Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Cavalier IDPA Match

Last Sunday I shot the monthly Cavalier IDPA match. Despite the 70° plus temperatures the day before, the thermometer on match day barely made it out of the mid-40's. However the sun was shining and the bay berms blocked the wind, so all in all it was a most pleasant morning for shooting.

Four fun stages of shooting awaited us. The first stage consisted of two short strings of fire. The first had three targets, each requiring two body and one head shot each. The second string presented four targets, three shot in the open, the last around a wall. The tricky things about these short, close courses is they need to be shot fast, but it's easy to go too fast and rack up points down.

Stage two was interesting, with two quite distinct options for completing the course of fire. One could take a few long, tight shots, and reduce the of movement or run a zig-zag course around a bunch of barrels to get to closer shooting positions. I didn't see anyone opt for the long shots, although I did hear that someone on another squad did just that.

After navigating the barrels, there were a couple targets visible through some tires. At the next shooting position, a couple targets were visible around the right side of a wall. The final point of cover had three targets shot from the left of a wall.

Stage 3 was another bay holding two courses of fire, each a full stage in it's own right. This is the stage on which I started the match. The first string had five targets, each requiring three hits each. We started with two open targets, engaged while standing still or backing up. Next a close, ground level target from cover, before moving to the final two targets also from cover. It was when I got to these last two targets, that I suddenly had the thought that I had engaged the first three targets with only two shots each. That wondering doubt stayed with me through the next string.

The next string started where we had finished the previous string, and began with a short run to shoot a lone steel popper in the distance. After the steel we moved around the barrier walls finding six more targets at three shooting positions. Finally at the end of this run, I was relieved to confirm that I did indeed shoot all the required shots on the previous string.

The final stage of the match had a couple of interesting "obstacles" to work around; just the sort of fun shooting we can always expect at Cavalier. The stage started with three pieces of falling steel. Then we retreated to an opening blocked by two stacked barrels. We were required to knock off the top barrel, which exposed a single target partially blocked by a non-threat. Retreating further, we found the same situation on the opposite side. A short retreat further up range, we faced a low opening, under which we ducked, moving up to a narrow long port where the final two targets were engaged.

As is usual, the Cavalier match provided fun and fast stages. The entire match was shot in just over two hours. I was generally well-pleased with how I shot, finishing 8th out of 38 overall and 5th of 13 in the division. I was just 2 target points down for the entire match, but I also had one frustrating hit on a non-threat. It goes to show just how much accuracy matters; that one penalty hit, theoretically cost 3 places in the overall standing. 

There's a bit of a match dry spell for a few weeks, and even range time for practice will be limited. It's a good time for some dry fire I suppose.

Monday, February 27, 2017

St. Gabriel Possenti: Patron Saint of Handgunners

Today, February 27, is the Feast Day of St. Gabriel Possenti.

Legend holds that Gabriel Possenti was a Catholic seminarian in Isola del Gran Sasso, Italy. In 1860 he is said to have used his skills with the pistol to drive off a band of marauding soldiers who were terrorizing the town. Possenti faced the troublemakers after grabbing revolvers from two soldiers. As they laughed at the young student, he took aim and accurately shot a lizard that was running across the road. Impressed, the soldiers left the town, escorted by the seminarian, who had become the hero of the town.

Like many Saints, there's an unclear line between the facts of the Saint's life and the "tradition" associated with him. However, this story about Gabriel Possenti has led to him being promoted as the Patron Saint of Handgunners. The St. Gabriel Possenti Society was created for the purpose of promoting the Saint's cause. The society also promotes the study of the historical, philosophical and theological bases for the doctrine of self-defense.

A few years ago, our parish was presented with a relic of St. Gabriel Possenti, under the title St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows. It was an exciting moment when I saw the blurb announcing the displayed relic in our weekly bulletin. Since then, I've enjoyed sharing the story of Gabriel Possenti with many parishioners. I dare say most of our Catholic friends who also enjoy shooting are now familiar with the Saint and his story.

In another interesting "coincidence," my Virginia Concealed Handgun permit was originally issued on February 27, the Feast Day of the Patron Saint of Handgunners!

St. Gabriel Possenti ora pro nobis!

Today would be a great day to hit the range, as we've done on this Feast Day several times. Unfortunately it may not work out this year. Maybe I'll order some ammo or clean a gun instead.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sunday Humor - Atheists Don't Have No Songs

A musical interlude before we "dress up for Mass."

Happy Sunday.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

BadWolf Public House Opening in Manassas

BadWolf Brewing is expanding even further. A press release from the City of Manassas Economic Development Department has the details.

