Wednesday, February 28, 2018

A Saturday Feast

Last Saturday we hosted a feast for nine folks in our home for an afternoon of beer and food. This was the fruit of a donation to the annual fund raising event for our son's former elementary and middle school. Even though he's well into his college years, Colleen and I were asked to once again donate the popular event.

The lucky bidders were treated to eight courses, featuring interesting beers paired with delectable foods prepared by Colleen. The menu was as follows...

Optimal Wit
Port City Brewing, Alexandria, Virginia
Paired with Pancake Bake with Cinnamon Streusel

Kölsch 151
Blue Mountain Brewery, Afton, Virginia
Paired with Artichoke Dip and Tortilla Chips

Grateful Pale Ale
Star Hill Brewery, Crozet, Virginia
Paired with Buffalo Chicken Sliders

Sneak Attack
21st Amendment Brewery, San Francisco, California
Paired with Olivada and Mozzarella on French Bread Crostini

Get Bent Mountain IPA
Parkway Brewing, Salem, Virginia
India Pale Ale (7.2% ABV)
Paired with Salty-Sweet Bacon Panini

Strangeways Brewing Company, Richmond & Fredericksburg, Virginia
Belgian-Style Brown Ale (6% ABV)
Paired with Parmesan Potatoes and Flank Steak

Allagash Brewery, Portland, Maine
Oak Bourbon Barrel Aged Belgian Triple (11% ABV)
Paired with Blue Cheese, Sugared Walnuts and Pears
on Mixed Greens with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Blue Mountain Dark Hollow
Blue Mountain Brewery, Afton, Virginia
Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout (10% ABV)
Paired with Brownies and Ice Cream

To go along with the copious food and drink, the afternoon featured interesting, and often raucous conversation. The beers where new to the majority of the participants. I also think we've created a few new craft beer fans. All of the pairings worked well and served to illustrate the versatility of beer.

While preparing for the event, Colleen and I often thought "Why are we doing this?" But in the end, it was a lot of fun. And "it's for the children."

The ending reward for a hardworking chef.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

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. If that's not possible, maybe I'll buy some extra ammo instead.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

NRA: Now More Than Ever

The basic human right to self defense and the Constitution are under attack. This assault on millions of innocent and responsible gun owners is being waged by the ignorant, the sentimental, and the willfully ignorant. Facts are anathema to those crying #BoycottNRA.

If any right can be limited, they all can be. History has proven it repeatedly. If you aren't a member of the NRA, now is the time to join.

Yes, I know some may disagree with the National Rifle Association's stance on certain matters on occasion, and that's your right. But ask yourself, is that disagreement really a hill you are prepared to die on?

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Alcohol Beats Exercise

A long term study has deterred that regular moderate drinking does more for a long life than exercise.
The research, led by University of California neurologist Claudia Kawas, tracked 1,700 nonagenarians enrolled in the 90+ Study that began in 2003 to explore impacts of daily habits on longevity.

Researchers discovered that subjects who drank about two glasses of beer or wine a day were 18 percent less likely to experience a premature death, the Independent reports.

Meanwhile, participants who exercised 15 to 45 minutes a day, cut the same risk by 11 percent.

“I have no explanation for it, but I do firmly believe that modest drinking improves longevity,” Kawas stated over the weekend at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual conference in Austin, Texas.

Of course, we already knew that didn't we?

See "Study: For those over 90, alcohol better than exercise for longevity."

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

VCDL ALERT: Well Funded Attack On Gun Rights Leaders

I'm posting this alert from VCDL in its entirety. Forewarned is forewarned. Ignorance, hysteria and outright lying is part and parcel of the leftist psyche, and the "gun control" actors have it down to a science.

February 20, 2018

Last weekend, while doing what seemed to be a regular interview, I discovered that a movie is being made with the intent to discredit gun-rights leaders across the country.

No, this is not a joke, it is real and we need to get the word out to other gun-rights organizations, gun-rights leaders, and prominent firearms trainers across the country and we need to do this FAST.

Back in 2014, alleged Hollywood sexual predator Harvey Weinstein said he was going to make a movie “that would make the NRA wish they weren’t alive.”  (All gun organizations are the NRA in his mind.)  And he was dead serious.  Michael Moore has been attempting to discredit gun owners and leaders for years by tricking people and using creative editing techniques to make them look foolish or idiotic.

