The Failure Drill

by
posted on September 1, 2015
jeffcooper.jpg

During the Mozambique War of Independence (1964-1974) mercenary Mike Rousseau was fighting at the airport in Moputo. During the fighting, he encountered a guerrilla fighter armed with an AK-47 at very close range. Rousseau delivered two shots to the enemy's vital zone with a Browning Hi Power only to see his adversary stay on his feet and keep coming. Rousseau quickly fired a third shot which was aimed at the man's head. Probably having jerked the trigger just a bit, Rousseau saw his bullet take effect in the fighter's neck, dropping him immediately.

Some time later, Rousseau related this event to Col. Jeff Cooper, of Gunsite fame.Cooper realized the value of the technique and incorporated it as a defensive drill in his school. Since those days, the drill has also come to be called "The Failure Drill" or "The Failure To Stop Drill."

There may be a lot of reasons why two shots to an attacker's vital zone fails to put him down.In this day and time, it certainly may be because he is wearing body armor. It could also be that he is high on drugs. Or, of course, it could just be that the two shots missed the various organs located in the vital zone. In the end, it really doesn't matter why he is still on his feet and functioning.The fact is that he is still a very real threat and must be dealt with quickly.

The third shot should properly be delivered to the head in order to impact the central nervous system. When done correctly, this third shot will turn the attacker's lights out immediately. And the reason that this head shot is not delivered in the beginning is because the target is much smaller and the head is generally always moving. In all, it is a much smaller, more difficult target to hit.

When the defensive shooter practices delivering two shots to the vital zone, he is reminded that he may fire two shots but he should see his sight picture three times. Because we don't have any assurance that the two shots will have the desired effect, we pull our pistol out of recoil and take the third sight picture, ready to deliver more shots should they be needed. If the attacker is still on his feet and appears to be functional, the third shot is then delivered to the head.

But a shot to just anywhere in the head is not necessarily going to be effective.The bones in the forehead are quite thick and may cause the bullet glance off and fail to penetrate. Imagine an upside-down triangle, of about four inches on every side, with the top edge being the eyes and the bottom point being the upper lip, just below the nose. This is the area where facial bones are the thinnest and a bullet delivered to this location has the best chance to getting the brain and/or brain stem and stopping the criminal attack.

We often see shooters practicing this drill by firing three shots in cadence with each other (bam, bam, bam) as quickly as they can. And this is actually an incorrect method. The proper cadence is bam, bam ... pause ... bam.

The reason for this is that the first two shots are being fired to an 8-inch vital zone.With practice, they can be delivered very quickly. However, the third shot is being delivered to a much smaller area and it is only being delivered if it is necessary. We deliver the two shots, recover our sight picture and evaluate the threat. Should the third shot be needed, we tighten up and deliver it as accurately as possible, thus the pause.

While there are quite a few folks who like to chant, “Two to the body, one to the head, guaranteed to leave them dead,” in actuality it is a difficult drill that few can perform properly and effectively. It takes a lot of practice and plenty of determination and cool nerves to perform in an actual gunfight. But we know that it can be done.

While two shots to the vital zone of an attacker will usually stop the threat, the determined defensive shooter knows that this will not solve the problem 100 percent of the time. He practices the Mozambique, or Failure Drill, to deal with that eventuality.

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