Monday, November 16, 2020

A California Pistol Qualification -- Blindfolded

A local retired law enforcement officer (LEO) recently asked me to assist him with a LEOSA requalification to demonstrate that he met his former California agency’s qualification standards. At the range, he provided me with a copy of the prescribed course of fire on his former agency’s letterhead.

We set up the target and I ran him through the qualification course with his Glock 9mm and his S&W .38 Special J-frame revolver. He scored 100% with his Glock and 86% (passing) with his snubbie.

I asked him about the course of fire and he assured me that it was the current standard for his former agency and that the agency had used this qualification standard when he had been an active LEO. 

I was so impressed with the qualification standard’s complexity and difficulty that I asked the retired LEO to witness me shooting the qualification—blindfolded. I did it blindfolded to ensure that there was no question about me being able to see the target in any way. I scored a 100% on the qualification.

The qualification course of fire was as follows:

-- 1-yard line: 5 shots, two strings of fire. String 1: draw and fire 3 shots with the primary hand only within 6 seconds. String 2: draw and fire 2 shots with the primary hand only
within 6 seconds.

-- 3-yard line: 5 shots, one string of fire. Draw and fire 3 shots with the primary hand only, switch the pistol to the other hand and fire 2 shots using only that hand
within 8 seconds.

-- 5-yard line: 5 shots, one string of fire. Draw and fire 2 shots with the primary hand only, switch the pistol to the other hand and fire 3 shots using only that hand
within 8 seconds.

If you objectively look at this course of fire it would seem that it would be impossible to fail. The retired LEO assured that that he had in fact seen colleagues in his former agency fail. 

When we compare this course of fire to the standards for the Texas License to Carry (LTC) test the differences are stark. The Texas LTC qualification requires 50 rounds at distances of 3, 7, and 15 yards. 

My experience with 1000+ LTC applicants is that very few fail the Texas LTC qualification. I have literally had students take a brand new pistol out of its box, remove the tags, and qualify; even though that was the first time they had ever touched a pistol in their life.

Many police officers are competent with their sidearms and some maintain their skills through competition and practice.  Others, like people in many professions, are satisfied with the minimum standard.  Although the California agency in question may have budgetary or other reasons for this simplistic qualification, I cannot help but think the agency is doing its officers and the public they serve a disservice. 

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Thursday, November 5, 2020

Origins of the Failure Drill or the “Mozambique Drill”

Retired Marine Lt Col Jeff Copper is arguably the father of the modern pistol craft that Massad Ayoob, Tom Givens, John Farnam, and a variety of others teach. Cooper published a number of books and I highly recommend them. Many today do not know of Jeff Cooper and his prolific writings and I intend to do a small part in correcting that through periodic quotes that may be relevant to the self-defense topics I discuss in this blog. Constructive comments as always are welcome.

Jeff Cooper originally promulgated what is now often known as a “failure drill” as the “Mozambique Drill.”

Jeff Cooper's Commentaries Vol. 1, No. 1; June 1993

Per Jeff Cooper:

"As time passes, we discover that there are a good many readers who have not been to school and who are puzzled by our reference to "The Mozambique Drill."

I added The Mozambique Drill to the modern doctrine after hearing of an experience of a student of mine up in Mozambique when that country was abandoned. My friend was involved in the fighting that took place around the Lourenço Marques airport. At one point, Mike turned a corner was confronted by a terrorist carrying an AK47. The man was advancing toward him at a walk at a range of perhaps 10 paces. Mike, who was a good shot, came up with his P35 and planted two satisfactory hits, one on each side of the wishbone. He expected his adversary to drop, but nothing happened, and the man continued to close the range. At this point, our boy quite sensibly opted to go for the head and tried to do so, but he was a little bit upset by this time and mashed slightly on the trigger, catching the terrorist precisely between the collar bones and severing his spinal cord. This stopped the fight.

Upon analysis, it seemed to me that the pistolero should be accustomed to the idea of placing two shots amidships as fast as he can and then being prepared to change his point of aim if this achieves no results. Two shots amidships can be placed very quickly and very reliably and they will nearly always stop the fight providing a major-caliber pistol is used and the subject is not wearing body armor. However, simply chanting "two in the body, one in the head" oversimplifies matters, since it takes considerably longer to be absolutely sure of a head shot than it does to be quite sure of two shots in the thorax. The problem for the shooter is to change his pace, going just as fast as he can with his first pair, then, pausing to observe results or lack thereof, he must slow down and shoot precisely. This is not easy to do. The beginner tends to fire all three shots at the same speed, which is either too slow for the body shots or too fast for the head shot. This change of pace calls for concentration and coordination which can only be developed through practice.

Mike Rouseau was later killed in action in the Rhodesian War. May he rest in peace!"