GunZoo Interview with Pro Shooter and Author Julie Golob
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GunZoo Interview with Pro Shooter and Author Julie Golob
GunZoo talks with champion shooter and author Julie Golob about guns, gear, training and her new book, SHOOT.
Champion shooter, Army veteran, hunter, author, wife and mother Julie Golob barely needs an introduction these days. We were absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with the multi-faceted shooter. Julie shared with us the story of how her new book SHOOT came together, how she trains and what gear and guns she uses. Let’s get started!
GunZoo (GZ): Congratulations on the recent release of your new book SHOOT. That must have been an extremely rewarding experience! What were your reasons for writing the book, and what do you hope those who read the book take away from it?
Julie Golob: Thanks so much! It has been so exciting to see the final product hit the shelves. I have always enjoyed writing and had even planned to go to school to become an English teacher at one point. Writing a book has always been something I wanted to do.
I was approached with the idea to write a primer on how to get started in the shooting sports at the 2010 SHOT Show. It made a lot of sense especially since that’s one of the questions I get asked the most. I decided, why not? I worked with a literary agent, and it wasn’t long before I signed with Skyhorse Publishing.
One of my goals in writing the book was to make it truly newbie friendly. I wanted someone who didn’t know anything about firearms to learn the very basics about firearm safety and how firearms work. After that I wanted to help them explore shooting sports and learn the things that could take them to their first competition and beyond. I am so fortunate to have been able to use photographs from the incredibly talented Yamil Sued (www.hotgunshots.com). Being able to both describe and show skills with illustrative photos was really important.
I also wanted the book to be a good resource for existing shooters. The book is not titled SHOOT: The Secret to Winning Matches. That’s not to say there isn’t a lot of good information in the book, and there is a chapter for advancing from a newbie to champ. The book addresses both basic and advanced skills. As someone who is so fortunate to have been making a living at shooting, I know that I constantly need to work these skills.
The fact that Skyhorse printed the entire book in color was a shock for me, especially as a first time author. It was beyond my expectations. The end product is something I am very proud of. For the price of a few cups of gourmet coffee, you can learn a lot about the shooting sports in either print or ebook without deciphering a bunch of acronyms, spending hours digging through websites, or spending money on sport specific rulebooks. It has been so rewarding to see it available through the big bookseller sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes.
GZ: In SHOOT you provide thorough and helpful reviews of the most popular shooting sports. The information is in a consistent and easy to compare format, and each concludes with a “Scorecard” that sums up the sport. This must have taken a good deal of research to pull all of this together! While you were writing this part of the book was there anything you learned that was new or surprising to you?
Julie: Thank you so much. I was glad to be finished reading all those rulebooks!
One thing I was very surprised to learn was just how many shooting sports there are in NRA Competitive Shooting. The vast majority of the NRA’s shooting sports are precision based. There are plenty of pistol and rifle bulls-eye sports, but there are also sports for muzzleloaders and bb guns too.
There are so many shooting sports, and they can all blur together for someone who is looking to get started. I wanted to explain each sport in a way that wasn’t as clinical as rulebooks tend to be. The scorecards can be used as a quick reference with the basic information. They also are easy to find at the end of each sport’s section so the reader can check out website links for more.
GZ: I’d bet that you have a very interesting shooting story. What got you into shooting, who were your key influences and what got you to where you are today?
Julie: My journey in the shooting sports began as a youngster. I was the middle child of three. Whenever there was a squabble with my brother and sister, I was often viewed as the instigator. So instead of being home with my siblings, I often went places with my dad. That included the range. I started out spotting for him in NRA Silhouette competitions and then later went with him to help pick up brass and paste targets in IPSC matches.
I really enjoyed watching and helping in IPSC. Every summer my dad and I would work a stage at the Miller Invitational, one of the premiere matches in the country. Back then there were less than ten major events. The Miller was the warm up match for the USPSA National Championships. All the major players in contention for the national title attended this match. Being able to watch the best shooters in the world as a range officer gave me a great understanding of sportsmanship and safety rules.
I was also inspired not only by the likes of Rob Leatham, Jerry Barnhart, Doug Koenig, Jerry Miculek and Todd Jarrett, but also the best women shooters in the world. I had a front row seat to watch Kippi Leatham, Kay Miculek and Sheila Brey shoot. Sheila is the first woman to ever make Master Class in USPSA. She was even a member of our local shooting clubs. I had the chance to watch her shoot nearly every month, and she was my shooting hero.
