Thursday, April 14, 2011

Who is Jeff Cooper?

Jeff Cooper
"Owning a handgun doesn't make you armed any more than owning a guitar makes you a musician."
- Jeff Cooper

If you're a curious sort, browsing Internet links can lead to interesting discoveries. A link that read, Don't Try to Catch a Falling Gun caught my eye. That story mentioned, Jeff Cooper’s four rules of firearms safety. Jeff who? That is answered by Wikipedia with a detailed entry on the Father of "the Modern Technique" of handgun shooting, and one of the 20th century's foremost international experts on the use and history of small arms.

Jeff Cooper taught pragmatic use of the pistol for personal protection in the 1960's. His technique emphasized two-handed shooting using the Weaver stance, replacing the once-prevalent one-handed shooting. The five elements of the modern technique are:
  • A large caliber pistol, preferably a semi-automatic
  • The Weaver stance
  • The presentation (how to unholster and point the handgun)
  • The flash sight picture (how to shoot immediately with no time to aim)
  • The compressed surprise trigger break (how to pull the trigger properly)
The "flash sight picture" regards a scenario where an enemy is 7-yards away (21 feet). The FBI says an aggressor could reach you in a second and a half  — about the time it takes to "present" a pistol and "flash sight" fire immediately.

Cooper is also famous for his 4 Rules of Firearm Safety:
  1. All guns are always loaded. Even if they are not, treat them as if they are.
  2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy. (For those who insist that this particular gun is unloaded, see Rule 1.)
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger till your sights are on the target. This is the Golden Rule. Its violation is directly responsible for about 60 percent of inadvertent discharges.
  4. Identify your target, and what is behind it. Never shoot at anything that you have not positively identified.
Lastly Wikipedia describes the Cooper Color Code. This is not the Homeland Security Threat Level Colors of danger but rather a personal level of threat awareness.

White - Unaware and unprepared. When confronted by something nasty, your reaction will probably be "This can't be happening to me."

Yellow - Relaxed alert. No specific threat situation but you're aware that "today could be the day I may have to defend myself." You use your eyes and ears, and periodically scan your surroundings. This is the default if you're carrying a gun.

Orange - Specific alert. Something is not quite right and has gotten your attention. Your pistol usually remains holstered in this state but you remain on watchful alert. If the threat proves to be nothing, you shift back to Condition Yellow.

Red - Time to Respond. Your mental trigger from Condition Orange has been tripped and there is clear danger present.

Bottom Line

I have no experience with guns. I knew there are gun magazines and clubs, etc but I always supposed they talked about the best kind of gun and bullets, how to store them and keep them clean. And they do discuss this (a lot). I never realized there was so much thought given to how to stand and how to pull the trigger. Makes sense in hindsight.

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