I’ve posted over a dozen times about various aspects of Col. Jeff Cooper and Gunsite but recently realized I never got around to the question of how the teaching at Gunsite Academy today compares to the classic Modern Technique of the Pistol articulated by Cooper.
This is a bit of a touchy subject at Gunsite. As I noted previously, Gunsite COO Ken Campbell often deflects criticism that Gunsite Academy is the “Southwest Dinosaur League” (a derogatory modification of the original “Southwest Combat Pistol League” started by Jeff Cooper), arguing that the curriculum at Gunsite has evolved over time.
Some outsiders recognize this evolution, as well as the challenge of evolving without fundamentally breaking with the foundational doctrine. According to Rob Pincus, “The Modern Technique was bad ass in 1983.” That said, “Even Gunsite has moved on, though they have the weight of legacy hanging over them.”
How much has Gunsite evolved or moved on from the Modern Technique of the Pistol? That depends on how you DEFINE the Modern Technique, what ASPECTS of the Modern Technique you consider, and whether you look at the EXPLICIT curriculum or the IMPLICIT curriculum.
I will take up these questions in 3 or 4 posts based on my observation of the 250 Defensive Pistol course (“The Gunsite Experience”) in June 2017, in particular the opening presentation, the mid-week “mindset lecture,” and the 30 hours I spent on the range with the two groups of students in attendance.
If you identify the Modern Technique with the classic Weaver Stance and a .45ACP 1911 pistol, then Gunsite has moved on quite substantially.
If you look at those as two of the five core elements of the Modern Technique (the other three being the presentation, flash sight-picture, and compressed-surprise break), it has evolved some but not completely.
But if you look at the Modern Technique as a broader whole, the vast majority remains intact. I have taken the outline I posted previously and highlighted in green those parts that are still in evidence in “The Gunsite Experience” in 2017 and in yellow those which are different. As you can see, it is mostly green, with the exception of the Weaver stance and the heavy-duty self-loading pistol. (I leave readiness “Condition 0” white because it seems to be more of an add-on than an integral part of gunhandling in the Modern Technique as codified by Cooper.)
In my next post I consider how the Weaver Stance and the Heavy-duty Self-loading Pistol are treated in the EXPLICIT curriculum, and then I will explore how the combat mindset is treated in the IMPLICIT curriculum at Gunsite today.