Who’s behind this effort isn’t clear, but they are EXTREMELY WELL FUNDED PROFESSIONALS.  For example, to reel me in and to try to make me feel beholden to them, they laid out the red carpet, by providing luxury accommodations, limousine service, and providing a generous monetary allowance to cover meals and other expenses for two days.

They use psychological manipulation, as well as lies and tricks to put their victim into comedic situations that subject them to public shame, embarrassment, and ridicule.  I believe the intent is to destroy reputations and even lives.

I did some detective work in the days immediately following the “interview,” and I managed to find out they had targeted at least one nationally known firearms trainer and I know there are more.  They appear to be setting up near gun shows.  I also found out they covered their tracks carefully to avoid revealing their true identity.

It started when VCDL received an email last week from a company called “First Freedom Television” to do an interview with an “Israeli security expert” on the “shared security interests of like-minded countries, such as the U.S. and Israel.”  It went on, “Unlike the misguided position of American liberals, who aim to eradicate guns altogether, Israel has proven that universal gun training and widespread gun ownership actually leads to a safer society.”

I do interviews all the time, and this one didn’t seem to be all that much out of the ordinary.

On Sunday, February 11, 2018, I did the interview in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  About 5 minutes into the interview, my radar turned on big time when the interviewer was making claims about Israeli schools training selected children to use firearms from age 17 down to age 4 (!) as a last ditch effort in stopping a terrorist attack on a school if the teachers and security staff had been killed.  The children would have codes to unlock secured firearms in such a case.

When I balked at 4-year-olds being able to do that, he showed me an alleged newscast video on his iPad.  The text was in Hebrew, but with an English-speaking narration, talking about how a 4-year-old boy had indeed stopped a terrorist attack at his school.  The newscast said that he killed two terrorists using his dad’s gun, which he had brought to school in his backpack to show a friend, in violation of school rules.  Israeli Premier Netanyahu was touting him as a hero in the video.

While I’ve never been to Israel, I do know they have some serious terrorism concerns, especially at schools and other public gatherings.  The way they handle some of their security can be very different from what we have in the U.S.  But that news story just didn’t look right, and 4-year-olds can hold a gun and fire it with supervision, but not take on terrorists, and especially manage to shoot and kill two of them.

Because of this and various other odd things I noticed during the interview, I was now convinced that something wasn’t right.  This wasn’t real and probably some sort of a set up.

I could only think of Hollywood’s threat.  At a minimum, it could be a comedy which would play only in Israel, but it could be a more damaging attempt to make a “mocumentary,” by someone like Michael Moore, or, even worse, a Sacha Baron Cohen-esq “Borat”-type of shock comedy meant to be devastatingly embarrassing and humiliating to the victim in the crosshairs.

As the 15-minute interview terminated, the interviewer asked me if I, as an English-speaking firearms trainer, would help him make a “gun safety” training video for children of various ages.  This had to be the “kicker,” I thought.

For better or for worse, I decided that I would play along with the scheme so I could find out who was behind this and where this was going.   I figured if I was right about this being a set up, I could blow the whistle and get a warning out to the gun-rights community across the country to protect as many people as possible and maybe derail this attack.  If it turned out to be nothing, then no harm, no foul.

We recorded for almost 3 hours using Airsoft guns as props.  They even had a teleprompter!

I was right – it was a set up - and it was much worse than I could have imagined.  If you’ve seen the 70’s movie, “The Sting,” it was much like that.  It was a well-orchestrated, well-choreographed, psychological manipulation, with a production cast of at least 10 people, to slowly lead a person down the primrose path.

We went step-by-step with a ready, and seemingly logical, answer every time I balked at some crazy part of the training.  They seemed to have thought of every thing that a person might question.  All I can say is that these people were extremely good at deception and manipulation.  And no matter how stupid the things the interviewer and I were doing (we were side-by-side the whole time), no one else cracked a smile or laughed once, and I was watching.  The professional actors were keeping up the appearance that this was a serious project.

The end goal was to get the victim to make a “training film” teaching 3 and 4-year-olds how to shoot guns hidden in toy animals at  “bad” people, to sing little songs and make gun noises during the training to make it “fun for children,” and even teach little kids how to shoot a rocket-propelled-grenade or a squad automatic weapon at an approaching suicide bomber vehicle!  

