Monday, October 31, 2016

Sunday at Spencer Devon

What better way to cap off a pleasant Sunday, indeed the weekend, than with some good beer? After a couple range trips the past week, I spent time Sunday afternoon doing some overdue gun cleaning. Then it was time for the reward of good beer. Colleen and I haven't been to Spencer Devon in quite a while, so that was our choice for this Sunday outing.

There were a number of new beers on the menu since our last visit, so we took time to peruse the beer list before deciding. I eventually settled on Market Square Kettle-Sour IPA. This is an interesting citrusy IPA with a funky, tart accent. It actually took a few sips for my palate to adjust, but then the beer went down quit smoothly, and quickly. Colleen ordered another unique beer, the La Guerre Rouge Saison. I hadn't paid attention to the description before she ordered, and was surprised to see the dark red liquid placed before her. In truth, I initially thought our beers had been switched. I stole more than one sip from her glass.

Of course we ate too. After I finished a hearty bowl of shrimp & grits, and Colleen enjoyed a mushroom and spinach omelet, we decided to try out a couple more of the new Spencer Devon beers. This time Snead's Squash Harvest Ale, brewed with locally grown squash for me, and Hazel Run Dubbel for Colleen. The Harvest Ale had an unusual, but enjoyable roasted and nutty flavor.

As we were finishing, owner Shawn came by to chat. We were talking about Spencer Devon's win of a Bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival this year. The medal is not yet on display, but Shawn asked. "Do you want to see it?" Of course, we did.

Shawn is rightly proud of Spencer Devon's recognition at GABF. This is the first time a Fredericksburg area brewery has garnered such prestigious recognition. The kudos are well-deserved and we look forward to more acclaim for local beers as the craft beer scene continues to grow in the region.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Five O'Clock Friday: Winter Prep

If anything can get you through the flu, it's Twizzlers.

Click to embiggen

Thanks Staples.

Rainy Day Range Trip

As I sat at my desk yesterday finishing up some work before a planned range trip, I was pulled out of my stupor concentration by the sound of thunder and heavy rain. I thought, "That could put a damper on things." But the thunder and lightening soon stopped, leaving only a moderate rain coming down. “That’s better.” A little rain rarely stops us. Soon, Colleen, 'Checkered Flag' and I were at the range for some overdue practice and fun times.

We're fans of using different target types, just to add variety and fun to our outings. This time 'Checkered Flag' had brought along some new targets he had found. The "Essentials Target" from RE Factor Tactical has a range of aiming points that can be used in for a variety of challenges. There’s a drill that’s designed to go along with the target, but we opted to do our own thing.

Colleen was spot on

We did all our shooting from the 7 yard line this day. The focus was to be on accuracy, and ease of brass pickup in the rain. We started out shooting the corner circles, either singly or alternating back and forth. Then we moved through the various sized shapes, and included some single hand shooting as well.

We all avoided calling for hits on the tiny #15 square, until it was the only non-shot number left on the targets. "There’s no avoiding now" I thought. It’s odd that when you shoot a 1 inch target how awful a slightly missed shot seems, even if the whole group is still only about an inch wide.

One of the fun drills we used to challenge ourselves, was shooting the number 1 - 6 circles in a single string, moving through each circle in order and back again. At the end of our range trips, we typically save the last few magazines for "do your own thing," rather than any formal drills. I used my last three magazines to shoot those 6 circles, in one long string, trying to speed up after each mag change. Only 2 of the 30 shots fell (barely) outside the intended circle. It was a fun way to wrap up an afternoon of shooting in the rain.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

"Walking Dead" IDPA at Cavalier

Last weekend, the monthly Cavalier IDPA match took on a seasonal theme and the stages were based on the Walking Dead TV show. Since I've never watched the show, much of the meaning behind the props was lost on me. (Me to the SO: "Does the 'W' on the head of the target mean something special?") But that didn't reduce the fun to be had.

Gloves were a last minute addition to my range bag in the morning. I certainly needed them while waiting for the match to start. The temperature quickly rose as the morning progressed; I shot the first few stages wearing a fleece jacket, before switching to a vest for the final stages. All in all, it was just about perfect shooting weather.

The folks putting on the match went all out, adding Walking Dead-based signage, body parts, and blood throughout the eight stages of the match. More importantly, the stages were a blast to shoot. Several of the bays held stages providing two courses of fire. We took extra mags to the line, and shot both courses of fire at once. This really sped up the match and kept things moving.

