Monday, April 15, 2019

Fratello Cigars & Adroit Theory Collaboration

Fratello Cigars and Adroit Theory Brewing joined forces to release a beer specifically brewed for pairing with the Fratello Bianco cigar. The new Imperial Stout, named Terminal Decent, is the result of a collaboration between Fratello owner Omar de Frias and Adroit's Mark Osbourne. Developing Palates reports...
Mark Osbourne owner of Adroit and Omar wanted to create the perfect beer pairing with the Fratello Bianco. “Fratello Bianco is all about earthiness, cocoa, coffee notes and liquor.” said de Frias “We felt like Bianco would be fantastic for this pairing as we brewed Terminal Descent with Chocolate Malt for sweetness and Chocolate Rye for a spicy bite without the normal astringency or bitterness associated with such a deep roast.” said Osbourne.

Terminal Descent will be available at some Virginia and Maryland Total Wine stores and Adroit’s tasting room in Purcellville, VA on May 1. I look forward to trying this cigar and beer pairing — as a public service for readers of these Musings of course.

See "Beer News: Fratello Cigars And Adroit Theory Brewing Announce Terminal Descent" for more on this upcoming treat.

UPDATE: As I published this post, I saw this tweet from Adroit Theory. The beer is now available at the brewery.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Mid-Week Range Trip

I've been thinking about getting to the range ever since my disappointing performance at last week's VIR match. I really wasn't happy with the number of points down, and a frustrating lack of trigger control. Competing with the compact gun exasperates any sloppiness in aiming and firing. My goal for my next range outing was to work at some longer distances which would emphasize the need for proper sight alignment and a smooth trigger press.

I had 200 rounds with me and a stack of targets. My intent was to shoot not just slow single shots, but also strings of 2, 3, or 4 shots. I warmed up with 50 rounds with the target at just 10 yards. Next I moved the target to 15 yards for another 50. The next 50 rounds at 20 yards really tested not only my shooting, but my ability to see the target. Finally, another 50 rounds back at 15 yards shot even more quickly made for a satisfying finish.

I typically start seeing more errant shots after about 150 rounds, so I had to concentrate on staying sharp as I fired the last groups, all from low ready. Needless to say I felt pretty good about the finish. The cardboard backer at the range was new when I started, and the RO commented on the decent hole I had left in the center after the 200 rounds.



I refreshed the target about every 25 rounds so I could better track the progress. I believe I counted just 7 hits outside of the -0 zone for the entire session. Now that I've got a few weeks before I shoot another IDPA match, I'm hoping for more time for continued "refreshment" after my health-induced break.

Of course, after all that fun, I had an hour's drive home. Some loud Blues coming from the car speakers eased the time spent on the highway.

Friday, April 12, 2019

VSSA Membership Promo

If you are a Virginian who enjoys shooting, hunting, or who simply cherishes your 2nd Amendment rights, now is a great time to get a membership in the Virginia Shooting Sports Association. If you join or renew VSSA for three years between April 1 - and June 30th VSAA will send you a knife with the VSSA logo engraved on the blade. A three year membership is just $60, which is a significant savings over the $25 yearly membership. And who can't always use another knife? You can read more about this promotion at the VSSA blog.



About the VSSA:
The goals of VSSA are to:

• unite shooters, hunters, sportsmen, collectors and all other law abiding firearms enthusiasts to promote the safe and responsible use of firearms

• promote the development of the shooting sports and the facilities necessary to the shooting sports; and,

• provide a united voice to all levels of government to defend the shooting sports, and firearms ownership.

Yes, I renewed my membership for three years.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

2019 Virginia Indoor Regional IDPA Match

Last weekend I met up with a couple of my regular shooting companions, and we traveled down to the Norfolk County Rifle Range in Chesapeake, VA, to shoot the Virginia Indoor Regional IDPA match. Although this would be the third year I completed in this challenging match, I think I felt extra anxious as it would be my first sanctioned match in many months. My shooting of late has been limited. This would be a change from last year's match when I spent the two months prior practicing, specifically shooting with a flashlight. Still any day at the range…

The match consists of 10 scenario stages, plus a warm up stage. The scenario stages are made up of five courses of fire, first shot in the dark and then in the light. Minor modifications are done to the stages between the dark and light runs. At this match, dark means no light, not low light. IDPA rules require that flashlights be hand held, not pistol-mounted.

All of the stages were challenging and quite a bit of fun. Some offered unique tests, in addition to the whole "in the dark" thing. The course of fire descriptions are uploaded here for reference.

"Alley Oops" started with the gun loaded with just six rounds. Spare loading devices were placed in a grocery bag, which also held a five pound bag of flour. The bag, and our flashlight (for the dark stage,) was held in the support hand. The "puzzle" was to figure how to manage the flashlight, and get the magazines out of the bag after dropping it.

At the start of the lights out run, I dropped the mag, switched the flashlight in my strong side hand and used it to retrieve and stow the magazines from the bag. Then, switching the light back to my support hand, engaged the first target with the required six rounds, and reloaded on the move to the next target shooting position. That was entirely too many moves.

