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Shooting Skills: The Mozambique-Failure Drill

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Col. Jeff Cooper developed the Mozambique-Failure Drill for dealing with defensive shooting situations where a center mass shot won't do the job.

Sometimes shooting a bad guy in the chest just isn’t enough. Felons can be high on adrenalin or drugs to the point that they do not recognize or respond to pain. They could also be wearing body armor. Some years back, Col. Cooper developed what he called the “Mozambique Drill” for the purposes of dealing with this type of situation. Today, with the proliferation of zombies in our culture, it could be called the “zombie drill” or “zombie check,” because a head shot is the only way to kill a zombie. At least that’s what I’ve been told.

As the story goes, a Rhodesian named Mike Rousseau was serving as a mercenary in the Mozambican War of Independence. During a fight, he bumped into a guerrilla soldier armed with an AK-47. Rousseau immediately performed a double tap — two shots to the center of the torso. However, even with two new and bleeding nipples, the guerrilla was still coming at him, so Rousseau tried for the head. It kind of worked. The bullet hit the base of his attacker’s neck, severed the spinal cord, and stopped the fight.

Hearing this story, Cooper later incorporated this three-shot drill into his program of instruction as a way to end a fight that cannot be immediately stopped with bullets fired into the chest. Over the years, this drill has morphed into a variety of other drills and, if you put any two firearms instructors together, you’ll get a different opinion as to how it’s to be properly executed.

Ideally, a more practical application might be to fire two shots to the torso, take two steps back and to the side to keep your distance and, if your attacker is still attacking, attempt the head shot. However, here we are more concerned with your shooting than tactics, because the subtle nuances of the proper tactics can vary from situation to situation.

For simple evaluation purposes, position a target with a V1 and V2 zone 5 yards to your front. At the start signal, draw from concealment and fire two shots into the V1 zone and one shot into the V2 zone as fast as you can do so without missing either zone. If any of your three shots land outside the V zones, you have failed the drill. A par time for this drill should be four seconds. Most police officers cannot do it in less than five seconds without a miss. Anything less than three seconds is very good.

Editor's Note: This article is an excerpt from Handgun Training for Personal Protection.

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