Continued from… Excerpt taken from an article in the ‘Telegraph Sunday Magazine’ London, November 1981
After a course with the FBI he became engrossed in what he likes to call “pistolcraft”. He was to be seen wherever marksmen gathered – at Bisley and across the world. Over the years Col. Cooper has taught gunhandling in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Germany, Sweden, Southwest Africa, South Africa and Rhodesia. He has published books about guns and has written numerous articles for gun magazines.
For someone so obsessed, running a gun school was a natural progression. His philosophy is simple: “Do unto others as they would do unto you, but do it first”. He considers a pistol “a grand way to end an argument someone else starts”.
His clients pay 160 British pounds plus expenses for a six-day course. For this they get lectures, practice on the ranges, and mock safaris along tortuous jungle trails where hidden targets lurk among the bushes. They also enjoy themselves in two “fun houses” – indoor reaction ranges. The idea is that you come home to find there is an intruder somewhere inside. Your task is to get him before he gets you. When the first intruder is disposedof, there are others. target men bob out at you from under sofas, behind doors. You have only seconds to react.
“Either you have a cool hand and a clear head when you go through, or you’re not going to make it”, said the colonel. “Some of them come out of there sweatin’ and a-shaken'”.
But the course starts in the classroom. At one such course, 45 maile students and one woman were seated at desks. They wore an assortment of guns in holsters; boxes of ammunition were neatly stacked before them. Their names were posted on the peaks of their baseball caps, or across the backs of their western-style shirts. It was a mixed bunch: a New Mexico police chief with a couple of his men, a highway patrol officer from Californai, businessmen, mechanics, even a psychiatrist. It was remarkable, Col. Cooper said, in having only one woman: usually there were half a dozen.
Anita LeMaster had left her 14 year-old-daughter and nine-year old twin girls at home in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to attend the course with her husband, who manages a grain elevator. “We’re very ordinary people”, she said. “I just decided I should be able to defend myself and my family safely and effectively”.
“We live in the country and our law-enforcement agency there has miles and miles to cover. There’s no way they can be every place at one time”.
Later in the day Mrs. LeMaster’s heavy Colt .45 automatic seemed to swarf her slight 5ft 2in. frame as she stood amoung the men on the range. she was shocked, she confessed, when she saw how the bullets tore into the target boards.
The Colonel chalked some safety rules on the blackboard:
- Keep your gun in the leather (holster). Never dangle it from your hand.
- Guns are always loaded. An unloaded gun is as useless as a car without gas.
- Never let the muzzle of the gun cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
- Be sure of your target. Never fire as a sound, a shadow, a rustling in the bushes. That shadow may be your buddy or your child.
To attack with a pistol is like attacking with a screwdriver or the front bumper of your car. You can do it, but that is not what it is intended for. The pistol is for reacting to attack.
Then Col. Cooper turned his attention to the weapons themselves. He quite obsiously farours the formidable Colt .45, a heavy-duty automatic which he claims is 30 percent easier to handle than a revolver. Saturday Night Specials, like most .22s, he found hardly worthy of mention. Happily no one in the room had had the temerity to bring ofe of these “toys” along.
The Colonel was contemptuouis of the cowboy stuff, shooting from the hip and so on. He preferred what he called the “careful presentation” to the quick draw. And he favoured the two-handed Weaver Stance (originally by marksman Jack Weaver and used, amoun others, by Dirty Harry and Starsky and Hutch), when on the firing line. When someone asked if the API taught the “FBI style of gunhandling”, he was told: “We don’t teach any style. We teach to win – and that covers 80 percent of situations”.
This article will be continued December 16th…