In the next, lights on, run, I started by setting the bag down, rather than dropping it. That left my magazines on top of the bag of flour where I had placed them. I then engaged the initial target. After shooting the first target, I grabbed the two magazines at once, stowing just one and reloading with the other. That seemed to work a bit better, and meant less juggling of items.



The starting position for another stage pair, "Shotgun Went Boom," was holding a shotgun, shouldered and aimed at a cone down range. For the first run, the flashlight was held also in the support hand. At the beep we placed the shotgun in a barrel and moved up range to cover, from where we engaged a round steel target through the -0 zone of a standard IDPA target. Any hits outside of the steel were considered misses.

The added challenge to this stage was that hits on the steel did not make the usual "ping" sound confirming a hit. In the dark run, the smoke from my pistol all but obscured the steel. The lighted run of this stage was my best finish of the match.

"Well Guarded Hostages" was the Standards stage of the match. Five threat targets were fronted by two non-threats. The height of the targets varied, and the non-threats allowed only a few inches clear on some of the targets. The dark version required simply two body and one head on each. Things got a little more complicated when the lights came on. The two body and one head requirement was joined with, "Each threat must be engaged with 1 shot each freestyle, strong hand only, and weak hand only. Shooter may choose what order to shoot each style (free / strong / weak) but once a style is started, shooters must finish all shots of that style before switching to the next style)." There was a quite a variety of executions observed for this one.



Shooting all eleven staes took just four hours, as the match is exrtemely well-organized. On our travel home, we stopped to enjoy a delicious BBQ dinner, adding to the fun of the day.

Despite the initial nerves, once shooting started I felt surprisingly relaxed. I felt no pressure to repeat my performance from last year, and simply allowed myself to enjoy being there. Surprisingly, I shot most of the stages better in the dark than in the lighted versions. Overall, I did not shoot anywhere near as well as I hoped. That was both disappointing and frustrating. I did however, enjoy myself immensely. That's the important part. I'm looking forward to next year, and being in continued good health, AND getting in more practice prior to the match.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Saturday Beer, Food, and Smoke

After our morning shooting outing, we headed over to 1781 Brewing to enjoy the pleasant spring weather. We claimed a table out back overlooking the vineyards. It was a pleasant view even if the fields were still barren. Both Colleen and I ordered pints of the brewery's Dunkelweizen. I am a fan of this style in general, and I enjoy 1781's version when I can. The low 4.7% ABV, the nutty, slightly sweet caramel and toasted bread flavors make for an easy sipper. I suspect it will be going off the tap list in the coming weeks as they bring on the summer selections.



Full disclosure, one of the motivating factors for the visit was a posting on Facebook about the weekend's food option; The Turkish Kabob & Gyro Food Truck. After a lengthy viewing of the menu decided on the Chicken Kabob Wrap and a Chicken Gyro Sandwich. The food was served promptly and warm. There was a mix up and I ended up with a Beef Gyro instead of the chicken, but I decided to try it instead. Both the meals were quite tasty. We'd certainly check out this vendor again.

I made the decision that it was time to finally enjoy a cigar, for the first time since December. I had brought along my travel case with three options, just in case the urge came. I settled on the Tatuaje 10th Anniversary Bon Chasseur, with another serving of the Dunkelweizen. The medium bodied smoke with cocoa and coffee notes was a satisfying "first" smoke.



It was such a pleasurable afternoon that we ended up sitting for a bit longer than we had planned. The evening's musician arrived and was setting up as I finished my beer and smoke. We listened to few songs before finally deciding we couldn't sit at the picnic table bench any longer — next time I'll actually bring the folding chairs from the car!

Monday, April 1, 2019

Therapeutic Range Time

On Saturday morning, Colleen asked, "Do you want to go to the indoor range this morning?" At first I wasn't sure I felt like making the drive. However, it's been several months since we used our membership, AND I did really want to shoot. The decision was made and we embarked on the one hour drive down to the Winding Brook Range. We arrived in the midst of the Saturday morning rush so we would have had to wait for two adjoining lanes, instead we opted to share a lane.

I first brought out the SIG P365 for a little more time with it. Colleen also shot a couple magazines through the gun. She then shot her S&W Shield while I loaded my P320 magazines. As I watched her shoot I thought, she sure doesn't lose any accuracy after extended absences from shooting.

When it was my turn again, I shot about 100 rounds at 7, 10, and 12 yards, while holding a flashlight. I figured I should get just a little practice before next week's indoor match. Even though drawing from the holster is not permitted, I practiced hitting the switch and bringing the flashlight to the gun as I got it on target. I also wanted to fire multiple round strings to test my grip, since I'm limited to only two shots at the local outdoor range.



