El Pasoan earns her title as the only female instructor in the Texas Air National Guard
EL PASO, Texas (KFOX14) —
An El Paso woman is training people from all over the world and turning them into certified sharp shooters.
Tech Sgt. Elizabeth Gonzalez is the guiding hand before any eye gets behind the sight.
Many people KFOX14’s Marcel Clarke spoke to shared she owns the domain out in the sand dunes near the Texas-New Mexico state line, training sharp shooters.
Twice a year, Gonzalez mentally prepares to train and re-build future sharp shooters.
“Embrace the suck,” Gonzalez laughed. “My motto that is what keeps me going. At the end of the day, this job is very rewarding, so I just got to keep reminding myself that it's all going to be worth it at the end."
Gonzalez has been an instructor since 2010. She said she has only seen about four women complete the course and she is the first female instructor in the U.S. Air Force.
Gonzalez said it is a lot of responsibility.
"I have to stay on top of everything. physically mentally to be able to provide good training for my male students."
She said being a female instructor can have its hurdles.
"They are pre-selected to come here so they automatically see a female and they are like what is going to teach me? but like I said I train constantly,” said Gonzalez. “I try to stay physically and mentally fit, and it's just a matter of time to gain respect."
This past April, Gonzalez was in charge of 30 students for the 19-day training. There are several things students must check off their list before they start the 19 days of training:
-They must be recommended by an instructor.
- Students need to pass all physical exams.
- They also have to complete an advanced designated marksman course.
- Pass several tasks with less than a 5 percent error margin.
The last people standing have to survive 48 hours on the course by themselves.
That includes hiding in the desert, without being spotted by their instructors.
If they can be seen, they fail the course.
The 19 days seem short, but have a 70 percent drop-out rate. This past spring session, only 11 passed the course.
"I do not know if it's just the mentality or just the fear of failing," said Gonzalez.
U.S. military members from all over the world come to Fort Bliss to specialize in sharp shooting.
The training is so effective, they can be a plug and play asset anywhere.
“At the end of the day, they know I have their backs and I know they have mine. It's a matter of time to gain that respect,” said Gonzalez. “Every student that comes through here, at the end of the day, we are all brothers and sisters.”
While Gonzalez leads the squad at Fort Bliss, the former police officer also leads a squad of two children back at home.
She'll be back to the training course for the next session in October.