Monday, June 29, 2015

Cavalier IDPA Match

After a Saturday of torrential rain, Sunday dawned sunny and unseasonably cool as I headed out for the monthly IDPA match at Cavalier. I did have to make a detour along the way after encountering a road closure due to high water. Fortunately my GPS found an alternate route and I arrived at the range without too much delay.

The match consisted of four extremely fun stages, requiring about 50 rounds total. On Stage 1, we started with the loaded gun and a spare magazine on a barrel, with hands on a popper. At the signal, we pushed the steel target forward, activating a swinging target, and retrieved the gun and magazine. After engaging the swinger, we moved up range to deal with 5 more targets from two shooting positions. I was 5 points down on the stage; I think 4 of those were on the fast moving swinger.

The next stage started seated at a table, and required the first three targets to be engaged while seated. Then the shooter moved left to engage a close, then a far target, before moving downrange to find the final two targets around the end of the wall. Again, 5 points down on the stage.

Stage 3 was a "speed stage" with three stationary targets, and two disappearing targets activated by falling steel. The moving targets were quick, requiring fast followup shots after hitting the steel. On the first mover, I got the shots off quickly and was just down 1. On the second mover I hesitated waiting for the target to move, and ended down 6, finishing 9 down for the stage. This was a stage I would have liked to shot a few more times just for practice, or at least the two moving targets. I posted a short video showing the targets in action here.

The final stage was another interesting challenge. Starting with the loaded gun on a barrel, and all spare magazines placed inside an open cooler. At the start, we grabbed the gun and moved forward to engage two targets behind some barrels. After stepping back to pick up the cooler, the rest of the stage was shot while moving uprange. We were required to carry the cooler with us; most shooters engaging the next two targets strong hand only, around the left side of a wall. It made for a bit of body contortion, especially as I hugged the wall too closely. Continuing uprange the cooler was left on another barrel. Since all reloads had to come from the cooler, and any non-empty mags retained in the cooler as well, a quick reload was made at the drop off point, before moving further uprange to the final three targets. There was lots of fun to be had on this run and I was just 1 point down for the stage.

I felt good about my shooting at this match. There were a few things I might have done differently in retrospect, but overall I was pleased. I finished 12th of 33 overall, and 7th of 19 in my division. The stages were all very interesting, each offering unique challenges. There was a group of fun folks on our squad, and the match moved along quickly. Fun stages, the sun shining, and the temperature moderate, I really couldn't have asked for a more enjoyable morning of shooting.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Capital Ale House Roof Collapse

About 3:30 PM on Saturday, a portion of the roof Capital Ale House in Fredericksburg collapsed, falling into the dining area of the restaurant. Due to the quick actions of the staff, all patrons and employees were able to escape safely and avoided being hit by the falling debris. 

For most of day Saturday our area was under a severe storm warning, as well as flash flood and tornado watches. It has not yet been determined if the collapse was weather related. The damage is reported to be significant and the restaurant is closed until further notice. 

We wish the employees of Capital Ale House well, and are looking forward to seeing them again once repairs are complete. 

Photo courtesy the Capital Ale House Facebook page.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Quote of the Day: Charlemagne to Pope Leo III

"It is our part with the help of Divine holiness to defend by armed strength the holy Church of Christ everywhere . . . it is your part, most holy Father, to help our armies with your hands lifted up to God like Moses, so that by your intercession and by the leadership and gift of God the Christian people may everywhere and always have the victory over the enemies of the Holy Name." 
--Charlemagne, in a letter to Pope Leo III, 796 AD

H/T to DaddyBear.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

So Close, Yet So Far

I made a last minute, and short, trip out to the Denver area this week. When I used to travel to Denver regularly, I made a point to visit local craft beer stops. Unfortunately, there was little time for "sightseeing." As I looked out my hotel window in Longmont in the morning, I was greeted with this sight...

Yes, that's the Oskar Blues silo across the way. Due to the highway and landscape, it's not as close as it looks; it's certainly not a direct walk. In fact, my local co-workers laughed knowingly when I mentioned the location. I did enjoy a pint of Oskar Blues Pinner Session IPA the previous evening at the Yard House in downtown Denver. It was quite tasty.

Just to rub it in, as we left the hotel for the morning's meetings, I was treated to this view from the other side, with my hotel in the background. I need to plan these trips better.

Monday, June 22, 2015


I've never reposted, in full, a post from another blog on these Musings. But I recently read an essay by Tiffany Johnson who writes at Front Sight Press that moved me to do just that. Tiffany's post is probably the most thought provoking commentary I’ve read on the recent rapid mass murder incident in Charleston, SC. I urge you to read this carefully, think about it, and then read it again.

