center axis relock

The Center Axis Relock (CAR) system is a shooting system invented by Paul Castle. CAR typically features a bladed stance, a close-to-body firearm hold with both arms bent to almost 90 degrees and either point or sight fired. I have very little experience with the system, but it is typically suggested for use in extreme close quarters such as “tubular assaults” down the aisles of planes, trains, buses etc. and from the seat of an automobile for targets approaching from the sides. Like everything else, it has it’s share of critics. Some say that the sideways stance presents armor gaps to the opponent. Others say that the odds of self-inflicted shots is increased. Personally… I see this more as a “transitional” and special use technique. Special use in situations like tubular assaults and those described previously, and transitional in the sense that it isn’t necessarily going to be the ONLY stance that you will use in a confrontation. I can see going from retention, to CAR, to arms extended and back again all within one encounter. I also think it can be useful at “in your face ranges” where the bent arms present better retention leverage and defensive options. I keep saying that I will give it a try. Maybe next range session.




10 thoughts on “center axis relock”

  1. I’ve seen this in an old USMC training manual (not as Rock n’ Roll cool but same hold/fire position) from way back in my first year in the service. I think you’re idea of use and applicability is dead on with the way it was being taught back then – transitional and situationally applicable but NOT intended as a universal solution.

    Of course the picture I remember is a of a Marine Sgt standing stiff as a board at attention through the whole process and even back then it looked a little silly (presentation, not technique) but such was the style of military manuals back then.

  2. I see it as very useful for civilians (but only in certain circumstances), but not so much for many professional applications.
    If you’re able to don a vest/plate, it’d be silly to purposefully present holes in your armor while at the same time stacking your organs for the bad guy. But if you’re Joe Civvy walking down the street alone, becoming a smaller target can be very useful. In addition, robbery/assault typically happens at close-quarters(?), so the extra aid in retention would be nice.
    On the flip side to that, though, if you’re Joe Civvy and not alone, someone attacks, and you can’t run, your purpose is now as a meat shield and a bladed stance endangers the safety of those that are with you.

    1. I’m with you on the body armor thing in general.

      Body alignment and hand position look like a pistol translation of rifle firing positions to me. I can see this being a ‘best of all bad choices’ or even a ‘didn’t even know I was doing it’ type of position if you had to fit into tight spaces (bus or airplane isles and the like).

      Much like empty hand martial arts training discussions about ‘stance’ and ‘footwork’ I think these types of things need to be thought of as ‘positions’ that get moved in and out of instead of ‘fixed’ positions.

      1. HA! I guess I should read the text under the C.A.R. video huh? I could have just written “what Tom said…”

    2. Actually..Im thinking the opposite. While I have not used the CAR technique, I have operated while wearing body armor with front AND back plates as well as chest pouches, chest holsters etc. It can be somewhat awkward assuming a “hands forward” isosceles firing stance (with a pistol) when you have your arms pinching in on the front plate and all that junk on your trunk. Reaching full extension is sometimes not possible.

      While I’m not with the Tac Team anymore, I can see how the bent arm, close to face positioning of the CAR technique could possibly be advantageous BECAUSE of all the armor/gear. I don’t believe that the sideways/bladed stance necessarily has to be fully “side on”. Angled a bit? Perhaps, but I don’t think enough to be a deal killer. If you analyze the above video, that shooter is not really THAT bladed to his target. A front plate and ballistic vest would still provide substantial protection. I could see “going CAR” for quick close shots to the oblique vs “turreting” if the situation fit.

      Everything has it’s advantages and disadvantages. In the right situation I think it’s a valid technique, but modern isosceles will still be my “core technique” for now. Taking on CAR as your base technique though? I’m not experienced enough with it to judge, but it seems more specialized than general purpose.

      1. The old USMC manual version I remember showed the whole thing with a nearly squared up stance. Obviously there are two distinct elements: The Hold and The Stance/Body alignment. Even in the YouTube video, his body shifts around. And, too, there’s the issue of how his body alignment appears from the ‘bad guy’ view too. What looks ‘bladed’ in the video might look very square from the ‘bad guy cam’ view.

    1. Damn Right,
      The CAR system was designed to create a method that allows for quick reaction to multiple threats, incredibly fast follow up shots, as well as retention of the officer’s weapon system. And I’ll tell you what, it works. With or without body armor, this system allows for incredible stability sitting, standing, in a vehicle or within a crowd.
      I use it for all of my officers, and executive protection personnel.

  3. Limited field of vision is a major drawback. You just can’t see if someone attacks from behind. But CAR is a good stance for defensive moves and preventing enemy from disarming your weapon (that happens when you keep your hand extended).

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