The first stage our squad shot was made up of two quick strings, which provided a quick warm up for the more complex courses of fire to come. For the first, we started holding a pull behind “stretcher” and engaged three nearby targets in tactical sequence. Moving to the next position, we knelt by a "bloody body” with the gun on the ground, then engaged four targets from kneeling. It was on the third target that I had the thought, “You really should look at the sights.”  A -3 hit on one target would be my worse shot of the day.

Another interesting stage took place at “Carl’s Garage.” There were also two courses of fire to be shot here. The first consisted of 16 t-shirt covered targets that all required one head shot. We started with a six target group, before engaging two more by shooting under a low opening. There were more targets to be found moving down range. I managed to bump my head on the overhang during the walkthrough and once while pasting targets. Fortunately during my run, I cleared it safely. Moving to the back of the stage we ran another quick course.

For another fun course, we started with our gun in a tool bag, and holding a crowbar, which was “impaled" on a bloody target, while facing up range. I joked to the SO that in “real life” I’d never leave my gun off-body in my tool box — ignoring the idea I’d likely not be impaling zombies with crowbars either. At the back section of the bay there was another course with multiple hallways to negotiate.

The bay labeled “Terminous” also presented us with two fun courses. For the first, we started in the “boxcar”. This stage included a couple of long shots on falling steel in addition to the paper targets placed amongst the walls. Moving to the back of the bay we entered a “butcher shop” complete with dismembered body parts.

Lately I’ve noticed I’ve been shooting fairly accurately, but slow. I made a conscience effort to speed up a bit for this match, and I think it paid off. With just 10 points down for the match, I missed placing first in SSP Sharpshooter by .18 of a second. Any -3 hit is frustrating, and that -3 hit (-1.5 seconds) on the second stage was made all the more painful — although just one more -0 hit on any target likely would have changed the finish order.

The matches at Cavalier typically feature interesting and challenging stages with lots of props and plenty of movement while shooting. This month's match was no exception and was extremely fun to shoot. It was quite obvious that a lot of planning went into the preparation of the match. The match officials kept things moving, and we finished all eight stages by about 12:30.

The thing about putting off chores at home to shoot, is that they are still waiting when you get home. After the match it was time to strap on the backpack blower and work on the leaves in the yard. A morning of shooting, and an afternoon of yard work made the evening beer taste all that much better.

I’ve posted a few more pictures from the match here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Not Dead. Just Busy.

And maybe a little tired. It's been a week since I put anything new on these Musings. And to those who are looking for something new here, I apologize. It's not that life hasn't been interesting. I've got a few interesting beers to talk about. And there's been some really fun range outings. And how about them Hokies?!? But lately I've only been staring at a blank piece of paper computer screen when I sit down to post.

This shall pass. Stand by.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

October Rivanna IDPA Match

It's that time of year in Virginia when cool mornings give way to warm afternoons. It complicates preparing for a match; vest or fleece jacket for cover garment, long pants or short, t-shirt or flannel shirt? At Saturday's Rivanna IDPA match, it appeared I was not the only one consternated over clothing. I saw everything from short pants to flannel jackets and wool caps. I opted for a fleece jacket, which worked for the first two stages, was too warm for the third, but thankfully the fourth stage would require no cover. Skipping Postponing some planned chores, I left the house in the early dawn and arrived at the range to still chilly temps and an overcast sky.

The first stage had us shooting at "wild pigs," represented by sideways targets with the -3 zone removed. We shot while seated with the empty gun and all reloads on the table. The targets required two body shots each, in tactical priority, followed by a headshot on each in any order. The last headshot took me to slide lock, and I called the shot good and opted to not reload for another shot. Unfortunately the shot was called outside the perf and was ruled a miss. 

Next up was a challenging stage, shot kneeling, that required some very tight shots between non-threats. At the start, we drew the gun and dropped to a kneeling position behind a barrel. Getting all the shots in required leaning from side to side. I remarked that my front sight post was nearly as wide as the opening between the targets! Few folks that I saw shot the stage clean, myself included.

The next stage was the only one requiring movement. We started facing three targets which were engaged in tactical sequence. Then moving towards some stacked barrels, there were two targets to be engaged with two body and one head shot each. These targets were partially block by a non-threat target. Finally we moved to a third position for three more tactical sequence targets.

It was on the last stage where I hoped my regular practice shooting one-handed would pay off. There were three targets, two of which were partially obscured by a non-threat. We shot two strings of six shots, first strong hand only, then support hand only. Alas, I nicked the non-threat, just breaking the perf, even though the hit was also in the -0 zone on the threat target. 

