Failure

About a month ago my friend and fellow writer Jim Wilson wrote a piece for AmericanRifleman.org entitled “Failure Drill.” Jim recounted the origins of what is known variously as the Failure or Mozambique Drill. There is no need for me to repeat what Jim wrote; he did a fine job of describing it and the reasons to include it in one’s practice regimen.

In what is becoming a far too common phenomenon, a gaggle of Internet commandos began ripping Jim and his article for nonsensical reasons. Several made snide references that Jim—and probably the rest of us who agree with him—are sycophantic idolaters of a dead Marine colonel named Jeff Cooper. I do not know—and it’s really none of my business—what Jim’s spiritual condition is, but I can tell you this: I worship but one man, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. However, I do have a tremendous respect and admiration for Col. Cooper. It was Cooper—along with his compadres in the Big Bear Gunslingers—who taught the world to use two hands when shooting a handgun. That which has become known as the Modern Technique of the Pistol was born under Cooper and his cronies and continues to be refined and polished today by countless students of the gun. I suspect that Jim has a lot of respect for the Colonel as well, and respect is not idolatry.

Folks, we’re talking about a drill, not some rote ritual. A drill—any drill—is designed to help train the student to properly handle a problem that may develop. This is just as true for a second baseman shagging grounders as it is for someone learning the use of the handgun as a self-defense tool.

The fact is for the very few of us who will actually have to shoot for our life at some point, a well-placed shot from a proven cartridge will probably take the fight out of the bad guy. Those who blindly and ritualistically “double-tap” every target may find themselves in a position of unfortunate and unforeseen consequences if when they really do have to shoot. However, there always is a possibility that a pair of bullets to the upper thorax fails to terminate the threat immediately. It is that OS moment where the individual must quickly determine that the threat still exists and deal with it accordingly. That is when the Failure Drill becomes golden. The alternative is to let OS take over and empty your pistol in the general direction of the threat—a practice that might have similar unfortunate consequences as blindingly dumping another round at the threat even when he has dropped from the shooting point and your second shot unwittingly goes into a baby stroller that was behind the bad guy.

What we call the Modern Technique of the Pistol was developed to provide a disciplined response to a potentially deadly threat. Most people when confronted with such an event respond with blind chaos. That response often leads to their demise or perhaps the demise or major injury of and innocent, hence the creation of a more disciplined reaction.

A healthy debate and discussion is almost always a good thing. It is through thoughtful dialog that something like the Modern Technique can continue to evolve and become an even better solution to the problem at hand. But snarky, spiteful potshots mixed with a liberal amount of bovine residue adds nothing to the discussion, the improvement of the technique or the people employing it.

Dave Campbell
Dave Campbell began his hunting career with a spear off the southern California coast in the late 1960s. It did not take long for him to graduate to the gun on land. Campbell is the founding editor in chief of the NRA’s tremendously successful Shooting Illustrated magazine. In 2006 he also edited the iconic book of terminal ballistics, Rifle Bullets for the Hunter—A Definitive Study. He returned to his beloved Wyoming in 2007 as a freelance writer, though he usually refers to himself now as a “recovering editor.”

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