relationship with Paul Castle and the Center Axis Relock
System started 2002 when David Williams a Robbery Homicide
Detective from Alabama was activated as part of the
Tennessee Army Reserves and sent to Aberdeen Proving
Ground to augment their security.
Dave and I became fast friends and he told me about
this British policeman who had come up with a new firearms
system that I had to see.
After some research and some e-mails it was not long
before Paul himself was on the way to Maryland for a
basic CAR Course. The course was hosted by the Aberdeen
Proving Ground SWAT Team and was attended by officers
from their team as well as the City of Aberdeen's
team and Baltimore County Police's team.
What would follow the next three days was total indoctrination
into the CAR System. CAR is based on body mechanics
and science. There is no other activity we engage in
where a weighted object is held at arms length for any
period of time. The reason is that it is uncomfortable
and the farther your elbows are from your sides the
weaker you are. This brings us to the first position
in CAR, the High position
Picture holding your favorite beverage in the middle
of your chest, but with two hands. This is where your
pistol is held. In CAR this is the weapon retention
position as it keeps the weapon close to the chest and
allows you to use elbow rolls and strikes to protect
against disarming tactics from the back and front in
addition to the flanks. The High position is used to
engage treats from 0-5 feet but can be accurate beyond
The next position in CAR is the Combat
Extended, this is the most commonly used position in
CAR and is achieved by simply rolling your gun hand
elbow up to approximately ear level while keeping your
elbows at your side.
This does several things, the first of which is placing
the front sight of your pistol 11-13 inches from your
eyes; this is your natural focal distance. We are all
familiar with “Front sight in a fight”,
however this is hard to do utilizing the Weaver and
Isosceles stance since they put the front sight at around
twice your normal focal distance.
The second is that you gun hand rotates in at about
a 30-degree angle as if you were throwing a punch. This
places your bones, muscle and tendons in alignment.
Upon pulling the trigger the gun muzzle cannot flip
up or down so it takes the path of least resistance,
which is straight, back. This drastically reduces muzzle
flip and felt recoil resulting in a decreased time between
shots fired. Not only is it lightening fast it is accurate.
The High Extended is used out to about 5 feet -10 yards
(you know, where gunfights occur). Something else that
is interesting with the Combat Extended is that you
can see the entire threat in front of you, in contrast
to how while using traditional stances you actually
loose part of this view. One of the points that people
like to make against CAR is that you are not square
to you target, therefore not getting the maximum benefit
from body armor.
A few problems with that argument, one is that few armed
professionals wear body armor every time they are armed.
The second is that by in the High Extended position
your entire support arm is collapsed against your side
protection your torso and especially your armpits, which
are very exposed in the traditional stances. This has
led to many police fatalities even when officer were
The last position I will talk about is
the Combat High, which is basically the low ready of
CAR. It is your position when you are “looking
for work” as Paul calls it. It is accomplished
by just relaxing and bringing the sights down a bit.
The Combat High puts you half way between the High and
After weapon retention the most appealing
aspect of CAR to me is the fact that it allows you to
shoot quickly and accurately with both hands. During
the class you do so many hand changes the only way you
remember if you are right or left handed is by looking
at your holster, because you can't tell from the
Due to the initial CAR course I attended being comprised
of SWAT officers Paul was especially brutal with his
drills and lessons, the details of which I will spare
Several of us were asked by Paul to attend a subsequent
two-day instructor course that would certify us to teach
the basic course. Being a training whore I seized the
opportunity and achieved a passing score. While he was
in town for that class I introduced Paul to my Master,
Sensei David Bish of Red Dragon Ju Jitsu in Havre De
Bish Sensei is also a retired Army NCO with an interesting
background. He and Paul hit it off to the point where
myself, Bish Sensei and his Head Instructor Suzanne
Saporta were asked to attend the first CAR Master Instructors
Course held at Ft. McCoy Wisconsin in the winter of
2004. Paul wanted their input from the scientific and
martial theories found in Ju Jitsu. From that point
on I introduced CAR to every forward thinking cop and
soldier I met.
Fast forward to November of 2007. I knew that Paul had
been working on bringing the CAR system to the armed
citizenry in the form of IPD or Immediate Personal Defense
Systems. After being introduced to the Threat
Focused Forums I found that they had a CAR sub-forum.
It was there that I saw that Robert Desrosiers of Argive
Defense Systems was doing an IPD course in Hellertown
PA on 05/06 JAN 08.
Being extremely interested to see how if civilians could
learn CAR as fast as professional shooters, I quickly
e-mailed Bob to introduce myself and see if he would
like an extra instructor for the class. Bob and I then
met at the Valley Forge Gun Show and began to make plans
for the course. MCS instructor Art Dorst also signed
up to attend the course hoping to learn more than he
had during my crash course.
Arriving at the Hellertown Sportsman's Club on
the morning the 5th I found Bob, Art and CQCG member
Jose Sousa waiting on me. Jose, a policeman that realizes
you can never have enough training had heard about CAR
from me and signed up for the class after meeting Bob
at the gun show.
