Ten Questions: Julie Golob

Julie Golob shooting the Steel Challenge at the World Speed Shooting Championships. photo by Yamil Sued

She’s won 127 national, international, and world shooting titles, and she’s done it with pistols, revolvers, shotguns, and rifles.

She’s a wife and a mother of two daughters who set four world shooting records.

She's a veteran and a U.S. Army Female Athlete of the Year who says that the happiest moment in her life was giving birth for the first time.

She’s the author of two books and numerous articles, has shot competitively on six continents, and loves to spend time in her kitchen, trying new recipes and publishing them.

This is Julie Goloski Golob, and she's not the typical shooter you meet at the pistol range on a Saturday afternoon…though you might see her there.

And if you do—in case you haven’t figured it out by now—you don’t want to bet against her. Not on shooting, or on anything else, for that matter.

Growing up in New York State, Golob would tag along with her father on hunting and shooting trips and to shooting competitions, and eventually picked up a gun to give it a try. Her natural shooting ability, along with her love for competition, combined to quickly propel her into the world of competition shooting, and eventually into its highest rankings.

Rather than rest on those plentiful laurels, Golob has become an ambassador for the shooting sports, appearing on television shows such as “Top Shot” and writing and speaking out for the right of gun ownership as an “NRA Mom.”

Range 365 talked with Golob recently to learn more about this powerful force in shooting.

Range 365: When was the first time that you shot a gun?

Julie Golob: I actually didn't shoot until I was a teenager. I had been around hunting and shooting all my life, and had been going to the range with my Dad for as long as I can remember, but I never shot until I decided I wanted to. I was never forced into it; it was never a hobby that Dad made me do. It was something I decided I wanted to do.

I was inspired, honestly. I went to all these competitions with my Dad. He shot in IPSC (International Practical Shooting Confederation) and USPSA (United States Practical Shooting Association) matches all over our area, and I got to see some of the best shooters in the world, and they were like my athlete superstars. I got to see Rob Leatham, Doug Koenig, and Jerry Miculek. They came to our home club once a year to shoot in this huge competition, and I knew I wanted to be like them. There were some other women involved—Kay Miculek, Kippi Leatham—and they all inspired me, showing that women could shoot right alongside men. They all had these great sponsored uniforms (and you think our shirts are colorful now? Oh my goodness, the uniforms were colorful in the 80s and 90s!), and they were the people that I looked up to. They were the athletes that I wanted to be like.

Golob in action at the World Action Pistol Championship.

R365: Tell us about the best shot that you ever made.

JG: There's one moment in shooting I look back on, even after all these years. It was the World Action Pistol Championship in New Zealand in 1999, and I was shooting the moving target event. The target moves across a 60-foot opening and you only have six seconds to engage it. It was such a moment of being in the zone. Not only was I shooting great, feeling good—oh, I was nervous and everything else!—but I can remember every shot landing in the target exactly the way I wanted it to, every single time. And that has happened so rarely.

People think, oh, that must happen all the time. It happens to Olympic style shooters, who shoot the same course over and over again, but for someone who shoots so many different sports, and so many different styles of targets, where every course of fire is different, that moment…I still remember it. I try to emulate that. Every single time I've walked up to a Bianchi course and the moving target, or if I'm in a pressure situation, I'm like, all right, you've done this before. You can totally do it again.

Even if you only compete at a local level, it’s something that you really look forward to. That kind of excitement is hard to get during the daily grind.

R365: What was the happiest moment of your life?

JG: Becoming a mom for the first time. It's amazing. Becoming a parent…you can't explain it to someone who isn't a parent. The second it happens, you're like, oh. Wow. Everything changes in the world for you. It's the only time in my life I've actually been changed instantly.

All of the things I used to obsess about…all of a sudden it didn't matter anymore. You have this little human you're taking care of. It's truly an amazing thing. I used to obsess over matches. It used to be my world. Competition was everything. And then I became a mom, and it was like, OK, competition is great, it makes me a better person, I love it, I still love all the things about shooting…but there's a bigger picture now. The world is painted a different color.

R365: Did you ever have to deal with men who feel like they have something to prove?

JG: Sure. It doesn't usually happen at a range, where I walk up with 20 different logos on my shirt. But if I walk into a gun shop, or if I'm in a casual setting with my husband, and there's a bunch of guys and they don't know what I do, it's always an eye-opening experience when they discover that I understand what I'm talking about. Sometimes if it happens and I feel that I'm dealing with someone who's arrogant, I try to make him laugh and make it lighthearted. Because I feel like whenever I get on the defensive about what I think people should think I know about any subject, that puts the other person on the defensive. And then nothing seems to ever get done.

R365: So how do you handle it?

Humor and laughter seem to get people talking and be open-minded. I try to crack a joke. Sometimes, if that doesn't work, I just end up walking away. But it definitely happens, and it's frustrating, because there's this great sense of women having come so far, all this equality, that feminism is alive and well, and then you feel, ugh. This guy just doesn't have any respect for me and for what I can do. Though, a lot of times, women are just as guilty, because they automatically go on the defensive and think that they know everything. We can all learn something from each other.

R365: How do you deal with recoil? Do you ever even feel it any more?

JG: I view it as a science. I know that every gun is different, so if I know, for example, that I'm going to be shooting a .22 caliber, I can change my grip and stance, I don't have to be as aggressive, I can handle things a little bit differently, but if I know that I'm going to be shooting a very powerful handgun, like a .44 or a .460, then I know I have to basically apply pressure and change things physically so that I can master it.

R365: What do you think has been the biggest change in shooting?

Golob between rounds at a 3-gun course.

JG: The acceptance of it. When I started shooting with my dad in upstate New York, it was something we didn't talk about outside of family. It wasn't really something that you shared. Yes, there were outlets and small publications, but it was a quiet kind of sport.

Now, we see it all over. It’s all over the Internet and on mainstream television. The acceptance is amazing compared to what it was in the 90s.

R365: Why do you think that is?

JG: It's been a cultural change. People are more willing to try something adventuresome, and they're looking for ways to do that. Maybe they're not going to go on a skateboard and try a crazy jump in a park somewhere. But if you're 25 to 50 year old, shooting is something that you can get out and enjoy and do, and get that sense of personal accomplishment. Even if you only compete at a local level, it's something that you really look forward to. That kind of excitement is hard to get during the daily grind.

R365: Finish this sentence: The perfect gun for me is…

JG: Oh, that's so hard, because guns are tools to me. I don't view them in the way that a lot of people view them, because I shoot so often, I have so many different sports. I have a great appreciation for everything from old muskets to AR-15s. That's tough.

I guess the perfect gun for me is one that I can shoot well and that I feel comfortable with in everything I do. I can go out and have fun with it on the range, I can compete with it, and I can defend myself with it. That’s the perfect gun.

R365: Why do anti gunners have it wrong? What don't they get?

JG: I think it's an entire mindset. The difference is the passionate feeling people have, that gun owners have, about personal freedom. People who are anti-gun feel very comfortable putting this blanket over everyone that makes them feel warm and cozy. And that same blanket that makes them feel comfortable is something that's going to suffocate others. But they don't care about that. It's such a self-centered view, because they feel like they have all of the solutions to the world's problems by getting rid of firearms. It's such a utopian concept that never really works.

And I think that gun owners and people who appreciate freedom want to be able to exist in a personal way. That’s a fundamental difference. I think of all of the anti-gun moms that I know out there, and they all want to live the same way every day and do the same things. They’re like chickens. They don’t want to be different.