Atenas man is on a mission promoting defensive pistolcraft

Enrique Rodriguez, who operates a pistol club range in La Garita, demonstrates technique to two Costa Rican women. He is a former top official in the national police. A.M. Costa Rica/Paul Furlong

My first confrontation with a gun was in the early 60s while in the Navy. Though at sea most of the time, I kept my motorcycles in the back of Sam’s Used Foreign Cars, in Norfolk, Virginia. Working late one night I heard laughing outside. I put down my tools and went to investigate.

Three drunken sailors were peeking in the cars and trying the doors. I stepped outside and told them to keep moving.

“Wyncha go f…. yerself!” one of them hollered back.

“Seriously guys,” I said, “leave the cars alone. Go back to the ship and get some sleep.”

They gave me one finger salutes and began rocking cars just to show me. I was doing everything wrong. Confronting drunks while young and stupid is dangerous. My next move was even stupider. I pulled my .25 automatic from my pocket and pointed it at them.

“I’m serious now… get moving!” I said low and mean.

“Go ahead! Shoot me!” shouted the ugliest drunk. Lessons often come in threes.

1.)Never point a gun at anything you don’t intend to destroy.

2.)Never threaten anyone with a gun.

3.)Never use a .25 auto unless you want to make ‘em mad.

Flat footed at the door, I did the prudent thing and reached inside for Alice, Sam’s junk yard shepherd. She’d been waiting her turn inside. Now it was two of us.

Alice made her prescience known, straining on her leash to get at them. Suddenly the cars stopped rocking. A horse whisper from handsome over there said, “Let’s go,” and they were gone.

It was a solemn evening working on my bike. Ashamed and angry with myself, I gradually absorbed the truth, I had no business with a gun. My bluff had been called and I’d been found wanting.

Ten years passed without fuss. In New Jersey now, I’d become a homespun student of history and economics. It was then I resolved to learn to shoot properly.

It appeared first on my daily planner. Then I found myself brooding over gun counters in the self conscious way one does in a dirty book store. I grazed through gun magazines for substance. “Jeff Cooper on Handguns” leaped out at me. Cooper was fast becoming the father of modern pistolcraft. and I devoured everything he wrote.

I joined a club, became a National Rifle Association instructor and began to teach my own classes. Twenty years leaked by. One day I found myself leading motorcycle tours in Costa Rica. Another 14 years passed before taking an interest in firearms again.

At 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 7, 2011, my wife and I had just started a card game in the kitchen. Suddenly we heard a muffled sound like a door being kicked in next door.

“Hear that?”

“Yes,” I said, still trying to assign a reason for the noise. I dialed Eddie’s number. No answer. My wife tried, nothing. I decided to have a look.

A white SUV faced down Ed’s driveway. Odd, I thought, a rear door open, too. I drew my gun and continued toward the stairway. Looking up, I noticed the wrong door was open and decided not to use the stairs. I moved through the carport to the living room window.
Ed was on the floor. A creep in a mask, who just finished binding his hands, picked up a gun and put it to Ed’s head. I shot him through the window glass.

Creep” jerked himself up and began a slow walk towards the bedroom. I cleared the kitchen and living room. There was movement in Ed’s bedroom.

“You okay?” I asked Ed.

“Yeah,” he answered and I knew he was. Ed is a resourceful human being.

I moved along the hall and began to fire at figures in the room. The Creep was dead on the floor. Fire came back at me. Splinters from the door frame hit my legs. I moved to a column on the other side of the door and continued to shoot. At one point they crashed through a glass to the veranda. I cleared my gun from a failure to feed and ran into Ed’s office where I could see him.

During this time, two creeps got up on my own roof looking for a hostage or a way out.

“Is that you Paul?” my wife asked. No answer. She fired her own gun into a dirt bank close to the house. Footsteps scampered back to Ed’s property again.

Inside, “You have to get yourself loose, Ed”

“Okay.” Ed cut himself loose somehow and was soon in the office with me. We waited, not knowing if they were still there. The police arrived. I holstered my gun, and we raised our hands and walked out into the light.

It was like the policeman’s ball. SWAT, OIJ, local police, fiscal and a judge all passed through our kitchen that evening. Next door, the scene spoke for itself, one dead, another wounded, leaving blood as he escaped with two others.

There were 19 holes in Ed’s house. I was declared a hero by the police, the people and folks back home. It felt good, but I did nothing more than fall back on my training. I wasn’t afraid, just cool; working out a problem till it was over. Training allows that.

Two days before our incident, on a bus from Rio Grande, an judicial agent killed an armed robbers and wounded a second. The third thoughtfully raised his hands. Over the previous 20 days, there had been 10 armed robberies in Atenas. It’s been 11 months now, not one armed robbery since. This pattern has repeated itself since man stood erect. If you stand up for yourself, you also stand up for your community.

Both the judicial agent and I had legal guns and were legal to carry them. Each shooting was justified. The fiscal kept my gun but gave it back when the investigation was done. One thing is clear, you want to be legal.

I’m on a personal mission — not just to arm, but really teach civilians the art of defensive pistolcraft.

“Owning a handgun doesn’t make you armed any more than owning a guitar makes you a musician,” said Jeff Cooper.

Enrique Rodriguez, is the owner of the range and CEO of La Garita Pistol Club. Together we teach safety, mental set, situational awareness and modern methods of handgun manipulation in Spanish and English.

These four, equally important studies merge into seamless action in the defense of a person and her family. Yes, many of my students are women, they seem more motivated. Some are angry.

Our course is designed for people who have never touched a gun and are even a little afraid of them. Stop being afraid!
We charge $260 for a three-day course, including range fees. This is our Web site:

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