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Fieldcraft Survival’s Gunfighter Pistol Level 1 Class with Raul Martinez

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Here is the link to the article on Hard Target Focus mentioned in the video.


Hey, this is Myles with Tactical Hyve.

Today I’ll be reviewing Fieldcraft Survival’s Gunfighter Pistol Level 1 Class, taught by Raul Martinez.

Raul is the Training Director and lead combatives coach at Fieldcraft Survival. He served with the U.S. Army and the Chicago Police department.

The Gunfighter Pistol Level 1 class is designed to teach the fundamentals of gunfighting in defense of your life, rather than being a general marksmanship course.

It’s the shortest class I’ve attended at 5-hours long; however, this is done by design because students’ attention spans generally deteriorate after 3 to 4 hours.

Despite the class being shorter than other classes I’ve attended, Raul still covered a lot of useful material and drills.

Let’s take a closer look.

The Review

Raul ran a fun and organized class, having an assistant with him to ensure students got the attention and instruction they needed.

Even with an assistant, I really liked how Raul would watch each student execute all major techniques that were taught and help them make any necessary corrections.

At a minimum, students had to bring a pistol, magazines, mag pouches, a holster, a range belt, 300 rounds of ammo at a minimum, and eye and ear protection.

The class is best suited for intermediate shooters who already understand the basics of pistol marksmanship. It’s also a great class for busy individuals who cannot or do not want to take full-day classes.

We started the class with a safety brief, so everyone knew what to do in case of an emergency.

Raul then changed gears and talked about dealing with malfunctions. For most, this was a quick review of executing a tap rack, and dealing with double feeds.

Raul emphasized how he likes to keep things simple. If one gets confused, all they need to remember is to lock their slide back, take their magazine out, and reload.

We then moved on to an exercise that allowed Raul to assess our fundamentals. We had to grab our unloaded weapon 15 yards from our target, load the weapon, and shoot the target five times while moving toward it.

As I mentioned, this exercise allowed us to work all of our fundamentals and gave Raul an opportunity to gauge everyone’s skill level.

After our assessment, we focused on grip to help students manage muzzle flip. I really liked this.

I’ve attended many classes, and all instructors will cover the fundamentals of marksmanship, such as stance, grip, sight alignment and sight picture, and many tend to do a deeper dive into trigger press.

Raul belongs to a handful of instructors I’ve trained with in the past 8 months who have done a deeper dive into grip, as opposed to trigger press.

Most instructors will discuss all the key points to grip, but they generally will focus more on trigger press.

Trigger press definitely does seem to be the most challenging fundamental for most shooters, but from my experience, grip is more important than trigger press, which is why I liked that Raul spent a good amount of time on the topic.

I believe that if one has an excellent, solid grip, he or she can have somewhat of a sloppy trigger press and still land accurate shots on target.

Using a line I heard from Subject Matter Expert, Billy Leahy, if a gun was secured in a vice, it doesn’t matter how the trigger is pressed, the bullet is going where the gun is aimed.

To work on grip, we shot one full magazine with our strong hand, one mag with our support hand, and another magazine with both hands.

By shooting singled handed, Raul wanted us to feel how firmly we were gripping our pistols. When we hold our pistol with two hands, we should exert the same amount of grip strength as if we were gripping with one hand only.

In other words, Raul recommends applying an equal amount of firm pressure with both hands. In contrast, other instructors may recommend a 70/30 or 60/40 split.

I resonated with this because I shoot with a 100% grip strength with both hands when I’m shooting at close distances and/or engaging multiple targets quickly.

Having a firm grip helps me settle my sights much faster so I can take a second, third or fourth shot sooner. When I’m shooting at distance, say 25 yards out, I will ease up on my firing hand grip to land more accurate shots.

These exercises helped us isolate and decrease muzzle flip by working on proper wrist tension. One technique Raul taught to help keep our muzzles down was to drive our firing hand pinky to the heal of our palm, by the base of our firing hand thumb.

I’ve never been taught this technique, so I thought this was great, and I’m currently experimenting with it a lot.

