He was no rookie but this was his first gunfight. It happened in the early days before we understood or accepted the scenario “Suicide by Cop.” It was a classic confrontation of knife versus handgun. At less than seven feet the KABAR fighting knife had a lethal advantage over the pip-squeak snub nose revolver. The ‘good guy’ had the advantage of training: Jeff Cooper’s Gunsite Training Center outside Paulden, Arizona. Gunsite training and instruction was the difference that saved the Officer’s life.
Gunsite was one of the first schools of its kind, set up in 1976 by Marine Corps retiree, Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper. Col. Cooper had been around firearms all of his life but was especially influenced by the early practical shooting that was being done in Southern California. Cooper observed what worked and what did not, and put the practical techniques together in a dictum that has become known as the “Modern Technique.” The curriculum is based upon three key elements as symbolized by the school’s icon: ‘D V C’ taken from three Spanish words for diligence, power, and speed. The three parts of the triad are equal: accuracy is useless if you are killed before you begin the fight; speed is useless unless you have a weapon powerful enough to end the confrontation; power is useless if you miss.
Gunsite was built on a perfect site in central Arizona where the climate allows classes from February through late October. The facility is composed of outdoor ranges from 25 yards to 1,000, obstacle courses from neophyte to the most advanced, indoor facilities housing practical scenario based training, state of the art classrooms and a world class in-house gunsmith cadre, all continue to keep Gunsite at the epicenter of firearms training.
Cooper recently passed on at age 86. His facility, his philosophy, his writings, his contributions will continue to live on.
If I were to single out ONE legacy that he leaves, it would be his instructor development programs. He helped create hundreds of excellent instructors who have in turn, saved thousands of lives of civilians, police officers and military personnel who have attended Gunsite or the other schools founded by students and followers of Col. Cooper. One of my favorite Cooperisms is “If you want to master a skill, teach it.” If teaching firearms is not one of the most satisfying jobs in the world, it is a close second.
Thank You Colonel Cooper for all that you did and all that you left for us to use. It was an honor to walk for a moment in the shadow of a Giant.
I have been asked to create a new section in the Police Notes. I will attempt to answer or seek answers for questions that come into the police department. This week’s question: With a four day school week, “Why are the school zone lights flashing on Fridays?”
Answer: The timers are set on a weekday or weekend schedule. To turn off/on the lights for the one-day would require someone to override the timers and then reset the timers. There is concern that the timers would not be reset properly and the lights would NOT be working when the kids need them. There are school activities on Fridays and kids are often on/near the school grounds. At 25 miles per hour, it adds a meager 12 seconds to your trip.
If you have a question that you would like addressed in Police Notes, please call the department at 267-2412. Please and thank you.