BadWolf Public House to open in Historic Downtown Manassas 

The owners of BadWolf Brewing Company and CJ Finz have teamed up to bring a new home grown restaurant & brewery to Historic Downtown Manassas - BadWolf Public House.  The 3,000 square foot restaurant and brewery, located at 9406 Battle Street, will consist of a 3-barrel brewhouse, taproom and a 2  floor private room that seats up to 35.

The restaurant intends to open in March and will feature a farm to table style menu with local brews on tap. The brewery operation will open later featuring new and unique BadWolf beers. Little BadWolf - 9776 Center St. Manassas, VA will convert to a sour only brewery with limited hours once the new brew operation opens. "As local business owners and long-time residents of the Manassas area, we have deep roots and a love for our community and the impact we have on it," said Chris Sellers, owner, CJ Finz and co-owner BadWolf Public House.

"Our unique concept offers a new attraction for residents and visitors and builds on the revitalization of downtown. We will source local ingredients whenever possible for the brewery and restaurant and plan to increase local ingredients as available in the future. Spent grains will be donated to local farmers and re-used in some recipes in the restaurant. We believe in building our local economy through social responsibility and supporting all local industries, not just our own," said Sarah Meyer, owner, BadWolf Brewing Company and co-owner BadWolf Public House.

Mayor Harry J. Parrish II said "The City has established Historic Downtown Manassas as a modern dining and shopping destination for residents and visitors alike due to its unique character and the strength of its independent small business owners.  BadWolf Brewing Company was the first craft brewer in Manassas and helped establish our City's growing leadership role in craft brewing and craft spirits.  We are pleased to welcome the partnership between BadWolf and the owners of CJ Finz, one of our great local restaurants, as they expand their businesses and establish BadWolf Public House together."

We're looking forward to visiting!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Range Time: Flashlight Drills

I brought along a flashlight during my weekly trip to the indoor range. I’ve been reading about various techniques for holding a flashlight while shooting a pistol, and have been trying them out in my dry fire practice. I found two options that seemed to work for me and now it was time to try them out with live fire.

The first flashlight technique I tried was holding the flashlight like a cigar between my first and second fingers of my support hand. The flashlight is pressed up under the trigger guard, while the support hand index finger goes in front of the trigger guard. I’ve seen this referred to as the Graham Technique. Except for that odd finger placement on the trigger guard, I found the technique very effective. The flashlight moved around a bit until I applied more pressure to pull it back into my hand on the pistol grip.

Next I tried the Harries Technique. In this, the flashlight is held in the support hand, which is crossed under the gun hand, and the back of your weak hand supports the gun hand. In dry fire practice, I thought this technique would be useful, but under live fire I found it woefully lacking in support and stability.

After devoting a few magazines to both techniques, I decided I would concentrate on the first technique, at least for this practice session. After a box of ammo downrange, I was pretty comfortable with holding the flashlight under the trigger and keeping it in place with repeated fire. Unfortunately, I can’t actually live fire in the dark with the flashlight. Any nighttime practice I get is limited to dry fire.

I finished up the practice with some close 5 yard precision shooting, which was surprisingly satisfying, followed by some 20 yards shots that were less so. In total, 150 rounds were put down range at this fun "lunch break."

Happy feet!!!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Thursday: Made Me Laugh

To make up a lack of content, enjoy this meme that made me laugh out loud.

Though I am not sure if my laugh was one of disgust, or fear.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Virginia Governor Shows His Disdain For The Military

Once again, Governor McAuliffe shows his disdain for the Constitution, self defense and U.S. military personnel.  From a VCDL Alert...

Governor McAuliffe just vetoed HB 1582, Delegate Campbell's bill to allow active duty and honorably discharged military members who are over 18 and under 21 to apply for a concealed handgun permit.

The Governor has never been a fan of gun owners and is now also showing an anti-military position to boot.

HB 1582 passed the House by a whopping 79 to 18 vote! THAT IS VETO PROOF as long as the Democrats (and Republicans) stand their ground on this bill.

The House will get the first chance to override the veto. If that succeeds, then the Senate will have its chance to do the same.

Unfortunately, the bill only passed the Senate by a 24 to 15 vote, with one Republican not voting (Senator Wagner). Assuming that he votes correctly when he gets a chance, the vote would be 25 to 15, only two votes shy of a veto override.

HOWEVER, there are several Senate Democrats who voted against HB 1582 who also represent large military areas. They may well change their vote under pressure.


We need EVERYONE to send an email to their Senator on overriding the veto, ESPECIALLY IF YOUR SENATOR IS A DEMOCRAT!

