Wednesday, July 08, 2009

My Current Read: The Art of the Rifle by Jeff Cooper

Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper was among America's foremost firearms instructors of the 20th Century. I'm currently reading one of his seminal works, The Art of the Rifle. The book is principally concerned with the precise movements and techniques for successful rifle shooting. As such, I am too ignorant to understand or evaluate it, but it has expressed to me how complex is accurate riflecraft. When and if I am in a financial position to buy my rifle, I shall consult it again.

In his introduction, Cooper expresses sentiments that any classical liberal would approve of:

It is a tool of power, and thus dependent completely upon the moral stature of its user. It is equally useful in securing meat for the table, destroying group enemies on the battlefield, and resisting tyranny. In fact, it is the only means of resisting tyranny, because a citizenry armed with rifles simply cannot be tyrannized.

The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles.

I am less confident than Cooper that there are more good men than bad, but if there are fewer good men, that is all the more reason for them to be armed with rifles.


bob said...

I don't believe there are that many truly good people, but I think most people truly lean towards being good.

Jeff the Baptist said...

Might I suggest you pick up a .22 before you get your bigger bore carbine? Marlin makes the definitive .22 lever, but the henry .22s are also quite nice and well regarded.

I went the other way. I bought both an m1 carbine and an ar-15 before I picked up my Model 60. I realize now that I should have bought the .22 first. It was the cheapest to buy and is the cheapest to shoot. Whenever I want to take a rifle to the range, especially with ammo prices the way they are, it's what comes out of the gun cabinet. Whenever I want to practice the skills Cooper discusses, it's what comes out of the cabinet.

Keith Taylor said...


I love the model '94. It is an excellent gun. I don't have one, but I wished a did.

I have always been more partial to shotguns. Mainly because I only duck and bird hunted when I was young. A side-by-side Stevens 12 ga was always at my side.

Great choice on the Marlin.


John said...

Jeff, would the markdown on buying a 22 and then selling it (when I have grasped basic marksmanship) be significant? I doubt that I can afford more than one gun.