It all sounds unbelievable.  But everything was elaborately and expensively staged; every contingency planned for, with explanations that make unbelievable things seem plausible (fake documents and videos about how Israel handles security in their schools, for example). The interview moved along at a pace, designed not to give the “mark” time to reflect on where things are going.  The craziness factor very gradually got more extreme, like cooking a frog by slowly heating up the water so he doesn’t realize what’s happening until it’s too late.  It’s a con game, a sting, plain and simple.

I don’t know if they have other scenarios or they will use other company names to continue concealing their identity, but anyone doing an interview dealing with gun rights where they sense something odd should terminate that interview.  Or, better, bring a recorder and tell the other party you are going to make your own recording of the interview.  If they say “no,” then walk out.  I am going to make that my own policy going forward to protect against any future fake interviews.  BTW, they had me leave my cellphone in an office “because it might interfere with the recording devices,” but I think it was so I couldn’t take any photos of them or make any video or audio recordings on that phone.

In the end we played each other and I confirmed what I feared this was all about.  Sadly for me, I’m sure I’m going to be in whatever crazy film finally comes out, looking really stupid and, just as sadly, I’ll probably be in good company.  A few of us will no doubt get hammered, but if we can get the word out IMMEDIATELY, we might be able to save the reputations of many other good people. 

Finally, looking at the possibilities and what I saw while making the “training film,” I’m betting this is going to end up being a “Borat”-style film and it’s going to be vicious on the victims.

Please share this alert far and wide.

Philip Van Cleave
Virginia Citizens Defense League

Reports from other freedom advocates are starting to come in as well. If you have access to Facebook, read Rob Pincus' account here.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Rivanna Indoor IDPA Match

It's been five months since I was able to get to the monthly IDPA match at the Rivanna range in Charlottesville, and I was looking forward to enjoying another fun match at the club. Saturday's weather outlook called for a rainy winter day, however Rivanna moves the matches indoors during inclement weather. It would just be a matter of hoping the frozen precipitation held off until after the drive home.

Four stages were set up on the two indoor bays. Our squad began the day facing a line of six targets, all of which were partially obscured by non-threats. Each of the targets required two body shots, followed by a head shot on each. During the stage I could tell I was shooting a little fast, and not getting a settled sight picture. As I got to the head shots I slowed down a bit, but given my aging eyes and the lower light conditions, I could see none of my hits. I called the head shots good and waited for the score. I was pleased to not have any misses, but was still -8 for the stage.

The next stage had us engaging three targets with three hits each from the shooting box, then retreating up range, around a barrel and back down range to find three more targets. Despite the simplicity of the stage, there were strategic decisions to be made; the right shooting box offered closer shots to start, but a longer run backwards; did one use time to take extra shots on the first group in order to save time by reloading on the move? I opted to reload on the move, and start on the left side for a shorter backwards run. I finished just -3 points, but lost my cadence in my shooting at the second position and shot much more slowly than I would have liked.

The longest shots of the match were found on the next stage, which also required the most careful aiming. Six targets, requiring three hits each where shot from cover, three from each side of a barrel. The placement of non-threats were such that no more than half, or less, of each target was visible. I took my time shooting, and felt pretty good when I had finished. There were a couple shots I didn't feel great about, but was also confident I had hit no "good guys." Right or wrong, I opted not to take any extra shots, avoiding additional risks of hitting a non-threat. Despite being -16 points down, I still finished well for the stage overall. 

Now finished with that challenging stage, I was relieved to know I had avoided all the non-threats in the match, as the final stage featured open and close targets. However the stage also required strong and weak hand only shooting, all while seated. The unloaded gun was placed in box and all magazines loaded with just 6 rounds on the table. The course of fire required loading the gun, shooting all targets freestyle, reload, shoot all targets SHO, another reload and six more shots WHO. I was pleased to hear the SO call out "clean" when I was finished. Shooting the stage -0 was a great way to conclude the match. As it turned out, this was my best stage finish; a 3rd overall.

Despite the limits imposed by an indoor range, the seemingly simple stages provided interesting challenges and plenty of fun. Unlike the last two matches I've shot, at least we were not shooting in the rain, although was quite cool inside the range. The match ran quickly and I was on the way home by about 12:15. I was thankful to get on the road before the predicted winter precipitation began in earnest, although I did drive through a bit of light snow and sleet.