Click here to send the email:



Also make sure the House overrides the veto by contacting your Delegate:



To push even harder, click below to get the phone number to call your Senator and Delegate [immediately]:


It's unfortunate that people who surround themselves with armed security have so little concern for the safety of "regular" people. In addition, the elitist's veto prevents Georgia from honoring Virginia Conceal Handgun Permits. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Black Target "Problem"

The “No More Black Targets” Campaign is, apparently, a movement to eliminate the use of black targets at gun ranges. Or, I think it is. Honestly, I am not sure if this is a serious movement or an exceptionally well-played internet troll. From the website...
An academic study published by University of Illinois researchers drew together findings from 42 different studies on trigger bias to examine whether race affects how likely a target is to be shot.

"What we found is that it does," Mekawi told NPR's Arun Rath, who covered the story.

"In our study we found two main things: First, people were quicker to shoot black targets with a gun, relative to white targets with a gun. And ... people were more trigger-happy when shooting black targets compared to shooting white targets."

The claims of liberal snowflakes often border on the absurd, but this is the first time I've ever heard of race being applied to cardboard. If race is applicable to non-living objects, then we must take into account that most guns are black as well. It then follows that what we actually have is a black-on-black crime issue, rather than an issue of racism.

On the other hand...

I looked through the alternative target gallery on the site. If #NoMoreBlackTargets catches on, the hippie community may soon feel targeted as well.

Monday, February 20, 2017

A Challenging IDPA Match at Rivanna

On Saturday it was time once again to head over to Charlottesville for the monthly IDPA match held by the Rivanna Action Pistol club. Checking the weather the evening before, I saw there was a predicted 35° temperature swing during the time of the match. The morning started at 34° and the car thermometer read 72° at the end of the match — in February!

The Match Director set up four extremely challenging stages. The first stage had us seated at a table, with the loaded gun in a box, and spare magazines on the table. There were two rows of targets placed behind a row of non-threats. Copious leaning in the chair was required to see all targets. Head shots were not required, but for all intents and purposes, heads shots were the safest option to avoid the non-threat targets.

Stage 2 was an interesting stage with two moving targets. From the start position we faced three targets; an open target on the left, in the center an up-down target that popped up from behind a barrel and activated by a stomp plate, and on the left a paper target with a falling popper behind it. The popper activated a double swinger with a non-threat that we would shoot from the next position.

The up-down target come up and dropped back down very quickly, so you had to be ready to shoot it when you stepped on the activator. There were differing opinions on when to activate the double swinger. The targets were slow to separate, but as they slowed the targets would get back in sync. Continuing through the course we faced a target between two non-threats. At the final position, three more targets, two of which were also partially obscured by non-threats. Though not required, shooting head shots seemed the safest course of action.

Stage 3 started us facing up range, standing in front of a target stand, which we knocked over at the start before turning to engage three targets while on the move. Moving to cover, we found two more targets, with a non-threat placed to make head shots the way to go yet again. All the targets on this course of fire required a minimum of three hits each.

The fourth match stage, which was the first one our squad shot, consisted of just three, open targets. Magazines were downloaded to 6 rounds. We put two hits on each target, did a slide lock reload, then put two more hits on each. Simple? Not quite, the targets were set at 35 yards! It was quite the stage on which to warm up. We were warned that future matches would feature even longer shots.

The match was a lot of fun, and a bit frustrating at the same time. I hit three non-threats and dropped several head shots. Accuracy was extra important at this month's match. Between long distance shots, fast movers, head shots, and lots of non-threats, it was quite the challenge. In total, the 68 shooters racked up 3,786 points down, 136 hits on non threats and 40 procedurals — in just four stages requiring about only 60 shots!

The Rivanna club is hosting the Commonwealth Cup in September, so I expect the monthly matches leading up to the sanctioned match this fall to be more demanding than usual. It'll be good preparation, as well as a fun way to, hopefully, get better!

Now, back to the practice range, and more dry fire...

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Catholic Terminology

An explanation of Catholic terminology for your Sunday reading.

AMEN – The only part of a prayer that everyone knows.

BULLETIN – Your receipt for attending Mass.

CHOIR – A group of people whose singing allows the rest of the Parish to lip-sync.

HOLY WATER – A liquid whose chemical formula is H2OLY.

HYMN – A song of praise usually sung in a key three octaves higher than that of the congregation’s range.

RECESSIONAL HYMN – The last song at Mass often sung a little more quietly, since most of the people have already left.

INCENSE – Holy Smoke!

JESUITS – An order of priests known for their ability to found colleges with good basketball teams.

JONAH – The original “Jaws” story.

JUSTICE – When kids have kids of their own.

KYRIE ELEISON The only Greek words that most Catholics can recognize besides gyros and baklava.

