Monday, August 27, 2018

A Beautiful Morning for IDPA

On Saturday morning, when I headed out for the monthly Cavalier IDPA match, the dashboard thermometer read 57°. There was definitely a touch a fall in the air. The temperature would eventually climb to around 81°, but still a most pleasant morning for shooting. I hadn't made it to this match since May and was looking forward to returning.

Five stages were set up in the new large bays. As I walked up to the first stage, I thought the shadows were playing tricks with my eyes. Facing two rows of targets, we saw numerous black vertical lines and non-threats, among which we were challenged to find seven valid targets.

The stage designer had added lines matching the target sticks to both threats and non-threats. Two of the threat targets were in a row behind the others, which drew several shooters into shooting them out of priority. Even on the threat targets, hits in the black didn't score. The targets were all shot from low cover behind a barrel. It was an interesting and unique stage, and I shot it -2. The stage designer also happened to be on our squad, and was subjected to much good-natured ribbing.

Cavalier stages typically involve a lot of movement, and the next stage was no exception. Our unloaded gun was left in a box, and all magazines were placed in a second box. We started the course of fire away from those two boxes and ran to retrieve the contents. Moving to one side of the course there were targets to be shot from two points of cover. After which, we made a run across the stage and down a tight winding hallway to find more threats. I dropped a magazine during my reload which cost some time, but shot the stage just one point down.

Stage 3 consisted of two quick strings. For the first string we had a close line of five threat and two non-threat targets to our left. To the right, a lone target much further away. After shooting that string, we moved to stand centered on a wall. Behind the wall were two targets set behind a non-threat. Each required two body shot and one head shot; the left target from the left side of the wall, the right target from the right. I shot the stage -2, both points dropped on the first string.

Stage 4 was a simple stage, and at the same time, quite complex. At the start we engaged two distant falling poppers. Shifting slightly we found three nearby paper targets. Leaving cover we ran down a hallway, stepping on a stomp plate on the way. That activated a swinging target and swinging non-threat; the non-threat passing in front of the threat target at a varying rate. The swinger was engaged on the way to, or at, the final point of cover where two distant targets were also engaged.

There were almost as many opinions on how best to run the stage as there were shooters. I decided to do a reload with retention on my way to the stomp plate. There was little movement between shooting the swinger and turning to engage the final targets so I didn't want to waste time reloading there. Despite miming my tactical reload multiple times before shooting, I dropped the magazine on the ground instead of pocketing it. I lost some time picking it up after completing my reload. That habit is one reason I rarely opt for that reload option, and the reason I should practice it more.

The final stage had me wondering if it was two stages in one. There were 16 targets placed throughout a labyrinth of walls. Each target required but one hit, instead of the usual "best two per paper."

As we wound our way through the course, we found from one to six targets at each position. The six target array was fronted by four non-threats, which made slowing for head shots necessary for some targets. As I neared the end of the course, my mind started with the doubt, "Did I miss going into a corner to find a target?" I was admittedly distracted at the end and I think shot the last few targets without full concentration. When I finished, the SO confirmed I had shot all targets, and I walked away with a smile for a successful match. Suddenly I heard, "Hit on a non-threat." Sure enough, after a clean match I had pulled a shot into the last non-threat on the last stage of the match. As I remarked,  "At least I'll get over it before the next stage I shoot. Next weekend."

Despite that whiff at the finish, I was generally pleased with how I shot. I felt good about accuracy, speed, and stage planning. I finished 12th of 43 handgun shooters overall, and 6th of 19 in SSP.

As always, the stages at Cavalier are challenging and never boring. Match director Chris and his staff always come up with interesting, fun courses of fire that put our skills, both shooting and thinking, to the test, in a most enjoyable manner. I always enjoy the time spent shooting and the conversations with friends and fellow shooters. After we finished shooting, we broke down the stage, and I was on the road home by 12:30. The sunny drive on country roads, with good blues on the radio, soon had me forgetting that final errant shot and looking forward to the next time.

More pics of the fun stages here.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Range Time

It's fun to go to the range, hang a target at 7 yards and shoot fast. Maybe even activate the timed turning target too. But sometimes it's good to practice the stuff that you don't do as well on. After feeling a little shaky with my one-handed shooting last weekend, I decided to start with that when I hit the range this week.

