May 17, 1970 - January 25, 2021
By Jake Martens, Director of Marketing/Media & Events; Editor, USPSA Magazine
Husband, father, son, brother, friend, teacher and coach - these are just a few of the things Aron Bright excelled at. For all of us who knew Aron in one of these roles, he would make a lasting impression on our lives, and his passing will make a lasting impact as well.
Aron Bright was born May 17, 1970, in Connersville, Indiana, to Phillip and Susan Bright and grew up in Centerville, Indiana. He attended Manchester College, competed as a National Qualifier wrestler and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Studies Education. He then married Marcia Bright on May 29, 1993, began his teaching and coaching career at Centerville High School, then transferred to Avon High School in 1995. Aron and Marcia have two children, their daughter Alyssa and son Royce. In his many years as an educator, football coach and wrestling coach, he had a positive influence on countless lives. Aron was an excellent storyteller of history and humor. In 2011, he earned a Masters in History from Indiana State University. He then transitioned at Avon HS to teaching the largest dual credit US History course by enrollment in Indiana through Vincennes University Excel program.
Aron also operated his own highly successful business, Bright Firearms Training. Aron competed nationwide in USPSA matches at the Master Class level and he was a match director at the Wabash Valley Practical Shooting Sports and the Parabellum USPSA clubs. He was also a published author in multiple gun training, USPSA magazine and wrestling publications.
Whether it was from the wrestling mat, on the sidelines, in the classroom, on the range or just in passing, you knew that you were engaging with a man who was very passionate about what he was doing at that moment.
Aron was always teaching, always looking to get the best out of you, and always willing to give you his best in return. He was a fierce competitor, a devoted father and husband, a man of faith with strong convictions that he was always ready to debate and defend with his own opinions and beliefs.
He was always looking for that teachable or coachable moment whether it was with a student, a fellow teacher, his players, his wrestlers, his team or with his friends and family. "Coach" was doing what he did best, and he will be missed by all of us.
I met Aron on the range one day after a match that lead to a conversation, that lead to helping at a match, that lead to some very good times over the last 16 years.
I have a few stories that I would like to share about those times.
Aron asked if I would design a stage for a match, so I did, the first one I had tried to design. I sent it to him and showed up at the match to help set up. I got my first lesson in stage design from Aron that day; I apparently drew up something that would have used every wall section, swinger and fault line the range had and would take a day or so to build. This would be my first lesson in stupid human tricks and gratuitous movement being dumb. There hasn't been a stage that I have designed since that hasn't been influenced by him in some way, if nothing more than to not have him say "that was dumb". Later on, Aron would suggest that I take over as the Section Coordinator; we must have been drinking because I thought it was a good idea as well.
The first match we put on was the "Shoot to Thrill" match, and the start of themes for matches and naming stages after song titles. All the stages that year were AC/DC song titles and we had two guys show up dressed like Angus Young the guitarist and Brian Johnson the lead singer. Now hopefully, most of you know Angus wore what was a schoolboy's uniform, and this guy is running around shooting the match dressed like that. Aron comes up and asks me what do I think is going on with these guys dressed like that? I told him that they were dressed up like the guys from the band. Aron replies, "Oh, what band?" "Uh, AC/DC." That seemed to satisfy his curiosity for the moment. He came back and asked "why?" I said the match is AC/DC song titles for stages. He missed that part of the match.
I think the next match idea must have happened over one of the many trips to the "all you can eat" shrimp days at a Red Lobster after a match. Trust me when I say the crew that would walk into the "all you can eat" days was up to test that theory to the fullest; there were no faint of heart lightweights with us on these journeys. The Blazing Saddles match was, to say the least, historic. The stories from this one event could be written in several chapters of a very good book. Just the many conversations we had preparing for the match, discussing stages and the match over way too many beers and way too many late evenings are hard to explain, but let's just say that Aron and I set out to put on an epic event.
I could talk about the nights at the hotel sitting around the pool with everyone enjoying each other's company, or the hours spent arguing over stage setup and spending half an hour on moving a popper one foot and who was right or wrong, or the laughs we had setting up the "Laurel and Hardy" stage, securing a saddle to a barrel, or getting the decorations and signs that his favorite daughter Alyssa had painted up on the stages. The week that lead up to the match is a memory that I will cherish, and it's topped off with Aron standing there in his tuxedo shirt with 'GOV' ironed on the back of it, yelling out to all shooters to "Go Do That Voodoo That You Do So Well!" He had fully embraced costumes at this match.
We didn't just keep it in Indiana, we took this show on the road to many matches all over the country - matches in Texas, Florida, Nebraska, Ohio, Las Vegas, Kentucky, and of course the trip to Illinois that, due to statutes of limitations, I cannot discuss. If you were there you know; if you have heard about it, then you understand.
There was a trip to Pennsylvania that involved a hotel that was being condemned, a turnpike that if you went right instead of left would take you 40 minutes out of the way, picking a restaurant that didn't serve beer, and then crashing a wedding reception that we got out of before the cops showed up to bust up a fight. This was before we even checked in at the range to shoot, supposedly the reason for the trip, but I think sometimes it was more about the journeys. Several of the road trips were also history lessons like the time in Mississippi where we visited several historical sites and felt like we were on a field trip with our history teacher.
Coach and I were able to spend the last few years working together, writing articles and doing reviews. If you have read them, hopefully you were able to see through the words and understand how much fun we were having doing this. There was always our "friendly" banter back and forth, and there are many things that we were not able to write about because we had to make the articles a little more family-friendly. Over the last seven months we were able to get to the range even during his treatments for cancer - and dealing with everything that was going on, we continued to push each other.
This past September we shot the Indiana Section Match together. It was a beautiful day outside; perfect weather, and Coach was feeling pretty good that day and shot one of his best section matches. We had a great squad, his favorite son Royce shot with us, and we talked about plans for more reviews and matches to come. If we had known that would be the last time that we were going to shoot together, I am sure that we would have given each other a much harder time.
He called me after they woke him to let him know what he already knew. I was able to shake my friend's hand, say thank you and good-bye the morning before he passed.
Every one of us that interacted with Coach has similar memories and stories, whether it was on the range, as a player for him, or a student in his classroom. The truth is his classroom was wherever he was, and we were all learning something from him. We have all been impacted in one way or another. We will all remember the times we got to spend with him and the fun that would always happen because of him. But let us not forget the most important things that we learned from Coach.
Always be ready, always give your best, do not waver in your beliefs, stand strong, never let an opportunity pass to help someone else, always be honest with others even if the truth hurts, always be true to yourself, confidence is not arrogance, be willing to learn, and always be the example.
Our loss is insurmountable, a void that cannot be filled, but we can all take what we have learned from Coach and move forward, being a better person from the lessons he left us with.
So to my friend, Coach, "Go Do That Voodoo That You Do So Well."
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