MAGI – The most famous trio to attend a baby shower.

MANGER – Where Mary gave birth to Jesus because Joseph wasn’t covered by an HMO. Holiday travel has always been rough.

PEW – A medieval torture device still found in Catholic churches.

PROCESSION – The ceremonial formation at the beginning of Mass consisting of altar servers, the celebrant, and late parishioners looking for seats.

RECESSIONAL – The ceremonial procession at the conclusion of Mass led by parishioners trying to beat the crowd to the parking lot.

RELICS – People who have been going to Mass for so long, they actually know when to sit, kneel, and stand.

USHERS – The only people in the parish who don’t know the seating capacity of a pew.

Tip o' the hat to Gun Free Zone.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Date Day Part 2 - Strangeways and Legend Breweries

After we finished up a fun-filled hour at the range, Colleen and I headed over to our next planned stop, Strangeways Brewing. We don't get down to Richmond often, and this place has been on my "need to do" list for sometime. Strangeways has 36 beers on tap, so deciding where to start was an issue. The friendly bartender suggested we start with the "Nucleus Flight" consisting of six of the brewery's core beers.

The beers on the flight are Albino Monkey White Ale, Woodbooger Belgian Style Brown Ale, GWAR Blood Red Ale, Phantasmic Belgian IPA, Hop Howler, and Überlin Berliner Weisse. We enjoyed the entire flight. Interestingly, Colleen and I were in agreement in picking Albino Monkey, Woodbooger, and Phantasmic as our favorites, but it was quite difficult to actually rank the six beers in order of preference.

The 3.5 ounce servings were enough for us to share but not so big that we couldn't try out more beers. So after the flight we grabbed a bag of tortilla chips and some salsa from the cooler, and tried a couple more 5.5 ounce tasters.

Colleen selected the Tirami'zu Brew Rum Barrel Aged Porter. This porter is brewed with coffee, cocoa nibs, vanilla beans and aged for 3 months in rum barrels. How could one go wrong with that? The beer did justice to its namesake with flavors of rum, chocolate and coffee. The mouthfeel was thick and creamy. My next selection was Legalize It Come Togther Hoppy Wheat Ale. The juicy citrus hops were joined by a nice wheat flavor that for a unique flavor profile.

The beers at Strangeways are as unique as their names. As we prepared to leave for our next stop, I still was curious about a few other beers on the list. One that had been tempting me the whole time was Virginia Stingo Red Wine Barrel-Aged English Strong Ale. At 10% ABV, I couldn't add it to my tasting list, but the bartender offered me a small taste. The Old Ale was aged for nine months in oak barrels that previously held red wine. And what a fantastic flavor that created! Boozy, with lots of dark fruit with caramel sweetness. In retrospect, I should have brought a bottle home.

After Strangeways, our original plans were to grab a quick bite to eat and head home. However, we decided to get food, and more beer, at another area mainstay, Legend Brewing Company.

We opted for a couple of starter plates for an early dinner; the Munich platter with Bratwurst, Kielbasa or and Andouille, (we upgraded to all three) a soft pretzel, sauerkraut, havarti cheese and spicy mustard, and the Smoked Salmon platter with honey smoked salmon, avocado, roasted red pepper, Fuji apple, dill cream cheese and grilled pita. The two plates contained more than enough tasty food for us to share.

As for the beer, I had a Golden IPA and Colleen enjoyed the seasonal Winter White. Both beers were fine accompaniments to the food, over which we lingered for quite a while. We also enjoyed a sample of the just released Ütebier. This struck me as a cross between an American Pale Ale and a very crisp Pilsener. It was an interesting flavor, and one I might seek out in a bottle locally.

Believe it or not, after all the food and beer enjoyed in the long day, we debated a bit about the next stop in our adventure. We'd already made it a longer day than planned, but as noted, we don't make it down to Richmond all that often and debated extending the road trip. In the end, we opted to start the long drive home, vowing we'd be back soon.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Welcome Text Message

In the middle of a ho-hum day, it's a joy to get a text from Colleen when she's out shopping.

The day is looking up.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Date Day Part 1 - Blue Ridge Arsenal

I took on Monday off so Colleen and I could have "date day" doing fun stuff. We started our date by enjoying some shooting at Blue Ridge Arsenal - Winding Brook. Blue Ridge Arsenal is a new range in Ashland. It's less than an hour from our home and an easy drive down I-95. We'd never been and were looking forward to checking it out.

Upon arrival it took just a few minutes to do the one-time review of the range rules at an electronic kiosk. After that we paid our fee at the counter and got to our lanes with no delay. The Range Officer gave us a quick tutorial on operating the target carriers and a few other directions. He watched us for a few minutes and then left us alone to shoot. The Range Officers we saw were attentive but not hovering.

