Misc ramblings about Jeff Cooper, Robbie, and ROBAR.
This happened about a half-year before Jeff had his book The Art of the Rifle
I took off from WSMR on my motorcycle, gonna head through Phoenix to drop a pistol off at ROBAR, then on to Gunsite - with a Colt Officers ACP.
As I said, Jeff used to really like heading down to Robbie's place - he drove until very late in life, even long after he would more shuffle than walk. That highway, from Gunsite to Phoenix, is a twisty-turny sucker. If you don't get boxed in behind someone, it's a GREAT road for hotrodding. When the turns are marked warning 20 MPH, they actually mean it (GRIN) - on a bike it's as good as Walt Disney ever thought about. Jeff loved to take it in that Acura of his (isn't the Acura the one with the intertwined circles?) and recommended the trip on bike ;D
So I get done lining out the work to be done on the pistol at ROBAR, when a mutual friend of ours walks in. Noting the ruck on the back of the bike, he asks "so where you headed from here?" - I tell him up to Jeff's place for a bit. Cool. So he says that I've got to ask about the lion - made me commit to asking Jeff about the lion. Sure.
Here's the story I got, along with some stuff to make it more understandable...... Jeff was BIG into African hunting. Loved it. Specifically, he loved hunting dangerous stuff. Well, it turns out that the mutual friend had accompanied Jeff on his last safari, and had an interesting tale to tell. Several guys went over (Jeff said that he took all his kids and all his grandkids to Africa at least once) one of which wanted a lion mane in a bad way.
When they all get over there, they stake out a good pride of lions, and the fellow takes his shot on a big male. Unfortunately, things didn't go right - the lion moved and took the round farther back than ideal, then ran off into the elephant grass. He took the time to explain, the elephant grass over there is about 7 feet tall, and THICK. Sure. So Jeff asks him about going and getting his lion, and the guy responds with essentially a WTF look. Sure 'nuff, the hunting party lines out in a skirmish line, and walks slowy into the elephant grass to chase down a really big wounded lion
Something else that needed explanation was that a lion, when wounded, would head into the grass like that not to get away from the attacker, but to set himself up properly for an ambush of whatever attacker followed after him. WOW. It seems that the 'lucky attacker' was Jeff. He said that he saw the grass begin to part, brought up his rifle, and all he saw in the split-second was a tooth in the scope - he fired. The bullet went right down the front end of the lion, which made him tumble. When the lion came to a stop, it was almost dead but bleeding out on Jeff's boots
At that point, it was a matter of "here's your lion" ;D After that display though, the fellow said that it wasn't HIS lion, it was Jeff's. No questions. So the lion mane was taken and such.
At that point, he took me over to this little bureau off to the side of the livingroom. Sure enough, there was that lion mane. On top of it was a BEAUTIFUL Garand on display. And that is where the cover art for The Art of the Rifle
Unfortunately, the last time I was out there, he wasn't doing well at all. It was my son's first time out at Gunsite, so I was hoping he'd get a chance to meet Jeff. I owed that old man a lot - he's the reason I'm working where I am. Unfortunately, Jeff wasn't doing well - a couple of months later he breathed his last. While I was out there though, I did visit with Janelle - she's the epitome of class if there ever was one. She said that Jeff had said right out that if he had it all over to do again, he wouldn't have changed anything. At the end, he was sharp as a tack mentally, and living on ice cream and peanut butter sandwiches - what he loved. A decent end to a tremendous life.
I haven't stopped by since he died, but one of our buddies forwarded some pictures of the place he's buried there - at the school. The most fitting I'd say.