Reprinted with permission of the author.
Once you read this, close your eyes. Do your genuine best to suspend disbelief and breathe life and purpose into the monster I’m about to describe. By conservative estimates, it probably weighs about 1,500 pounds. It has 36 arms and legs, 180 claws, and as many as 288 teeth. It has nine different vocalizations, each one powerful in its own distinct way. It is highly territorial and finds refuge in the very same den that has sheltered its ancestors for generations. It also has at least 13 offspring to protect, and some of them have growing nests of their own. 
Between its sheer physical might and its psychological motivation, surely such a creature could never be defeated. Surely nothing could infiltrate its den with the slightest hint of hostility and live to tell about it. No beast. No predator. And certainly no 90-pound pipsqueak with a pop gun. And yet, here we are. Each voice silenced, every limb laid waste. Nine families are disemboweled, and a storied force of culture and history is decapitated — all by a bigot with a bowl cut. 
An incredulous cynic once asked me, “So if someone stuck a gun in your face, you would actually fight back? Why not just give him what he wants and move on with life?” Make no mistake: I’m not one of those gun people who bash the “compliance approach.” I acknowledge that “just give him what he wants” is one potentially viable option in some cases. And I don’t begrudge those who go that route. But for these nine worshippers, compliance wasn’t an option. The assailant’s demand was whiteness, and they couldn’t have given him that, even if they wanted to. 
As for me, I’ve gotten to know myself pretty well. I have a sense of how I might fare after even momentarily having my human autonomy usurped by a self-seeking ravager. Even if I escaped with a beating heart, I know that a vital part of my soul would be lost. As much as I might hope to “move on with life” afterwards, there wouldn’t be much of a life awaiting me. 
I have no little ones at home to inspire me. Nor do my limbs number in the dozens (and the few that I’ve got aren’t in optimal shape right now). I don’t for one instant pretend to be a model of might or courage, so who knows how I would actually react to a sudden deadly threat. But at least in my mental preparation, I’ve decided that I’d rather take my chances with resistance. And I don’t mean some tentative flinch, but a nuclear explosion of flailing kicks and scratches and flying chairs and teeth and spit and ink pens and scissors and bullets and shrieks, if necessary. I would hope to defend my life with an unshakable singularity of purpose, the likes of which are beyond my ability to articulate in the English language. That’s what I’m hoping, anyway. And if I die in that process, I guess I’m cool with that.

It is my opinion that Americans are being purposefully conditioned to think "This isn't happening" when faced with violence. It's part of the "someone will come to your rescue" propaganda the leftist elites spout while they work to disarm law abiding citizens and push us into complacency. You can't control a population that is determined to protect itself, and that scares them. If you are to survive, you cannot fall for the lies. "This" can happen. "This" does happen. If and when it does, are you prepared to bring out the monster to protect your life or the lives of your loved ones?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Fär Göhn Brewing

In Culpeper, VA, a new craft brewery has been quietly serving beer for just a few weekends. Fär Göhn Brewing opened its doors with little fanfare. Owner Steve Gohn told me he wanted to make sure he could properly serve his beer to visitors, without a long line at the bar or the need to turn folks away. Most of the publicity so far has been through the brewery's Facebook page.

It was via Facebook that I discovered the brewery doors were open, so I made plans to visit this weekend. When I arrived Saturday afternoon there were just a few folks at the bar, but more and more folks soon arrived; I think the word is getting out. I opted to try a flight of all seven beers being offered. The flight consisted of Aesel Kölsch, Yeager Mtn Pale Ale, Ferhoodle Hefeweizen, Imberbrau Ginger, Sleeping Elefant IPA, Dunkel Dimmer Porter, and Grundbier Scottish Ale. There were actually eight glasses in the flight as they had a special serving of the Porter that had been sitting on cocoa beans. 

As I worked my way through the flight, I was impressed by the quality of all the beers. There wasn't a disappointment in the bunch. The Kölsch was especially well done with a crisp hop flavor and a clean, dry finish. The Pale Ale was citrusy and quite refreshing. The IPA had a crisp citrus hop flavor, with a distinct peach fruitiness. Often a brewery's Pale Ale and IPA end not being so distinctive from one another, but I was impressed by the variety between the two. The Ginger beer was a unique offering; not a flavor that particularly appeals to my tastes, but it seemed to be quite popular. The Dunkel Dimmer Porter that was amended with cocoa beans was especially flavorful. I think it could best described as "chocolate beer" and Steve Gohn described it "like a Tootsie roll." Fär Göhn offers a nice variety, and to a beer the flavors in the flight were distinctive and enjoyable.