Shooting out to 25 yards is available at Blue Ridge. I started out shooting at 7 yards, then moved the target out to 10 yards. I also made use of the turning target feature to add some challenge. Shooting from low ready, I set the target to be exposed for 2.5 seconds and varied the shots from 1 - 3 each cycle. At first I was slow acquiring the sights when bringing the gun up. Eventually I was getting the third shot in consistently — and getting accurate hits. In the future, I'll vary the distance and timing to see what I can do. Drawing from the holster is permitted at Blue Ridge Arsenal after approval by one of the Chief Range Officers. There was no one on duty to do that while we were there but I'll definitely seek that approval on a future visit.

For my last few mags I set the target at 15 yards. Even though I can't see the target clearly at the distance, I was happy with the results. I jerked a couple shots, as often happens when I try to slow down too much and let my finger "think."

It was fun shooting with Colleen. We each had our own lane, but the glass dividers allowed us to see each other. We frequently stopped to compare targets and share what we had been doing. It's always a thrill for me to see how well she shoots too.

I recently learned that Blue Ridge Arsenal holds a monthly weeknight IDPA match. Now that I've visited the range, I'll try to fit that into my schedule on occasion too. And I'm pretty sure Colleen and I will be back again for more range time soon. Our local indoor range is much more conveniently located, but shooting at the turning targets in a climate controlled range was much more enjoyable than shooting static targets in the cold.

After shooting, we continued our date by visiting a couple local breweries. That will be a subject of another post.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Chesapeake Cup IDPA Match

On Saturday, my friend Stuart and I ventured across the Potomac River into the People's Republic of Maryland to shoot the Chesapeake Cup Tier 2 IDPA match at Sanner's Lake Sportsman's Club. The match was a BUG and CCP specialty match, so I shot my SIG P239 in the CCP (Compact Carry Pistol) division. The match was a lot of fun, with interesting and challenging stages.

As I went through my photos from the match, thinking about which stages to highlight, I realized that each of the stages had some unique or interesting element about it. I'll mention those points briefly, and hopefully not make this post overly long.

All the original squads were divided up even further the morning of the match, so we shot with just six folks in a squad and the match moved quickly. Thank you to all the volunteers who showed up to run us through the stages efficiently.

Our squad started on Stage 4, which saw us "handcuffed" to a table. Two target groups were placed on either side. The rope cuffs restricted our movement such that most folks had to shoot the targets one handed. I had my one and only hit an non-threat of the match on this stage.

The scenario for the next stage started us holding a couple of water bottles before engaging some distant targets in a "car." Next we moved to a window where more targets were found. The final target on this stage required a significant lean out from the fault line to hit, and the hard cover at the edge of the port took quite a beating.

Stage 6 started with the loaded gun in a box. There were three targets to be engaged while seated. After leaving our seat there where three more targets to be shot from two other positions.

The next stage had a moving target of a sort I had not seen previously. At the start, the shooter flipped a light switch which activated a pneumatically operated up and down non-threat blocking the shot on a scoring target. The non-threat popped up immediately at the start, too fast for most folks to draw and shoot. So we first moved left to engage three paper targets and a steel popper on the left, then hit then center target as we moved right for the final targets. The challenge was that the moving non-threat dropped slowly down, then after a few seconds, popped up FAST. You had to be prepared to shoot as soon as it dropped, else you risked having it jump up as you shot. Time it wrong and you waited for the delay before it dropped to expose the target again. This was a very fun stage to shoot.

Stage 8 consisted of nine targets all requiring one shot each. The first six targets were to be shot on the move as we advanced down a row of barrels. There were some non-threats interspersed so timing of the movement was important; too slow and you wasted time, too fast and you passed a target's visible range. For the CCP division, shooting well and not taking any makeup shots meant you saved time by not needing to reload.

Next we moved to a stage with a line of six targets, each requiring three hits, at least one of which must be a head shot. Adding to the challenge was the placement of non-threats lined up behind the targets. You had to shoot the targets from just the right angle to avoid a shoot through to the penalty targets.

Moving on, we got to the "selfie stick" stage. The scenario was that we were millennials who couldn't put down the selfie stick, even if we were being shot at. We had to carry the selfie stick throughout the stage, which meant shooting it all one-handed. I shot this one just one point down but did have a bit of a struggle reloading while holding the stick. I managed to trap the tip of my pinky finger in the mag well when inserting the magazine. It wasn't until a few stages later that it turned purple and started thumping. I'll need to practice inserting the magazine while holding another object in the same hand — before I shoot an upcoming match requiring the use of a flashlight.