The match, as always was both fun and challenging. The non-threat targets provided an extra element of risk to the match. In fact when reviewing the results, I noticed that only 10 of the 42 shooters got through the match without hitting at least one non-threat. The "leader board" seemed about the same as usual, but I did place a bit lower than I typically do, though I was still generally happy with my shooting.

The crowd seemed smaller than usual, and the stages ran quickly, which boded well for getting home to spend time with my son who was home from college for the weekend.

Time for some more one-handed head shot practice...

Monday, October 17, 2016

A Saint For Our Times: José Sánchez del Río

I've written about José Sánchez del Río previously in these Musings. The fourteen year old boy was martyred for his Catholic faith during Mexico's Cristeros War on February 10, 1928.  This past Sunday, the young fighter was among seven Saints canonized by Pope Francis.

The story of the Cristeros War is not well-known among American Catholics, but it's an important and poignant part of history. Sadly, the story is largely ignored in the history books and that's most assuredly a purposeful oversight.

When people think of the persecution of Catholics, and Christians in general, the impression is often that it happens in far-off lands and long ago. That's far from reality. The Mexican government's war on the Catholic faithful took place less than 100 years ago, in 1926 - 1929. And it took place just south of our border.

Another misconception is that our own government would have no part in such abuses. Again, this is disproven by the Cristeros War. The United States supplied arms to the Mexican government for use in the war, and even provided military air cover for the Federales in their battles with the Catholic faithful.

There's another twist to Saint José Sánchez del Río's story, and something I find quite interesting. The picture (above) of the young boy with Cristeros fighters is one that I've seen hanging in Mexican restaurants, among other old photos. Probably not too many diners know that a Saint and fighter for Catholicism is looking down on them while they eat.

Saint José Sánchez del Río is truly a Saint for our times. His faithfulness in the face of torture and death should be a model for all of us. I pray we can be as strong. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Jeff Fitzpatrick, RIP

I am saddened to receive word that Blue & Gray Brewing founder and craft beer pioneer Jeff Fitzpatrick passed away on Friday. Founded by Jeff in 2002, Blue & Gray was the first craft brewery in the Fredericksburg area. The annual St. Patrick's Day and Oktoberfest celebrations put on by Jeff at the brewery were always extremely popular, and benefited first responders and local charities. Jeff was a big supporter of local Knights of Columbus and Ancient Order of Hibernians organizations as well.

In years past I spent so much time at Blue & Gray, and wrote about so many of the beers, people often thought these Musings were run by Blue & Gray! Tours of the brewery were frequently given by Jeff himself and he was always excited to talk about the next new beer coming from the brewery.

Jeff's generosity and cheer will be missed. I'll raise a pint to you my friend.

Jeff Fitzpatrick, Requiescat in Pace

Friday, October 14, 2016

Wifely Wisdom

I was telling Colleen I had some things I wanted to do around the house Saturday morning, but there was also an IDPA match at Rivanna in the morning. In her wisdom, she replied...

"Do you want to shoot or do you want to do chores?"

Well, when you put it that way, I guess I'll be hitting the road early Saturday morning.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

GABF Winners From Virginia - and Fredericksburg

The winners at this year's Great American Beer Festival were announced yesterday in Denver, CO. I always look through the winners list to see what Virginia beers came out on top — it gives me a target list of some new beers to try.

Looking through the list I was happy to see that Fredericksburg's own Spencer Devon Brewing was among the medal recipients. Their ever-popular, and tasty, Sunken Road Belgian Blond was awarded a Bronze medal in the Belgian-Style Blonde Ale or Pale Ale category. Congratulations to the folks at Spencer Devon Brewing!

See the list below for other winners from Virginia.

That's thirteen medals from eleven Virginia breweries. Hats off to all the winners. 

Now to search out the ones we haven't tried...

Saturday, October 8, 2016


Sad range bag had to stay home today.

So it's an indoor chore day. But there will be college football on TV. And beer.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Five O'Clock Friday: Thanks Famous Actors

Aren't you glad we have all these super smart people making sure we don't screw up?

Without the Hollywood elites and those obviously intelligent professional athletes warning us about how oppressed we are, we'd surely be lost.

