Meet Julie Golob
by Airgun Hobbyist
During the SHOT Show, Gordon and Tim Smith had the opportunity to meet Julie Golob at the Smith & Wesson booth. Their conversation with Julie follows.
AH: Could you tell us a little about yourself?
JG: I grew up in upstate New York. I started shooting as a teenager. I went to my first national championship as a junior in high school. There I was recruited to shoot for the Army Marksmanship Unit and that’s how I got my start as a pro shooter, in the military.
AH:? You were scouted?
JG: I know it seems crazy, but yes. That’s exactly how it was.
AH: So you are married and have a family?
JG: Yes to both!
AH: Are they all shooter too?
JG: My husband loves to shoot. My littlest is five. She’s interested, but her attention span and maturity aren’t quite there completely to start competing in a shooting sport. My oldest is ten years old and she shoots quite a bit with me. We’ve even competed in a couple of Rimfire Championships together.
AH: Are you involved with any veterans causes?
JG: There are a lot of great groups out there. There are even ones specific to the shooting and outdoor industries. Freedom Hunters is a great one that takes wounded warriors and veterans in need out to experience the great outdoors. Another is Active Heroes. Where Freedom Hunters is much more industry based, Active Heroes isn’t necessarily about shooting and hunting but helps veterans that struggle with PTSD. As a veteran it is important to me to share these types of groups to help veterans in need.
AH: Are you a huntress?
JG: I do hunt! We live in Kansas City, so I’m limited to what we have around us. I’ve lived in Montana in the past and though I do like hunting white tail, if I get a chance to go back out west and go mule deer and antelope hunting, I definitely would.
AH: Did your father teach you to shoot?
JG: Yes, he did. I’m a daddy’s girl. We started shooting when I was fourteen. Before that, starting at around 8 years old, I would go to the range with him. As a middle child, I didn’t get along so well with my brother and sister. I was known as the “instigator” and my mom would say “Take one of them with you!” I always ended up being the one my dad would take with him. It began with, “yeah, I’ll go hang out with dad and probably get a Happy Meal out of it” to eventually, “oh, I’ll spot targets for you in Silhouette”. Then, “I’ll help you pick up brass”. The range was the one place where, as a kid, I felt like people paid attention to me. Instead of other areas in my life, where kids ran around doing their own kid things, at the range, people were happy to have me there. They talked to me like an adult. I just fell in love with the whole experience. Eventually, I thought that competing in shooting sports was something I’d like to do. I became a range officer and I started working matches with my dad too. While we were shooting, we were also a father/daughter range officer team. We’d work matches so that we’d get our entry fees for free. Win/win.
AH: You’ve really not done too much with airguns?
JG: Dad had an airgun when he was a kid. It seems like all dads growing up in the ‘50s had one. But I just jumped in with a .22 lr plinking to start. The neat thing about how I began shooting was that I was at the right place, right time for the action shooting sports. I realize that’s not how it is for everyone and I think that airgun shooting is a wonderful opportunity for youth, and people of all ages who may be a bit on the fence about firearms, to experience all the fun things in shooting, Things like being able to hit the center of that target for the first time. You’ll here them say “Oh, I get this and why it’s fun!” They start with air, gain an appreciation for those fundamental shooting skills and then have the chance to go all the way to .50 cal if they want to.
AH: What was your first gun?
JG: My first gun, was a Browning Hi-Power. As a teenager with small hands, it was one of the few firearms that I could get my hands around the grip, reach the magazine release and all the controls for action shooting sports. I only shot that for a short amount of time before I ventured into full on race guns, 1911s, and stuff like that. It was a great stepping stone, but we knew I’d need to upgrade if I wanted to be more competitive.
AH: Do you still have it locked away in your gun safe?
JG: My Dad sold it! Sure, it would be great to have but he did it to upgrade to a more competitive option for me. As much as it would be neat to have, my dad wanted me to be able to go as far as I could in competition. We simply could not afford to just get the newest handgun without selling it. I do know the gentleman who owns it. He loves it and that’s what’s most important.
AH: You hadn’t really fired an airgun until you were in the military?
