Mean-Street Gunfighting System

C.A.R. (Center Axis Relock) is more than a grip, stance…

C.A.R. (Center Axis Relock) is more than a grip, stance or range application. Created by Paul Castle, C.A.R. is a complete, integrated combat system for pistol, shotgun, and rifle. It was designed to meet the needs of LE and military operators.

The goal is to improve the hit rate. The C.A.R. system is a simple, brutally effective method to do just this.

After monitoring the evolution of the system for several years, I was given the opportunity to train under Jeff Johnsgaard, a Master Instructor with Sabre Tactical Training Center (the C.A.R. shooting school).

miami5Center Axis—the Base of Power
The foundation of the entire C.A.R. system is a rock-solid stance. The operator assumes a deep, staggered stance, similar to many martial arts approaches. This harnesses the power of the human body’s center axis, and uses it for physical stability. Guns were designed to be a natural extension of your own arm, allowing you to reach out and “hit” your opponent more effectively. The C.A.R. system turns the operator’s entire body into a base for strength and control. Fluidity and range of motion are also increased.

The C.A.R. stance and positions work in harmony to prevent enemy rounds from getting past body armor to a vulnerable spot. With the body bladed away from the threat and the gun cradled close to the body, the bones and tissue of the upper arm provide protective coverage of this vulnerable area.

Sighting In On C.A.R.
The best way to shoot accurately is to use sights: In a gunfight, the winner is the one who aligns the sights over the target first.

Your sight should be placed where you read. This area is the “point of accommodation.” To find yours, read a grocery-store receipt. Have someone measure the distance from your eyes to the paper. This is your “sweet spot” for sighting, usually 14 to 16 inches. With traditional stances, the sights are placed much farther out, which makes aiming more difficult, and makes you more susceptible to disarm attempts.

The C.A.R. “Extended” is the primary shooting platform. It builds isometric tension for weapon control using a triangle (made with the arms) while placing the sights where they should be—within your focal point. When the sights are placed in this zone, aiming feels more natural, and can be done quickly.

Historically, some instructors have taught their students to eliminate dual sight picture by closing one eye, but this technique cannot be duplicated during a fight. Under threat, or when severely startled, the brain automatically forces both eyes to open wide. C.A.R. provides a solution. It allows operators of any hand/eye orientation to shoot effectively with both eyes open. With the body bladed, and the head slightly turned, the gun-side eye is taken out of the equation by a natural barrier—the nose—completely eliminating dual sight picture.

miami4Repressing Recoil
Muzzle flip recoil is virtually eliminated by the C.A.R. “key grip.” When recoil is effectively controlled, multiple shots can be discharged at blistering speed, without sacrificing accuracy. By canting the gun inward a few degrees (counter clock-wise for right handed shooting, clockwise for left) the long bones of the forearm can be “locked,” providing support to the wrist and firing hand. When this grip is combined with the C.A.R. stance, your firearm becomes surprisingly easy to operate. Just moments into my training, I was able to easily fire five rounds into the target’s center of mass in less than one second, using a standard .40 Glock. Since pistol-caliber cartridges are ineffective for producing instant stops, multiple, rapid shots on target are essential. C.A.R. techniques, combined with a reliable semi-automatic pistol, may be the next best thing to a SMG.

Keeping the Gun In Hand
Weapon retention is imperative. Castle calls his retention shooting position “High.” This extreme close-quarters platform flows from a natural “Field Interview” stance. The sidearm can be drawn and raised to the correct location with virtually no chance of interference. Once the gun is “up high,” it is locked into place over the chest with tremendous pressure, flowing from the lower body and into the gun hands. Disarm attempts are defended by simply swiveling the torso, causing the reaction-side elbow to sweep in an arc to knock hands away. High is easy to maintain for long periods of time. The Operator can keep the weapon on target while giving verbal commands, and repel attackers with devastating pistol-punches, elbow strikes and low kicks. The slightly modified grip for the High position becomes comfortable with a little training. Shots from here can be discharged to center of mass and then to the head, as needed, by simply “rocking” the upper body slightly back. Volleys like these can buy the time and distance needed to transition to sighted fire. Though all C.A.R. positions are great for maintaining control over your weapon, “High” is the strongest retention grip.

