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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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.

Day 1:
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.

Day 2:
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, Head.
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 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.

241 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
C.A.R. Instructor's Course AAR

Day 3:
After each student delivers his 15-minute lesson assigned the evening before, we spend a couple hours focusing on ballistics, both internal and external. The C.A.R. manual has a section in it called "Hits vs. Myths" which attempts to distill all of the Hollywood fiction and impart some common-sense and real-world experience. We spent a good deal of time disassembling the myths of "knock-down power" and immediate incapacitation from shoulder wounds <grin> that we've been taught to accept as commonplace, the unreliability of the "temporary cavity", and the fallacy of high-velocity mania.

After that, it's time to gear up and head out to the range. We get organized into two teams, and I get partnered with a SWAT guy out of Chicago and a SWAT guy out of NY - both VERY solid shooters and skilled operators.
More variants on the COF, and we were given an hour or two to basically work within our teams on our own.

After lunch, we did a couple hours of combatives; mostly muzzle-strikes (punches) and disarms, and then back to the range.
We began to incorporate movement into the COF, whereby once the final shooter called CLEAR! the shooting team would have to run around some obstacles before coming back to the line to continue the next string - this usually meant that we could not shoot on the same target more than once except for the final string, where we were supposed to be back on our original target.

Day 4:
This is the hardest day yet, mentally. After the standard delivery of the lesson plans that we put together as homework, it's a full day on the range. Physically, we're not being abused too badly, although we're keeping the heart-rate up. The morning is spent on shotgun and carbines. One of the pillars of the C.A.R. system is it's ability to reduce recoil - and reduce recoil it does! I put more than 100 1oz. slugs through a Remington 870 and felt NOTHING the next day. No soreness, no bruising, nothing. We fired the shotguns with one hand, two hands, holding a flashlight, pretending to have a wounded arm, and while pretending to open a door. The difficulty with the shotguns is that the 870's only held 6+1, and the COF for the shotgun was 12 rounds (24 for Shooter 3). That meant we had to have the reloading drill down solid.

I hadn't felt truly at home until I picked up the M4. I had been struggling slightly with some of the skills on the handgun (my body kept wanting to return to my standard stances.), but my speed was improving greatly. However, the carbine was a whole different story, the carbine is my house. I was blazing through targets and drills like a madman, each shot right where I wanted it. The only position that I had to work on was firing the M4 from the "high" position, which is basically horizontal across your chest, well below line of sight. The targets were standard man-sized silhouettes, with a 4-inch circle above the left and right shoulders. Within 10 minutes, from 5 yards I was placing accurate pairs to body, head, and to each of the 4-inch circles in sequence; 2-2-2-2... and smoking fast, at that.
After working the carbines for an hour or so, we began to hang targets on the peripheral cables, the ones running down the left and right berms. We began to engage targets in two and three directions, and the COF was changed so that each shooter was engaging two targets, with Shooters 1 an 2 having to shift to targets on the peripheral cables.

After carbines, it was back to pistols and a more complicated COF, more disarms and combatives, and reloading drills.
We started in on the advanced COF, which incorporates room entry and clearing. As my partner fired a controlled pair over my right shoulder I remember thinking to myself: "THIS is the training I've been asking for all these years in the Marine Corps!"

Day 5:
Final day - test day. We have the written and verbal tests first thing, and everyone does fairly well. Paul tests us mercilessly, but we've all retained much more than we thought we had. Our knowledge of the C.A.R. system and the research and philosophies behind it - while not complete - is startingly robust.
The range portion is only the standard COF with no variations or change of conditions. The time limit on the COF is 45 seconds, and our team comes in at 25, and that's complete with one fateful malfunction drill and an ill-timed combat reload.

All in all -
I truly feel that this system is one of the good ones, that it's built upon real-world experience and medically and physiologically sound foundations.
As an operator and combet vet - I would absolutely teach this system to others going into harms way.

Premium Member
25,481 Posts
Outstanding report/synopsis - for which thanks.

It sounds like one heck of a concentrated but highly useful course - certainly one I could imagine (stamina permitting!) most beneficial.

241 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
One thing I forgot to add - Re: taking the C.A.R. course -

Currently it is limited to only LE/Military - Paul doesn't have a civilian course. This doesn't mean that civilians can't learn certain aspects of the C.A.R. system - it just means that there's a whole system there that's designed for SWAT/LE/Military application that is not open to the public.

However, most of my review only covered the pieces that are "unrestricted" at this point.

Hope that makes sense. I'd be happy to answer any questions.
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