As for my favorite, it was a tossup between the Kölsch and the Pale Ale. I enjoyed them both enough to have a run off round with full pints of both. That race is still undecided, so I reckon I'll have to go back for another review. Fär Göhn Brewing is housed in a nondescript building that gives little clue of the good beer awaiting inside. The brewery offers classic German styles, along with offerings of other brewing styles and flavors. The beer is fresh, unfiltered and flavorful. I don't expect this place will remain a secret for long.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Wednesday IDPA - Double the Fun

It's been a while since I was able to get out to enjoy the Wednesday afternoon IDPA match at the Black Creek range, but the stars aligned this week for a good mid-week diversion. When I arrived at the range, I was surprised to hear no gun fire. It was a slow day and I had arrived between shooters. So I woke up the match director and shot without waiting. It was sort of an odd feeling to walk up, load mags, and shoot — like having a private match.

Three stages awaited, for a total of 38 rounds minimum. The first stage saw us me standing behind a barricade, and upon the start engage four targets while on the move across the stage. The targets were hidden behind barrels and became visible as you moved. I had my best finish on this stage, with a second place overall, which helped make up for the next two stages.

Stage two used the same four targets as the first stage, but they were shot from behind another barricade. Two targets were engaged from each side of the barricade, with a mandatory reload with retention in between, and three hits were required on each target. Since I've been shooting IDPA exclusively this year, remembering to retain the partially loaded magazine is becoming second nature at least.

The final stage consisted of two strings of fire, and brought into play one of the match director's favorite tricks — strong hand and weak hand only shooting combined with non-threat targets menacing the shooter. I didn't shoot this stage as well as I wanted, or expected, but it was still fun. It points out where I need to focus some practice time. Both strings of fire on this stage started with the shooter facing up range. The first string, from around 7 yards, required two shots on each target in tactical sequence (1-1-2-1-1) fired strong hand only, followed by three heads shots, weak hand only. For the second string, we moved back to the 10 yard line and repeated the same pattern, freestyle then strong hand only.

The Black Creek matches are quick, and it's not unusual for folks to shoot a second gun, but I had never done this myself. It's about an hour drive for me to the range, so it makes sense to shoot it again for a "better bullet to gasoline" ratio. I shot the second time in the new Compact Carry Pistol division (CCP) and I actually finished better overall with the smaller weapon. The reduced ammo capacity of the smaller gun came into play on the third stage; nine shots required and nine rounds in the gun to start. As I went to slide lock on both strings I knew I had shots to make up but opted to not do a reload, and accept the penalties. In retrospect, it might have been better to take the time to reload and fire another round or two.

It was a fun match. It's good to have successes, including pinpointing areas for improvement. This gives me things to focus on in future practice sessions; it's time to add some non-threat targets to my SHO and WHO practice. The weather cooperated in being partially overcast and, relatively speaking, not oppressively hot. I even made it back in time to get to the first Summer swim meet of the season to see our son swim. That meant no refreshing beer after shooting, but that's certainly a worthy tradeoff.

Monday, June 15, 2015

New Shooters Hooked

This weekend I took a couple of new competitors out to the Cedar Mountain Youths Practice Pistol match. These two friends are gun owners, but had never tried competitive shooting. As I frequently note in the Musings, this monthly gathering is a great introduction to practical shooting and a fun time for experienced shooters as well. As a bonus, the matches raise funds for the youth programs at Cedar Mountain.

This month the match director set up six stages based on USPSA classifiers. The club is not a USPSA sanctioned club, but scoring, as well as safety rules, follow the USPSA standards. The scores don't count for USPSA classifications, but provide good practice scenarios nonetheless.

It was a sunny and very warm morning as we tackled the six stages. Despite the heat and humidity, everyone enjoyed themselves. The first-time participants had a great time, shot safely, and I dare say, got hooked. There were many questions on the ride home about "next time," and we talked about local sanctioned IDPA and USPSA matches. I suspect they'll join us again for another match at Cedar Mountain at the very least.

In the days leading up to the Cedar Mountain Youths monthly event, I start contacting local friends who I know own guns, but who may not shoot them very often, if at all. I'm a strong believer that if you own a weapon, who should shoot it regularly. I also believe in going about life prepared and armed, but that too demands regular practice. Action pistol matches provide excellent opportunities to practice shooting and gun manipulation, under a bit of pressure. The experience is more beneficial than simply standing behind the bench at an indoor range.

This month two more shooters got the bug. In addition, one of the new folks who I took for the first time a couple months ago, made a return visit using borrowed gear. As these guys share their experiences, perhaps even more will be tempted to come out, and they too will go home excited to shoot even more. Maybe we'll even increased the ranks of armed citizens going about life discreetly and safely.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Brew Cutlery Delivered

Back in February 2014, I posted about the Kickstarter campaign for Brew Cutlery. The project took longer than expected to come to fruition. However, the company did send regular email updates on the progress. This week the first sets of the finished product were sent out to supporters.