Ambidextrous Approach
C.A.R. techniques work well for left-handed shooters, and more importantly, they work for every application requiring off-hand or one-handed operation. Routine tasks such as searching with a flashlight, deploying a “flash-bang” or K-9 handling all require one-handed ready. The ability to switch quickly from a left-handed to a right-handed grip may allow an operator to navigate hallways and cover corners more effectively. Since the possibility of taking a debilitating hit in the reaction side arm or hand exists, any practical firearms training should teach simple, reliable ways to clear and reload firearms with only one hand. C.A.R. training provides this “in spades.”

Surprisingly, during my training with Johnsgaard, I discovered I actually am able to shoot better groups with my “weak” hand. Being right-handed and right-eye dominant means that I am (most likely) left-brained. In theory then, my left hand should be very strong. Putting the gun in my left hand and taking aim with my right eye proved to be very effective.

dscn1761Vehicle Applications
C.A.R. really shines in the area of IVOC (Immediate Vehicle Oriented Combat). There is simply no better way to shoot from a vehicle. The “High” position covers any threat coming straight at the windows, while a threat approaching a patrol car from behind the driver’s left shoulder can be easily engaged with the right hand, in the “Extended” position.

Inside an automobile, plane, Humvee or even on a motorcycle, C.A.R. out-shoots every other technique when it comes to vehicle defense.

Lighting Up the Night
C.A.R. provides crucial advantage for special units using night-vision. An operator using a monocular night vision goggle has more peripheral vision than with a set of goggles. Traditionally however, this may have caused many sight-picture challenges. With C.A.R. shooting positions, one eye looks through the monocle while the other sees the tritium night sights of the firearm. Problem solved.

This has been but a brief overview of C.A.R. techniques. The system is comprehensive, complete and proven. C.A.R. combines a strong base platform for movement and fighting stability with strong retention, a common-sense sighting approach, and a gun-taming recoil management system. Each component is effective with any eye/hand dominance orientation. While researching the C.A.R. system, I interviewed several LE and military personnel who had adopted the system, in whole, or in part. All feedback was positive, indicating that the techniques are extremely effective in their application.

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  • SikterEfendi

    A lot about benefits of the system, but no instructions on how to adopt it and properly use it. Few small pictures are not enough…

  • JCal

    Used this technique when fighting house to house in Fallujah. I personally felt that it was an effective technique in the close quarter fights we had encountered. It allowed me to be a smaller target, and have better weapons retention in the event of a grab. A natural reaction to being shot at is to recoil back. At those distances, many shots were made by point shooting, and CAR provided a semi defensive stance to engage from immediately. I wouldn’t recommend it as the sole method to utilize in combat, however I do recommend intergrating some of its techniques into one’s training, particularly in CQB.

  • Annnd I forgot we lost Paul in 2011. :-/

    RIP P.C.

  • Hi Bill & Kimberly,

    CAR is available to civilians however its tough to find seeing as there are not many of us CAR Instructors around.

    I believe we may have 20 “active” CAR Instructors Nationwide with most focusing on working with LEO/Military personal.

    I’m in Iowa and I teach CAR but usually on a private or small group basis.

    Usually only to those with Conceal Carry Permits so I have some way of knowing who is a law abiding citizen looking for an excellent system of CQB Self Defense.

    The system works regardless of age, gender or size and of course being one of the few Instructors that is active I am open to travel.

    adatccw.com is my site and your welcome to email or call me directly.

    J.

  • Bill in Lexington NC

    I am a civilian and new to handguns*. Anything that will get me on target in time for effective personal defense is welcomed. I bought a .45 thinking that hitting the BG with a fast-moving brick might give me time to hit him with a well-aimed second shot. If there is a version of this class that I could attend, please let me know.

    *I took two CCL classes because I didn’t think very highly of the first one. My wife and I have an appointment to apply for our CCL’s at the end of this month. We have a shooting range membership and are shooting every other week. We’re doing what we can to do this the right way.

  • D

    I’m going to have to give this a try.
    One thing is that the canted position is a natural position for your arm and hand. To rotate your arm with thumb up, elbows down, knuckles vertical is not natural and it also causes you to rotate your shoulder. Again not normal mechanics of your body.