For the final 50 rounds, I progressed through 10, 12, 15, and 20 yards, shooting 10 rounds at the first three target stops, then 20 rounds at the furthest distance. Though it can be frustrating, this is one of my favorite drills to test sight alignment and trigger control. It also enforces a bit of patience on my part as I have to bring the target in every few shots to confirm my hits at 20 yards.

I realized as we drove home that this was the most relaxed I've felt shooting in some time. Lately my time has either been under match pressure or at the local "conservation organization" ranges. I've realized that I am often somewhat on edge at the local range due to past range officer behavior and the occasional presence of unsupervised, careless strangers. This trip to the range was most therapeutic and I was very thankful that my wise wife suggested it as part of my healing. Hopefully future visits will be more frequent.

We treated ourselves to a couple of fresh baked treats from a local cookie shop for the ride home. The stress free shooting, tasty cookies, and the wonderful company made for a most delightful outing.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Cavalier IDPA Match

I made it to my second IDPA match of the year last weekend. I had been looking forward to shooting another match, and hopefully being less stressed than my last match outing. The morning was sunny, with just enough cool breeze to require a jacket. Really a fine day for shooting.

I'd gotten in a few visits to the range to practice the interim and felt a bit more comfortable with my return to competition. In fact as I approached the line to shoot each stage, I actually felt pretty relaxed, unlike the anxious feeling I felt during the first match after my "event."

As is usual, five fun and challenging stages awaited us. The first stage our squad shot was a "simple" stage done in two strings. Standing between stacks of barrels, we faced the right side of the stage. After shooting a target between the barrels, we made a nearly 180° turn to shoot a target behind the left barrel row. Finally a center target further down range was engaged. For the second string, we started at the same position. However, this time we ran a ways down range to find three widely spaced targets requiring three hits each. I thought this was a fortuitously good warmup stage to shake off any jitters.



Next up was a course of fire that started at an arm's length target requiring two body and one head shot. Following that we zig-zagged around the walls to near and far targets from cover. Some of the targets required hard leans around cover. Since the "walls" are open netting, on one of those positions I was actually able to stick the gun around the corner and "point shoot" the target while looking through the fence. Although not my best placing stage, I shot the stage just one point down.



The next two stages I thought truly tested our ability to adjust to a mixture of close and distant targets. On the first we started seated, before moving to engage three very close targets. Then arriving at cover we had to slow to shoot a further target with some tight non-threat cover adding to the challenge. The rest of the stage included more shooting around walls, along with a couple more non-threat targets that seemed to be taking a beating.

After that we moved to shoot an interesting set up with three pairs of targets at increasing distance, each target in a pair was placed on the opposite side of the bay. Shooting in priority meant swinging back and forth as you engaged the targets near to far. In the center of the last two targets there were four steel poppers. The paper targets started with head shots only, followed by two partials, and finally two open targets. All shooting was done from a shooting box.

I felt good going into the stage. But I missed the first shot on steel, which seemed to shake me. Each subsequent target then requiring two shots to hit. As I remarked at the time, "At least it's good reloading practice."

The final stage was opined to be the hardest, though I think it was probably the most fun. Our unloaded guns and all magazines were placed on a table, and we retrieved them and loaded the gun at the start. The targets throughout the course of fire were mixed in with numerous non-threat targets. What made the stage extra challenging for those of us shooting in lower capacity divisions, was to avoid standing reloads we had to make two reloads with retention, or tactical reloads. That, added to the need to stow the extra magazines at the start, made for a lot to think about.



I generally avoid doing a tactical reload, which requires pocketing the partial magazine rather than dropping it like an empty mag. So often I drop the mag out of habit, then lose time picking it up to avoid the penalty. I also frequently rack the slide out of habit, ejecting a possibly needed round. Since I was the last shooter on this stage, I had lots of time to get my mind set to do two error free reloads. I also got in some practice picking up two magazines at once and inserting them smoothly into my mag pouches. The preparation paid off and I shot the stage penalty free. It was good to finish with a smile.

In the end, despite feeling relatively relaxed, I still shot faster than I saw the sights much of the time. I did have zero hits non-threats and had just one miss, on a close head shot, but shot enough -1 and even -3 hits to significantly affect my score. Nonetheless, it was a welcome and fun time spent shooting. I felt healthy, energized, and happy to back on the range with friends. I am sure it will only get better as I continue on a steady recovery path. (Admittedly, I also enjoyed a much needed nap after the workout of the match.)

Friday, March 22, 2019

Five O'Clock Friday: Time to Relax

And suddenly it was Friday. It's been a busy week. I squeezed in a trip to the range. We attended an amazing Joe Bonamassa concert. I had a checkup with my cardiologist, with all good news. I celebrated my birthday with a few good friends. With the doctor's blessing, I resumed the cardiac rehab sessions. In between it all, I've essentially returned to work full time.

Sitting here Friday afternoon and I realized, I am tired. But, the weekend is coming. I am planning to shoot an IDPA match on Saturday. The weather looks like it will be suitable for spending time outside at a local brewery on Sunday. I think a preparatory nap is in order this afternoon.