The next stage is another I found especially fun. It was also the stage on which I had my best finish — 5th place overall. The loaded gun and our spare magazines were left on a table. Our hand was on a bag, the pulling of which activated a swinging pair of a non-threat and a threat target. The two moved independently, exposing the target for varying bits of time. The swinger also settled quickly so you had to shoot it before the target was hidden again. First there were two targets to be engaged through a low port. So, shoot through the low port, quickly move to the swinger, then run back to the other side to finish, grabbing the reload off the table on the way.

The "standards" stage for the match consisted simply of three targets placed behind two non-threats, and was shot in two strings. The first string was strong hand only, the second was done weak hand. Each string required two body shots on each target first, followed up by a head shot to each. The targets were placed fairly close. Alas, I jerked two of the heads shots, in addition to getting a few -1 hits. Time to practice more one-handed shooting.

The final stage had us shooting a mix of paper and steel while navigating the course of fire that was an L-shaped hallway. Each paper target required three hits each. Some of the targets were exposed through a very narrow opening or a high port.

Overall, I was generally pleased with how I shot. I hit only one non-threat. I missed a number of head shots, especially when I was shooting one-handed. Other than those misses, most of my lost points were -1's. A finish of 15th out of 32 in my division 34th out of 91 shooters.

Included in our match fee was a tasty lunch served by Southern Bobby-Q Catering. We had our choice of Pulled Pork, Italian Sausage, Steak and Cheese or Hot Dogs. My Italian Sausage sub with peppers and onions was delicious and hit the spot before the final stages of the match.

The Chesapeake Cup was a fun event full of stages to which entertained and challenged us. Shooting the compact gun was both fun and frustrating at times. However, the match also confirmed to me that I can be confident shooting and carrying it. Nonetheless I'm looking forward to some range time with a full-size gun next week.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Saint José Sánchez del Río

Today, February 10, is the anniversary of the martyrdom of Saint José Sánchez del Río. On this date in 1928, this 14 year old boy was killed by Mexican troops for refusing to renounce his Catholic faith during the Cristero War. The story of this period of Catholic persecution led by Mexican President Calles was told in the movie "For Greater Glory." The young martyr was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on November 20, 2005, and later canonized by Pope Francis on October 16 of last year.

The Saint's story is one with which few American Catholics are familiar. That is a tragedy in its own right. Though they might not know the Saint's story, many Americans are no doubt familiar with his face. The picture, shown below, of the young boy with Cristeros fighters is one that is often seen hanging in Mexican restaurants, among other old photos. Probably not too many diners know that a Saint and fighter for religious freedom is looking down at them while they eat.

After José was captured by government forces fighting the Cristero, he was forced to witness the torture and execution of fellow Catholic countrymen, yet he never wavered in his faithful resolve. He was himself was tortured and urged to shout "Death to Christ the King" with the promise his suffering would be over. On the day of his torturous execution, the soldiers cut the soles of his feet and he was made to walk barefooted to the grave they had dug for him. He was repeatedly stabbed with bayonets as he made his way to the place of his martyrdom.

Even after he had been shot he continued to cry out "Viva Cristo Rey!" ("Long live Christ the King!") The commander of the soldiers was so furious that he was able to resist the government barbarism, he finally shot the boy in the head. As he died he is said to have drawn a cross on the ground with his own blood as a final act of defiance.

During the Cristeros War many Catholics were killed by the Mexican government for their faith. This tragic part of recent history is pointedly ignored by the history books in both the United States and Mexico. It is a story that needs to be told and learned by all free people.

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 when our own persecution comes.

Blessed José Sánchez del Río, Pray For Us!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

100 Round Lunch

Another lunch break spent at the indoor range.

I originally figured I was going to have a full week of eating lunch over my laptop. However, I did toss my range gear into the car before I left home in the morning, just in case. Fortuitously, a scheduled conference call was cancelled so I managed to get out of the office.

The car thermometer showed 37 degrees outside when I pulled into the range parking lot, and it was close to that inside. There’s something odd about shooting indoors in a coat and hat. Shooting in cold weather doesn’t bother me — when I'm actually outdoors! There were only a couple other shooters so it was a little more relaxing time than last week.

Again I worked with the SIG P239. This trip I mostly shot from 10-15 yards, with some closer one-handed shooting thrown in. After a few weeks of dry fire and a couple range trips, I’m feeling reacquainted with the compact gun. We’ll see soon how well that translates to competition.

