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The Combat Mindset by Col Jeff Cooper

The Combat Mindset by Col Jeff Cooper

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Published by Steve Johnson

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Published by: Steve Johnson on Jan 26, 2012
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07/09/2013

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M
anfightswithhismind.Hishandsandhisweaponsaresimplyextensions
of
hiswill,andone
of
thl'fallacies
of
our
era
is
thenotionthatequipmentistheequivalent
of
force.
For
nearly
20
yearsIhavebeenteachingweaponcraft-whichmay
be
definedastheaggregate
of
dexterity,marksmanshipandtacticalunderstanding-andperhaps
50of
mygraduateshavenowhadoccasiontousetheseskillsinmortalconfrontations.
(I
say"perhaps"becauseImustassumethatnoteveryclientsends
me
areport.)
Of
the
3Q-.odd
whohavereported,notonehassaidthathislifewassavedbyhisdexteritynorbyhismarksmanship,butratherby
his
"mind-set."What,then,isthe
"combat
mind-set?"
It
isthatstate
of
mindwhichinsuresvic
tory
in
a
gunfight.
It
is
composed
of
awareness,anticipation,concentrationandcoolness.Aboveall,itsessenceisself-eontrol.Dexterityandmarksmanshipareprerequisitetoconfidence,andconfidenceisprerequisitetoself-control.Anystate
of
mindisentirelysubjective,varyinginfinitelyamongindividuals.Wedonotfeelthesameaboutourexperiences,andanyonewhotellsyouhowyou
will
feelinafighthasnotstudiedthematterthoroughly.
On
theotherhand,
we
cantalktomany
whO
have"seentheelephant,"and
we
canaddtothisourownexperiences,andthusexplorethesubject-inatentative
way.
Insuchexploration
we
should
bear
inmindthatwhiletimeschangequickly,people
change
slowly.
Abraham
would
be
astonished
at
electricity,
but
not
atCher
nenko.LifestylesinElizabethanEnglandwereverydifferentfromours,butShakespeare'scharactersviewedlifejustas
we
do.
We
maydismissthenotionthatatwentiethcenturymanreactsdifferentlytoviolencefromthewayhisgrandfatherdid.
He
may
be
toldthat
he
will-
forspeciousreasons-butwhen
he
looksintothelion'smouthhisresponsewill
be
thesame.Sometimesitwill
be
goodandsometimesbad,butthiswilldependuponhischaracterratherthanthepopularlyheldmood
of
themoment.Combat
is
an
unusualexperienceformost
of
us,butthenemergencies
of
anykindalwaysare.Howevercombat
does
occur,and88anyfullyeducatedpersonknowsthisandpreparesforit.Despitewhat
we
mayhear,combatisnotcharacteristic
of
anyparticularoccupation
or
"What,then,isthe'combatmindset?'
It
isthatstate
of
mindwhichinsuresvictory
in
agunfight.
"
situation.
It
maycometoapoliceman,butitmayjustasprobablycometoabarber,abroker
or
abiologist.Acceptingthisisthefirststepinphysicalsecurity.
No
onecan.solveanyproblem
of
whichhe
is
notaware.Inwhatfollows
we
willconsiderthecombatmind-setinthreeaspects-before,duringandafteraction.IcantellyouhowIhavefelt,butthat
is
bynomeans
my
principalresearchtool.
On
thecontrary,Iwilldraw
on
scores
of
individual,informalinterviewswith
men
whowerespeakingwithcompletefranknessandwithnoconcernwhateveraboutwhattheirsupervisors,theirattorneys,theirwives
or
thepressmightthink.Icannottellyouhow
you
willfeelwhentheredflagflies,butIcanindeedtellyouhowagreatmanyothershavefelt.
The
pistolisaconceptuallydefensive
arm,
intendedtostoplethalaggression.
Thus
whenusedasintendedit
will
be
requiredwithalmostnowarning.
The
manwhoshootstosavehislife,
or
that
of
hiswife
or
child,willrarelyhaveanytimeinwhichtoconsiderthesituation,steelhimself,sayaprayer,singa
war
song
or
gointoadance.Hismentalreactionwillprobablybeastonishmentrather
than
fear,forfeartakestimetobuildup.Sincehecannotanticipate
specifically
he
mustanticipate
generally.
Anyonewhocarriesapistolonhispersonispresumablyawarethat
he
mayhavetouseit,butthereisalargedifferencebetweenthehypotheticalpossibilityandtheactualevent.
To
anticipategenerally,theshootermusttrainhimselfintoastate
of
mindinwhichthesuddenawareness
of
perildoesnotsurprisehim.
It
isessentialforthemanwhowearsaguntoreacttoasuddenthreatwiththeknowledgeandconfidencethathecanhandleit.Hisresponseshould
be
not"OhmyGod,
I'm
inafight!"butrather"Ithoughtthismighthappen
and
Iknowwhat
to
do
about
it."
Instead
of
feelingthatthesituationisunheard-of,hemustfeelthatthesituation
is
distinctlyheard-of,andthat
he
is
incharge
of
itratherthan
his
aggressor.
He
mustregardthequickandpreciseuse
of
hissidearmas"Plan
B,"
and
be
fullyreadytoimplementitwhenconfrontedwithadeadlyhumanadversary.Inthissituationtherecan
be
nobuild-up
of
emotionandtheshooter'sexercisewillbeentirelyintellectual.
He
willnothavetimetogetexciteduntilafterthefightisover.Sometimes,however,therewill
be
warning,and
on
theseoccasionsemotionwillindeed
bear
upon
action.
When
anotherhumanbeingmanifestsboththeintentionandcapacity
of
killing
you,
personally,andthereistimeenoughbetweenhisdeclarationof
intentandtheactualengagement,your
responsewillprobably
beone
of
intensealarm.
(I
donotliketousetheword"fear"butyouareatlibertytodoso
if
youwish.)
When
yousuddenly
realize
thatthosemen,rightthere,arearmedandpreparedtokillyou,therewill
p r ~ b a b l y
beasuddensinkingsensationintothepit
of
thestomach.
The
antidotefor
thishollow
feelingisanger.
The
emotions
of
fearandangerareverysimilarbiologicallyanditisnotverydifficultforasubjecttoconvertoneintotheotherI
haveexperienced
thispersonallyseveraltimesandIhavetalkedtoagreatmanypeopleaboutit.
It
occursinmilitarysituations,inpolicesituations,andintotally"civil"situations.
When
amandemonstrates,ineffect,thatheisreadyandwillingto
kill
you,
·Your
responseshouldnotbefearfulbutwrathful.Irememberoneepisodeinvolvingacarpursuitinmoderatelyheavytrafficand,aftertheinitialunderstandngthatthiswasindeedalife-and-deathencounter,theprincipalemotionalstate
of
thesubjectwasone
of
cold,concentratedrage.Anditworked.Theeyeremainedclearandthehandsteady.Wemayconcludethatwhiletherewillusually
be
notimeforfeartodevelop,
on
thoseoccasionswhenthere
is
time,thatfear
AMERICANHANDGUNNER
ANNUAL·
1986

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