Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Weekend: Beer, Cigars, & Friends

While there were sadly no shooting activities on my schedule last weekend, I was thankful for some fun times with friends and family, along with good beer and good cigars.

Our monthly "men's group" meeting was on Friday. Each month we meet at a local pub or brewery for beer, banter, and other conversation. This month we opted for an outdoor gathering at 1781 Brewing Company. A bunch of of the guys took advantage of the cigar-friendly location and enjoyed fine smokes with their beer. My selection for the evening was a Camacho Imperial Stout Barrel Aged which paired quite nicely with the 1781 Brewing L'automne Imperial Red Ale.

The fun of the evening left me thinking about the possibility of organizing another gathering, with the specific intent of including cigars. A future herf group perhaps.

Later in the weekend, Colleen and I got out for our irregular Sunday afternoon "date." We too opted to head over to 1781 Brewery. The scheduled events at the brewery included live music and food served by a Jamaican-themed food truck. We arrived a little before the music started and settled at a table in the shade of trees.

Heading over to the food truck, we ordered both curried chicken and jerk chicken dishes. The meals included cooked cabbage, rice and fried plantains. The 1781 Extra Special Better (ESB) helped offset some of the heat from the jerk chicken, and offered a nice pairing



Finishing the food, it was time for a smoke. For this outing I brought along a Rocky Patel Sun Grown Maduro. This is one of my "goto" cigars, at least currently. I try to keep some of the Robusto vitola on hand, but this time enjoyed a longer smoke in Toro. Naturally, another pint was called for.

After a few hours of July afternoon heat, we called it a day. Sitting inside the cool house later that evening had me day dreaming about the next outing, and the possibilities of other craft beer and handmade cigar pairings to be enjoyed in the future. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Sanner's Lake IDPA Match

My Independence Day (Weekend) celebration included shooting the monthly IDPA match at Sanner's Lake in Maryland. I'd only been to the club twice this year, once for a monthly match and once for the Maryland State IDPA match, so I was looking forward to getting back.

Saturday turned into a very hot and humid day. When I left my house early in the morning to meet my traveling companion, the temperature was already above 80° and climbing. However, this match runs quickly so the heat would be less of a factor. The match director also made concealment garments optional to help cope with the heat.

My first run started off well enough. The course of fire began with our loaded gun on a table, along with the magazines. Running to retrieve the weapon, we engaged a couple paper and two steel targets through a port. Next we found targets, and non-threats, on either side of the barrel wall. Any magazines needed for reloading were retrieved per the shooter's plan of attack.



In what was to be the theme of the day, I shot with too many points down, but still this was my best stage of the day.

Next up was a standards stage shot in two strings. Starting with 5 rounds in the gun, we shot 4 body and one head shot on a target, reloaded, and repeated on a second target. The second string required the same pattern on two different targets. I had a plan. The timer beeped. I no longer had a plan. I ended up shooting too many shots on one target, which cost me a PE and a miss.

Stage 3 was a short run with four shooting positions among the barrels. The final two targets were to be engaged from both sides of a barrel, the right side right hand only, and then with the left hand only around the left side. After the mental error of the previous stage, I made sure I had it ingrained in my head to shoot the last two targets with the proper grip. I did so, but still with too many points down.

Next up was a somewhat confusing stage with 18 targets spread in a maze-like arrangement of walls, some shot in the open, others from cover. Each target required just a single shot. Another planning failure had me running by a target without engaging, earning another penalty and miss.



Stage 5 tossed us another challenge. A symmetrical arrangement of targets was set on either side of a barrel stack. This time, the right side targets were to be shot left hand only, and the left side targets shot right hand only. My still lagging one-hand shooting skills left me too many points down, but at least no penalties!

Finally we arrived at the last stage. While I was enjoying shooting, I was tired and off my game. We were seated at a table facing two targets and a non-threat. Picking the gun up off the table, the two engaged the targets while seated. Then we dropped to kneeling on the side of the table and shot some paper and steel set at 90 degrees to the first array. Fun and fast. Maybe too fast. I managed to hit two non-threats.

As excited and well prepared as I felt going into the day, this would not be my best match. Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the shooting challenges and the friendly squad of shooters. There is hardly a better way to spend a summer morning. Some days are just better than others. If it wasn't fun, even on off days, I'd stop doing it.

We were done shooting all six stages in just two hours. That left plenty of time for adult beverage shopping and a leisurely lunch on the drive back to Virginia. A shower and a drink at home afterwards cured any hurt to my pride left from the match. Now on to the next time …

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Independence Day

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America 
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. 
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. 

Today we celebrate our Founding Fathers' foresight and bravery in declaring independence from an oppressive government. It's a truly American holiday, made possible by a well-armed citizenry. It is a reminder to those of us who stand by those principles enumerated in 1776 that we must continue to both celebrate and defend them.

Our forefathers were explicit. We have certain rights which are granted by our Creator. Government derives power from the consent of the governed. Despite these establishing words, there are those in this country who wish to restrict, redefine, and even remove basic God-given rights from the free citizens of these United States — rights which are neither the government's to give nor to regulate. The recognition of this is what gives government legitimacy. Failure to do so forfeits the right to govern.

