A Conversation with Julie G – On Shooting Sports and the NRA

Julie Golob
(All photos credited to Julie Golob)

Julie Golob is one of the most well-known women in the shooting sports. She’s a seven-division USPSA National Ladies champion, an IPSC World Ladies champion, with nine national titles in IDPA, not to mention a former member of the elite US Army Marksmanship Unit and a US Army Female Athlete of the Year. She’s also Captain of Team Smith & Wesson, head trainer for NRA Women’s Love at First Shot, and a spokesperson for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Julie Golob at the 2017 IPSC World Shoot

I’ve long looked up to Julie because of her wide-ranging accomplishments both on and off the range. Fortunately for me, one of the best things about the shooting sports is that the stars aren’t so far removed from us that regular folks can’t get to know them. And one of the things I discovered with Julie is that she’s both as approachable in real life as she seems on social media, and that she’s even more interesting than I suspected. I’d like to share one of our conversations with you so you can get to know her better too.

Last year, Julie announced her candidacy for the National Rifle Association Board of Directors. Since we’re in the height of election season as we sat down for this conversation, starting there made a lot of sense.

 

Julie, you’ve put on a strong grassroots campaign for a position on the NRA Board of Directors for this year’s election. What makes the NRA important to you? Why did you decide to run?

My appreciation for the NRA goes back to when I was a girl. I grew up around practical shooting. I remember when the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 hit and the negative impact it had on our shooting sport. Even though we were still able to compete, we lost mainstream media exposure. USPSA membership peaked in 1996, but we became quiet and as a result membership growth flat-lined for a decade.

Just as our sport has evolved, so too has the NRA. With millions of members, the National Rifle Association is the tip of the spear when it comes to preserving the Second Amendment. My passion for shooting sports and gun rights go hand in hand. When I was nominated by the nominating committee, I considered it an honor. Most of all, I find the idea of helping NRA programs and sports grow very exciting. We all know that something special happens when you take a newcomer to the range, especially one who is on the fence about firearms. Modernization of the shooting sports and promotion of safe, responsible gun ownership is key in this fight.

Absolutely. I’ve always found that teaching people about guns and letting them experience the fun of the shooting sports are big factors in helping them understand some of the reasons we, as a community, consider the Second Amendment to be so important.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned during your run?

I’ve learned that politics are everywhere and that people are passionate about what they feel is most important. I admire passion. Politics? Admittedly, not as much. If elected though, I hope I can make a positive difference, especially for our shooting sports.

I hope so too! We’ll know the results of the NRA Board election in less than two months. Win or lose, what’s been the best part of the experience for you?

I mentioned this earlier, but I consider having my name on the ballot an absolute honor. To me it indicates that I am reaching and making an impact in a significant way. Influence is a powerful thing. I do not take it for granted. Whether or not I am elected, this entire experience has motivated me to continue to be a voice for our way of life.

Julie at the 2016 USPSA Revolver Nationals

And I’m glad we’ll continue to have a voice that is so relatable to so many people, whether through the NRA Board of Directors or otherwise. One challenge I see in trying to build bridges between the gun and non-gun communities is that even among gun owners, we aren’t always really connected to each other. For instance, the NRA is often thought of as an organization as far removed from what we do in practical shooting sports like USPSA and IDPA as to be nearly on the opposite side of the world. Why should competitive practical shooters care about the NRA?

If you live in a city or state that has tough gun control laws, you are affected by the NRA and their work  If you compete with or own any sort of modern sporting rifle, in rifle or pistol caliber, you’re affected. If you own a magazine that has a capacity of more than 10 rounds, you’re affected. If you travel with firearms or carry a gun, you’re affected. If you are a member of USPSA or IDPA, you should care about the NRA’s efforts because you are affected. If any of these things mean enough to you or if you want to continue to enjoy your sport and your rights, membership is inexpensive but is one of the best ways and individual can make an impact.

Sounds like the NRA does a lot for all gun owners, competitive shooters or not. What would you like to see the NRA Board do specifically for shooting sports in the next year?

I want to see the NRA BOD embrace the power of the shooting sports. Auditing current NRA programs and modernizing communication is critical. I’d love to see the NRA lead the charge when it comes to developing true entry level programs for gun owners. We need to develop simple gateway shooting sports to get people out to the range and funnel them into a shooting sport they will love, like USPSA or IDPA! We also need to showcase and promote all aspects of the shooting sports throughout NRA publications and media. We cannot depend on mainstream media or social media networks to give us reach.

Absolutely. The NRA has a huge reach, and it’d be great to see them use it for initiatives like that. Hopefully, you’ll get a chance to lead that charge.

In the meantime, you haven’t put aside any of your other work while making your run. One of the big projects you launched was your latest book. Can you tell us what it’s about?

One thing that’s great about being a professional shooter is that in the off season I can pursue various personal goals and projects. My most recent is a children’s book about gun safety called Toys, Tools, Gun & Rules.  As a mom of two young daughters, it’s a cause that’s near and dear to me. The book is written for children as young as three and as old as ten, depending on their maturity level. Like Project Childsafe and the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program, the book teaches avoidance, but it uses human characters and explores the different types of firearms and gun owners children may encounter. I’m thrilled with how well it came out and how it has been received.

Toys, Tools, Guns & Rules

So far, my friends with kids seem to love the book. I’m going to have to get a copy for my nephews as I get them started in the gun world. Any other big projects on the horizon that you can tell us about?

This season I have made changes in my schedule and partnerships to fulfill obligations should I be elected to the NRA BOD. I also have ideas for a more books, especially a cookbook but with the shooting season in full swing my focus is on competition goals and doing my best to continue to share shooting.

Julie at the 2017 IPSC World Shoot

Sounds like you’ll have plenty to keep you busy no matter how the election goes. Of course, I hope that you’ll be on the NRA BOD, giving shooting sports like USPSA and IDPA some representation, but I look forward to seeing what you’ll be up to either way. Good luck!