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.