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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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C.A.R. (Center Axis Relock) is more than a grip, stance or range application. Created by…