I was happy to have no misses and no hits on non-threats, despite their preponderance in the match. While I often have trouble seeing the holes on the targets beyond 10 yards, even in the bright sun, the lower light indoor conditions made for an additional challenge. To my frustration, I don't think I saw any of my target holes the entire match, and therefore took no make up shots. On the bright side, that does force me to have confidence in calling the shots. Of course, that in turn calls for more dry fire and more range time to build that confidence. While I noted some things to work on for the future, I truly left the match feeling pleased and looking forward to my next practice sessions, both dry and live fire. I ended up 8th of 47 overall and 1st of 9 shooters in SSP SS. All in all, it was a good day!

Friday, February 16, 2018

After Work Range Time

After work on Thursday, Colleen and I, joined by our friend "Checkered Flag," made a run down to Winding Brook Indoor Range for a bit of stress release. We signed up for three separate lanes so everyone was able to do their own thing.

For my practice session, I drilled on multi-shot strings, concentrating on getting the gun back on target quickly for rapid follow up shots. Starting at 7 yards, and gradually increasing the distance out to 15 yards, I was generally happy with the hits. I find that creating a patch of holes in the center of the target at closer distances helps to give me an aiming point for more consistent hits at the further distances.

Quickly running through a box of ammo while making use of the turning feature of the target system, I very rapidly burned through my supply. Since the rest of the group was working more on slow, precision fire, I spent the last few minutes watching my wife shoot. As much as I enjoy watching loved ones shoot well, perhaps I'll bring along an extra box of ammo for myself next time.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

For Valentine's Day

It's a stereotype we've all heard. Husbands who have to sneak beer into the house. Or they devise a plan for surreptitiously acquiring a new gun. I shake my head in amazement, and disgust, when I see guys bragging online about about "fooling" their wives by hiding a new gun purchase. (Hint, she's probably smarter than that.)

I've long gotten a kick during such discussions by reminding folks that I don't have to sneak around, that my wife knows and appreciates good beer. And she shoots too! Shooting and beer, in the right order, make for some of our favorite date activities. I love the incredulous looks when someone asks Colleen for her feelings on "my" interests in craft beer or shooting and they find out that she can hold her own in both of those areas as well. And I especially enjoy a chuckle at the ones who are a little bit intimidated by that!

That's my valentine! She's a great wife and a loving mother. And my best friend.

Happy Valentine's Day Colleen!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Chesapeake Cup IDPA Match

On Saturday, over 100 dedicated, and perhaps slightly crazy, shooters braved rain and extremely muddy conditions to shoot the Chesapeake Cup BUG and CCP Tier 2 Match at Sanner's Lake Range in Lexington Park, Maryland. I'd been looking forward to the match and had been wearing out my phone's touch screen watching the weather forecast in the weeks before the match. At least the temperatures in the upper 40's to 50's made the wetness bearable.

Adding to the challenging weather conditions, the ground cover in many of the bays does not react well to wet conditions. Much of the ground we had to traverse was left extremely soft and muddy. I likened it to walking in freshly poured concrete. On the bright side, it was not excessively slippery, but threatened to suck off shoes, and left a cratered, puddled service on which to navigate many of the courses of fire.

I started the match at stage 1, seated at a "card game." The course required grabbing my "winnings" and then pushing a button to activate a mover. After engaging several targets while seated, we moved to engage more targets from cover. Unfortunately the wet weather interfered with the electronics, so when I pushed the activator button, nothing happened. I got to spend some time, sitting in the chair, watching match officials replace switches and troubleshoot the wiring.

Eventually, I was unloaded and our squad jumped over to stage 2. This was a quick course with six very up close and personal targets. After shooting that, I returned to my previous seat to shoot the now repaired stage. It was a little bit of a mental challenge to jump around the stages, but I got it done. Three members of our squad returned to complete the first stage before another squad showed up. Unfortunately the remainder of our squad had to return at the end of the day to complete stage 1.

After the close targets of stage 2, the third stage required us to shoot at a much longer distance. Sixteen targets, placed out around 25 yards, required one hit on each. I've been getting in some longer distance practice of late, so was looking forward to this challenge. Unfortunately, while I did have three -0 targets, I also had a number of -1 and -3 hits, for a total of 18 down. However, there were no misses.

