Thursday, October 05, 2006

Jeff Cooper dies at 86

Michael ClancyThe Arizona RepublicOct. 5, 2006 12:00 AM

Jeff Cooper, one of the nation's leading experts in firearm techniques and gun safety, died Sept. 25 at Gunsite Academy, the training academy he founded in Arizona's high desert almost 30 years ago.He was 86 and in ill health. He was retired, teaching courses part time since 1992.

"I was proud to have worked with him," said Jane Anne Shimizu, director of marketing for the academy.

He is credited with creating the modern technique of pistol shooting, popularized in countless movies. A retired Marine Corps colonel, big-game hunter and outdoorsman, he developed the technique by staging a series of pistol matches near his home in Big Bear Lake, Calif. He observed and codified the best techniques, and out of these observations, he built the tenets of what would become the "Modern Technique of the Pistol," a system the academy says has saved the lives of thousands of law enforcement personnel, military operatives and private citizens.

The technique incorporated a two-handed Weaver stance, named for a Los Angeles policeman, a large-caliber handgun and quick acquisition of the sight picture. The technique also stressed safety, compressing the so-called 10 Commandments into four simple rules: all guns are always loaded; never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy; keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target; and identify your target and what's behind it.

Cooper moved to Arizona in the late '70s because Arizona's firearms laws were less restrictive than California's.

"The idea that a man is somehow unusual because he shoots or wishes to shoot or enjoys shooting is foreign to Arizona," he told The Arizona Republic five years ago.

Over the years, Gunsite Academy has become one of the best-known firearms training facilities in the world. A columnist for Guns & Ammo magazine and a longtime member of the National Rifle Association, Cooper was a leading advocate of the Second Amendment's right to bear arms.

John Dean "Jeff" Cooper was born in Los Angeles on May 20, 1920. He left the Marine Corps in 1955 and resided in Big Bear Lake from the late 1950s until he moved to Arizona.


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