By the time I turned fourteen, I was ready to give the sport a try. In 1991 I shot my first club match with a Browning High Power. I was so nervous! I was anything but fast, but I was hooked. My shooting style those first couple of years was slow and accurate. I loved coming home to see if I shot the highest point score in our local matches. It wasn’t long before I wanted to go faster though, and I made it to B class by my junior year in high school.
In 1994 I hitched a ride with Sheila and other shooting friends to the USPSA Open Nationals In Barry, IL. It was a most memorable trip from having my suitcase fall out of the back of the trailer to getting a chance to talk to the US Army Marksmanship Unit’s Action Shooting Team Coach. It was there that I was offered a spot on the Army Team.
It wasn't a hard decision for me to join the Army. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study in college, and I desperately wanted to become a national champion. I knew that at the AMU I would have a huge opportunity to improve and get a significant number of rounds down range. If it didn’t work out, I would have a source of income, and I could take advantage of tuition assistance programs to help me get a degree. So on October 31, 1994, I signed my name on the line and enlisted in the Delayed Entry Program as Military Police.
I left for basic training in July of 1995 and shot for nearly eight years for the AMU. Back then I competed in USPSA, Bianchi Cup and Steel Challenge all in the Open Division. Open was overwhelmingly the most popular division. Limited was the only iron sight division at the time. I dabbled lightly in Limited, shooting the nationals, but focused on Open.
I had a very successful shooting career in the Army. 1999 was my peak year as a soldier where I won ladies titles at the Steel Challenge, USPSA Open Nationals, Limited Nationals and all seven of the eight Area Championships I competed in. I took silver at the 1999 World Action Pistol Championships shooting an American women’s best score there, a 1914. I was also nominated for the US Armed Forces Athlete of the Year program and was honored to be named 1999 US Army Female Athlete of the Year.
After that my role at the AMU changed from being a shooter to working more demonstrations. With less shooting on my schedule along with command changes within Action Team, I wanted more control over my own destiny. After being affected by a Stop Loss Program, I was finally allowed out of the Army in 2003.
I wasn’t a Pro anymore, but I still enjoyed shooting local events. It was there I had the chance to shoot with Dave Sevigny. He helped me find the opportunity to work for Glock and the GSSF program. I was given a trial period to see if I could handle shooting an iron sighted Production gun, and after proving I could, I was on the team.
In 2006 I went to the S&W Indoor Nationals and had the opportunity to shoot the new M&P. I was very impressed, and come to found out I left an impression as well. It wasn’t long before I got an offer to join the Smith & Wesson team as their team captain and to work for the company as their Consumer Program Manager. I jumped at it. I was excited to shoot the M&P pistol and Smith & Wesson’s diverse line of firearms. Smith & Wesson is also a leader in supporting shooting sports and women in shooting, something that is very important to me.
In 2008 I got married and gave birth to an amazing little girl. Smith & Wesson gave me the flexibility to transfer from being an employee to becoming a consultant for the company. I consider myself so lucky to have my wonderful family and also my dream job.
GZ: You recently traveled to Greece to shoot in the IPSC World Championship. How did you enjoy the experience, and what were some of your personal highlights?
Julie: The IPSC World Shoot in Greece was an incredible experience. I had been to Greece once before for the IPSC European Championships on Crete in 1998 and was excited to go back. If you ever have the chance to compete in an IPSC World Shoot, I highly recommend it. No other shooting event has the pomp and circumstance. From Opening ceremonies to the awards banquet, it’s a wonderful way to meet and spend time with shooters from all around the world.
Americans can be at a real disadvantage going into IPSC matches. The style of shooting is quite different. Where we tend to shoot more big stages in the US, IPSC has a specific formula for small, medium and large courses of fire. The divisions are slightly different as well with some of the most drastic of those differences in the Production Division. The most popular striker fired guns in USPSA Production are at a disadvantage in IPSC with the trigger weight restrictions and the considerable number of stages where the first shot fired is in single action. It’s one reason why DA/SA guns are overwhelmingly popular in IPSC.
Top shooters in the US also compete in a wide variety of sports from IDPA, Steel Challenge, 3-Gun, Bianchi etc. IPSC shooters, well, they shoot IPSC. They are focused on their primary sport so that gives them an edge as well. Things like three-minute walkthroughs in IPSC with no chance to walk the stages before the match begins is something we aren’t used to. Americans have to be at their very best to stand on the podium in IPSC matches.
