Book Review: Art of the Rifle by Col. John Dean "Jeff" Cooper

            -97 pages
            -Copious amount of black and white photographs.

-Table of Contents:
            -The Queen
            -The Instrument
            -Gun Handling
            -Sighting and Aiming
            -The Firing Positions
            -The Rest Positions
            -The Hand and the finger
            -The Eye
            -The Shooting Sling
            -The Snapshot
            -Moving Targets
            -Reloading and Readiness
            -The Mind of the Rifleman
            -The Mystique of the One-Shot Kill
            -Testing and Evaluation of Marksmanship

I first bought this book about 10 years ago when I started to really get into guns.  Obviously it had an impact on me since I named by blog by the same title.

Cooper was a very competent writer.  He had the ability to be extremely concise.  I guess that’s how you fit 20 chapters into 97 pages and still make it good enough to keep ’em coming back 10 years later.  He was also very opinionated.  On one hand, hearing someone’s opinion can be a waste of time.  In cases in which you are hearing an expert opinion informed by years of experience in several different fields of the subject matter, opinions are golden.  Facts are easy; things just to be memorized.  Opinions can convey wisdom.  That what this book does.  Not everyone may agree that his concept of the “Scout Rifle” is everything it’s cracked up to be (I’ve never tried one), but he makes an interesting case.

Another thing that is of great value in the book is not exactly what information is conveyed, but that you get an idea of how he thought.  His approach to shooting was one of open ended inquiry.  Even as old and accomplished as he was, it doesn’t seem to me that he had an inflexible mind at all.  I think that was why he focused on field marksmanship, it’s open ended and unpredictable.  You just have to be ready to take the challenge as it comes.  Not a refinement of procedure, but instead using skill and problem solving.

I find that as I reread the book, new things catch my eye.  Maybe I didn’t get the significance before, or now that I have more experience I can relate.  The book continues to unfold as you grow in your shooting.

When I was new to shooting the book was of great help in learning things like positions, basic marksmanship principles, and a lot of context.  Most importantly, it framed my approach to shooting.  Now when I read it, different details stand out.  I continue to learn.  Shooting continues to be an adventure.

If you’re a shooter, this is a no brainer addition to the library, even for a cheapskate like me.

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