I opted to shoot the drills at 7 yards, mainly so it would be easier for me to confirm my hits, and adjust as needed. After firing the first 30 rounds SHO, I was fairly pleased, and my hand was tired. I switch to WHO for 20 more rounds. The goal in both cases was strictly pressing the trigger without moving the gun. Next time I'll add in some work on quick follow up shots.

Next it was time for distance work, this time at 25 yards. I often think back to when I started this sport almost 10 years ago, I was lucky to hit the paper at that distance. (That was the case at even 10 yards!) Now at least I can keep the holes generally in the -0 zone. On this day I was contrasting my practice with the guy in the lane next to me who seemed to be hitting 1 inch dots on the paper at 25 yards — but with an optic, and a bench rest.

Next up in the "practice your weaknesses" session was 10 yard head shots. I tend to shoot low, especially at the indoor range, when aiming for the head portion of the IDPA target. This time I focused on not doing that.

And finally, I hung the target at 7 yards, activated the timed turning target, and shot fast. Sometimes you just have to have fun too!

Monday, August 20, 2018

Rivanna IDPA Match

There was thick fog in the fields as I headed to the monthly IDPA match at Rivanna Action Pistol Club on Saturday morning. The sun was behind the clouds but I knew it was going to be a warm, humid morning. It's Summer. In Virginia. No surprises here. I did drive through a bit of rain, but a quick check of Dark Sky on my phone confirmed it was only a passing shower.

As we waited to start shooting, my glasses were already fogging up from the humidity, but at least the skies were somewhat overcast. The opening stage for our squad had us standing with our back centered on a small wooden fence, facing five targets placed behind a bunch of barrels, each target requiring three hits each. The stage brief indicated the center target was to be shot first, followed by the rest in any order. A step or two was required in order to get shots on all targets. I got the first stage jitters out of the way, with 4 points down.

On the second stage, we started facing up range, weak hand on our "credit card in the ATM." Turning, we engaged three targets while standing, and a fourth as we moved to cover. At the next position there were two targets, with non-threats positioned such that I took "safe" headshots. Moving to the final cover position we found three more targets. I shot the stage zero points down, but had an otherwise good run fouled by a hit on a non-threat target at the last shooting position.

Next up was a fun stage shot while seated at a table, the unloaded gun and all mags on the table to start. After loading the gun, we engaged two up close targets first. Four targets fronted by non-threats were placed midway down the stage. The final three targets were longer shots with two of the targets well-hidden behind a "good guy." Some leaning in the chair was required to make the shots.

To my delight, I turned in my best performance on this stage, shooting just one point down. It seems my longer distance practice of late paid off. After hitting a non-threat on the previous stage, this was a good pick-me-up.

The final stage brought in the strong hand and weak hand only shooting. I struggled with these skills in practice the other day, but took my time and tried for good hits, regardless of time. The stage started with us shooting from behind a barrel stack; three targets WHO around the left side, then three SHO around the right. We then ran to another position to shoot three more targets freestyle. I took a few extra shots and didn't feel I shot all that solidly, but ended up just 2 points down.

Even with limited trigger time time the last couple of weeks, I was moderately pleased with my shooting. Obviously the one HNT stings, but accurate distance shooting and lack of mental errors are satisfying. I placed 8th of 55 overall and 5th of 28 in SSP.

It took a while to get all shooters through the 4 stages set up in two bays. We finished shooting around 1:00PM. The match offered a good balance of challenges; shooting while standing, shooting on the move, shooting while seated, SHO / WHO shooting, as well as a mix of close and distant targets. While quite humid, the weather was not overly oppressive, especially considering it's August. There was a brief sprinkle while shooting the last stage, but the rain held off until the match was over. It was quite a fun morning with friendly folks and good shooting.

More stage pics here.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Finally, To The Range

Work and family responsibilities kept me away from the range last week, and nearly did so this week as well. Fortunately, a visit from a family friend led to an unplanned excursion on Thursday. I was happy to clear up some work early, and even more pleased that Colleen could join us as well.

I generally schedule my range trips on the "off hours" to avoid crowds. Not so this time. The range was busier than I usually experience, but we still managed to get three adjacent lanes in the same bay.

