Thursday, November 12, 2015

Veteran's Day: Remember With Reverence

In 1985 I became a military small arms instructor. I was put in charge of keeping my mobility team and aircrew small arms qualified. I was instructed by the good folks of the Security Police CATM (Combat Arms Training and Maintenance) and often helped them in their work. I got to know these guys well and we shot a lot together and competed against each other. Most of them are retired or separated from the military.
While I was an instructor we had a refresher course that we took annually. This was taught by master instructors and a contractor. The contractor was out of Arizona called Gunsite. We were taught several drills but the one I remember the best was one that was developed by the late Jeff Cooper. He is considered the dean of modern hand gunning, and popularized the idea that, “Hey, maybe we should hold onto the gun with two hands.” He started Gunsite (the American Pistol Institute), which for many years was the preeminent private firearms training facility in the country, if not the world. Maybe it still is, but I don’t want to open that can of worms.
Prior to starting Gunsite, Cooper was a Marine who served in the Pacific in World War II. He saw a little action, and after the war did a little work for the OSS/CIA in the same area. About fifty years or so ago Cooper was hired to train the bodyguards of the president of a Latin American country. He developed a shooting drill he named “El Presidente” to not just help train those bodyguards but measure their skill level.
The El Presidente is probably the classic test of pistol skill. While the speed loading requirement can be faulted, anyone who does well on it is probably a pretty good handgunner.
Three IPSC “option” targets are placed 3 feet apart, 7 to 10 yards from the shooter. The shooter starts with his back to the targets and on signal, pivots and engages each target twice, reloads, and engages each target two more times. Score is hit value minus 10 points per miss, divided by the time in seconds. Par time is 10 seconds with all center hits. This course is designed to be shot from a condition of concealed carry.
For a very useful modification, try replacing the second set of pairs (after the reload) with single head shots to emphasize precision using the same time frame for par.
I bring all this up because it is Veteran’s Day. Jeff Cooper was a vet and he also changed and was the father modern hand gunning. He is no longer with us but his teaching and words and attitude live on.
I don’t talk about personal details in this blog for my own and security reasons. It would not take much to find out about I would think but I try to practice a little OPSEC if I can.
My father was in the Navy during WWII. He joined the Navy in 1942 because he thought he would be drafted which of course he was after he had enlisted in the Navy. There are some things about serving that changed him. But all in all it was a positive experience for him He was honorably discharged in 1946 where he used his GI Bill and went to college.
His experiences and the things he taught me and my siblings will never be forgotten and will live on through our children. I honor him on this important day. My experiences in the military were directly influenced by his honorable service.
On Veteran’s Day I think about the great people I had the privilege of serving with. But especially those who I’ve lost who served so well.
I hope Veteran’s Day was more than just a holiday. I hope it was a time of reflection for you and your loved ones. I hope you appreciate and understand that our freedom exists because many were willing to fight for it. I wonder if most American’s remember that. I hope they do. Do your part as a citizen of the United States. Vote for the people you feel will be good for our country. Ignore the hype and party line. Let’s take back our country. Commit to that on this Veteran’s Day
Semper Paratus
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