The Evolution of a Student and an Instructor


Hello shooters. Allow me to introduce myself for those of you who don’t know me. My name is Aaron Israel and I live in Midland, Texas with my wife Stacey and our daughter Savannah. I have a full time job as the district manager for a downhole tool rental company that services oil and gas operators and directional contractors in the Permian Basin. When I am not at work, training armed citizens to be better defensive shooters and problem solvers is my passion.

I served for 8 years in the United States Army from 2003-2011. I was first a reservist with the 345th PSYOP Company in Dallas, Texas while I was simultaneously working on my commission as a cadet at the University of Oklahoma. I graduated from OU in 2007 with a Finance Degree and commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Field Artillery Branch. I did all of my basic officer training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and was then stationed at Fort Hood for the duration of my career. I did one tour in Iraq from July of 2008 to June of 2009. While in Iraq I had the privilege of not only doing my job as a Fire Support Officer, but also leading an Infantry platoon and a Scout platoon along the way. I was able to experience the diversity of pretty much every combat arms job that a new officer can hold and learned a lot about leadership along the way. Once I was back stateside I did my time as a Battery Executive Officer and and Fire Direction Officer. At about the time I was ready to get out, I was asked to extend my active service in order to take the job of Rear Detachment Commander while the rest of the unit was deployed again to Iraq. I accepted the job and found it to be the most challenging 14 months of my life. During my time as Rear Detachment Commander  I got to work with the spouses of deployed soldiers, deal with the medical issues of wounded warriors, and process legal issues for soldiers with disciplinary problems. It was a very interesting experience to say the least.

One of my duties while in command was to develop and implement the marksmanship training program for replacement soldiers headed to Iraq. As part of this endeavor,due to the small NCO staff I had at the time, I found myself filling the role of instructor in M9 marksmanship. This was my first exposure to teaching people how to shoot and I enjoyed it immensely. Word got around that I was a “gun guy” in that I had my Concealed Handgun License and participated in local shooting matches. As such, I was approached by some soldiers and their spouses about becoming a Texas CHL instructor in order to put on affordable classes for the soldiers in my unit and surrounding units. I took some leave in January of 2011 and got certified to teach the class and began hosting classes on and off post about once per month. My philosophy as CHL instructor was always to put as much emphasis as possible on skill development on the range as part of my curriculum instead of just verifying that students could or could not qualify for the license. I spent more time on the range with my students than most other instructors and that really became my mantra and helped grow my business.

I got out of the Army in 2011 and came to Midland, Texas to work for an oil and gas service company. I also setup my CHL business (Hip Shoot CHL) and continued teaching my monthly classes in Midland with both public and private options. As part of my class, I would always harp on continued education and training for newly minted armed citizens. The problem was that there wasn’t really much being offered in the area in that regard. The closest reputable trainers were mostly in the DFW or Austin areas. I decided that I wanted to help fill that gap and offer something that would be a good class to take after becoming a CHL holder. As a first step, I began taking classes myself from reputable instructors to evolve as a student first, as is always the most important duty of an instructor. I sought out NRA certified courses, attended seminars, and took some more advanced courses along the way. This is a process that will continue as long as I am on this journey.

I have long been a fan of the work that Rob Pincus does with the Personal Defense Network and had even published a column that discussed the need for a higher standard of trainer in the CHL instructor community. I decided along the way that I would look into his flagship training program: Combat Focus Shooting. I watched his CFS training DVD’s, read his books, and came to the conclusion that this was something worth looking into further, though I still had some conceptual misgivings. I decided to take a class myself and was impressed with the flow of the curriculum and the effect it has on students of all skill levels. In October of 2013, I attended the CFS Instructor Development course and was absolutely blown away by the amount of knowledge behind every detail of the CFS program and the amount of mentoring and critical thinking that goes on among the cadre of instructors. All of my conceptual misgivings were answered enthusiastically with detailed explanations based on science and empirical data. To say the least, I became a believer and followed through with the rest of the process to become a certified instructor.

Combat Focus Shooting is basically just the next step in my evolution as a student and as an instructor since I began the process back during my time in the Army. I believe that the program is the best or I wouldn’t be teaching it. That being said, I’m not the type to malign other curriculum or different shooting disciplines, especially if I have not sampled them for myself. My philosophy is to put out the best information that I have and leave it to the student to decide it’s value at the end of the day. That does not mean that I will placate what I believe to be incorrect information or bad instruction when confronted with it, but I won’t ever tell a student that they shouldn’t take a class or sample another program. I believe that people who really care about personal defense will make thoughtful decisions about how to spend their time and money. For instance, I am a trainer primarily, but I also compete in USPSA and IDPA matches from time to time. I don’t think that the two shooting disciplines are mutually exclusive, only that they are different. I will never call competition training and I will never claim that the training I offer will make you a better competitor. I think it’s a good thing to develop skills in both contexts and that some of the skills obviously transfer over to both areas, while some do not. I also associate with and have participated in training under other instructors that I disagree with on certain topics. I don’ t think that being well rounded is a bad thing. I believe seeing things from other perspectives helps me to evolve, and challenges me to have a better understanding of why I teach what I teach.

I hope if you are reading this that you are interested in beginning to evolve as a student of personal defense. My goal with Fundamental Defense is to provide you with an opportunity to do that. I look forward to seeing you in an upcoming class and I thank you for making Texas a safer place to live for me and my family.

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