The next stage was one of my favorites of the match. The scenario was a lab being attacked by terrorists. At the start, we grabbed a test tube which we had to carry in our hand for the entire stage. We also hit a large button on the wall that activate one close moving target. That mover jerked back and forth at intervals, the target literally jumped out of the way of your shot if your timing was just right (or wrong.) After that there were a couple steel poppers, place in front of a non-threat. Two more points of cover offered shots at partial targets fronted by non-threats.

To my chagrin, the rain started in earnest at this time, and the targets were bagged just in time for my run. Despite that, I believe I shot the course just -2. Unfortunately, the stage was thrown out from the match due to scores being lost for some shooters. Another failure of electronics during the day.

Stage 5 was a repeat of a fun stage we saw at a recent monthly match, with a couple swingers activated by steel at the opposite side from the targets. Alas, this stage was also thrown out due to scoring losses by the electronic scoring devices.

In what was the most interesting "pick up gun" stage I've encountered, the match provided a Mossberg Shockwave to be used at the start of the course. We got a few minutes to dry fire the pistol grip shotgun before shooting it. The stage started with the gun aimed down range, and requiring three shots on three steel targets. Finishing with the shotgun there were targets to be engaged, with the pistol, from both sides of a wall, including a swinger activated by stepping a rubber pad.

I found no comfortable way to confidently aim the short, wet shotgun, and wanted it nowhere near my face. Instead I held it low, racked off three quick shots and then engaged the steel with my pistol. It was a fun stage, and offered a chance to shoot something different. The Shockwave is an novelty gun and an interesting exception to the restrictions on short barrel rifles, but I am not sure of its practicality for self defense.

By the time we got to stage 7, the conditions had truly reached bottom. My pants were wet from bottom to top. My shirt still dry, but as it was the only dry place to dry my hands before shooting, that piece of clothing was soon wet as well. The ground conditions were such that our squad neglected to take any walk through of the course prior to shooting. And still, we're having fun!

This stage started with engaging two targets, which I did while backing up to the next shooting position. Then kneeling behind a barrel, we faced one steel and three paper targets. Hitting the steel caused two of the paper targets to fall and be replaced with two others. Despite the conditions, this was my best stage finish of the match.

Stage 8 was a standards stage featuring both strong hand and weak hand shooting, requiring four magazines loaded to 6 rounds each. For the first string we shot the three targets freestyle, reloaded, and reengaged the targets SHO. The string was repeated, this time switching to WHO. I'd been practicing one-handed shooting, and recently made some adjustments to my grip. Still I was somewhat apprehensive as two of the targets were partially blocked by non-threats, with the most open shots being the head areas. Even though I was 8 points down, mostly from hitting the head but outside of the 4 inch circle, it was still one of my better stage finishes. I was also very thankful for the rubber Talon Grips I had recently put on the gun. My grip on the wet gun was greatly enhanced which added to my confidence on the stage.

The next to the last stage of the match contained what was probably my most memorable shot of the match. Starting with our hands on a target, we knocked over the threat, and engaged the target laying on the ground. Turning, we faced a small steel plate, set menacing close to a non-threat target. Almost forgetting it, I turned, steadied my aim and squeezed, knocking over the plate. While it wasn't an exceptionally long shot, about 12 yards, I whispered a quiet "yes" as I moved to the next position. Two more steel targets on the stage allowed me a perfect run on all steel in the match — hitting them all with the first shot — a feat not often accomplished on steel targets.

The final stage of the match started with the gun loaded with 6 rounds and placed in box, our spare magazines set on a barrel down range. We engaged three targets while seated, then moved to retrieve our reload. At the barrel, we had a choice on how to engage the last four targets. We could take the shots from that position, where only the heads of the targets were exposed over a low wall. Or we could move to a low port and shoot the full target, but from a kneeling position. The former position offered fairly close head shots, though shooting low would mean hitting non-threat targets. I opted to take the head shots. Alas, on the very last target of the match, one of my heads shots was just outside the perf, and was a miss. I had called the shot good, despite not seeing the hole through the plastic bag. I almost made it through the whole match with not a single miss. Until. The. Very. Last. Target.

Lunch was included with our match fee, and provided by Southern Bobby-Q Catering. I ate my tasty Italian Sausage quickly, while standing in the rain, before the bun become totally water logged.