Greece was a great host all things considered. Probably the biggest challenge for me in the match was dealing with the stress that we could have very easily been stranded in the country due to the economic crisis. The airports on both Rhodes and in Athens went on strike when we were there. It’s tough for me to be away from home especially with a toddler. I was rather tense and seriously unhappy about the prospect of not being able to get home indefinitely.
Despite that though I made the most of the trip taking advantage of a day off and the half-day schedule to see as much as I could of the island. My brother was able to come to Greece with me, and we stayed at a beautiful villa with great friends, Rob and Kippi Leatham.
I was also part of an incredible team. The US Ladies Production Team - Kippi, Maggie Reese & Sara Dunivin – are simply top notch. They aren’t just great shooters, they are wonderful people! Being able to work together as a team, share the experience and bring home medals really made the match special.
GZ: Let’s move on to the current shooting season. We’ve noticed you’ve been getting more involved in 3 Gun matches. Will this trend continue in 2012? Also, what are your thoughts on the upcoming USPSA season? Any major matches you’re eyeing?
Julie: I have! Three gun is a whole new frontier for me, and it’s exciting. I love the challenge of being able to test my skills with not just the pistol but the rifle and shotgun as well. I am definitely adding more 3-Gun to my schedule this year.
The greatest challenge for me is balancing it all. There are so many top rate matches now. You simply cannot do them all. Case in point, in order to compete in 3-Gun last year, I took Steel Challenge off my schedule. It’s tough to pick and choose but in the end the decision comes down to where I can shoot and have the best opportunity to promote my sponsors.
The first half of my season is going to be pistol heavy with the USPSA Area 1 Championships serving as a warm-up for the Single Stack Nationals. After Single Stack it’s the NRA Bianchi Cup. The rest of the year I have my eye on 3-Gun and IDPA. I am really impressed with how both of these sports are growing. No matter what I am shooting though, I know I am going to have a great time.
GZ: What advice would you give a new shooter looking to get into competition?
Julie: I say grab some eye and ear protection and head to the range! Most shooting sports have club finders on their website, or you can even use NSSF’s handy app to find a range near you. You can learn so much about a shooting sport as a spectator. Shooters are also great people, and chances are you can have a lot of your questions answered right at an event.
If you have caught the bug, I also suggest starting with a stock or production division. Shooting sports can often require some significant investment. Learn as much as you can. Use gear that you already have before purchasing expensive or specialized equipment.
GZ: That is very good advice. Solid equipment is critical and it’s easy to get lost in all the great options on the market today. What's important to you when you're choosing your competition gear? What do you favor?
Julie: The most important thing I consider for guns and gear is that they function 100%. They have to work. After that gear needs to be durable. These two things are critical. Shooting in the USPSA Open division for so many years and struggling with getting a gun to run consistently was not fun. Malfunctions or breakages are frustrating and can cost you a win. I won’t sacrifice looks for function. I will go with tried and true over the latest great thing, every time.
I am also very fortunate to have such amazing support from sponsors. Thanks to their help I get to shoot the best gear out there.
Rudy Project Ability
Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra trail runners.
USPSA/IPSC/3-Gun/NRA Action- Safariland ELS system with 5188 for stock divisions and model 013 for open. I use mag pouches 771 and 773, 774 rifle pouches and shot shell caddies, model 082.
IDPA – Wilderness belt, Safariland 5188, 074 pouches and Surefire flashlight
ICORE & USPSA Revolver- Safariland ELS with Mountain Clip Holders and a modified 5189 holster.
USPSA Production & Limited-10, IDPA SSP & ESP, 3-Gun Tactical Optics - S&W M&P Pro Series 9mm with Warren Tactical Sights and trigger job by Burwell Gunsmithing, ASYM Ammunition 147gr 9mm with Vihta Vuori & Starline Brass
USPSA Single Stack– S&W M&P Pro Series 9mm 1911 with custom work by Pete Single, Stan Chen Mag well, Warren Tactical Sights, Stormlake Barrel, ASYM Ammunition 147gr 9mm with Vihta Vuori & Starline Brass
IPSC Production– S&W M&P 9L with Warren Tactical Sights, ASYM Ammunition 147gr 9mm with Vihta Vuori & Starline Brass
USPSA Revolver– S&W Model 625 with custom work by Apex Tactical’s Randy Lee, Hogue custom grips, hand loaded ammunition.
