Jeff Cooper on the Weaver Stance

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“There is a great deal of foolish discussion bouncing around concerning the proper arm position for serious pistol work. Jack Weaver’s classic contribution consists in power control. If you crank the left elbow down and pull positive count-pressure, you dampen recoil very considerably. If you use mechanical means of reducing recoil, and if you lay great importance upon very rapid bursts of succeeding shots, this may matter, but in the overall picture, I do not believe it does.

It hardly matters whether you use the Weaver Stance or the Isosceles with both arms straight as long as you get hits and those hits should be delivered with a major-powered sidearm under controlled conditions. The argument is silly, and I wish it would go away.”

– Jeff Cooper
“Cooper’s Corner”, Guns & Ammo November 2005

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Evolution Of Firearms Training

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Start at 20:15

“Why are we going to go all the way out there? We’ve got guys right here that are just as good.”

This may point to how the myth that competitive shooting causes bad habits started to be invented. I’ve pointed out how this myth continues to propagate as people continue to make up reasons/excuses but how did it start? Among contemporary instructors, I believe Jeff Cooper and Gunsite may be among some of the first to blame.

The question was raised about why a person would travel across the country and pay for a class when as-good or better learning could be had locally. Yes, the school has a cadre and curriculum, but the knowledge there is developed in the same manner as anyone learning a subject and practicing skills. When your local shooting club has regular participants as skilled and knowledgable as the cadre in that school, people that have the same variety of training background, real-world experience, and demonstratable skill, there isn’t a compelling reason to spend money and time going. Failing to have a good answer to this response led to some people to manufacturing a reason.

Jeff Cooper first developed his school and curriculum by hosting organized competitive events and testing what consistently worked best. Local groups affiliated with a national body involved in something similar will likely have equally-good and motivated participants.

This video was the first instruction tape (on VHS!) I ever owned. As Cooper mentions, it was filmed just after Jimmy Von Sorgenfrei won the 1979 IPSC World Championship. Notice how his points are based on who wins major competition, as the Weaver stance was the preferred approach by winning SWPL and then IPSC shooters (USPSA and IDPA didn’t exist yet) up to that point.

Within a few years after this, the preferred approach by winning competitors started to change. Interestingly enough, the switch from Weaver to modern isosceles in practical competition in the early 1980s took about as long as the switch from point shooting to Weaver did in the late 1950s and for the same reasons.

In the 1950s, everyone “knew” point shooting was “better” until Jack Weaver consistently won events using a different approach. It took some years but shooters adopted to this new approach as it consistently proved better by actual test.

In the late 1970s, everyone “knew” Weaver was “better” until Rob Leatham and Brian Enos consistently won events using a different approach. It took some years but shooters adopted the new approach as it consistently proved better by actual test. This is the same way Jack Weaver started.

Cooper did another series of instructional videos some years later, right about the same time he declared IPSC/USPSA as guilty of using “rooney guns.” Never mind that 1950s era practical/combat shooters were using competition-specific rooney guns and gear. Of course, those damn gamers were also using an “incorrect” isosceles stance. “Everyone knows” that the Weaver stance is not a “range technique” it is a “street technique” for when you don’t know what type of situation you’re getting into…

Never mind that Jack Weaver says his entire motivation for creating the approach that bears his name was to win the Leatherslap and other competitions organized by Jeff Cooper at Big Bear and the Southwest Combat Pistol League. And success in competition was considered a great point for proven effectiveness, up until competitors started using something different. To continue charging students money to learn The Way, even if a different way might be better, there needs to be a reason why your The Way is best.

Kark Rehn has more info here:
https://firearmusernetwork.com/competition-shooters-and-techniques-win-fights/

Lest anyone think I’m hating on Cooper and Gunsite/API, my thoughts on this are best summed up in my review of The Modern Technique of the Pistol. It did, and still will, work just fine for anyone willing to put in a little bit of on-going work to learn it. If the bullets go where they’re supposed to when they’re supposed to, the technique used is good. Developing actual, measurable skill with your chosen technique is the most important part. Jeff Cooper adds to this here.

The best approach to evolving your own training is to commit to on-going work, even if it’s just one or two minutes-long sessions each week, and get involved with a group of skilled practitioners hosting regular, on-going events. Attend those events as often as you can, practicing what you learn and training your skills between events.


