Monday, September 25, 2006

A legend passes

I found out today that Jeff Cooper, the Gunner's Guru, passed away. He was a man who lived a very full life. He served with distinction in the military, literally wrote the book on riot control with the Royal Hong Kong Police, and revolutionized modern combat techniques.

In addition to being a writer, Colonel Cooper was a teacher. He codified what became known as the Modern Technique of gun fighting, and has been influential in all areas of firearms and shooting. He was even an authority on African big game hunting. We may never see as well-rounded a shooter again in my lifetime.

The Colonel also had another quality: he made people think. He was a man who had his ducks in a row; if you were going to tell him he was wrong, you'd better have a good arguement to support that position. If you didn't, he'd chew you up...politely, but completely.

That's one thing I really appreciate about the man: he made me examine my positions and why I held the beliefs I do. I knew 1911's are cool. He helped me realize the reasons why its cool, from the perspective of a man who went to war with it.

He had his detractors, too. Pundits said that the Weaver technique that he espoused was inferior to other stances. However, you can't get from point A to point B in technique without going through Cooper Country. They said he was abrasive and dogmatic. That may be true, but he was honest. That's probably the thing I'll take away from all the words I've read that he's put to paper: be honest. Know your stuff, be able to articulate it, be honest. "To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Tell the Truth". Even the title of his book is great advice.

I grew up reading Cooper's thoughts. I found a treasure trove of them here. Do yourself a favor and read what the man had to say. He'll make you think.

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