Colorado Pete is putting finishing touches on his new book, tentatively titled Fundamentals of Rifle & Pistol Marksmanship for Hunting and Self-Defense

Here’s an overview.

Fundamentals of Rifle & Pistol Marksmanship for Hunting and Self-Defense

The Story Behind The Book

by “Colorado Pete” (Peter Lessler,

The reason I decided to write the book was seeing so many folks at the range or wherever, who had no idea what they were doing, because they never had anyone teach them properly, or didn’t know how to find out for themselves. The rifle section covers practical field hunting use: what the parameters of desired performance are, a basic description of rifle types and various cartridge classes for complete newbies, all shooting positions, natural point of aim, loop slings, using various kinds of sights and understanding minute-of-angle, trigger management and breathing, mindset, trajectory and zeroing, wind compensation, terminal ballistic effects, gunhandling, mechanical and field-expedient rests, the ethics of longer-range game shooting, and a regimen of practice drills, performance self-analysis, and performance standards. It pretty much tracks with Cooper’s Art of the Rifle (kinda unavoidable), but I babble more (and cover certain topics in much more depth than he did). The genesis of this was a tutorial I wrote for a friend starting out in highpower rifle, which turned into a four-part article on getting started in highpower which I sent to Dave Brennan at Precision Shooter back around ’01 or ’02. He claimed to like it, but never published it (at least not that I know of). I built on this, combining knowledge from highpower position shooting and the practical field techniques I learned from Col. Jeff Cooper’s class.

The pistol section covers Cooper’s mindset/marksmanship/gunhandling triad, using the Modern Isosceles (as I understand it). Proper grip, stance, sight usage, trigger management, why’s and wherefore’s of recoil management, what the eye should see, presentation, the basic draw from a strongside hip holster, reloads, malfunction clearances, target transitioning, moving targets, shooting while moving, sight-picture-based subconscious trigger reflex development, strong-hand/weak hand only shooting, and the various types of two-shot shooting. The genesis of this was a three-part tutorial I would give to folks to whom I was teaching the pistol. Nothing fancy like shooting from retention or weak-hand-only malfunction clearances, just basic building block skills that too many folks lack.

One drawback to being a regular competitor is that you pretty much hang out and shoot with just them. You become accustomed to shooting with very accomplished and knowledgeable shooters. It is easy to forget how all the other non-competitors perform and to forget that these folks are actually about 95% of the shooting public. It is for those folks I wrote the book, they need a leg up.

I was lucky, I started my powder-burning on my high school smallbore rifle team (in New Jersey of all places…back in the mid-’70’s they still did things like that there) and the local NRA junior smallbore rifle club, so I had a decent start. Found Col. Cooper’s writings back about that time and started paying attention. Read everything I could find in the library about shooting. Out of high school I went to Trinidad State Jr. College out here in CO and learned about gunsmithing. Then I just fooled around on my own for years not accomplishing much until I decided to get back into rifle bullseye with highpower. Bought an M1 Garand and shot a couple matches back east just before I moved here to CO in ’94 and continued highpower here. Got into IPSC in spring ’97 and blundered my way to “B” class with a standard 1911 .45 and plain leather gear. Finally got to take Col. Cooper’s General Pistol course at the Whittington Center in summer ’97 and managed to earn an expert certificate, took his General Rifle course same place in ’99 with another e-ticket, and managed to fool the NRA into giving me an expert rating in highpower rifle. Along the way helped some friends learn to shoot rifle & pistol and found out I could actually teach it such that they got good results.

Never did like watching others struggle with shooting. I would go talk to them and ask why they were doing what they were doing, then offer this or that pointer, which was usually tried out with good results and so was well-received. So after much head scratching and analysis of what my own skill and experience were, plus what I’d learned from others, figuring out how and why this thing worked and that thing didn’t, I began to set all this stuff down on paper as a solid foundation of fundamental skill requirements. Nothing fancy, tacticool or specialized, rather the important underlying stuff without which you will never progress beyond mediocre. Along the way became an Appleseed instructor in ’09 and learned to be a much better and more organized instructor.

At 53 I’m beginning to rapidly stiffen up and slow down, can’t move through a rifle bounce like I used to and need glasses to see both rifle and pistol front sights sharply, and I don’t get out as much to practice as I used to (went out today with the hunting rifles and just plain sucked). But, if I work it hard enough I think I could do as well as I did 6-8 years ago. And I still managed to shoot within my class at this month’s local IPSC match, my first in about a year. I think I’ll be stuck in “B” forever though. Never been more than a mid-level competitor in either rifle or pistol, so can’t claim any honors, though I did once win overall state individual champion with my high school smallbore team way back in ’75 (1975 not 1875, and it’s been downhill ever since).

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it….