This article taken from the ‘Tucson Citizen’ May 1981 by Thom Walker
The ‘modern technique” of training that Cooper helped develop is based on “open, unrestricted, unlimited, realistic, diversified competition,” he said. Two handed Weaver stance, flash=sight technique, “kinesthetic” presentation – an approach that makes “this fairly inefficient hand weapon” an effective instrument.
In terms of learning objectives, the goal of the general pistol course is to “place a student in command of an environment,” Cooper explained.
“That’s it – he controls. When he leaves here as an expert of marksman first-class, he is in charge. And no one can hurt him, as long as he is awake, armed and aware. If he is in a bank, for instance and three guys come through the door with ski-masks and shotguns and say, “Don’t nobody move – dis is a stickup!’ He’s got ’em.”
It vexes him that newspaper and magazine editors keep headlining stories about his school “Shooting to Kill.” Cooper maintains that a graduate of his school would never draw his gun except in a life-threatening situation.
“What happens to him (your attacker) is beside the point. If you don’t do something, you will die – or your wife, or your child or your friend. So why are you concerned with him? He is going to kill you.
“We don’t shoot to kill. We shoot to stop. As a matter of fact, a much better term than ‘shooting to kill’ is ‘shooting to live.'” Exactly what Gunsite teaches to this day in 2016.
He told one student, a police officer from Bakersfield, Calif. who came to Gunsite after a nearly fatal confrontation with a “creep.” The policeman had frozen in panic. All that saved him was his opponent’s ineptitude with a gun. Six weeks after his training at Gunsite, he had to use his gun again. This time he did it right.
According to Cooper, 39 of his former students have “Seen the elephant,” which in his lingo means a life-or-death confrontation with an armed adversary. A “Condition Red” confrontation, where you “flip the switch to full-bore, fight reaction.” Three additional students were killed by attackers, but those aren’t included in the statistics; they were unarmed at the time.
“We say all bets are off, unless you are awake, aware and armed. Maurice didn’t believe me,” he said, referring to one of the graduates who was killed. “He never was a good student.”
In 20 cases, the opponent surrendered without a shot being fired. In 18 cases the Gunsite graduates fired their guns and “Totally invalidated their adversaries,” Cooper said. About half of the killings took place in Third World countries, he added.
The one exception was a man who shot a burglary suspect with a .38-Special caliber revolver, Cooper said, “which is not enough gun.” The suspect fell, shot in the chest, but then got up and ran away.
“That was not a satisfactory solution,” Cooper said. “He oly fired once, which is contrary to doctrine. And I asked him later, why did you fire only once? He said he wasn’t thinking.”
Cooper yanked his graduation certificate.
A raven symbol – used by Vikings to strike fear into the hearts of enemies – hangs on the crossbar of the gate that leads to the 210-acre ranch. A pair of armed employees are putting up a “tank-trap” fenxe of juniper poles to keep out the sightseers who sometimes wander in.
The Cooper home is a Southwestern-style fortress built into the side of a hill, topped off with a kind of sentry’s cabin that serves as an office. A spiral stairway connects the home’s three levels. Unlike many people who live in rural areas, the coopers have never been burglarized.
The door of the house is a postern gate – like the outer gate of a castle – made of solid wood backed with a piece of armor plate from a destroyer, locked at night with two steel bars. Cooper said he is called upon frequently for advice on tactical architecture.
“This – right here, Gunsite – is the safest place in the world,” he said “Nothing is absolutely safe, but this is pretty damn safe.”
One of his favorite quotations is from science-fiction writer Robert Heinlein: “An armed society is a polite society.”
Gunsite is an exceptionally well armed society. On the ground floor of the Cooper family’s three level home, behind a bank vault door, is an armory containing dozens of rifles, pistols of various makes and calibers, knives, bayonets, swords and even a set of fencing foils.
Stand by for part three of this fascinating news story from 1981. It is amazing how much of what Cooper knew back then has come true today.