    I have been SWAT and a LE firearms instructor and it is irresponsible that our department do not spend more money and time in firearms training.
    I shoot on a average 98% on the range for qualifications and 96% to 98% when I was on SWAT.
    I shot and tried different shooting techniques and positions on my time off and spent my own money on ammo because I want to win the fight!

    The problem with LE officers is just like with the command staff. THEY ARE NOT OPEN TO CHANGE! They have been doing the same thing for years and not willing to step out of the box and try something new…Community Policing doesn’t win a gun fight or stop officer assaults!

  • Kimberly

    Just a few questions. Why is CARS not available to civilians? Everything I read is for law enforcement. In the real world as bad as things are becoming we to need self defense tactics. What happens if someone by chance took your weapon or your wepon didn’t work right, then what do you do? Is the a training course for this as well? What are the chances of civilians having the opportunity to train with Mr. Castle?
    Thanks,
    Kimberly

  • Z

    J… try it w/ an Aimpoint on a long gun, cover the front look through it and with your right eye view the dot, your left eye will see the target, with a red dot on it. I use it w/ NVGs and during day light. It works.

  • Floyd Noel

    I trained with Paul in 06, best training for your time and money, advanced my skill-set light years beyond what the military or Police academy taught me.

  • General Jim M

    What’s with the nazi looking helmets,i thought we Americans won WW2.

  • Lessing, Ingo

    it is interesting to read the pro’s and con’s of you guys. the truth might be again in the middle. in 1990 i was a green barett and we shot this way without thinking in cqb. and on the range, shooting ring targets, we shot weaver or even isocless, however it gave the better result.
    so if paul is inventing the wheel again for his sake and saving lifes of brave officers and l.e. personnel as well, why do you put S… on him?
    remember the swat rules as basic and fine tune them with c.a.r. if you think that you need it. but always try first you guys before blaming something or shut up.
    best regards

  • General Jim M

    It looks so dumb.I’m a “combat” martial “artist” and it just looks dumb to me.Get behind cover.Using your arms for cover won’t work,bullets will go right through into your body. Someone is always comming up with a new solution to a non existant problem.Don’t listen to me,it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks.

  • Chris R

    wow extremely interested in learning this technique how/where can i get professional instruction

  • JH

    This looks retarded.

  • Dan O’Neal

    I have been through a California Basic Academy and a California requalification course (yes I passed both). There is a reason they call it a “Basic” Academy. I went to a class that taught an introduction to CAR system and once I got passed my arrogance and ingnorance about my “Basic” training and tried to learn ALL types of systems, it became clear that the CAR System has been well thought out and works! I became such a firm believer in it that I am now an instructor and donate my time to instruct others. We recently were trained by Paul and it was a great experience…(Thanks Paul!) Anyone in law Enforcement that thinks there is only one way to shoot is gravely mistaken, just like there is only one kind of gun fight! Collect as many tools and training that work best for you in a variety of situations.

    Dan O’Neal

  • Jose Janvion

    I have been researching this system for several months. And while I have yet to get real one on one instruction from a certified instructor, I’ve been able to improve my accuracy with just the online intro course. I plan on enlisting in the USAF and attending Pararescue Special Operations School, I wanted to get a better understanding of Handgun tactics before I shipped out and literally stumbled across the C.A.R. system by accident. And what a lucky break for me. Mr. Castle thank you for developing such a great system for civilian, Military and LE operators to use in order to improve our chances to come home safe. As it happens with all innovators, critics would dismiss a new idea rather than take the time to learn. I wish you continued success and hope to train with you or one of your instructors in the near future.

    With respect,
    Jose Janvion

  • Alex

    The more I hear on these sites and forums about the negatives of blading, the sicker I get. Blading to a target has its risks and the truth is so does being square to a target.Or being a cop, or anyone in society today. Funny no one mentions that impact trauma can still kill you, even with a vest. The real truth is getting your round or rounds into the target before he/she gets you. Learn as much as you can and use what works best for YOU. Tell everyone else who comes across as a no it all where they can go.

  • Yudha

    Hello,
    I’m a police officer in south east asia although i’ve never attend a course in CAR, i’ve been implementing some of the techniques for quite some time.
    Personal oppinion.
    The negative side on using this techniques might comes when you’re wearing a bulky tact-armor. Its kinda hard for asian people who has small body to centre both of his/her hand up on his/her face.
    The other problem is how to keep your vision wide, i mean the hands limit your peripheral vision pretty much since you’ll get focused on the gun in front of your face.