Remembering the Battle of Lepanto

[Repost from October 7, 2014]

October 7 marks the anniversary of The Battle of Lepanto in the year 1571. In this historically significant battle, the Fleet of the Holy League defeated the much larger fleet of the Ottoman Empire. This Christian victory stopped, for a while, the aggression of the "religion of peace" into the Mediterranean, and into Europe as well. Untold hundreds of thousands of innocent people were saved from slavery, execution, and other barbarisms the moslems were bringing to conquered lands as they spread their violent and tyrannical agenda.

We have a good idea what an islamist victory at Lepanto would have brought to Europe and the rest of the world. Witness the genocide of Christians in the Middle East and the application of "islamic law" in those same lands, as well as the growing islamic unrest in Europe. We should offer a prayer of thanksgiving for those Christian warriors of long ago, even as we face the resurgence of islamic conquests at home and abroad.

Lest we be complacent, heed the words of Robert McMullen,
Many Christian knights, soldiers, and sailors have died defending Christendom against the onslaughts of Islam down through the centuries. Today, the borders of many European countries, Canada, and the United States are practically wide open, and the old enemy is invited to come in and make himself at home. And many 'Christians' in the West are just too busy enjoying their material prosperity to be bothered with unpleasant history. 

But the enemy has not forgotten history. He remembers it all too well, and he is still deadly serious about his religion. His goal over the years has not changed in the slightest, and he is very patient. The enemy within is now smiling, just biding his time.

And also the reminder from Theodore Roosevelt, writing at the start of the 20th Century,
Christianity is not the creed of Asia and Africa at this moment solely because the seventh century Christians of Asia and Africa had trained themselves not to fight, whereas the Moslems were trained to fight. Christianity was saved in Europe solely because the peoples of Europe fought. If the peoples of Europe in the seventh and eighth centuries, and on up to and including the seventeenth century, had not possessed a military equality with, and gradually a growing superiority over the Mohammedans who invaded Europe, Europe would at this moment be Mohammedan and the Christian religion would be exterminated.

The uninformed, the willfully ignorant, along with the islamic mouthpieces in our own government, continue to spout off about the "peaceful muslims." Yet history shows us islam is not, and has never been, peaceful. That a majority of muslims aren't actively killing Christians and other non-mulsims, does not mean they don't support those who do. It in no way changes the true basis of the islamic creed. The truth is, you cannot separate terrorism from islam. There is nothing in islamic theology that proves this aggression as un-islamic. All of Christendom once knew this, but sadly over the centuries many have forgotten, or surrendered to political correctness.

The violent acts of faithful followers and imitators of mohammed, those who actually do as their "faith" commands, are occurring daily around the world, ignored by the leftist media, and excused by inept politicians and the clueless Hollywood elite. The "lone wolf" attacks on our country have been occurring for decades. How long before we face a renewed, and modern, version of the moslem fleet that sailed against Lepanto? The head of the FBI says is coming, "very, very soon." Let us mark this anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto with an increased awareness of the very real threat to civilization from this satanic and barbaric ideology.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Blogging For Nine Years

It seems I've been spilling these Musings now for nine years.

No animals or small children were harmed in the making of this blog. A few liberal feelings may have been hurt.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Delaware State IDPA Match

This past weekend Colleen and I enjoyed a fun mini-vacation on the Delaware shore. The impetus for the trip was for me to shoot the Delaware State IDPA Championship Match held at the Bridgeville Rifle & Pistol Club. Our weekend started Friday evening with good food and beer at a Seaford, DE restaurant with some friends from Virginia who were also shooting the match. I shot the match on Saturday morning, then Colleen and I spent the rest of the weekend sightseeing.

The Level 4 match was put on by an amazingly dedicated staff. Due to weeklong inclement and destructive weather, the match volunteers had to rebuild the match stages several times before the event. Originally planned for eleven stages, the final match consisted of ten stages. One stage had to be pulled due to range conditions, while a few others were modified to adapt to flooded or unusable range bays. Despite the extra effort and frustrating conditions, the SOs and staff remained cheerful and friendly.

A light mist prevailed for most of the morning, but the moderate temperature and overcast skies made for generally pleasant shooting weather. A quick wipe down of the front of my glasses was required before shooting, and the targets had to be bagged for much of the match, but otherwise the inclement weather had little affect on the shooting, at least for the Saturday morning squads.

The first stage, aptly called “First Shots” was a single-target standards stage, and was set up in each bay. Every shooter shot the exact same stage to start the match. I thought that was an interesting concept, providing an even playing field for the “warm up." The rest of stages had a home invasion scenario as a common theme. From start to finish I found the stage scenarios to be interesting and well thought out.

