Lt Col Jeff Cooper
May 10, 1920 – September 25, 2006 R.I.P.
The name Jeff Cooper has for years been synonymous with teaching the modern use of firearms. After attending Stanford University Jeff Cooper enlisted in the Marine Corp. During World War II he served in the Pacific theatre on the USS Pennsylvania. By the end of the war he had been promoted to major. He resigned his commission in 1949, but returned to active duty during the Korean War. During that time he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. After the Korean War, Jeff wrote for magazines like Road & Track and raced cars in the early days of the SCCA. He was also instrumental in the early beginnings of competitive shooting. Jeff was considered the world’s foremost authority on defensive weaponcraft, teaching what he called the Modern Technique of the Pistol at the school he founded, American Pistol Institute. Jeff went beyond the technical aspects of shooting and incorporated mental conditioning and established a set of firearm safety rules that continue to be used today. American Pistol Institute, or API as it was known, grew to become Gunsite. Gunsite was founded by Jeff Cooper as the American Pistol Institute (API) in 1976 in order to teach the modern technique of shooting. The facility was established in Paulden, Arizona on a large tract of land perfect for firearms training. Jeff moved to the property and began constructing shooting bays and teaching students. His lectures were held right on the porch of his home. After the introduction of the rifle and shotgun courses, the school’s name was changed from American Pistol Institute to Gunsite. In 1992 Jeff Cooper sold Gunsite to a former student. The school was renamed to Gunsite Training Academy. On December 10, 1999, the school was sold to a new owner, Buz Mills, also a graduate of Gunsite. The school was renamed to “Gunsite Academy”. The instruction at the school returned to that of the modern technique as taught by Jeff Cooper. Equally important, Jeff Cooper took part in the instruction of the classes at Gunsite and instructors from Orange Gunsite returned to teach at the new Gunsite. Jeff Cooper retired from instruction at the end of 2003, but continued to live at the Sconce with his wife Janelle. Jeff Cooper passed away on September 25, 2006 and was buried in a tomb on the Gunsite property. Students to this day still visit Jeff Cooper’s burial site to leave mementos. Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper was a visionary and today Gunsite stands as a testament to his philosophy on firearms training.
“…he is truly the father of the modern technique of the pistol… No one since Samuel Colt has had a greater impact on practical pistolcraft than Jeff Cooper.” – Finn Aagaard