    But i think thats because I didnt get the full course/training.
    Apart from it, it sure helps in some close quarter cases. Keep it up guys.

  • T. Howard

    I’ve been looking at this system for a while and while I really want to take a class, I just don’t have the funds and resources right now. But, I am saving my pennies and will be in Tenn. soon. Keep up the good work.

  • Bob Brennan

    To “P” and “E”:
    This is not a BS system. My agency uses it. The problem with law enforcement trainers is that they can’t be out done. Never putting the officer first. Thats if you are an officer and not just a video game playing commando. I would put one of my female officers up against the stud in your department. I guarantee that he will not get her weapon. The weapon retention portion of this system is excellent and very adaptable for any agency. If what we are doing as trainers is so great, why is the national hit rate so low ? Because we react differently under stress. Don’t be so closed minded. If it can be used to help one of your officers, why not look into it ? If it’s not for you or your agency, walk away. Don’t sit here and bash the system when you know nothing about it
    Lieutenant Robert Brennan
    Hopatcong Police Department – New Jersey
    (973)398-5000 ex.240
    bbrennan@hopatcongpolice.org

  • Art,

    Love you to death mate. But not sure what you are saying about the 70’s. I have trained a bunch of guys who were there in the bush (actually in the 60″s) “when we were not there” I am aware of the problems.

    I was not there, too young. I was born in the 50’s but I know this for each Cop KITLOD 4 commit suicide in the USA. More Military have committed suicide than any time before. What I am trying to do is keep people safer. If its vouge as you say, well OK. When I came up with this system it was after fast roping out of helo’s, doing stuff wearing 60 lbs plus of equipment, heavy BA and learning that traditional training left me with some serious flaws. Just doing my bit.

    Paul.

  • To all, I am not defending my system, just trying to correct errors. Reading an article written by the author is ok, but until you come on my class or Jeff’s you might want to cut us some slack. The Night vision information is not exactly rightly explained in the article. Don’t shoot the writer, he is trying to explain something I have speant 18 years in development. Please cut him some slack ok. Basically this system will help a lot of people. You don’t have to love it, just give us a chance to actually show you what is does instead of ripping it apart on a forum.

    Thanks,

    Paul.

  • Chuck,

    I read your reply, I accept it as your comments. But I will ask you this what stance do you use. What have you personally done to stop the death rate for Cops in gunfights. Here are some figures for you to consider according to the FBI and other reports.

    Hit rate from 6 feet and in 54% of the time 18 to 20%.

    Hits rate form 30 feet and in 94% of the time 18 to 21%.
    Buddy this is not a pissing contest I am just trying to keep you alive. Call mne I will email you my manual. I want you to stay alive, that is my motive.

    Sincerely,

    Paul.

    1615 969-3377
    pcastle@visi.net

  • Message for “P” I wish you guys would ID yourself instead of basically hiding behind letters such as P. My name is Paul Castle. 31 years as a Cop and Instructor across 5 times zones. Just a normal guy. No SF background, but a guy who has burid too many Police Colleagues to sit back and watch more get planted. Pcastle@visi.net 1615 969-3377

    Lets get one thing right. If you wear the right sized BA the sides are the only part that is double lapped, so in fact you are twice protected. I am a little tired of people saying BA is some kind of all protecting saviour. Tell you what, the next time you come under fire, and find yourself using any kind of cover you can get, you will find yourself saying “wish I could get smaller.” This system is designed to work when you are in the B.A.R. Please just visit my website and learn as to what the BAR is all about. All I can say to you in truth is this, if the traditional stances were so good why is the hit rate so bad. Answer that one, and I am all ears.

    Paul Castle here Just trying to keep you alive, no other motive here, I assure you. As a cancer survivor trust me you will do anything for more life.

  • Jeff Litten I do not think you have been to my class. If you did I would know you. Tell you what. Come on my course. I will pay your travel expenses, stay at my house, I will feed you, ( food not BS ) come on a class and when you are done tell the truth. That is all I ask.Its free to you. Email me and set this up, if I am full of Crap you can tell the world. I will stand by what I teach.

