of both time and energy.

The SOs that ran us through the stages were all quite friendly and also efficient. Despite standing in the heat all day, with days to go still, they remained cheerful. I really expected to face a few sourpusses in the course of the day, but found just the opposite.

Excepting a few frustrating issues, the match was generally well-run. Putting on a match the size of the National Championship is no small feat, and overall I'd call this one was a success. The day was really all about the shooting. I admit to being a tad disappointed with my overall finish, yet at the same time was pleased to finish where I did in a national level match. There were a number of stages that I particularly enjoyed, which I'll describe below.

"Moving Standards" started with three static targets that were engaged weak hand only. We then moved to engage three more targets strong hand only. The last three targets were all disappearing targets that were exposed at varying times. The times varied at each exposure, but was the same pattern for all shooters. Being challenged to shoot movers one-handed is something I don't recall from my prior matches. Despite finishing 11 points down, I enjoyed the stage.

"Triple Threat" was a fun stage with a unique swinger holding three targets which moved back and forth behind a row of barrels, exposing the targets for only brief intervals. That swinging array was activated when we pushed our "child" out of the way. That action also activated a swinging non-threat that was moving amongst targets at the final shooting position. Getting good hits on the fast moving triple swinger was a challenge. After an intermediary shooting position that included a steel popper and a few paper targets, the next challenge was to arrive at the last shooting position before the swinging non-threat had slowed too much, or worse, had stopped behind a threat target. Even though I was -10 for the stage, which included a miss on the left most swinging target, this stage produced my second highest stage finish in the match.

After dropping our laundry basket in the stage "Dirty Clothes," we engaged a row of threat targets obscured by non-threats and shirts hanging on a clothesline. Depending on your personal "vertical challenges," you could shoot over, under or between the line of laundry. I shot from a single position while squatting slightly. While I shot the stage just -2, it was also my second lowest stage finish in the match. There were obviously a lot of shooters who completed the course much more quickly. I was moving slowly at this point it seems.

The scenario for "Office Robbery" featured a car that had "crashed" through your office. The stage offered a couple interesting challenges. Although our gun was loaded and holstered at the start, all the magazines for reloading were staged at a separate location inside a filing cabinet. Also, there was a threat target inside of the vehicle. Instead of the typical shooting from, or through, a vehicle, in this scenario we shot into the vehicle. It was a fun stage that I shot -0.

One of my favorite stages was "Grocery Aisle." The main shooting feature of the stage involved two disappearing targets which appeared at varying, but repeated, intervals from either side of the aisle. The targets were activated by the shooter knocking a can off the shelf. There was a static target between the moving targets, and most shooters were opting to shoot one of the disappearing targets, then the static target. They would then wait a second or two for the second mover to reappear. Other targets were then engaged on both sides of the "grocery aisle."

My original plan was to follow the same routine. However, as I watched the target movement as others shot, I was imagining my timing in my head. I started believing that I could get shots on both targets on one exposure. I made up my mind to do just that. I also knew success depended on not fumbling my draw, so made a mental note to revert my plan if the draw was slow. The buzzer sounded, I hit the can and drew, turning to face the left target and firing three shots. I made a quick transition to the right side and fired three more. I think that my third shot may have gone into open space as the second target disappeared. I finished the stage and anxiously listened for the SO to call the scores. All stationary targets were -0, and the two movers were each -1. I was unable to see if I had 2 or 3 hits on the disappearing targets, but was ecstatic to have scored so well. This was my highest placing stage, 119th overall and 36th in my division.

After that high point, which was on the twelfth stage we shot, the next few stages were a let down. I was getting extremely tired and found myself shooting a little sloppy. I felt slow and was pulling shots to the left. (I actually went to a safe area and confirmed my sights had not come loose.) Fatigue was setting in, and I was thoroughly wet from rain and sweat. It would take much concentration, and a large sugar cookie left over from lunch, to finish on a high note.

With two stages to go, the sunlight was fading. "Gun Store" was a stage shot while standing, with 6 threat targets arranged in three levels of priority. In the dim light, I stood no chance of seeing my hits on paper, of which there were to be three on each. I had to concentrate on technique. The SO's needed flashlights to score the stage, and I was just 1 down.

One stage to go, and it would be a challenge. The sun had set, and they were lining up vehicles at the front of the bay to light the stage. This only helped so much as the stage was deep, with walls and barrels blocking much of the artificial light. The stage started with a steel target that activated a swinger. The stage finished shooting prone under a low wall. While shooting prone, there were six threat targets, two of which were exposed by shooting two, 4 inch wide steel plates which fell to release the targets. I was excited to shoot the stage, both for the interesting course of fire, and to be done with the match. At the same time I was irritated by the poor conditions.

Hitting all the targets required shifting from side to side, as well as a reload while prone. Adding to the challenge, some persistent issues with my neck muscles made it quite difficult to raise my head to see the sights. Fighting through all the issues I had a very good run. Even though I could barely see them, I hit the kicker plates 1 for 1. My total was just -3 on the stage. Despite mixed results throughout the match, I would have a strong finish to reflect back upon.

Would I shoot Nationals again? If you had asked me at 8:30 on Thursday evening, the answer would have been an emphatic "no." In retrospect, it's still a "no" if I had to do it all in one day. There isn't enough daylight in the day, nor do I have the stamina of my youth. If the opportunity presents itself again, and I have enough qualifying points to get my choice of shooting over two days, I would consider it. Our schedule of Thursday shooting also made it impractical to stick around for the Saturday evening awards banquet. I think attending the social event with other competitors would add to the enjoyment.

Looking at my final score numbers, I initially felt some disappointment. I finished 229 of 355 overall. Other stats are 65 of 103 in SSP division, 92 of 109 in the EX class, and 26th of 29 in SSP EX. Since I was bumped to EX in the spring, I'm typically still in the lower range of the classification. However, looking beyond the numbers and factoring in the level of competitors, I'm satisfied. I learned a lot and gained some good experience. There was enjoyable shooting, and a five day mini-vacation of fun, food, and drink with good friends. Our group had rented a cabin on a nearby lake for the week, so even the non-shooting time was enjoyable. When it's all said and done, there's little to complain about.

As I reflect more on the match, there may be more posts in the future. Although the stages changed in some places, the match book can be viewed here. I've also put more photos from the day here.