A lot of targets out there

My session began at 10 yards, most of the time shooting fast 2 - 4 shot strings, and concentrating on not pushing the shots to the left when shooting fast, as I experienced recently. I also threw in some head shot work, enjoying the ability to see the small target beyond the new small front sight.

Feeling good, I pushed the target out to 20 yards. Of the next 50 rounds fired, I managed to keep all but 8 inside the -0 zone. That success I also attribute to the narrow front sight not covering the entire target at distance. I may be late to the party, but I am certainly appreciating the improved sight picture.

Finally, putting a new target at 7 yards, I ran a magazine each doing some SHO and WHO shooting. I was not as pleased with that portion of my practice session. Admittedly I was getting tired by this point, so will revisit one-handeds shooting, for an extended time, soon. The range time finished with several quick magazines fired at the timed turning target.

The serendipitous range trip turned out to be both a lot of fun, and a good practice session. It was enjoyable having Colleen and our friend along, for both the shooting, and the long drive to and from the range.

No More Anonymous Comments

For now anyway.

A while back, Blogger did away with supporting Open ID for commenting on blog posts. The only options now are Google ID and anonymous posting. I allowed anonymous posting so as to not force Google ID on folks. However, in the ensuing weeks, I've had but one legitimate post from an anonymous commenter. Lately, the anonymous spam posts have increased, reaching multiple comments an hour at times. Sadly, it's apparent theses comments are coming from a single spammer, but that doesn't stop my email from blowing up. Sometimes the spam comments are mildly entertaining, the latest don't even have that going for them.

I've disabled anonymous commenting. I may turn it back on later. Or I might not.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Martyrs of Otranto

August 14 is the Feast Day of the Martyrs of Otranto. These faithful Christians were victims of muslim brutality and conquest in the Italian city of Otranto in 1480. Two days prior, on August 11, the town, which had been under siege for two weeks, was finally overrun by the Ottoman invaders. Subsequently, all men in the town over the age of 50 were slaughtered, and women and children under 15 were sent away into slavery. The leader of the invaders, Pasha Ament ordered over 800 surviving Christian men brought before him and commanded them to convert to islam or face death. The faithful refused to cave in to his barbarous demands.

One of the men came forth and spoke in a manner that we should all pray we could emulate,
My brothers, until today we have fought in defense of our country, to save our lives, and for our lords; now it is time that we fight to save our souls for our Lord, so that having died on the cross for us, it is good that we should die for him, standing firm and constant in the faith, and with this earthly death we shall win eternal life and the glory of martyrs.
Angered that they would not renounce their faith, Pasha Ament ordered all the men killed. On August 14, 1480, the prisoners were brought to a nearby hill and beheaded, while their families and friends were mercessly forced to watch. According to tradition, the body of the first victim, Antonio Primaldo, refused to fall over until the entire group had been executed. The destruction of the town complete, and its population decimated, the moslem invaders continued their march toward Rome.

A year later, in October 1481, the bodies of the martyrs were found to be uncorrupted and moved to the Otranto cathedral. On December 14, 1771, Pope Clement XIV beatified these brave men. On May 12, 2013 their cause for Sainthood was completed when Pope Francis declared the Martyrs of Otranto to be among the Saints in Heaven.

Martyrs of Otranto, Ora pro nobis!

Relics of the Otranto Martyrs

The islamic war on Christianity, and civilized people as a whole, continues to this day. The scimitar remains the conversion tool of choice for the barbaric cult. (That whole "religion of peace" meme notwithstanding.)

Today we remember these brave men and pray we remain as strong in our own wars against the minions of Satan.

Also see "How the 800 Martyrs of Otranto Saved Rome" for more on the martyrs and their place in the history of Christendom.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Old Blatz Beer Commercial

Saw this the other day over at New Jovian Thunderbolt.

I remember Blatz was often the beer of choice during those lean college years. In those days we looked for quantity over quality. 

Friday, August 10, 2018

Five O'Clock Friday: Time to Decompress

It's been a slow no blogging week. Life is good, however I've had neither the time nor the inspiration to write.

