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Where Does the Phrase “Two Shots to the Chest and One to The Head” Come From


You've probably heard this statement before: Fire two shots to the assailant's chest and then another to the head. However, many people don't know why we say this or where it comes from. This article will explain the popular drill known as two the chest, one to the head, also known as the Mozambique Drill.

This drill was popularized by Jeff Cooper after he heard a story from a mercenary who fought in the Mozambique wars of the 1960s.

According to the story, the shooter fired two shots into the torso of an attacker who continued to approach. Surprised that the two shots to the torso had not disabled the attacker he then took a more deliberate shot to the head and stopped the attack.

Since the head is a much smaller target, shooters are trained to always aim for the torso. The torso is a more consistent, not to mention larger, target that is filled with vital organs. While there is a good chance of a bullet hitting one of these organs, there is no guarantee that a person fueled by adrenaline will stop an attack after being shot in the torso.

The only shot placement guaranteed to fully disable an attacker is in the brain. That said, since the skull is very hard to penetrate, the shots need good placement even on the head in order to fully disable the attacker.

And so, with this in mind Jeff Cooper created and taught the “Mozambique Drill.” He taught his students to take two quick shots to the torso and then a slower and more deliberate shot to the head.

To train this drill place your target between 7 and 10 feet out. Use a silhouette target or use two separate targets for the torso and the head. Start slowly with deliberate motions and then increase speed. Focus on taking a pause before the head shot to really ensure accuracy.

When this becomes easier add a second target to the side and practice the drill on both targets. You may try shooting all 4 torso shots and then returning for the head shots. Remember the idea here is to stop the attacker with the 2 shots to the torso then re-assess the situation, only taking the head shot if necessary.

Make sure you practice this from the holster, as well as in your dry fire training if you have a device like a SIRT Pistol that allows you to reset your trigger.

For more pistol shooting drills, make sure you check out our Handgun Shooting Drills Volume 1 DVD that does an excellent job of explaining different drills you can do to up your shooting proficiency.

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11 Responses to Where Does the Phrase “Two Shots to the Chest and One to The Head” Come From

  1. Scott February 25, 2015 at 8:29 am #

    I Love Your emails! Thanks guys! I’m also looking forward to taking the muscle memory course. You’ll be hearing from me soon

  2. Darrell Betters August 31, 2016 at 12:12 pm #


  3. Andrew September 2, 2016 at 10:31 am #

    Jeff Cooper coined the phrase from his friend Mike Rousseau who first used the technique in Mozambique which he later relade it to Cooper.

  4. Velox A Cor January 7, 2018 at 11:03 pm #

    I was in the US Army. It was drilled into us really well. We did what is called, “reflexive shooting training” on this technique. It is called the Mozambique Drill. 2 to the chest, one in the head. But we were taught, “2 to the head, 1 in the chest” which is what our Drills in the US Army would say, which I assume, and would, interpret as “The American Drill” just to 1 up the Mozambique Militia that coined the term. Reasoning is, is to ensure that op-4 tango is deemed completely expired and extinguished, without a doubt. Expert marksmanship is a must. At least within 100 meters. Happy hunting Boyos.

  5. Austin latorre December 30, 2018 at 2:31 pm #

    Back in 1961, when the sidearm was a .45 cal pistol we were trained to aim inthe center of the visible mass, this was usually enough to disable an enemy.aim to the head was only to finish the job.

    • Alan Mitchell September 17, 2019 at 2:35 am #

      Did anyone notice in the first sentence it says “…two to the check…” CHECK? Interesting.
      Good article otherwise.

      • Jacob Paulsen September 17, 2019 at 12:45 pm #

        Good catch! Fixing now.

      • Robert Beck January 19, 2020 at 3:19 pm #

        Bobby Beck mad dog 2020 COYG

  6. mlamonica01 February 19, 2020 at 12:12 pm #

    also bad guys wear Bullet resistant vests now

    • rouxster March 31, 2020 at 9:20 am #

      yea but 2 in the chest w a bvb on still gons knock ya win out and ya down

      • Patton, Anton August 31, 2022 at 9:58 pm #

        Vest no vest doesn’t matter it’s actually used so that you see the first two rounds land which in turn gives you a faster target acquisition on the head as trained marksmen have better grouping the two to the chest will be through the heart and adrenaline doesn’t matter also just so you know heart placement is not where they show on the movies

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