I was very impressed with the club’s attention to detail at this weekend’s match. They worked hard to make it “real." After the standards stage, the first scenario stage I shot, "Lindbergh’s Revenge" was set in a bedroom where your kids were being held hostage. The scene was complete with a bed and dresser, and a bad guy on a ladder in the window. When you opened the door, a non-threat target ran towards you, passing in front of the threat targets.

“Come Clean” was based in a bathroom scenario. After engaging targets while moving towards the door, the rest was shot from the doorway. The threats were "hiding" in the shower and behind a countertop. When the match storyline turned to a basement setting in “Basement Scene", the attention to detail was continued; a fake water heater included PC pipes running from the top, and even a length of electrical cable.

“Poolside” was an exceptionally elaborate, and fun, stage. Starting seated at a table, we shot two close threats, then turned to engage a steel activator. Leaving the table, we passed a well-stocked backyard “bar” to engage a mover. Passing a swimming pool and clothesline, we moved through a narrow opening lined with live plants, through which another threat was engaged. More threats where found through a window.

The stage “Children of the Corn” was shot mostly on the move. It was one of several stages that required careful attention to the timing of reloads to avoid running dry in the open. “Dirty Pond Water” had us engaging threats on the move while crossing a wooden suspension bridge. That the bridge provided passage over actual water was a coincidence created by days of heavy rain. “Burglar Has Friends” started with some SHO shooting while backing up. The stage targets included a couple of moving targets, one of which was a swinger target fronted by an also-swinging non-threat target.

Two stages involved automobiles in driveway scenarios. In “Homecoming” we started with our hand on an open car door, and the gun loaded with just 6 rounds. Closing the door, we drew the weapon and engaged a single target until slide lock. After a reload there were more targets shot from cover and on the move. In “Driveway Assault” we started out holding a heavy bag over a stomp pad. Dropping the bag activated a drop turner, which required a fast draw to get at least two shots on it before it disappeared. Next there were four targets behind “windows” at about 20 yards to be engaged, two from each side at the back of an SUV. Moving forward we found one target to be engaged on the move, then two more targets shot from cover around the front of the vehicle. I enjoyed both of these stages very much.

From start to finish, the match ran quite smoothly, at least from the competitors’ point of view. We even had a “squad mom” assigned to keep us organized. Debbie kept us informed on the shooting order, verified our scores, and made sure we knew where to go next.

There were plenty of door prizes and giveaways at checkin as well. I drew a raffle ticket for a set of custom molded ear plugs donated by Hearing Protection Company. I sat for the molds before the match and picked the finished product up when I was done shooting. I can’t wait to try them out.

A tasty lunch was also included in the match fee. A local Knights of Columbus council served a grilled chicken meal for all shooters. That was a nice touch after a long morning of shooting.

After getting back to the hotel for a quick shower, Colleen and I headed over to Lewes, DE for a late lunch. After lunch and a beer, we stopped in for a treat at a local ice cream shop. We had visited Lewes some 20 years ago and we drove around a bit reminiscing and looking for places we visited.

We started our Sunday with Mass at a local church and then went for a big, old fashioned diner breakfast. Checking out of the hotel, we drove back toward the shore. We then spent several hours driving around the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. Due to the recent rains, there was a lot of high water, and many of the roadside pullouts were underwater. However, the high water also meant that many of the wading birds were standing at the road’s edge for easy viewing. In fact, often the birds were standing directly in the road. Instead of dodging deer like we do had home, the obstacles at Prime Hook were Great Blue Herons and Egrets.

I enjoyed the match, and indeed the entire weekend, immensely. Overall, I was very pleased with my shooting. There was a few low points; I hit two non-threat targets in the match, and earned a PE when I reshot an ineligible target on "Dirty Pond Water." But in the end, there was much to be happy about.  I finished up 30th out of 118 shooters overall, with 34 total points down. Breaking the score down, in the SSP division I was 12th of 51 and 10th of 43 in my classification (SS). In the combined Division/SS ranking, it works out to 5th of 16 in SSP SS. Not earth shattering but I’m pleased. That’s not too shabby for an old guy with bad eyes and knees.

Although we’ve gone way for some football weekends and college visits recently, Colleen and I were happy to enjoy a fun mini-vacation weekend. Perhaps I’ll find some other matches in interesting places we can visit in the future.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Silly Spammers

It's like they aren't even trying any more.

Click to embiggen

Monday, October 3, 2016