The Defensive Library

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posted on May 1, 2012
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It probably won't come as a big surprise for most of you to find out I am a lifelong history buff. I simply can't imagine how we can know where we are going if we don't know where we have been. And that is certainly true for the defensive shooter. Gun design may change, but bad guys don't. Neither do quick shooting techniques and defensive tactics.

For your edification, as well as enjoyment, I have compiled a list of six books that ought to be in the library of every defensive handgunner. Please don't be put off by the fact that these authors were all from another era. Each one offers valuable advice that will help you survive in today's society. Read these classics and understand where we came from and what we are all about.

"Quick or Dead" by William L. Cassidy

Cassidy gives one of the best histories of modern defensive handgun training that can be found anywhere. He discusses the old gunfighters and the defensive trainers of the 20th century. This book is a good place to start in building your defensive library.

"Principles of Personal Defense" by Col. Jeff Cooper

This is not so much a gun book as it is a treatise to help us understand all of the things incorporated into the term "Combat Mindset." In typical Cooper fashion, the book is concise and to the point. Regardless of your choice of handgun or defensive shooting disciplines, this book helps you learn to fight smart.

"Shooting to Live" by W.E. Fairbairn and E.A. Sykes

To my knowledge, this was the very first book to try to explain point shooting and a modern gunfighting technique. Regardless of your stance on point shooting, the book is interesting for its teaching methods and the discussion of defensive handguns.

"Kill or Get Killed" by Col. Rex Applegate

Col. Applegate took the teachings of Fairbairn and Sykes and modified them for our OSS agents in World War II. In addition to defensive handgun tips, the book also includes sections on knife fighting and unarmed combat. This is a great read written by a true gentleman.

"No Second Place Winner" by William H. Jordan

Bill Jordan's book is a classic. He explains the transition from point shooting to aimed fire as the distance increases, among other useful defensive tips. Besides being a magnificent exhibition shooter, Jordan was a truly funny man. You may not like revolvers, you may not like point shooting, but you will still be entertained and educated by this book.

"Hilarious High Jinks & Dangerous Assignments" by Lee Echols

Echols was a gunfighter, lawman, competitive shooter and extremely funny man. Read this one for pure entertainment, though you will encounter useful defensive tips along the way. Here was a fighting man who never lost his sense of humor.

Fortunately, most of these books are still in print. You will find all of them available through Internet sources. In my view, they are the foundation upon which to begin building your defensive library. Where do we go from here? Well, we'll have to take that up at another time.

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