Note: Below is a fax sent from Michael Harries to J Bartell on 07/01/1994 (the original fax is on file)
Michael sent this to me regarding a project where we were putting together information on our past to be used for our obituaries.
My shooting career started in 1957, at Camp Matthews (a former part of the USMC base at Camp Pendelton, California) while in the United States Marine Corps. in which I served from 1957 to 1961. Overseas duty was with the 3rd Marine Division FMF, on Okinawa where I trained with the M1 Garand, the Browning Automatic Rifle, the 45 ACP, and the 1919A4 and A6 air-cooled machine guns, plus the various mortars, mines, hand grenades and explosives used at the time. Other duty overseas include the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Borneo, Taiwan, and Japan.
A renewed interest in shooting, after I left the Marines and due in part to reading Jeff Cooper’s writings led me to seek out and join the SWPL that he founded and wrote about in Guns and Ammo magazine for many years. Then early in 1970, I met Jeff Cooper personally and from that time until he moved to Gunsite, I participated in his “Mountain Man” program (which was an advanced experimental program) that Mr. Cooper ran at Big Bear.
I joined the Southwest Pistol League (SWPL) in 1969, and I won the “B” class championship in 1973 and went into “A” class in 1974. In the 1970’s and early 1980’s I coached five different shooters to SWPL class championships and others to numerous high finishes. My teaching techniques were developed and polished during the time I coached the shooters in the competitive club, (The Equalizers of the SWPL 1971-1982) and I also taught private students who came to me for practical defensive shooting techniques. In that same time period I was on the staff with the late Mel Tappan with his well received series of “Seminars-On-Survival” and I demonstrated all of the Combat Pistol technique pictures in his book SURVIVAL GUNS — which is considered by many to be the classic work in its field.
I was a funding member of IPSC (the International Practical Shooting Confederation) in Columbia, Missouri, which was formed in 1976 (Mr. Bruce Nelson, now a famous holster designer and manufacturer from Tucson, Arizona and I were the entire holster committee) and I was the first California section coordinator and otherwise involved in many IPSC activities until Jeff Cooper stepped down as IPSC director.
Although my basic reputation was built upon my pistol shooting success and teaching, at the same time I have developed many tactical and teaching techniques for the rifle, and the shotgun as well. And I believe that my word-of-mouth reputation has brought me a number of students from various sources. I have taught various people and consulted with several clandestine government agencies on matters of shooting and weapons selection for missions (and of course no detailed information can be given for obvious reasons of violations of trust and national security) however, since 1982 I also have been teaching as adjunct staff of the American Pistol Institute (that Jeff Cooper founded) known as “Gunsite.” About 1992 API was sold to a former instructor (Dr. Jee) and although the “Gunsite” name was retained, it is now doing business as “The Gunsite Training Center” (GTC). During my years of teaching at API/GTC I have qualified on pistol, rifle, shotgun, and tested and become familiar with several full auto weapons (MP5, MP5SD, Ruger 556ACS, etc.) that are used in police circles. I also maintain my own private teaching practice in California and I travel to train people year round, as my schedule permits.
I have founded what has become the Southern California Tactical Combat Program back in 1981. Since then there have been twice monthly very advanced practical rifle and pistol and/or shotgun events held. This program was designed to replace all the very advanced experimental shoots held at Big Bear by shooting pioneer Jeff Cooper and the SCTC program has become a premier research and development program for the tactical use of small arms.
I also write a column in the SCTC newsletter COMBAT and also have written several articles for COMBAT HANDGUNS in the past, plus an occasional column in the survival newsletters. I am also the private section liaison and write for the Military Marksmanship Education Foundation (MMEF) which is dedicated to making improvements in the Army and Marine Corps Marksmanship, in these days of budget cuts. I also teach for the Martial Marksmanship Institute (MMI is the teaching arm of the MMEF) on a contract basis.
My teaching success is predicated on my good long term memory (I remember what I’ve learned, and how I’ve solved similar problems in the past) and my communication skills. Unfortunately, too many instructors have only one way of teaching, and it does not always “fit” everyone. I have taught two 4’ 10” women to shoot a full size Government model 45 with “Hardball Ammo” and hit! I have taught a shooter with a missing right hand, how he could reload any semi-auto pistol just about as fast as people with two hands — I have always understood that teaching Military and Police is far different than teaching a housewife who is frightened about crime, or people who have no firearms experience, as opposed to shooters with some shooting experience, but weak fundamental technique, that must be “shored up” in order for them to progress to any higher levels. Nonetheless, I have had great success in bringing shooting knowledge to my wide range of students.
People are all individuals and must be treated according to their needs and experience, and the frame of mind that they approach shooting with. It requires very careful listening to the student for any information that will help you to teach them better, in other words, a very flexible approach to teaching without sacrificing an fundamentals of technique, or gun handling SAFETY! SAFETY does not have to be compromised in shooting and/or training and research of techniques both old and new has led me to consult on some movie scripts, and do some coaching with actors on having them use the “proper” technique for the period of the movie, and the character the actor is playing, without the TERRIBLE GUN HANDLING most often shown in films.
I have invented a flashlight technique that is widely known as the Harries Flashlight Technique. This technique is taught at API/GTC, and other shooting schools and is also use very extensively in many Law Enforcement and Military circles, and is taught by the many police instructors that have come into contact with over the years. When I first invented the technique, I passed it on to a key individual on the LAPD SWAT team, who taught it to the rest of the team, and it was this individual and his partner who had the first successful use of the Harries Flashlight Technique in a real life hostage rescue… (Score, the Creep dead, and the two nurses saved). I am at present working on a book about my flashlight technique as well as some other books and video tapes on shooting and related tactics. There have been several articles published in firearms publications on my flashlight technique over the years, the most recent (the February 1994 issue) in Peterson’s HANDGUNS magazine. I continue to research and develop techniques for use in low-light shooting with both pistol and long arms, in addition to teaching my own Harries Flashlight Technique to qualified shooters.