The finished knife, fork and spoon appear well made and quite sturdy. They are fairly hefty and seem be made to last. The first thing I thought was they'd be great for the outdoor table or for camping. Honestly, I can't see setting your entire dinner table with them, but if you are enjoying time with friends outdoors, there would always be a bottle opener handy.

Any they'll open a beer bottle just fine.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Back To The Range

After a hiatus of a couple weeks I managed to get in some range time this week. Colleen and "Checkered Flag" came along as well so we got to push each other, and have some fun too. Leaving the competition targets in the car, we set up our stands with our old friend "B-34," or "postage stamp guy," as we refer these targets. For the next couple hours we worked on a wide variety of drills and scenarios.

Movement played a large role in the afternoon's practice. Besides the usual walking forward and backward, we also worked on lateral movement, shooting at both single and multiple "threats." Strong hand and weak hand only shooting was also combined with the movement drills. We practiced drawing on the targets at "bad breath" distance, shooting from retention while moving back and transitioning to a two hand grip. This drill tends to tear the paper targets apart, but also provides valuable feedback regarding the "blast back" experienced, and is likely closer to a "real" self defense scenario.

Precision shooting, or at least an attempt at it, came into play with one of our old favorite drills using the target ring numbers. The idea is to put one shot on each number, horizontally or vertically, in the sequence 7-8-9-X-9-8-7. Done from 7-10 yards, it gives a good idea of how well your trigger press is progressing. And when done as a group challenge it makes for good fun too.

We also spent time working on drawing from the holster and producing accurate hits quickly. From 5 yards, the challenge was two shots to the target's small head area. This is where I got to really find out how quick I could pick up the fiber optic front sight that I recently added to my gun. I was pleased to post a best run of 1.26 seconds, though that was not drawing from concealment.

We went through a stack of targets, so I need to make a note to check the supply at home. Changing targets frequently, or pasting them, is imperative to get valuable feedback on your training. This was especially important as we focused many shots on the tiny 3"x4" head area of the target. It's been a while since we got in a good day of self-defense practice as a group. It was an exceptional practice session, with an added challenge of being one of the first really hot and humid days this season. We had a lot of brass to pick up, which was spread throughout the bay. It's a good sign when the brass bag is full and the cardboard target backers are ready for recycling.

As with any good day at the range, we followed it up with good beer and good food. We headed downtown to Spencer Devon Brewery for dinner. The restaurant posted their summer menu this week, so naturally it needed to be checked out — for research purposes of course. My pints of Fall Line APA were delicious as always. I enjoyed a bowl of Roasted Corn and Poblano Chowder, followed by absolutely wonderful Lamb Burger with Feta cheese, tzatzkiki and tomato-olive concasse served on flatbread. They sure do beer and food right at Spencer Devon. A tiring range workout and full belly made for a good night's sleep.

A well-earned pint

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Flying Dog Counter Culture Ale

The term "counter culture" may well describe the attitude of the folks behind Flying Dog beers. However the new Counter Culture Ale from the Maryland brewery turns that around, and goes counter to all we've come to expect from Flying Dog Brewery.

Counter Culture Ale pours an attractive ruby-copper color with a persistent beige head. No citrusy, or hop-forward beer this one, the aroma is full of rich malt and dark fruit, plum and raisons come to mind. The flavor is heavy malt and biscuit. There's a bit of citrus bitterness but the bready malt predominates. I also get a Pilsener-like crispness at the finish. The ABV is noted at a low 4.3 moderate 6.0%.

I enjoyed this beer quite a bit. The flavor profile is unique and hard to describe. In some ways it reminded me of a Wee Heavy, and also of an Old Ale, with a smattering of Dunkelweizen tossed in. In fact, Flying Dog makes it a point to not put a style label on the beer.

We've come to expect, and love, the big, bold, brash hop-forward beers from Flying Dog. This one takes a new turn; malty and balanced, though still robustly flavored. Even the label art moves away from the outrageous and often risqué graphics we're familiar with. Long-time Flying Dog artist Ralph Steadman provides his interpretation of Leonardo Da Vinci's "The Last Supper" to adorn the bottle. Counter Culture Ale might be best described as the anti-Flying Dog beer.

The beer reviewed here was a promotional sample from the brewery. My impressions are provided of my own free will.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Five O'Clock Friday: Pub Tricks

Irish ingenuity wins drinks.

Hope your weekend is fun too.