In 1972, Col. Jeff Cooper wrote, Principles of Personal Defense. Many consider it required reading for someone interested in taking responsibility of their personal safety. I agree, but those not familiar with Cooper's or his words might not grasp the importance of this work.
In addition to establishing Gunsite Academy, where the foundation for defensive weapon craft was laid, in his book, Principles of Personal Defense, Cooper presented an understanding of what being responsible for your own safety is all about. The seven principles Cooper covers in the book are: alertness, decisiveness, aggressiveness, speed, coolness, ruthlessness and surprise.
Cooper explains how having the proper mindset provides the footing needed to win a fight. Mindset is one of the elements of what Cooper called the “Combat Triad,” which also includes marksmanship and gun handling.
- Principles of Personal Defense is a short book with a big message and it will cost less than 20 rounds of
defensive handgun ammunition. For those too cheap to pony-up the few dollars needed—and with apologies to Col. Cooper—I’ll
outline his message:
- Alertness: Be aware and be ready. Bad things can happen at any time.
- Decisiveness: Counterattack now! Do not tarry.
- Aggressiveness: Go at it like you mean it. Find your fierceness.
- Speed: Be sudden and be quick. Be first.
- Coolness: Keep your wits. Don't lose control.
- Ruthlessness: Strike with all your strength for every blow. Do not stop until you are the clear winner.
- Surprise: Do not wilt and do not cower, and don’t be predictable. Fight back.
This is the mindset you must have to win, and when I consider mindset I remember something my grandfather used to say, "Get at it like you're killing snakes." I can think of no better way to describe the response that should answer a violent attack.
If you are required to shoot from an unconventional position or while moving the laser is the best option.
Cooper also devised a color code—a four-color categorization of personal awareness—that provides a clear and simple mechanism for gauging the level of perceptiveness the situation requires. The four colors are white, yellow, orange and red. In condition white, you’re relaxed. Condition yellow is relaxed awareness. A specific alert should drive you to condition orange. And, in condition red, you’ve identified a specific threat and it’s time to act.
The Crimson Condition
In 2013, Crimson Trace partnered with Gunsite Academy to devise a first-ever defensive handgun laser training course. I worked with Gunsite instructors Dave Starin and Chris Weare to formulate the program of instruction, and 2015 marks the second year this class will be available. But, this partnership has also introduced something else to the concept of self-protection with a defensive handgun.
Condition Crimson is the readiness of Cooper’s last segment of the color code.
With regard to the Cooper Color Code, condition red is the final stage … that decisive moment when a threat becomes reality and you're actively engaged in a fight. But Condition Red only assumes you'll be ready—it doesn't guarantee it. That's where Condition Crimson comes in.
When added to a handgun, a laser sight takes Condition Red to the next level. In Condition Crimson, you're not just prepared to fight—you're prepared to fight in the fastest, most confident, most accurate manner possible.
The latest iteration of defensive handgun lasers are green and they are easier to see in bright conditions.
Crimson Trace has based their most recent marketing campaign on the Condition Crimson concept. But marketing does nothing to save your life. You need skills you can rely on and tools that work. While some consider a laser nothing but a gimmick, they’ve proven to be a tool that can make the difference in a life or death situation.
- Here are 10 reasons your defensive handgun should be equipped with a laser:
- Lasers make a significant impact during dry-practice.
- Lasers help develop trigger control and weapon presentation.
- Lasers make ultra-compact handguns easier to shoot accurately.
- Laser grips help you establish and maintain a proper shooting grip.
- Lasers drastically improve speed and accuracy during low-light shooting.
- Lasers can sometimes be the only way to shoot accurately while moving and from unconventional positions.
- Lasers improve peripheral vision and situational awareness because you can maintain a center mass hold without the handgun obscuring your vision.
- Lasers allow you to shoot accurately from the retention position, where you can protect your handgun from an attacker.
- Lasers might act as a deterrent and circumvent the need to shoot.
- Lasers allow aging eyes and those with poor vision to engage targets fast and accurately.
Defensive handgun lasers are not an accessory—they’re a necessity—and that’s what Condition Crimson is all about.
Editor’s Note: Portions of this article are excerpts from the author’s book, Handgun Training for Personal Protection, which the North American Hunter editorial staff highly recommends for anyone interested in or currently carrying a firearm for personal protection.