Guns and Gear

Col. Jeff Cooper’s Modern Technique Of The Pistol

By Sheriff Jim Wilson, Shooting Illustrated

Besides being a better-than-average teacher, Col. Jeff Cooper was also keen at observation and research. Through the Southwest Combat Pistol League and Cooper’s own Leather Slaps at Big Bear, CA, the colonel analyzed the form and style of the winning shooters. Along with his personal knowledge and experiences, Cooper developed a superior method for fighting with the handgun.

The Modern Technique of the Pistol developed by Col. Jeff Cooper, founder of Gunsite Academy, has been so successful that almost all of the prominent defensive handgun instructors of today either teach it or teach a close variation of it. Sadly, too few of them give credit to Jeff Cooper for this innovation in defensive shooting. Many new shooters don’t even know what the term actually means. The Modern Technique of the Pistol involves four major parts and here they are:

1. The Big-Bore Autoloading Pistol: Cooper favored this pistol for its proven fight-stopping characteristics, its ease of handling, and the ability to reload it very quickly. While he personally preferred the Colt 1911 in .45 ACP, he also gave the nod to the CZ-75, the Browning Hi-Power and a few other guns. He was not a big fan of the 9 mm, however, and called double-action semi-auto pistols the answer to an unasked question.

2. The Weaver Stance: Cooper borrowed this technique from Deputy Sheriff Jack Weaver, who was consistently beating them all in the combat matches. It is a balanced combat stance that uses a two-hand, isometric hold on the handgun. The shooting hand pushes forward and the support hand pulls back. It is the key to fast, multiple shots using full-power ammunition.

3. The Flash Sight Picture: Early on, Col. Jeff Cooper realized that when shooters focused on their front sights, their number of center hits went up dramatically. He also realized that, at close range, you really don’t have to carefully line up both the front and rear sight, nor do you have the time to do it in a gunfight. Just get the front sight on the target as quickly as possible, see the front sight clearly, and launch your shot. The effectiveness of this technique is amazing.

4. The Surprise Break: Cooper taught his students to press the trigger instead of giving it a healthy jerk that would throw the sights off target. In practice, one begins this technique very slowly, pressing gently until the shot is launched. Done properly, the shot should come as almost a surprise. With further practice, one learns to compress all the right moves and deliver his shot quickly and accurately. The combination of No. 3 and No. 4 is why you hear instructors admonish their students with “Front sight, Press.  Front sight, Press.”

Col. Jeff Cooper began teaching the Modern Technique at his Gunsite Academy in about 1976. To date, a more effective method of managing the fighting pistol has yet to be brought forward. Whether you are a Gunsite graduate, or not, we all owe quite a lot to this grand old man and The Modern Technique of the Pistol.