With the outdoor range operating under short hours and increasingly restrictive shooting rules, I’m relying on dry fire practice these days more than anything else. Practice drawing from the holster and doing reloading drills is pretty simple with dry fire, and I do try to simulate a bit of movement as well. However, my live fire practice is restricted to standing in the range booth and shooting, at best, from low ready. At least quick follow up shots are within the range rules.

The match season is getting ready to ramp up again, and soon I’ll have the option of shooting most weekends. Those matches may well be about the only shooting on the move I get to do for a while.

First Pro-Freedom Bills Head to McAuliffe

The first three pro-freedom bills of this year's session are headed to the governor's desk. From the VCDL update:
Lobby Day continues to pay off.  All the gun-control bills are now dead for this year.

The following three pro-rights bills have passed both the House and Senate and are headed to the Governor's desk for his signature or veto:

HB1432, Delegate Lee Ware, legalizes switchblades and allows for concealed carry of them in certain cases.

HB 1582, Delegate Jeffrey Campbell, allows active duty or honorably discharged military members who are over 18 and under 21 years old to apply for a CHP.  This would also fix the issue with Georgia not honoring our CHPs.

HB 1849, Delegate Gilbert, allows Circuit Court Clerks to laminate or create plastic CHPs.

There are another 15 pro-rights bills still working through the system in both houses.

We suffered one loss: SB 1441, Senator Glen Sturtevant, would have allowed gun owners to vote absentee if their poling place bans guns.  This bill was put in for VCDL and we thank the Senator for doing so.  We will look at other ways to skin that cat next year.
It's a welcome sign that all the anti-gun bills were killed this year. However, I fully expect our governor, who's more interested helping criminals than law-abiding citizens, will veto the bills without a second glance.

I am most interested in HB 1582 which would likely lead to Georgia honoring Virginia Concealed Handgun Permits. It's interesting that GA doesn't recognize VA due to the Commonwealth of Virginia believing that U.S. military personnel between 18 and 21 cannot be trusted to carry a handgun concealed. Think about that for a moment.

Follow the VCDL Legislation Tracking Tool for the latest on pro-right bills as they move through the legislature.

Monday, February 6, 2017

6 Bears & A Goat Brewing

There's another new brewery in the area! 6 Bears & A Goat Brewing Company opened just a week ago and we made it out this weekend for a visit. The unusual name is a reference to the owners' military service. The six Bears are retirees from the U.S. Coast Guard and the Goat is retired from the U.S. Navy. The brewery's logo has an interesting story behind it as well.

Like many craft breweries, 6 Bears & A Goat Brewing is located in a commercial/industrial park. But the facility is not something just dropped in behind a couple garage doors, it's a fully finished pub. There's a large table seating area as well as bar seating.

As we took our seats at the bar, a small bowl of pretzels was placed in front of us. (And was continually refilled during our stay.) Bonus points right there. I've often wondered why so many pubs no longer add that small touch to their service. Now, to the beers...

We opted to start with a sampler flight of all eight beers on tap. The flight came in an interesting "life ring" serving tray. The beers, in order were; Red IPA, Rye IPA, American Pale Ale, Blonde Ale, Scottish Ale, Irish Extra Stout (on nitro), Amber Ale, and American Wheat. There's definitely something for every one.

Overall, the beers were well-done and distinctive. The flavors were full and true to the styles they represented. Of all the beers, only the Scottish Ale disappointed; I prefer a sightly richer Scottish Ale. However I even enjoyed the Wheat, which is one of my least favorite styles of beer.

At the end of our flight tasting it was time to pick our favorites to enjoy as full servings. That took a bit of thought as Colleen and I both had multiple favorites. For me, the Rye IPA and Amber Ale were both exceptional brews. Colleen noted that the Irish Stout and American Wheat stood out.

I eventually opted for a pint of the Rye IPA. The floral and citrus hop flavors combined with just the right malt base for a flavorful brew. Colleen chose the Irish Extra Stout on nitro. This dark brew finished with a pleasing roasted and bitter malt bite.

6 Bears & a Goat has not forgotten the drinker's need for food either. Currently they have a couple of sandwiches and a cheese spread and cracker plate available. The food is prepared by local award-winning restaurant Foode. A full menu prepared in an onsite kitchen by the folks at Foode is coming next month. We enjoyed the cheese and crackers with our beers.

We were impressed by both the beers and the setting at 6 Bears & a Goat. The brewery and brew pub seemed well-thought out and finished. We commented as we left that the brewery seemed ready to open when they did, as opposed to the half-finished state we've observed at many new brewpubs. We're looking forward to going back soon.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

School Loans & Liberal Logic

I overheard a young liberal talking about her student loans recently. She was adamant she wasn't going to pay them. Another person who was advising her said "They never go away. Eventually, they will garnish your wages or your tax return."

