Mozambique Drill

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The Mozambique Drill,[1] also known as the Failure Drill, Failure to Stop drill, or, informally, "two to the chest, one to the head,"[2] is a close-quarters shooting technique that requires the shooter to fire twice into the torso of a target (known as a double tap to center of mass), rapidly assess whether the target has been stopped, and follow up if necessary with a more difficult head shot that, if properly placed, will instantly kill.[3][4][5]


According to the anecdotal history, the technique originated with a Rhodesian mercenary, Mike Rousseau, engaged in the Mozambican War of Independence (1964-1974). Fighting at the airport at Lourenço Marques (modern-day Maputo), Rousseau rounded a corner and encountered a FRELIMO guerrilla, armed with an AK-47 assault rifle, at 10 paces. Rousseau immediately brought up his Browning HP35 pistol and performed a double tap maneuver, a controlled shooting technique in which the shooter makes two quick shots to the target's torso. Rousseau hit the target on either side of the sternum, usually enough to incapacitate or kill outright. Seeing that the guerrilla was still advancing, Rousseau attempted a head shot that hit the guerrilla through the base of his neck, severing the spinal cord. Rousseau related the story to an acquaintance, small arms expert Jeff Cooper, founder of the Gunsite shooting school, who incorporated the "Mozambique Drill" into his modern technique shooting method.[1][4][6]

The Mozambique Drill was incorporated in the Gunsite curriculum from the late 1970s. Further development came after two Los Angeles Police Department SWAT officers, Larry Mudgett and John Helms, attended pistol training at Gunsite in 1980, and received permission from Cooper to teach the technique to the LAPD, and to rename it the Failure Drill (concerned that "Mozambique" might have racial overtones).[4]

Theory and technique[edit]

The Mozambique Drill is intended to ensure that the target is immediately stopped, by first placing two shots into the larger, easier-to-hit mass of the upper body, then, if the target is still active, following with a third, more precisely aimed and difficult head shot. Due to factors such as body armor, the bolstering effect of drugs, or failure to hit vital organs, the body shots may not be immediately effective, necessitating the third shot. To guarantee instant incapacitation by impacting the brain and central nervous system, the head shot must be delivered to the area between eyebrows and upper lip, otherwise, various bony areas of the skull could deflect the bullet.[4]

In popular culture[edit]

The Mozambique Drill's distinctive name and rapid fire pattern of "two to the chest, one to the head" have been used in numerous novels, TV shows and films, including:

  • On Dexter, the American TV crime drama series, when Sergeant James Doakes mentions the technique in "See-Through" (Season 2, Episode 4).
  • Referenced as "International Mozambique Pattern" by Jonathan Higgins in the American TV series Magnum, P.I. in "Mad Buck Gibson" (season 2, episode 9). However, as the character "Mad Buck" fires repeatedly on a human outline on a wall, he actually does so in a different pattern: one head shot, followed by two shots at the torso.
  • In Planet Terror, the Muldoon character claims he killed Osama Bin Laden in a similar way.
  • In Prison Break Veronica is killed using the technique by Agent Blondie. Following the shots fired, her body is shown with two bullet holes next to each other where the heart is, and one on her forehead (Season 2, Episode 1).
  • In the novel, Kill Me If You Can, by James Patterson and Marshall Karp.
  • In the crime film Heat, the practice is used twice: once during the armored car robbery scene, when one of the robbers executes one of the armored car guards with two shots to the torso and one shot to the head, and later when a traitor to the team is similarly killed.
  • In the 2001 film, Black Hawk Down.
  • In the 2004 film, Collateral, including the "Yo homie, that my briefcase?" scene.[7]
  • In the 2010 film, Killers, after discovering his boss shot to death, Spencer says, "It's two to the heart, one in the head. It's old school training."
  • In the 2014 film, John Wick, directed by Chad Stahelsk and David Leitch.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Oldale, John (2012). A World of Curiosities: Surprising, Interesting, and Downright Unbelievable Facts from Every Nation on the Planet. Penguin. See section on Mozambique.
  2. ^ Nash, David (2011). Understanding the Use of Handguns for Self-Defense: What You Need to Know. Looseleaf Law. pp. 110–111. ISBN 978-1608850259. 
  3. ^ Burleson, Tony Lee (2012). The Survival Code and Situational Awareness: Teaching the Instructed. Trafford. pp. 17–18. ISBN 978-1466929104. 
  4. ^ a b c d Wilson, Sheriff Jim (10 November 2011). "Failure Drill". Shooting Illustrated. National Rifle Association. Retrieved 24 September 2014. 
  5. ^ "Lesson Plan: Immediate Target Engagement (CMC-22 Combat Marksmanship Coaches Course 08/12/2008)". United States Marine Corps. 21 February 2008. p. 7. Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  6. ^ Boatman, Robert (2004-02-26). "Jeff Cooper’s Mozambique Drill". Retrieved 2013-12-03. 
  7. ^ Inouye, Kevin (2014). The Theatrical Firearms Handbook. CRC Press. p. 179. ISBN 9780415733984. 

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