JG: Yeah, it’s kind of bizarre isn’t it? In the Army I dabbled in a little bit of precision air sports. I got to try a little bit of rifle and a little bit of air pistol every now and then. It was a lot of fun! Even just that little experience helped me to become a better shooter too. When you take away the distraction of recoil, and only focus on those basic fundamentals of trigger control and sight alignment, you can learn so much about shooting. A lot of people take that for granted.
AH: Can you tell us a little bit about your training regimen?
JG: My training has evolved from my Army days of being told what to do at every moment, to now where I get to control my own destiny. At the beginning of the season I consider the event, sports and any goals I have. I decide which matches I want to go to, and what sports I want to compete in. I base my training around those specific events. I piece my season into sections or chunks based on the platform or division. Perhaps I’ll be shooting a 1911 or 9mm from the Performance Center in a race gun division or an M&P for the production division. I group as many matches based on the type of handgun I am shooting to maximize my performance.
AH: You find it easy to switch between the platforms?
JG: I do. The only time that it becomes a challenge, is when I’m shooting a revolver, because the grip angle is different from semi-autos and what I shoot most. Obviously, the reloading moonclips is different too. I have to spend a lot more time with that specifically. But the transition between an M&P or 1911 is easier for me. The grip angle is the same, the magazine release location and other controls are so similar that it’s pretty simple. In speed shooting, I spend a lot of time tracking the front sight so it’s just a matter of learning how the gun reacts in recoil. The M&P will have a lot more flex, while the 1911 is more flat. I relearn the differences and how to press the trigger when I switch things up between platforms.
AH: Are you just shooting pistol at this point?
JG: Primarily pistols in competition at this point, yes. I do shoot shotgun and rifle for fun and hunting too.
AH: If you don’t mind us asking, do you carry? If so, what type?
JG: I do. My day to day conceal carry gun is my M&P Shield in 9mm. It’s stock other than a set of Trijicon night sights for dark and low light conditions. I also have a Smith & Wesson Body Guard .380 I carry at times. It’s a super slim option with a Crimson Trace laser built right in. I carry it that when I wearing clothing that makes it carrying concealed a challenge.
AH: Any thoughts on how to introduce more people to the shooting sports?
JG: I get this question all the time and it’s usually from people our age or older. I think sometimes we miss out on perspective, specifically for youth and millennials. We often try to recruit based on how we started or where we are now in our shooting passions. We need to pause and perhaps change the way we think about the way to get people involved. Newcomers may not want to spend nine hours on a Saturday at the range. They are not at that “super-user” level yet. We have to harness social media to get these demographics interested, get them talking about it and most of all humanize, normalize and celebrate the fun that can be found in shooting. One of the best ways to do that is to listen to what they like to do and relate shooting to what they are doing. There’s not a cookie cutter way to get people to the range, but we have to look at it from their perspective.
AH: How are you able to juggle the family obligations with the competitions?
JG: It’s not without its challenges! My husband is amazing. He’s home with my girls right now. Having his support means so much and I couldn’t chase my dreams and goals without him. Sometimes it hard, sometimes I miss things at home or have to cancel matches or events to be home. It’s not any different from any other parent that needs to travel for work. Fortunately, I love to do it.
AH: Do they get to travel with you?
JG: Sometimes! My oldest daughter shoots a few matches with me in the summer as a girl’s weekend out with hot wings, ice cream and ammo! The great thing about this industry and the shooting sports is that it values family. My sponsors understand it and that means so much to me as a mom.
AH: Could you tells us about your latest book?
JG: I’d love to! Toys, Tools, Guns and Rules, is a children’s book about gun safety. It states the universal message of avoidance for young children of “Stop, Don’t Touch, Get an Adult.” My book goes into more detail showing that there are everyday people that use firearms, not just military and police. I also address the dangerous parts of a firearm to help de-mystify them. The book serves as a tool for parents to have this important conversation with their kids. Kids hear what they hear on the media and parents too. Many incorrectly think a firearm can “just go off.” Firearms are tools that require a user. It means a lot to me as a mom, and gun owner that a mom or dad can go on Amazon thinking “I really want to find a book that will help me talk to my kids about staying safe.” I’m proud to say that I helped to make that possible.