This article taken from the ‘Tucson Citizen’ May 1981 by Thom Walker
A golden eagle guarded a freshly killed jackrabbit under a juniper tree beside a rutted-out road that twisted back into the foothills above Chino Valley. A buzzard waited nearby, hoping for leftovers.
Welcome to Gunsite Ranch. A world of black and white, good guys and bad guys, survival of the fittest. Jeff Cooper country.
Gunsite, located 25 miles north of Prescott, is the home of the American Pistol Institute, an internationally known school with a unique specialty. If you want to learn law, you go to Harvard. If you want to learn guns and self-defense, you to to Gunsite Ranch.
Every other week, 19 weeks a year, up to 48 students travel to Gunsite from around the world to learn from John Dean “Jeff” Cooper, known in gun circles as “The Pope” for his pioneering work in handgun skills.
Gunsite is no place for “hoplophobes,” a Cooper coinage for those who fear guns. The Colt Model 1911 .45 automatic is standard apparel, in Cooper country, worn onthe hip in what gun-people call condition one: hammer cocked, bullet in the chamber, safety on.
Nor is there any pretense about the gun’s purpose. “Anti-personnel weaponry” is Cooper’s term for the gun he wears and teaches. “We sell you $400 worth of peace of mind – $500 next year,” he says.
35 years later in 2016 a Gunsite 250 Pistol Course is $1595 worth of peace of mind.
Cooper is a sturdy 61-year old former Marine officer with crewcut gray hair and a blue and gray .45 on his hip. Military-cut blue shirt, faded bluejeans, logging boots. If he were an actor, he’d make a great Patton.
He’s the author of numerous books, including Cooper on Handguns, and is a contributing editor for several magazines, including Soldier of Fortune. He claims to have “shot for blood” against another human three times.
By 2006 he had written 10 additional books that can be found on the Gunsite website at
https://gunsitestore.com/product-category/library/books/ and his Gunsite Gossip excerpts can still be read in Combat Handguns back inside cover today.
His aphorisms can be heard on every weekend pistol range where private citizens learn the rudiments of self defense: “The strong need only remain watchful…Don’t worry about what the other guy’s gonna do to you; get him – then you won’t have to worry…Be fast, not fair.”
And of course, the basic doctrine of the shoot-to-kill crowd: “Two in the belly, one in the head; guaranteed to leave ’em dead.”