About a month ago I had the opportunity to attend an Instructor's Course for the Centre Axis Relock (C.A.R.) system. There was so much material covered that I couldn't begin to tell in a review; but I wanted to put this out there just in case anyone has come across C.A.R. but wanted to know more about it.
I will say this about Paul Castle - the man has put an enormous amount of research and effort into his system. Over the 5 day course, at least two full days were given over to discussion/instruction on the philosophies behind and medical, legal, and practical research that support the development of the C.A.R. system over the past 11 years. Where many instructors simply want you to accept what they say as gospel, we were all challenged to find fault with the research presented and to say something if a technique taught or a theory discussed conflicted with any of our real-world experiences.
Mostly a classroom/lecture day. There was a lot of material to cover, and we wanted to get it out of the way so we could get to the range. The concept that C.A.R. is more a methodology and a system unto itself than a 'stance' or 'technique' becomes clear on this first day. We spend the better part of the day discussing the medical research, physiology, and experiences that provide the foundation for the system's philosophy.
Paul makes a point to ask the students to let him know if anything he teaches to be out of sync with anyone's real-world experience - something I have seen very few instructors do, since doing so would be akin to admitting that one does not - in fact - know everything. However, even more unusual in this instance was the fact that one of the students was an Army surgeon from Nevada who also assists Las Vegas SWAT. For what it's worth, the guy had a standing invitation to openly dispute anything that Paul taught - and his consistent agreement seemed to give a little more weight to the course material.
We covered everything from how the eyes work to internal and external ballistics to the three ego (or mental) states.
Because it's an Instructor's course, Paul spends MUCH of the course ensuring that we are sufficiently armed to deal with both the outwardly hostile and the passive-aggressive student or critic.
The latter half of the day we finally get into the meat and cheese of C.A.R. itself, the Combat Readiness Matrix - or the 6 "R's":
Each "stage" of the readiness matrix is approached as a singular element of Adaptation that, when used in conjunction with each other, forms a seamless procedure or series of steps.
Truthfully - there is so much material covered during the first two days that I cannot conceivably summarize it all here. Suffice it to say that we spent the first day or two digging the foundations out from underneath the traditional methodologies an schools of thought. As a big believer in threat-focus and a longtime challenger of the traditional methods, I soaked it up.
This is also where we start to get into the different 'stances' of the system. There are four primary stances;
The "High" position, where the weapon is held parallel to the deck and practically centered on your chest. This position is good for shots out to about 7m.
The "Extended" position, which is where your body is bladed to the target and the weapon hand brings the gun across the body and into the opposite eye - meaning if you have the gun in your right hand you bring it across into your left eye, and vis-a-versa. This is still a very compact position and the gun seems as if it's uncomfortably close to your face right at first.
The "Combat High" position, which is simply the "Extended" position dropped just a few inches so that you can increase your field of view.
The "Apogee" position, which alters your entire index to the target and sets up a more stable platform for the longer shots.
One of the biggest factors of the C.A.R. system is that it really reduces the felt recoil and makes consecutive shots much easier to make, and this is a product of how the four positions take advantage of body mechanics. More on recoil management on day 4.
After getting the previous night's homework out of the way (each student had been tasked with putting together a 10 minute discussion/lesson over an area that had been covered during Day 1. This morning, each student had to deliver his lesson to the class.
With that out of the way, it was time to grab our gear and head outside to the range. The pistol range we were using was basically square enclosed on three sides by a 10-ft berm. Cables ran down the length of all three sides so that the wooden target frames could be hung by their hooks. We would take advantage of this setup later, engaging targets in two or three different directions.
We took an hour or two to familiarize ourselves with the various shooting positions and developing the confidence that we could place shots where we wanted them with little or no focus on the front sights, and transitioning from one position to the next.
We discussed the Course of Fire (COF) that we would be tested on later in the week. Since most of Sabre's training focuses on operators, the COF was understandably a team-based event, designed to force students to work together and think as a team rather than as a group of individuals.
The most basic COF consisted of 4 shooters, 5 targets, and 5 strings.
Body, Body, Head.
Body, Body, Head, Head.
Body, Body, Head, Head, Finisher (body or head).
All shots from the weapon-side (strong side) standing, in sequence from Shooter 1 to Shooter 4 (left-to-right). Shooter 2 could fire once Shooter 1 was finished with his string, not before, and then on down the line. Shooter 3 had to engage TWO targets (3 AND 4) before Shooter 4 could engage target 5. Once Shooter 4 had completed his string he called out CLEAR! and Shooter 1 immediately began the next string.
If that sounds confusing, it was....at first. As we got more comfortable with the COF Paul would change the conditions on us in order to keep us thinking. Each string would bring about an additional change, such as first string would be from weapon-side standing, second string would be from reaction-side kneeling; all head shots taken with one hand only. The point is that no matter how sharp the team shooting is, the conditions can be changed to challenge them.
We discuss this with Paul and his philosophy is that many instructors - when trying to simulate combat stress - only focus on physical factors (heartrate, breating, muscle soreness/tiredness, etc..). However, in any engagement - whether LE/Military/Civilan - your brain will have to process a million things in a matter of seconds; and it will have do be able to do so without impacting your ability to REACT.
This is the method behind the madness on our constantly changing COF. Paul keeps changing the conditions in order to continuously disrupt our OODA Loop.
After lunch, we work on reloading techniques and field-stripping our weapons. Both are done while performing "energizers", which are basically physical exercises or stressors that force your mind to choose between focusing on either your discomfort or the task at hand.
We also work a bit on weapons retention from the "high" position, room clearing, and basic SWAT tactics.