The class started off with the normal introductions,
wow, talk about a mixed bag. We had a few police, three
correction officers, three doctors, semi-retired folks
and a few young hard chargers who had trained with Bob
Bob made it the first point of business to point out
that he would like everyone to take anything they had
read on the error net about Paul Castle and the CAR
system with a grain of salt. The one thing that the
majority of individuals who trash Paul or the system
have in common is that they have never met the man or
been trained in the system.
The class continued with detailed explanations the three
positions as well as the science and theory behind each
one. Shortly thereafter the class adjourned to indoor
pistol range where all shooters were instructed to toe
the line, lock their slides the rear and show a safe
weapon. Upon doing so, a piece of yellow nylon rope
was inserted into the ejection port and the slide released
indicating a clear weapon.
Extensive dry firing, transitions and sighting were
done from all three positions. From there students where
told to put their mouth pieces in and get ready to get
physical. This is a very radical departure from traditional
firearms training. Students were reminded that the High
Position was the default position from which gun retention
should be performed.
After being divided into two-man teams, students were
encouraged to reach in and attempt to disarm their partner
from the front, back and flanks. This demonstrated that
it was near impossible to obtain a secure grip on the
gun because or the defender rolling his elbows to protect
The largest student in the class was allowed to get
a secure two-handed grip on the smallest student's
gun, but do to body mechanics unable to maintain it.
By rolling your attacker to one side or the other you
were able to throw punishing elbow strikes to any target
It was from this drill that we moved onto doing “Pistol
Punches” on training pads. The Pistol Punch is
executed by striking an attacker in the face with the
muzzle of the handgun or with the flat of the side of
the pistol supported by the palm of the support hand.
What became very evident even using pads was this would
be a devastating less lethal technique in reaction to
a gun grab or keeping a malfunctioning pistol in the
CQCG member Jose Sousa performing a tactical reload
After a breather it was time to go live.
Live fire started out with student engaging a single
target from the High Position at three yards with singles,
then doubles and then the advocated four rounds. Students
were obviously hesitant about shooting their pistols
up against their chests, that lasted as long as it took
for them to fire four rounds as fast as they could pull
the trigger in an area that could be covered with a
palm even in the case of the worst shooters.
Before going to lunch the shooters used both the High
and Combat High to engage the targets with head and
body shots out to 5 feet.After lunch students were shown
how to switch hands to engage threats to the rear as
well as transferring from hand to hand depending on
Several drills in CAR as well as IPD require you to
switch hands between rounds, at times very rapidly.
This is usually done in a sequence or against called
targets to cause you to forget about which hand you
have the gun in and instead concentrate on technique.
These were introduced late in the day on Saturday before
the class was released.
Day two started off with a review of day one and quickly
moved to the range. Since this was primarily intended
to be a civilian course, Bob had told everyone to be
sure to wear their typical concealment garment and holster
etc. It was nice to see this would be included since
I feel that too many armed professionals fail to practice
drawing from concealment.
The first order of business was to practice drawing
from concealment. Students saw how much a loose sweater
or what different types of outer garments can do to
impede the draw stroke.
Before long the class was again being stressed out by
having to communicate during drills that required them
to shoot specific targets in specific order with their
teammates on the line. During these drills which a huge
part of Paul Castle's teaching style of using
physical and mental stress so that students focus on
the task and forget they are doing things like changing
hands and reloading.
The biggest difference between the civilian and LE/MIL
courses seem to be the lack of physical punishment in
the way of push-ups and flutter kicks in IPD. During
the LE/MIL classes there is a pain penalty for mistakes
and as you pay the penalties Paul is right they're
next to you knocking them out too.
Once sufficiently frustrated the class began to draw,
fire from the High Position and transition the High
Extended while moving backwards-issuing verbal commands.
Before long we were onto one another of my favorite
aspects of CAR, how well it lends itself to shooting
from inside of a vehicle. Unfortunately due to range
restrictions this had to be simulated. Do to the compressed
nature CAR there is not problem going from one hand
to another depending on the location of the threat even
while seated behind the wheel of a car.
The remainder of the day saw the class
doing more shooting on the move drill against multiple
targets as well as combat reloads while on the move.
The last drill was an eye opener for many of the students
who had never been involved in any type of combative
training. The student would walk up to the five yard
line and put his eye and ear protection down on a folding
char and then come back and get in the box after being
handed a training gun.
For 30 seconds four other students would assault him
the best they could with ASP training pads while two
other students struck them with training batons.
The student in the box would defend with pistol punches
and elbow strikes while issuing verbal commands. At
the end of the 30 seconds the shooter would approach
the line, put on eye and ear protection and wait for
the buzzer, at which time they would draw and attempt
to achieve a head shot in less than 2 seconds. I would
estimate that approximately 80% of the class achieved
MCS Instructror Art Dorst fights in the box
After returning to the classroom for a
little post course discussion, the course was concluded.
My initial thoughts about CAR have remained the same.
If I had to take a head shot at 25 yards would I use
CAR? I doubt it. But research and experience tells me
that is far outside the typical combat shooting distance.
For employing a pistol under 5 yards the CAR system
has no equal. This is made more oblivious by what it
has to offer for retention and shooting from inside
If you are serious about combat pistol craft I would
encourage you to take advantage of checking out an IPD
course if you get the chance.
I would like to thank Bob Desrosiers of
Argive Defense Systems for having Art Dorst and myself.