Overall, the match was a lot of fun. We suffered through prop failures on a few stages, but nothing that caused huge delays. The issues with the electronic scoring forced some competitors to have reshoots, and ultimately the deletion of two full stages from scoring. The match staff had opted to use no paper backups, which was a lamentable decision. After shooting through the mud and rain, it would have been nice to have the effort count. That I felt I had good runs on those two stages only added to the frustration, though I did hear from some competitors who met the news with relief.

The condition of the ranges, as a result of the new ground cover, does give me concern for upcoming matches. Looking back through some of my previous match reports and pictures, the material has been in place for at least several months, though I've not had the misfortune to shoot there after a heavy rain. Sanner's Lake is one of my favorite places to shoot, I do hope they can resolve the problem in short order.

Despite the weather and somewhat uncomfortable shooting conditions, I was generally happy with my scores. I placed 30th of 117 Overall, and 11th of 49 in my division and class. Of course, having the one miss at the end, moved me out of the top 10. Still, with now just 2,000 rounds through the compact gun, and only three matches using it, I have little cause for complaint.

The day was long, but enjoyable. The shooting was fun and the people friendly. It's not always going to be sunny day, and shooting in foul weather can indeed be fun and safe. Capping the day off, once I was home, the gear and myself cleaned and dried, I enjoyed the exciting final few minutes of the VA Tech men's basketball team's defeat of their rivals in Charlottesville. All in all it was a good day.

I kept my phone under cover and packed away for much of the match, but did capture some pictures of the stages. They are posted here.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

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, 2016.

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 8, 2018

International Scotch Day

Today is International Scotch Day. I was not aware that such a holiday existed. However, I am happy to help celebrate.

I will add this to my calendar as to not forget in the future.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Fast and Cold Range Trip

I wanted to get in (at least) one more range outing before this weekend's match. Since it's looking more and more likely to be wet and cold on Saturday, I opted to hit the non-heated indoor range today — just for that cold hands practice. As it turned out, it was even colder inside than out.

To my chagrin most of the lanes were in use when I started. That typically makes for a loud session, and I am often distracted with concerns over other shooters in the unsupervised range. As it turns out, I arrived as the morning rush was winding down and I shot alone for most of my visit.

Shooting the Compact SIG P320 this time, I decided to simply shoot the Julie Golob 50-round drill I often use. Since I had pre-loaded the first 5 magazines I was able to get started shooting quickly.

I did three runs of the drill at 7 yards. My best run was -4, with three of those outside of the 4 inch head circle. Despite the -1 head shots, I felt good about the scores. I was especially pleased to have all -0 hits for the 30 total SHO and WHO shots. THAT'S a performance I'd like to replicate under match conditions.

Since I had the range to myself I wish I had brought along my timer, just to establish some baseline time. Instead, I shot at a moderately fast pace, perhaps not match speed, but not "slow fire" either. I was done in under 30 minutes and in the car heading back to the office, reinvigorated to finish the day.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

In Lieu of a Football Post

A musical message.

And another year of not watching the felons and ingrates toss a ball around...

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Scenes From A Relaxing Saturday

It's been a tiring few weeks in these parts, and by the time Saturday morning rolled around, I found I simply needed some down time. So after sleeping in, albeit just a bit, I enjoyed a few invigorating cups of coffee and the happy reality that I had no place else to be.

I had opted out of shooting an IDPA match this morning, a lack of energy combined with bitter cold made that an easy, though lamentable, decision. However once refreshed, I still had the desire to get in some trigger time. To quench that need, I made a spontaneous trip down to Winding Brook Indoor Range. At least the temperature indoors was quite pleasant.

I brought along the SIG P320's, both the full size and the compact. Starting out, I shot each gun at 10 and 12 yards. It was interesting jumping back and forth between the two, actually noting very little difference. I then decided to have some fun with the timed turning target. Shooting from low ready at 10 yards with a 2 second exposure gave me some practice at quick sight acquisition and fast followup shots.

Even the drive to and from the range was relaxing, with a bright sun in the sky, very little traffic, and good blues emanating from the car speakers.

This is how you reenergize.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

St. Brigid of Ireland

Today is the Feast Day of St. Brigid of Ireland, one of our family's favorite Saints. In a quote
traditionally attributed to St. Brigid, she prays...
"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. It was during our trip to Ireland a few years ago that 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 has 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!