Start at 19:40
This sort of community exists at every place hosting organized shooting events. Go find those events. Your attendance will improve your ability, put you in contact with the most skilled locals, and support the future of such events and places being held in the future.

Competition is critical. Take a class if you like but you’ll be better served in the long run by going to matches where you’ve got guys right there that are just as good. Even if you do take a class, you’ll still need to go practice somewhere once in awhile.

More here: https://firearmusernetwork.com/competition-shooters-and-techniques-win-fights/

Jeff Cooper on El Presidente

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“[El Presidente] has become a standard qualification test throughout the world and was named by my colleagues as a result of some professional work that I did for the president of Guatemala in the 1960’s. It is not a combat simulation, but simply a nerve exercise which tests various sorts of shooting skills. When I originated it it was thought to be impossible. Practice and application have caused it to become quite simple by today’s standards.” [emphasis added]

– Jeff Cooper on El Presidente at the suggested par of 12 centered hits in 10 seconds.

Simulate, not replicate. Drills are not scenarios, scenarios are not drills.

– Kevin Creighton

Ken Hackathorn’s Selective Memory

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I’m not sure if Ken Hackathorn is choosing selective memory or just waxing nostalgic. In his interview with Recoil magazine he lambasts organized competitive shooting. There are no concrete examples, just the usual suspects of empty, unsubstantiated claims. Details here:
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Problems with competitive shooters teaching combat shooting

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Gun owners with an interest (or a claimed interest) in real-world firearm usage make the claim that this is a “problem.”

Here is an example:

The Problems with competitive shooters teaching combat shooting
They tend to teach what they know which are the techniques used to be successful in shooting matches. Many of these techniques are ill advised for use in the street. Nevertheless these techniques are copied and followed by others because they are used by competitive shooters to win cups and titles. When considered away from the emotion of a prestigious shooting event, the idea that combat shooters would emulate competition shooters almost sounds silly. We have written an entire article on the differences between training for combat and training for shooting matches.

Ah, the magical differences. The author of that little bit is a staunch Modern Technique advocate and has instructed at Gunsite. The irony here is clearly lost on him.

The Modern Technique, the very notion of private sector shooting instruction, and most of what is taught at Gunsite (previously called American Pistol Institute) was born out of organizing competition experience into a curriculum for paying customers. The stance was named after Jack Weaver who developed his approach to shooting solely as a way to win the Leatherslap contests Cooper organized. The widespread adoption of eye-level, two-handed pistol shooting came about after point shooting failed to deliver promised results and an upstart using something else started winning. Jack Weaver’s technique proved successful in shooting matches and that was his only initial motivation for doing it. His technique was copied and followed by others because it was used by a competitive shooter to win cups and titles.

Don’t take my word for it. Here it is from the man himself:

As competitions continued to be held, the methods and approaches of the winners were learned and codified. Weaver’s approach won so often other competitors copied him. Back when police and military instruction advocated single loading a revolver or pistol magazine with loose cartridges as a viable combat method, Ray Chapman realized a second, pre-filled magazine slammed home quick was much faster (PPC competitors soon improved this for revolver shooters with the speed loader well before it was widely adopted by police and defensive shooters.) Tuned 1911 pistols with competition-specific modifications not found on issued carry guns continually won the day.

Here are a couple videos from Gunsite classes posted on their official Facebook page. Looks very similar to any number of practical shooting matches I’ve attended. Please explain how doing this at Gunsite is a great way to learn proper real-world firearm use but doing the exact same thing at a match is ill advised for use in the street.

If that’s not enough, here are more examples of realistic training offered at Gunsite.

 

Jeff Cooper: Competition is Critical

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It is said that competition is the life of trade. It is equally true that competition is the life of marksmanship. Not only does the universal drive to excel spur us to prove our shooting to be better than the next man’s, but contests bring us into contact with the best men in the field, show us what our standards of performance must be, and test new developments in equipment and technique.

The man who works alone, or who completes a standard training program, may develop a useful degree of skill, but he will be most unlikely to discover more than about 50 percent of his potential unless he competes regularly and formally with his peers. For this reason, any sportsman’s association or gun club is remiss unless it conducts regular local matches for its members.

– Jeff Cooper

Jeff Cooper on Point Shooting

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Many decades ago an unknown US Marine officer, World War II combat vet and History professor turned freelance writer published a little book entitled Fighting Handguns. His name was John Dean “Jeff” Cooper.

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