The year was 1981 and a group of Communist-inspired terrorists called the Red Brigade was throwing bombs, abducting politicians and generally making a nuisance of itself in Italy. In December of that year, the group made its boldest move when it kidnapped American Army BG James Dozier from his apartment in Verona. Despite being told he was a target, Dozier refused a bodyguard and the offer of a pistol. And so, early one morning when he answered a knock at his door and found five men dressed as plumbers, he was easily captured without the means to resist. Gunsite founder Col. Jeff Cooper always maintained that, had he been alert and armed, Dozier could have easily repelled his kidnappers. To prove his point, Cooper created an insightful exercise at Gunsite. We call it the Dozier Drill.
Dozier’s assailants were only a pace or two away when he opened his apartment door, but at Gunsite we shoot this drill on five “pepper popper” steel, falling targets, so we have to engage at a safe distance. I usually set it up at about 7 or 8 yards with the pepper-poppers placed about 1 yard apart. The drill is actually quite simple: Draw and shoot down the poppers as quickly as possible. The starting position can be standing, facing the targets or starting with the back to the targets and requiring a turn. In advanced classes, we start the Dozier from a position seated at a table with the pistol holstered.
As usual, don’t forget to apply your marksmanship fundamentals when shooting this drill. Stay on the sights, don’t look at the targets, control the trigger and you’ll do well. For a little added pressure, you can time the Dozier drill. Five seconds is a really good time, 4 seconds gets you into expert territory and 3 seconds is outstanding. If you want to find out how quickly BG Dozier could have disposed of his kidnappers, try putting five paper silhouette targets in a cluster at 1 or 2 yards and see how quickly you can draw and get a round into each of them. If I was opening my door to five plumbers before dawn (has anyone, anywhere, ever arranged for five plumbers to show up at the same time?), I would have my pistol in hand. From that starting position, I think you’ll find you can engage five close targets in a couple of seconds, proving correct Cooper’s assertion that Dozier could have easily defeated this threat—had he been armed and in the right state of mind.
What happened to Gen. Dozier? Some 43 days after his capture, he was liberated by an Italian counter-terrorist team. It burst into the room where Dozier was seated on a bed and took out the five terrorists without harming the General. That gives me an idea: Perhaps we should set up a Dozier-rescue drill.