    RK Taubert knows why he came on my class, and what he shared with me personally during the school, Plus he knows the calibre and backgrouds of who else was there. Bob will tell you that on an aircraft for cockpit protection it is the bees knees, (Brit for it works). Bob will also agree that I asked him to come, there was no charge, and his article was fair.

    Paul.

  • Paul Castle here. To start some of you are missing the point. When its dark and you are using your whole body to reactivly align to a target it does not matter what eye you use. Its the stance that puts you in line, and I know for a fact from people who are there right now, in harms way, that this system does work.

    I am trying to do something to keep you alive. You can attack, probe, question its all ok. But if you agree that the hit rate natioanlly is under 20% and from 6 feet and in 54% of the time, maybe we should try and find a solution instead of attacking training you have not been to.

    Paul.

  • Author

    P,
    Thanks for your feedback.
    Regarding the bladed stance and body armor / vests..
    Simply entering a room in isosceles stance (or most people’s weaver) opens up both sets of side panels to 3 and 9 o’clock threats.
    The concept is that the hole under your armpit is covered by the bones and tissue of the upper arm, at least on the “reaction side” with C.A.R.

  • Brian

    I was not a believer at first but now I swear by it. I have trained with Paul and Jeff receiving my advanced instructor certification in C.A.R.and the system is the best out there for teaching and training each weapon system deployed by law enforcementofficers in the field. I have never shot better with my support hand in my twenty year career.

  • P

    This is a BS sytem. Our agency looked at this years ago. There are lots of flaws. First and foremost is the “bladed” stance. This opens up the side panels of a vest hence giving your opponent a perfect kill shot. Dont be fooled!

  • J

    Mr. Clermont,

    Thanks, I checked out the Sabre site.

    You are correct that taking the NV image out of the equation while aiming at a target with the uncovered eye is the crux of the problem.

    If you intend to use the tritium sights with the uncovered eye, then it MUST see the target also. If it is too dark, that is the problem. You cannot divide these tasks, seeing the sights and seeing the target, between the eyes.

    Even if the target is barely visible to the uncovered eye, the NV image will dominate. There are ways to solve this problem. Shutting the covered eye is one, using a bright light on the target is another.

    I don’t see any heresy with CAR, but I believe it emphasizes the wrong things. What makes shooters miss in combat is not using the sights, slammming the trigger and failing to follow through with the recoil.

  • Chuck Haggard

    I am really stunned at the amount of BS in this article. There are many issues with the “CAR” technique, and trying to sell it to cops is irresponsible.

  • Art Chenevey

    There really is nothing new under the sun. This particular posture and grip has been around for a long, long time. Somebody has just now decided to give it a name and market a system around the posture and grip.

    Did shooting like this for real in the real-early 70’s in tight, cramped and extremely close quarters shooting when vision was obscured with thick undergrowth, while using a .45ACP Government and AK-47. Had to, conditions forced it.

    Guess if you live long enough, you see alot of stuff repeat itself and finally come into vogue.

  • RK Taubert

    I wrote about CAR in SWAT magazine a few years ago. “Center Axis Relock – Is It for you.”
    It had some good points, but will never become mainstream.

  • JEFF LITTEN

    CIVILIAN ASPESTS? EVERYONE HAS A SYSTEM OF TRAINING, SUAREZ, SIG, GUNSITE BEEN TO ALL OF THEM.

  • Author

    “J”,
    Thanks for your comment.
    I encourage you to visit Paul’s website, at
    http://www.sabretactical.com
    There, you’ll find more detailed information about the C.A.R. shooting positions.
    When you assume the C.A.R. “High”, or “Extended” position properly, there is no ability for the eye covered by the NV unit to interfere with sight picture. In fact, this eye is taken completely out from the task of using the sights. Thank-you.

  • E

    They will be on the target, the CAR system uses cross eye dominance to sight alignment, both eyes are open, but only the eye without looking to the firearm will see the sights.

  • e

    So who is using this system consistently? Reports? Benefits? Downsides? Positive/negative observations?

  • J

    Numerous problems with the assertions in this piece.

    Just one: The night vision “technique” doesn’t work. One eye lines up the tritium sights in darkness, the other sees the target through the NV unit. To the brain, it appears that the sights are on target. They aren’t. Try it.