I changed positions at work a few months ago, and it's keeping me busy, even if I am enjoying it. My brain is always "on" while working through finances, contracts, licensing, and so forth. When I get home, after a few final checks of my mail, I am ready to relax. Period.

That usually means sitting on my screen porch, sipping coffee, or a beer, or maybe a bourbon. I try to avoid having my laptop with me, preferring to simply stare into the woods while I recharge.

But, it's the weekend. Here's hoping for refreshment and replenishment.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Sanner's Lake July IDPA Match

On Saturday, I joined three friends for the trip across the Potomac River to shoot the monthly IDPA match at Sanner's Lake. I was looking forward to shooting the new fiber optic sight outdoors in sunlight. The Delaware State IDPA Match was also taking place over the weekend, so attendance at the monthly match was low, with just 38 shooters participating.

The first stage had us moving and shooting around walls. Seven targets requiring two hits each were found on the stage, along with a non-threat and a barrel stack adding to the challenge. It was a fun, quick stage that got my match off to a good start, shooting down zero.

Next up was an unusual Standards stage with a lone target set at five yards, and engaged in four separate strings. String 1 was draw and fire one shot, string 2 was four rounds low ready, three shots strong hand only from low ready was required for the third string, and two rounds weak hand only from low ready finished the stage. This turned out to be too complicated for my early morning brain. After firing just two of the SHO shots, I moved the gun to my support hand and awaited the start of the next string. After a bit a I heard a whisper behind me, "Wasn't it three shots?" D'oh! I quickly transferred the gun back and fired another shot. Game over. That delay was 5 seconds or more, and moved me to the bottom of the pack for that stage. Moving on...

The next stage was shot from behind a barricade with three target arrays set down range. Each pair of targets had a non-threat in the center, with the center array requiring shots from both sides of the barricade. I ended up shooting this stage twice. On my first run, as I moved my gun to the second target on the left side, it wasn't there! Looking over my gun I saw the target had blown over and was laying at a 45 degree angle. The stage was reset and I made another run. This was another good run, which I shot just two down.

"Bad Invitation" was shot from a seated position with the gun loaded with six rounds and set on the table. Three paper targets and a falling steel popper where set up on each side. The left and right arrays were shot in two separate strings; three paper, a reload from the belt, and repeat the second string for the other side. I shot the stage just two down. However, the posted online results that evening showed a HNT and a PE instead of the two down one targets. I learned later this was a result of improper data entry on the tablet, that error dropped me down some 8 spots in the posted rankings.

Stage five was another Standards stage with six targets placed from 5 to 16 yards. Starting with the gun held in the support hand at low ready, the closest target was shot WHO, the next SHO, and the final four, freestyle. I was 6 points down for the stage.

The final stage we shot was the IDPA 5x5 Classifier, which was incorporated into the match to, theoretically, discourage sandbagging. I was confident going into the stage. I shot at a pace I was comfortable with from my practice this week, and which would have upheld my classification. Unfortunately my shots were all grouping low, leading to significant points down. I was also aware at the time that I rushed the final head shot and shot low.

I had some good stages, and some disappointing stages, never really finding my groove. Although I shot most stages well, I never really felt like I was fully engaged. I "officially" finished 13th overall, and 6th of 18 on SSP — if the scores are to be believed. In a post match review with others, unfortunately several scoring errors were in evidence similar to the ones mentioned above for other shooters as well; where target points down were entered as PE's and HNT's. My overall placement was likely 10th or 11th. Match staff were in short supply, and there was some unfamiliarity with the scoring devices by the willing volunteers. There was no Lexus at stake and I was there for the practice above all. While disconcerting on paper, I'm not losing sleep over it, but will be sure to review future score tabulations more closely.

Still, the match illustrated some of my own weaknesses to be addressed. Despite all my practice recently being of the "stand and shoot" variety, I tend to not do as well on "stand and shoot" type stages in matches. Sight impatience? Head games? I'll figure it out.

The match ran quickly and smoothly, and we were leaving the range by 11:00. While fun, the stages were a bit less exciting than we usually see at this venue. I suspect that the limited staff and poor weather in the days before the match led to simpler stages being set up. However, the long drive home was full of fun conversation with friends, not to mention stops for lunch and to shop for distilled beverages. I have some things to work on in future practices, and am looking forward to improvements going forward.

