By: Friedrich Seiltgen

Copyright © 2021

As a longtime reader of Guns & Ammo magazine, one of my favorite columns was “Cooper’s Corner” and the pearls of wisdom coming from Firearms Guru Jeff Cooper.

Cooper’s story goes something like this: In September 1941, Cooper received a commission in the United States Marine Corps, and when war broke out, Cooper was sent to the Pacific Theatre. By war’s end, he had been promoted to the rank of Major. Cooper resigned his commission in 1949, only to re-enlist for the Korean War, where he attained the rank of Lt. Colonel.

Cooper was an avid big game hunter and felt that riflecraft had been ignored since the end of WWII. In his book, Art of the Rifle, he sets the standard for rifle aficionados out there.

In 1976, Cooper founded his American Pistol Institute (API), where he taught firearms to police, military, and civilian shooters. API went through some changes, and it was later renamed Gunsite.

Cooper is credited with creating the “modern technique” of shooting, which consists of three components, or the “combat triad”:

· Marksmanship: accuracy, power, and quickness

· Gun handling: magazine changes, presentation, guard position, and malfunction clearances.

· Mindset: safety procedures, combat mind-set, and basic, individual tactics.

The basic guidelines define five elements which are:

· A large caliber, self-loading pistol, preferably a 1911

· The Weaver two-handed stance

· The Draw Stroke Presentation

· A flash sight picture

· A compressed surprise trigger break

Another milestone of Cooper’s was his “combat mindset” and “color codes.” Cooper believed a person’s mindset was the most important element in a gunfight. Cooper covers this in his book, Principles of Personal Defense.

Condition White: Unaware and unprepared! The only thing that may save you is the ineptitude of your attacker! If you think about it, you see these people every day. This is about 90-95 percent of the population. They walk around thinking about their problems or have their head down looking at their social media oblivious to what’s going on around them.

Condition Yellow: This is a relaxed alert. There is no specific threat. Cooper states this should be your condition while in public or armed.

Condition Orange: This is a specific alert. Something or someone is not right. You should determine what conditions will be needed to cross the line for you to act. You then focus on the threat until you need to act or until you’ve determined there is no threat. At this point you return to condition orange.

Condition Red: Red means the fight is on! The threat has crossed the line you set in condition orange, and you have acted on it

To say that cooper was a conservative was an understatement. His opinions always caused a ruckus. In the mid-90s, when Los Angeles and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) became “sister cities,” Cooper stated “It makes sense. They are both third world cities formerly occupied by Americans.”

One of my favorites is, “If violent crime is to be curbed, it is only the intended victim who can do it. The felon does not fear the police, and he fears neither judge nor jury. Therefore, what he must be taught to fear is his victim.”

Cooper would later have a hand in designing firearms to his specifications. He collaborated with Steyr on his Scout Rifle and was a force in the development of the Bren Ten 10mm pistol. Some of us older folks may remember Sonny Crockett packing a Bren Ten on the 80s’s favorite Miami Vice.

Cooper’s health deteriorated, and he passed away in 2006 at the age of 86, but hid contributions to the firearms’ world via his books, gun designs, and training are many. To this day, Principles of Self Defense is still an outstanding reference for modern-day firearms enthusiasts.

That’s all for now folks! Please keep sending in your questions, tips, and article ideas. And as always – “Let’s be careful out there.”

Friedrich Seiltgen is a retired Master Police Officer with 20 years of service with the Orlando Police Department. He conducts training in Lone Wolf Terrorism, Firearms, First Aid, Active Shooter Response, and Law Enforcement Vehicle Operations in Florida. His writing has appeared in RECOIL, The Counter Terrorist Magazine, American Thinker, Homeland Security Today, and The Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security International. Contact him at

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