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September 28, 2006

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Taps for Colonel Cooper

In the summer of 1958, I bought two soft-cover books for something like 25 cents each, and they opened a door for me. One was entitled Fighting Handguns; the other was Custom Rifles. I read those books, and re-read them, and re-re-read them, not just for the information, but because Jeff Cooper was a hell of a writer. I got caught reading Custom Rifles in study hall in high school, and got in trouble, and had the pleasure of telling Jeff Cooper about it many years later.

Cooper was an original thinker and a hugely influential figure in the world of shooting. Much of modern combat pistol technique is based upon his teaching, as is the predominance of the automatic pistol over the revolver in law-enforcement work. He was instrumental in founding the modern shooting academy, and he wrote for more than 50 years and was as interesting at the end as he was at the beginning.

Cooper served in the Marine Corps in WWII and was discharged as a captain. He was recalled to active duty during the Korean War and eventually made Lieutenant Colonel, the rank at which he retired. A graduate of Stanford University, Cooper was a genuinely educated man, loved language, and was fussy about it as all good writers are. He also had a sense of humor. Carved on the wooden mantle of his fireplace was the slogan “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” ... in Old English.

He needed to be tough. Toward the end of his life he fell and broke his back in two places, and it put him in a wheelchair for the rest of his days. He passed away on September 25, at home.

Semper fi.

Well done.

Stand down.

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Comments

jstreet

I enjoyed Jeff Coopers' columns for many years. It appears his last years were tough due to health issues. I wish his family the best.
Jstreet

PbHead

I had the pleasure of meeting Col. Cooper at a NRA convention. Over the years I have collected all of his books. All shooters should read them. You may not agree with him but you will learn much. He was a true warrior and aristocrat. May he rest in peace.

Chuck B,

Jeff Cooper's weblog archive, going back to 1993, can be found at http://harris.dvc.org.uk/jeff/

If you haven't followed it, it's a treasure trove of commentary on guns and the rest of the world.

craig j. curtis

those of you who had the pleasure to meet the man should feel very fortunate i know i would ! this is sad news just coming out of the fall woods bow hunting i will miss Mr. Coopers writing , wich is in alot of my favorite magazines as well as his books . i bid you a fond farewell Mr. Cooper !!!

George Steiner

I never had the honor to meet Jeff Cooper in person, but I did meet his granddaughter, Amy Heath, at a Friends of the NRA Meeting.

She had several anecdotes about her grandfather which she shared with myself and others. Jeff's legacy in indeed in good hands.

He will be missed.

O Garcia

I read Col. Cooper's column for the fresh perspective they give his readers.

For example, in a world full of USMC/SWAT/benchrest-inspired "sniper/tactical" rifles with specialty barrels, Devcon bedding putty, adjustable stocks, and all designed to hit targets at 800 meters and beyond, he points us to the movie "Enemy At The Gates", the tale of Soviet snipers, especially Vasily Zaitsev, who fought in that titanic struggle against the Nazis, the Battle of Stalingrad. The movie, while not exactly historically accurate, does prove that 1)sniper rifles don't need to be all that different from service rifles and 2) sniping isn't necessarily a long range affair only, sometimes it's done at stone-throwing distances.

What I never really understood about Col. Cooper is why he kept on referring to autoloading rifles as "jammatics", while being the champion of an autoloading pistol, the 1911. I realize Col. Cooper fought in Guadalcanal with bolt action Springfields, and tends to be partial towards bolt guns even for defense use, but why the double standard? Is the 1911 really that much more reliable than say, a Garand?

But that's what Cooper was all about. While I did not always agree with him, he made me think.

Ralph the Rifleman

I wish to send my prayers to the Cooper family--He was a true Patriot that will not be forgotten.

Bill Sinclair

Living in the UK it was and is sometimes difficult to get hold of G&A, but every time I got lucky , the colonel's column was the first item I read. Over many years, before my handguns were confiscated by our government, I practised what he preached. Thank you..

Mark W

Mr. Cooper will be sorely missd by many fans. He was an American treasure.

Richard A. Smith

Civilian salute: remove hat, place over heart, wipe away tear.

God bless Colonel Cooper.

Tom Fowler

Colonel Cooper always managed to surprise me with his ideas and knowledge in his essays. He was opinionated, passionate, and deadly. He meant what he said, and he modeled what he meant, for all thinking readers. In an age of jibber jabber, the Colonel told things plainly and succinctly. Just when I thought I understand the depth of the man, he would show some insight and learning that told us that this was one complicated, hard-headed, I-wish-I-known-him kind of shooting friend. I learned to appreciate the .45 Auto under his distant guidance, and always looked to him for some timely comment about any current conflict.
Colonel, we will miss you. I will miss you. May our paths cross and a campfire be shared.
Tom Fowler

cmcdonough

Dave,
Just bought Col. Cooper's book "To ride, shoot straight and speak the truth". Truly amazing writing and subject matter. It should be required reading for all Americans.

Alden

I admit it, I am not only a gun freak but also an English freak. Col. Cooper's unflinching pursuit of the appropriate use of both will continue to be a model to me. He was not just a legend, he was our legend.




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