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Finish Drills

I read an article recently that called drills where the shooter moves their shots from high center mass to the head of an attacker a “Failure Drill”.

What they mean by failure is the defender in this situation likely failed to stop the target from advancing or responding. True, even if you critically strike an attacker dead in the chest with a couple rounds they still have a lot of time, if only a matter of 5-15 seconds, to continue their attack. In other words you have failed to stop the attack.

So I partially agree with this interpretation. Even though Failure is a commonly used term to describe these types of situations, by striking the assailant you have at least diminished their response, which sets you up for an even better follow-up shot to the head or somewhere else.


There are many types of failure drills out there. Most of them based on real world situations. We practice these drill because many times they are exactly what occurs during an active shooting. But let’s redefine their name here so we can cement these drills with the actual meaning.

A Finish Drill is constructed of two parts, shots on a high probability target, where we train most shooters to engage, and then a Finish shot to a low probability target. If the attacker didn’t stop after being hit in the chest, a higher probably hit shot, there is a good chance they will after a shot to the head, a low probability shot.

So what we are really doing with these drills is giving the shooter a chance to practice for what may be required to save their life. Not simply assuming a perp will stop after they have been shot just anywhere.

The chances of you landing a high center mass shot are very high. Typically shooters train to strike this area most of the time, because it is the largest part of the human body. Shooting a smaller and likely moving target like the head is more of a mastery skill, but one we consider to be the foundation of an effective self-defense response.

2 & 1 DRILL

The 2&1 drill, also called the Mozambique drill, is a basic simulation that we teach every intermediate shooter (see 2 & 1 Drill in Training Aids). Essentially you are striking the Chest 2 times and then finishing with the Head 1 time.

This is a great place to start when we talk about Finish drills. An advanced shooter can perform this drill under 3 seconds, placing all shots in the center of the A Zones. The goal is to cement stopping the target from their attack, to finish them off. After all, you should not point a gun at someone you do not intend to kill.

2 & 2 & 1 DRILL

Most conceal carry pistols hold around 10 rounds. There is a reason why 10 is so common, because it makes your pistol a 2 bad guy gun. Based on FBI Agent involved shooting stats, live shooting engagements involve the discharge of 5 rounds on average. So expending 5 rounds in a drill is really the best practice for self defense. And because you have 10 rounds, you are also ready for another engagement; cowards tend to do their shopping in packs.

So here is another drill that involves a more realistic donation of bullets upon the target. You will need 3 targets for the 2&2&1 drill, and 2 backers. All placed on the same stand. With your target stand 5-12 yards away, simply place one Target Backer at the top of your Target Stand and the other below it, but upside down, with the head pointing to the ground. You should overlap the backers by 6-12” inches. The 2 backers represent a man standing and the same man doubled-over.

Now grab 3 - Accuracy Drill targets. Place one at High Center Mass, the second at the Groin area where the backers overlap, and the third at the bottom on the head. I use spray glue for my targets. They stick better and the bullet holes are more pronounced.

Course of fire for this drill is from holster, 2 shots to high center mass, 2 shots to the groin, and then a final shot to the head which by this time will likely be pointed downward as the target is doubled-over in pain.

The goal here is to place 4 high probability shots on the target, essentially stopping their attack, and then finishing the engagement by taking advantage of the disabled assailant on what may also be a high probability target. Their head.

The first two shots may stun the attacker, but the second two will likely make them double-over. This not only exposes the back of the head to you, the best finish shot zone, but since the attacker will be doubled-over, their head will be somewhat static. With their chin in their chest reeling in pain, the attacker’s head will be nearly frozen in place.

Check your time on this one. Give yourself at least 4-5 seconds with accurate hits before you settle. Practice it every time you hit the range!


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