Raul worked with every student individually to ensure they understand how to apply proper wrist tension to decrease muzzle flip.

The idea is to learn to drive our sights back on target so that we can take follow up shots as quickly as possible if necessary.

We then moved on to an exercise to track our sights. Raul wanted us to better understand the movement of our rear and front sights, and how things should look and feel if our shots are on target.

This was Raul’s beginning programming for hard target focus, instead of front sight focus. Hard target focus is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of traditionally focusing on your front site, your eyes will be focused on the target when you break a shot.

Hard target focus vs. front sight focus is a pretty hot topic right now, and if you want to read more about it, check out this link to an article about it written by former Green Beret and Subject Matter Expert, Scott Satterlee. You can find the link in the notes of this video.

Raul had us work on putting our sights on target while presenting our weapons, then immediately changing our focus to the target to break the shot.

I’ve worked on hard target focus drills before, but haven’t attended any other class that has devoted a good amount of time to discuss and work the topic. I liked how Raul included it in his class.

Raul also took some time to dive into our stances. He likes to keep things simple. An athletic stance that allows us to move in any direction immediately will work well.

To land effective shots on target, one doesn’t necessarily need to have a special stance as long as their grip and other shooting fundamentals are solid.

To emphasize this point, Raul had us take shots with both feet on the ground, with only one foot on the ground, then squatting and kneeling. All students were able to land effective shots on target without having to worry so much about their stance.

Raul had us work on vertical target transitions, shooting targets from the bottom up and from the top down. With this drill, he wanted us to work on two main points. First, to allow recoil to take our sights to the next target.

Instead of taking a shot on a target and waiting for our sights to settle back on the target, he wanted us to break our first shot and ride the recoil to our next target so that our sights would settle on our next target.

This is a much faster way to shoot, which is used a lot by competition shooters. It allows us to train our eyes to ‘see’ faster, so to speak.

Secondly, with this drill, Raul wanted to demonstrate how we can lose track of our sights if we transition from target to target with our arms fully extended. He prefers pulling his pistol in towards his chest after breaking his first shot, then pushing out to our next target to ensure we can see our sights.

We then moved on to moving and shooting. I was pleasantly surprised to hear a different take to moving and shooting. Many instructors talk about using their legs as shock absorbers, and others will be specific and state that one should time their shots when both feet are planted on the ground.

Raul taught a different method. He prefers to tighten his core, which he explained will help mitigate the movement of our pistol as we move. I haven’t heard other instructors talk about this, so I was eager to try the new technique and am experimenting with this technique as well.

All students had the opportunity to drill this technique several times to get a good feel for it.

To wrap up the shooting portion of the class, we moved on to a couple of fun drills that allowed students to work on everything they learned. Also, for certain drills, Raul set up our guns to malfunction, so we had to deal with malfunctions on the fly.

We then ended the class with a group debrief and an opportunity to leave feedback. I thought gaining immediate feedback from students was great, as it shows Raul really cares about improving his class.


If you want to take a class focused more on the essentials of gunfighting, as opposed to a general pistol marksmanship class, I recommend checking out Raul’s class. He packs a lot of material into five hours, making this class ideal for students with busy schedules.

Raul’s class is safe and well-organized. He always demonstrated what he taught and kept a close eye on all students. In addition, the class was fun with a good sense of community among the students.

Learning and improving happens outside of the range as well, which is why I think it is important to value community, as Fieldcraft Survival and Raul do.

With Raul’s time in the army and law enforcement, and with his experience in mixed martial arts, he’s able to draw from diverse experiences, making him a well-rounded instructor.

I also appreciate how he genuinely wants his class to provide as much value as possible to his students, how he keeps an open mind, and how he believes in questioning and analyzing techniques, as opposed to accepting things blindly.

If Raul rolls around your neighborhood, I recommend checking out his class.

This is Myles with Tactical Hyve, signing off.

The Final Verdict: RECOMMENDED

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About the author


Myles is the Founder of Tactical Hyve, a competitive shooter, and a life-long student of all things dealing with the tactical and self-defense worlds.

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