More stage pics here.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Five O'Clock Friday: Printing Guns

Almost finished.

Beware of "ghost guns" this weekend.

A Better Practice Session

I managed to get in another visit to the range this week. (Actually it's not the range time that's hard to find, it's the time to travel to and from the range that eats up the afternoon.) I felt I needed another session after the mixed results last time.

I started out shooting at 10 yards, at a moderate pace, alternating between body and head shots. I'm starting to feel a lot more confident with the head shots now that the front sight doesn't cover the whole target. I can start trying for -0 hits instead of just "on paper" when aiming at the head zone.

A fresh target in place, the next 50 rounds were fired in rapid, 4, 5, or 6 shot strings. Shooting as fast as I could get an acceptable sight picture, I was seeing the benefits of the narrow sight even on the larger target zone and feeling more confident in my shot calling.

Next up was a bit of longer distance shooting with the target set at 20 yards. Here again, I was seeing the benefit of the competition sites. More target area visible behind the sight means easier and more precise target alignment. Until the final magazine, when fatigue led to faster, more careless shooting, the majority of the hits were in the center -0 area.

Opting to shoot one more box of ammo, just to finish on a "high note," I hung the target at an easy 7 yards. Splitting the shots between the head and body zones, I dropped just one head shot into the -1 head area.

Speeding up shooting by the 50 rounds of extra fast trigger pulls, my typically short range time is finished even more quickly. Most days the travel time for a range trip is four times the time spent shooting, unless there happens to be an incident on the highway, at which point the ratio becomes even more lopsided. However, the shooting is fun and beneficial, so it's an acceptable tradeoff, for now.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Doctors and Guns

When it comes to gun ownership, it seems that family physicians are not always supportive. However, I am fortunate to have some health care providers who are not only accepting, but take an active interest firearms.

When I'm getting a chiropractic adjustment, I need to remove all the thicker objects from my belt and pockets. The conversation usually turns to range visits and guns. The chiropractor asks about recent match experiences, so I tell him about anything that hurts when I'm shooting.

Our family doctor will often look at my weigh-in data and then ask what I'm carrying. In true patient / doctor familiarity, he often remembers what I wore during my last visit.

Still don't like going to the doctor.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

National Shooting Sports Month

The National Shooting Sports Foundation has declared August to be "National Shooting Sports Month." This is an idea I can get behind.

Here's some suggestions for marking the month from NSSF....
1. Bring Someone New
There’s nothing quite like seeing the excitement on a friend’s face after they take their first shots. Bring a friend or family member to the range for the first time.

2. Try Something New
Are you a hardcore handgun shooter? Then pick up a shotgun and give sporting clays a try. Are you primarily a shotgun shooter? Then hone your handgun skills or sign up for a local International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) match.

3. Rediscover Shooting
Haven’t shot in a while? Dust off your shooting gear and head to the range, preferably with a friend. Learn a new game, like action pistol or skeet shooting.

4. Find an Event Near You
At you’ll find National Shooting Sports Month events at ranges and retailers across the country. If there’s not an event listed in your area, use the website to locate a range near you to enjoy a fun, safe day of target shooting.

5. Make it a Date
Ask your spouse, partner, boyfriend or girlfriend to go shooting. You’ll have a great time together. By the way, women are the fastest growing segment in target shooting (and hunting), and more gear than ever is being designed for their fit and comfort.

6. Cash in on Deals
Retailers and ranges will be offering specials during National Shooting Sports Month. You can find a participating business near you and take advantage of these offers.

7. Practice Firearm Safety
The shooting sports are safe. As a responsible gun owner, you can demonstrate how to safely handle your firearms on the firing line and securely store them when they’re not in use.

8. Celebrate Freedom and Tradition
In addition to passing on the great tradition of target shooting, you can educate others about the unique American freedoms that make participating possible.

9. Share it!
#LetsGoShooting is the theme of National Shooting Sports Month. Share the hashtag and your experiences on your social media networks, and remind others to give target shooting a try.

10. Win a Great Prize!
Finally, enter the sweepstakes at and have a chance to win great prizes from National Shooting Sports Month sponsors.

Now, get to the range! If you want help or company, let me know.