This excerpt taken from the Sunday Tribune, Mesa AZ. September 27, 1981 by Mike Padgett
A dozen people stand shoulder to shoulder in ad deadly gauntlet. A tough-looking ex-Marine shouts: “Ready o the right. Ready on the left. Fire!”
Jeff Cooper watches carefully as his proteges unholster their weapons and open fire on human shaped paper targets, trying to put every bullet through the heart.
When the gunfire stops about half-minute later, Cooper walks along the targets, inspecting them and dishing out compliments or criticism to the shootists.
Twice a month the rapid gunfire explodes on Gunsite Ranch, piercing the stillness of this Arizona backwater where the handgun is king. It’s all part of pistol training offered by Cooper and his staff in weeklong classes about 20 times a year.
Today, 40 years later Gunsite offers over 300 classes a year with over 30 Adjunct Instructors all trained through the Modern Technique of the Pistol as set forth by Cooper.
The classes are limited to about 25 who want to raise their skill and consciousness on the handling and care of handguns, especially the .45-caliber automatic.
The ranch in the Chino Valley is part of the Gunsite Raven Corp., founded five years ago by Cooper who spend 14 years in the Marines and resigned as a lieutenant colonel.
“I teach my students to put two controlled heavy-caliber shots in the midsection in a second and a half,” Cooper said.
Besides raising their guns to the paper targets and taking part in other hands-on training, the mostly male students receive classroom instruction. That is equally important, because it teaches the mental conditioning needed to take command of a life-threatening incident without shooting, if possible, Cooper said.
Cooper, 53, never saw duty in Southeast Asia, despite volunteering many times. Higher-ups thought he was too aggressive, he said.
“We teach to a high level of gun handling here at Gunsite. We teach discipline. We teach how to draw that cocked gun up to the target and identify him before deciding whether to shoot.”
Two of his students in late August were Mesa real estate investors Judy Peters and Gilbert Houseaux. Peters said she was a novice, Gilbert has used guns for years.
“People who have guns should know how to use them because guns are serious business,” Peters said. “It could mean your life or someone else’s life.”
Until she bought her .45 at the ranch, Peters – one of three women in the class of 24 – had handled a gun twice. When she graduated, she said she was walking two feet off the ground.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of Weapons for readiness, not violence.