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!