Her reply was she didn't care. She claimed it wasn't her fault she had school loans. When she took out the loan her mother, who also has unpaid school loans, told her "It wasn't real money."

And this is why we are where we are.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Friday Range Smiles

I got out for lunch a little later than usual on Friday. As such, the indoor range was quite crowded by the time I arrived. The constant firing was somewhat distracting, especially when you added in the brass coming over the walls and hitting me. Though, given recent events, getting used to shooting amongst gun fire might be a good thing.

My plan today was simply to get out of the office for a bit put some rounds down range with the compact SIG P239. I put the splatter target at at just seven yards. My first few head shots almost made a smiley face on the target; it was purely accidental.

I felt pretty good as I took slow shots at the 4 inch head area, keeping most of the shots on target. The groups opened up a bit as I sped up for the body shots, though most were still in the acceptable range.

As I left to head back to work, I too had a smile on my face.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

The leftists around the country are becoming increasingly violent. Recent events in Berkeley are typical of what passes for "tolerance" and "peace" among the liberals and democrats.

I find it hardly coincidental that the de facto leader of the left for the last eight years devoted himself to releasing criminals and terrorists from prison, and disparaging the police, while at the same time striving to disarm law abiding citizens. Thankfully, he largely failed with the latter task.

Now we clearly see the legacy of the previous president. Unlike any president of the past, he is publicly supporting the violence, even when out of office.

A friend recently remarked, "You all want a shooting war? You're going to get a shooting war." I do pray he is wrong.

While watching the videos of the anarchy posted online, the lack of police interference is noticeable in many cases. Frankly, there's often little they can do against organized violence. I've said it time and time again, when it comes to your safety, you are on your own. It's a good time to recall the wise words of Jeff Cooper.
"The police cannot protect the citizen at this stage of our development, and they cannot even protect themselves in many cases. It is up to the private citizen to protect himself and his family, and this is not only acceptable, but mandatory."

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Chronograph Troubles

Several years ago I picked up Chrony Alpha Master chronograph. Even though I don’t reload my own ammo, I thought it would be good to get an idea of power factor of the commercial ammo I buy. (Like brewing my own beer, reloading ammo is something I consider another hobby, neither of which I have much interest doing at this time.) Good intentions aside, the chronograph sat in my garage, unused.

Last weekend I went online to find the user manual and took the chronograph to the range to try it out. I set up the unit in front of a target at the berm and sat myself in a chair at about the 10 foot recommended distance.

I tested with two different guns, the SIG P239 and P226. Two different commercial ammo brands were put fired through both guns, Federal American Eagle 9mm 124 grain and Freedom Munitions 9mm 135 grain. I have previously recorded data for the American Eagle ammo through the P226 from several USPSA matches to use for comparison.

Starting out with the compact gun I was somewhat shocked by the readings, which were lower than the manufacturers’ claims. The readings were also quite varied, by as much as 50 fps between the high and low readings. Then I switched to the P226. Again, the numbers were inconsistent. But the most surprising finding was that the Chrony was giving readings that were 50 - 80 fps lower for the American Eagle ammo than the previous results from the match chronographs.

It could be that I am not conducting the testing correctly, or perhaps the equipment is not working as expected. I do have another sanctioned match coming up where I can get some more comparison data. I’ll try again with the Chrony unit in the future as well.

Despite not getting what I can consider reliable data, the testing did give an opportunity to get out to the range, even if for a short while. And that’s always a good thing.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

St. Brigid of Ireland

Today is the Feast Day of St. Brigid of Ireland, one of our family's favorite Saints. The quote below
has long been attributed to St. Brigid.
"I'd Like A Great Lake Of Beer For The King Of Kings. I Would Like To Be Watching Heaven's Family Drinking It Through All Eternity."
Our family has long had an affection for this great Saint. During our trip to Ireland a few years ago, I came to realize just how popular she is in that country, second only to St. Patrick it seems. Her legendary association with miracles involving beer often overshadows her deeds of charity and compassion.

Beyond her prayer for a "great lake of beer" this revered Saint had other interesting connections with beer. According to tradition, Brigid was working in a leper colony when they ran out of beer. Since beer was an important source of safe liquid refreshment and nourishment, this was indeed a serious issue. Brigid is said to have changed her bath water into beer to nourish the lepers and visiting clerics. In another miracle attributed to St. Brigid, she provided beer to 18 churches for an entire Easter season, all from a single barrel of beer in her convent.
St. Brigid Statue, Knock Shrine, County Mayo, Ireland

St. Brigid, ora pro nobis! And cheers!