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Our instructors are all currently certified instructors with the National Rifle Association (NRA), or the United States Concealed Carry Association (USCCA), or both.

We believe that we should practice what we preach, and train continually. Many of our instructors have additional instructor certifications with organizations all over the nation, and continue to expand their knowledge base to ensure our students receive the most up to date and relevant training they can, as technology and techniques can and do change.

While high-intensity tactical training has its place and can be fun and effective, we try to cater to the average civilian that just wants to learn how to safely use a firearm to protect themselves and/their loved ones, or to just have fun shooting!

We want you to train, even if you don't train with us. If High speed-low drag hardcore training is what you're after, we are happy to make recommendations for you! 

Sarah VanAcker, Academy Director

Sarah, has been with Independence since it opened in 2017. A native to Idaho, she has been an avid hunter for 20 years and has been known to occasionally compete in long-range rifle shooting competitions. Years ago, she started defensive handgun training after realizing she needed to be able to defend herself and her family in a worst-case situation. The training developed into a passion and she has been teaching handgun classes since 2018. 

Sarah's instructor certifications include:

NRA: CCW, Home Firearm Safety, Pistol, Rifle, Refuse to be a Victim, Range Safety Officer

USCCA: CCHDF instructor & counselor

Rangemaster Firearms Training: Master Level 

Sarah continues to train as often as possible, and takes pride in staying on top of todays teaching methodology and technology, specializing in teaching women and women's only classes. 

"We should all be responsible for our own safety. Nobody is coming to save us." 

Brenden Azevedo

Brenden has been shooting recreationally since 2006 and formally teaching firearms since 2014. From 2012 through 2018 he was with the Idaho Department Correction as a Correctional Officer and then a Felony Probation & Parole Officer. In 2014 he went through Idaho POST Instructor Development and Firearm Instructor Schools.


After leaving IDOC, Brenden became an Instructor for Triple Canopy/Constellis working under a DHS and FPS contract. He oversaw basic contractor contractor training which included use of force, first aid, firearms, and was also certified at FLETC as a national weapon detection training program instructor.


Brenden currently works for Canyon County Misdemeanor Probation and has NRA and USCCA instructor credentials.

LeRoy Graham

LeRoy has an extensive history with firearms, including five years in the Army and 26 years with the Boise Police Department, where he retired as a detective in 2007. In the BPD, he was a founding member of the Special Operations Unit, Repeat Offender Team (Detective Division), and Gang Intelligence Unit.

During his career with the BPD, he served on several committees both legislative and within the department where laws and management systems were enacted and updated. 

LeRoy obtained a Master Officer certification and a Supervision certification through Idaho POST, attended several SWAT schools, graduated the DEA academy as Detective and supervisor, and attended the Secret Services Great Threat Management Seminar (protection of high value targets additional school and workplace violence case study).

In addition, he was an instructor for the Idaho POST Academy and for the BPD. He taught shoot/don't shoot courses, surveillance, gang investigation, outlaw biker investigation, field training investigation, and meth lab investigation. He holds NRA certification for pistol, personal protection inside/outside the home, and range safety officer. 

LeRoy has been teaching civilians to shoot for many years and has had his own firearms training business for seven years. 

Jon Rhodes

With over 30 years in law enforcement for LA County, Jon brings a comprehensive knowledge and expertise to the team. His responsibilities included special weapons tactics, undercover operations, hostage rescue, anti-terrorism, elite tactical teams, detective, and more!


Jon has been an expert firearms instructor for over 20 years, training teams for the U.S. Navy SEAL Team, U.S. Marine Corp, U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Coast Guard, FBI and numerous law enforcement agencies around the world.


Jon has had the honor of being selected for many Dignitary Protection teams protecting various U.S. presidents, U.S. Vice Presidents, popes, kings, queens, princes, dukes, numerous Academy Awards, and other high risk events. As part of the 1984 Olympics anti-terrorist response team, Jon and his team trained extensively everyday 40+ hours a week for 6 months.

Jon retired from LA County as an Undercover Narcotics Detective Sergeant. He continues to be a highly sought out consultant, specializing in weapon systems and tactical training for law enforcement, Military and government agencies (local and abroad). He recently helped an organization with the development of a bio-metric handheld 3D facial recognition and identification system.



•           31 years law enforcement

•           LASD Sniper Instructor (and various others)

•           FBI Certified Firearms Instructor, Pistol, Carbine, Sniper and Sub-Machine

•           P.O.S.T. Certified Special Weapons Team Tactics and Officer Survival Instructor (and various others)

•           Maritime Interdiction of Terrorism (US State Department and the Department of Defense) Instructor

•           Informant development

•           Covert-Undercover procedures training and procedure development

•           Advanced officer and firearms trainer

•           and more…


Training Highlights

•           Special Weapons and Tactics

•           Sniper Deployment and Initiated Assaults

•           Basic and Advanced Entry Techniques

•           Bus and Vehicle Assaults

•           Dynamics of Hostage Rescue

•           Use of Diversionary devices

•           High Risk Warrant Service and Dignitary Protection

•           Narcotics Intervention and Transportation

•          Active Shooter response instructor

•          Quick Reaction Instructor

•          Maritime Intervention of Terrorism

•          Shipboard assaults and boarding

Leann Sweeney

Leann is the newest addition to IIS and is awesome!

Bill Taylor

Bill is an Idaho native with a true passion for teaching people all about firearms and firearm safety. He has enjoyed the shooting sports for nearly 20 years.


Bill has been with Independence for several years, and holds an NRA Pistol instructor certification as well as a USCCA CCHDF instructor certification. He is also a Rangemaster Training certified instructor. Bill also trained under John Chapman formally of LMS Defense, (now Forge Tactical). 

A true proponent of having a well-rounded self-defense mindset, Bill is also a practitioner of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Krav Maga.

Adam Walsh

Adam Walsh, a fourth generation Idaho native, has been an avid shooter for decades. He is honored to hold an instructor certification through Rangemaster Firearms Training, an NRA instructor certification (Pistol, CCW, RSO), and is also a USCCA certified instructor. To help maintain his skills as an instructor, Adam is also an active competitive shooter in USPSA, IDPA, Steel Challenge, NRA High-Power Match, and Silhouette shooting.

Adam believes life is precious, and specializes in defensive firearms skills. Adam is a shooting coach who has a great deal of knowledge and expertise to offer the community. Adam brings passion to equip people with skills and knowledge to defend life and liberty.


Adam proudly served his country in the United States Navy. Aside from military training, Adam is a Tactical Response alumni and has trained under Tom Givens at Rangemaster, John Correia (founder and owner of Active Self Protection), Tim Herron, and many other nationally known firearms instructors.

Adam is a learner and is always developing as a firearms instructor. In his opinion, the most important part of being a firearms owner is safety, continued firearms training, and mindset development through education. Adam believes there is no substitute for in person training under the eye of a trained professional firearms instructor. This is a life commitment of Adams to continue his journey as a firearms instructor and eventually a firearms counselor.

“Competence builds confidence and that’s what I want to pass on to my students!”

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