Despite the freedom and blessings available to all citizens, those on the left endeavor to limit free speech and gun ownership. They impose limits on the open worship of God. They so fear our founding principles that even the sight of the American flag is offensive to them. We see daily reports how these lovers of tyranny are ever more frequently turning to violence in order to destroy the nation that was founded 243 years ago. With egregious attacks and lies, all while hiding behind masks, they seek to restrict liberty and create a compliant and submissive population.

They would do well to remember history.

Happy Independence Day!

Monday, July 1, 2019

June Shooting Recap

June saw a return to (almost) a normal shooting schedule. A couple of range trips and a couple IDPA matches made up the mix.



At the beginning of the month, there was a quick trip to the outdoor range with the compact SIG P320. Giving some discipline to my practice, I spent most of the time working on those not fun things that we often hate to practice; support and strong hand only shooting, and precision head shots at distance. I had to burn through a few mags to find the groove. In the end I was moderately pleased, but still in need of work. Interesting, I was doing better WHO than SHO.



A couple weeks later we were off to the Virginia State IDPA Match in Bristol, VA. On some stages I did extremely (and surprisingly) well. On others, the results were disappointing. A few "good guys" got in the way, and some mental errors crept in as well. (The above mentioned one-hand shooting practice was apparently not enough preparation.) I thought the stages offered a variety of challenges, without being overly complex. A common theme seemed to be luring the shooter into engaging targets out of order when shooting around a wall. There were a lot of shooters getting "the finger" for shooting out of priority.



This match is held on the side of a mountain, in quite a beautiful setting. Although there was the threat of rain for most of the day, it only rained for a few brief periods. We did get wet while waiting, but most of our shooting was done without rain. Shooting the match included a four day "adventure" with friends. Staying in a mountain cabin, we enjoyed copious beer, whiskey, and cigars during the mini-vacation.



A few days after the VA State match, I made a trip to the indoor range. I certainly have not gotten a good return on investment on my membership this year. Hopefully, that will change in the coming weeks and months. The range was empty when I first arrived. A couple other pistol shooters showed up before I finished. I left realizing just how "pleasant" the indoor range is without rifle shooters in the next lane!

For this outing a took along the Full Size SIG P320. I've only shot the gun on one other occasion this year. I also had the P365 with me, with the intent to shoot it more, but ended up not doing so. I decided I needed a little accuracy practice so I began with the color shapes target that my wife is found of utilizing. The first 150 rounds was spent shooting those aiming points at 7, then 12 yards. I was very pleased with the hits here, even working in quick 2-4 shot strings. Finally I hung an IDPA target at 15 yards and shot the last box of ammo. In a switch of my usual routine of loading up all my mags at once, I loaded only 2 mags of 10 at a time. The result of the frequent breaks to reload magazines was that my shooting stayed sharp through the entire 200 round range session. It was some of the most enjoyable time spent at the range this year, and the traffic on the Interstate, coming and going, was surprisingly light.

June was capped off with the monthly Cavalier IDPA match. Originally this event conflicted with the VA State match. However, due to a scheduling change at the club, the match was postponed a week, much to my delight. I took the SIG P320 Full Size to this match too shoot in the Stock Service Pistol division.



The morning was hot, and then it got hotter. But at least there was no rain. Five fun and quick stages offered a variety of challenges. There was lots of movement required, with little stationary shooting — just as I prefer. Thanks to skilled SOs, and an active squad helping to paste targets, we were done shooting in about three hours. I earned one PE, and tagged a non-threat, but overall was pleased with how I shot. I turned in the best performance of my limited match shooting this year, finishing 15th of 41 overall and 3rd of 16 in SSP.



Just six months after my health scare, I am extremely happy to be getting on the range with some regularity. Shooting well, and seeing friends is a great combination. Hopefully, the trend will continue, with an associated increase in accuracy and efficiency.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Every Day is Flag Day

Display it. Respect it.


Studies have shown that seeing the American flag improves brain function.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Patrick Henry On Liberty

"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined.... The great object is that every man be armed. Everyone who is able might have a gun."
-- Patrick Henry, Speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 5, 1778

Fair enough.

The racist governor of Virginia should take note.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Now on Instagram

A few months ago, I succumbed and opened an Instagram account. My motivation for adding another social media account was to follow some cigar-related accounts. As such, most of my Instagram activity will be focused on cigars. I'll include some shooting, beer, and whiskey posts on occasion too. After all, they do go hand in hand at times.



Click the logo above to see the content. And follow if it interests you.

For those interested, I'm also active on Twitter.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Never Too Hot For A Fire

Or a bourbon. Or a cigar.



After shooting the Cavalier IDPA match in the morning, followed by moving furniture around in the afternoon, I was sitting on the deck, on the verge of nodding off. We had discussed using the fire pit in the evening, but the temperature was still well above 80º and it would have been easy to forgo the fire.

But we had an old Swedish Fire log that needed to be burned before it rotted. And there was the bottle of Henry McKenna Single Barrel which had yet to be opened. This bourbon won Best in Show Whiskey at the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. So we lit the log and opened the bourbon. Of course, that called for a cigar, in this case La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor Reserva Maximo.

We just had to sit a ways back from the fire.