If you’re a huge fan of John wick movies like myself, you’ve probably noticed that John does several ‘odd’ things you rarely see in action movies. Well, apart from walking away after multiple gunshots or gashing sword wounds. One of the things that seem to interest fans the most, however, is why John Wick tilts his gun while shooting. Is there a real technique behind it?
There is a real shooting method called Center Axis Relock, or CAR. It was developed by an LE officer, Paul Castle, who created CAR as a Close Quarters Combat method, allowing the shooter to hold the gun more naturally when the arms are pulled closer to the body.
There are two main CAR positions – high and extended – and we’ve seen John Wick use both. The weapon is held with two hands and slightly angled to align with the opposite eye and to give the shooter better accuracy and recoil control when shooting multiple targets in rapid succession. Of course, the method is slightly exaggerated in John Wick, so let’s explore it a bit more.
How did John Wick become so good at shooting?
There’s a reason why John Wick is so insanely good at what he does. You don’t get the nickname Baba Yaga (aka the Boogeyman) without putting fear in your enemies’ bones. In fact, they say that John Wick isn’t the Boogeyman – he’s the guy you send to kill the Boogeyman.
I haven’t done a kill count throughout the John wick movie series, but I’m sure the guy shoots and kills at least a few hundred people. So, how did John Wick become so prolific at shooting?
John Wick was in the military before becoming a professional assassin. After completing his service, John became a hitman for the Tarasov mafia boss, Viggo Tarasove. Years of military experience turned into years of assassin service, which John used to perfect his craft.
However, things changed when he met his wife, and John wanted to get out of the business. Tarasov accepted under one condition – giving John the seemingly ‘impossible task’ of killing all of his enemies in a single night. Should Wick succeed, he would be free. Of course, Baba Yaga succeeded and was successfully retired.
That is, until his wife passed away due to an illness and left him with a puppy to help with his grief. Iosef Tarasov then killed the pup during a burglary, and John came out of retirement seeking revenge. The point is, he never got rusty – in fact, his rage only fueled his skills even more.
Throughout the movies, you see that John Wick is a prolific marksman with almost every firearm you can imagine, but pistols seem to be his bread and butter. The technique John uses while shooting is intriguing to fans, and as it turns out, it also exists as a shooting method in real life. Here’s everything you need to know about it.
Why does John Wick tilt his gun sideways?
So, John Wick doesn’t hold the gun straight up when he shoots, as we usually see in movies. He doesn’t hold it sideways, like in ‘gangster’ movies. Instead, John tilts the gun slightly to the side, holding it almost diagonally across his face. Why does he do that? Here are all the answers.
Center Axis Relock
John wick uses a shooting method known as CAR or Center Axis Relock. It’s a shooting method for Close Quarters Combat developed by an LE officer (later detective and shooting instructor) Paul Castle, as a method to help deal with gun recoil, accuracy, and speed while shooting multiple targets in limited space – that is, in close quarters.
I’ll try to explain the method as easily as possible by giving you an example. Let’s say you’re surrounded by three or four enemies coming at you in a tight space, forcing you to hold the gun closer to your body instead of extending your arms all the way out.
If you try to hold the gun straight up while keeping it close to your body, it will result in an uncomfortable grip around the wrist area and an awkward position of your hands. When shooting, the gun won’t have enough support to tackle the recoil after every shot, significantly influencing your accuracy.
However, suppose you tilt the gun 10-45 degrees to the side. In that case, your wrist will be in a much more natural position, and the gun’s recoil will be supported and alighted with your lower arm’s bone structure, giving you much better control, resulting in better accuracy and quicker rapid fire.
The method can also be used with the arms extended outwards, but never fully. You’d align the sights with remaining in the focus of the opposite eye’s focal point while the other eye remains obscured with the gun and your arm.
That resolves the dominant eye problem by allowing you to aim with one eye while using the other eye for peripheral vision – meaning you can aim and track moving targets simultaneously.
John Wick seems to be extremely prolific in this method, and there’s a possibility that it actually stems from his military days. Not that learner CAR is a standard military training practice. Still, there are some theories that even before it was officially developed, soldiers started using the tilt when shooting at multiple moving targets.
By tilting their guns sideways would allow them to ‘spray’ bullets at enemies directly when shooting in rapid succession, avoiding overhead misses due to recoil.
The McMillan Tilt
CAR is always used with two arms, but another gun-tilt technique is used when shooting with a single arm in rapid succession. The technique was known as the McMillan Tilt and was developed by Bill McMillan, a member of the US Marine Corps.
McMillan was a professional competitor in shooting that won the Gold medal for his team at the 1960 Olympic games in the Rapid Fire 25 Meter Pistol category. McMillan used the slight tilt to alight the gun sights perfectly with his opposite eye, as he was cross-eye dominant.
It also helped align the forearm bone structure with the gun’s recoil more perfectly, giving McMillan better control of his weapon when shooting in rapid succession.
We don’t see John Wick shooting with a single-arm grip that often, but it happens on several occasions, and John always uses the McMillan Tilt.
Resolving the ‘dominant eye problem’
I don’t know if you know it, but every person actually has a dominant eye. The discrepancy is more evident in some people, while in others, it’s only a slight difference – but it does exist nevertheless.
The problem appears when some shooters are cross-eye dominant – meaning, their dominant eye is the opposite eye from their primary shooting hand. As Bill McMillan figured out, you can resolve that problem by tilting the gun slightly to align with your cross-dominant eye – the same goes for CAR, which always uses the opposite eye as the focal aiming point.
Perhaps John wick was also cross-eye dominant, and using CAR would help him resolve that issue without losing accuracy or speed.
Looks absolutely badass
Lastly, the CAR method in John Wick movies is kind of exaggerated, and John uses it even outside of Close Quarters Combat. In all honesty, John uses it in such a highlighted manner because we’re talking about action movies – and the gun tilt looks absolutely badass.
It’s a unique technique that we don’t see other characters use, proving to us as viewers that John Wick is a unique assassin – one of a kind, that is.
Do soldiers really use the same technique in real life?
To finish it off, I wanted to mention that CAR exists in real life but is not part of standard military training. Theories suggest that soldiers started tilting their guns sideways when shooting at multiple targets to avoid the recoil, causing the bullets to fly over the heads of the enemy. That might’ve eventually inspired the development of said technique, but it was never confirmed.
As for the use of CAR, some schools teach it as an optional CQC technique. However, experts suggest that Keanu Reeves doesn’t really use CAR correctly because the technique wouldn’t work in the way that John Wick uses it.
There you have it – John Wick uses a real gun-tilt shooting method in the movies – but uses it incorrectly.