ICORE Open Revolver– S&W Model 627 V-Comp with custom work by Apex Tactical’s Randy Lee, Hogue custom grips, Aimpoint Micro T1, Federal American Eagle 158gr lead ammunition.
ICORE Limited Revolver - S&W Model 627 with custom work by Apex Tactical’s Randy Lee, Hogue custom grips, Federal American Eagle 158gr lead ammunition
NRA Bianchi Cup Action Pistol– S&W Pro Series 9mm 1911 with custom work by Alan Tanaka, Stormlake barrel, Aimpoint Micro T1, Caspian Shroud, Protocall Design mover base, ASYM Ammunition 115gr 9mm with Vihta Vuori & Starline Brass.
RIFLES & SHOTGUNS
Smith & Wesson M&P15 lower with Noveske upper, ASYM Ammunition 75gr .556
Ammo, Leupold MRT 1.5-5x and Surefire compensator.
Benelli Performance Shop M2 Shotgun, Federal Premium Ammunition Shot Shells, Buck Shot & Slugs
For clay busting shooting sports I love my 12 gauge Benelli Super Sport. Hunting turkey, ducks or geese - I rely on my Benelli Super Vinci also in 12 gauge. Shotgun ammo is Federal. It’s so effective and runs great in my guns. If I am going after game with a rifle, I have an anniversary gift from my husband, a Kimber Montana in .308 with ASYM Ammo that shoots like a dream. I also have a Benelli R-1 in 30-06. I am looking forward to hunting with this year.
GZ: Once you've got your equipment, how do you suggest new shooters train? Most ranges don't let shooters "run and gun", are there any drills for static ranges that you would recommend?
Julie: Dry fire is really going to take your skills to the next level. I remember spending days and days of just dry firing when I was a private at the AMU. In addition to the basics, gun handling skills are very important for new shooters. Draws, reloads, maintaining safe muzzle direction while moving, practicing keeping your finger off the trigger unless you are getting ready to shoot on target - these are all things you can work on in dry fire to help you prepare for competitions.
Acquiring the sights quickly can be a challenge for new shooters. And though they limit what you can do, static ranges are great for drills where you present the gun on target. Even those ranges that don’t allow you to draw, you can still often start with the gun at low ready and present it to the target. In addition to working the fundamentals of grip, stance, sight alignment and trigger control you can also work on sight tracking by watching your sights track by shooting multiple shots quickly on one target.
One of the things you can do off the range to improve is watch shooting videos. Even though I have a lot of rounds down range, I am always looking for ways to learn more. When I first explored 3-Gun I picked up the Team Noveske’s 3-Gun Outlaw Instructional DVD and Jerry Miculek’s Practical Rifle along with searching you-tube for videos from 3-Gun matches to learn what to expect. There’s a lot of great information on the Internet!
GZ: A lot of the growth in shooting has been attributed to the increase in the number of women shooters. What advice would you give women thinking about getting into the sport or who want to take their shooting to the next level?
Julie: Isn’t it great? I love to see more and more women in the shooting sports! Every woman is different, and so I think there is no standard approach to get women into or advancing their shooting. It all comes down to preference. There’s plenty of room for all in shooting sports from the girly girl to sophisticated woman to the busy mom, student, insert any career field… Any combination of these and more!
We all learn differently. Some women want to be nurtured as they take the plunge, and there are plenty of women-taught-by-women courses out there like Kay Miculek’s Ladies Camps, Kippi Leatham & Debbie Keehart’s Her Handgun classes and the NRA’s Women on Target program. Others don’t want to be treated any differently than men and may decide to head to Gunsite or take a class from a proven champion like Rob Leatham.
If you’re looking to get started, it’s very helpful to do some research. If you feel that being taught by a woman is important, then look for female instructors. If you want to take a class exclusively with other women, look for women’s only courses. If that doesn’t matter, take a class from someone you look up to or respect. With an open mind, you can go far. No matter how you go about doing it though, I suggest going for it. I am convinced there is a shooting sport out there everyone can enjoy. Just be safe, and remember to have fun!
Going Prone on the Plates at the 2010 World Action Pistol Championships, Australia - Photo Credit Bill Goloski
GZ: Julie, I can’t thank you enough for taking time to talk with GunZoo. We’re big fans and are looking forward to your continued success!
Julie: No, thank you! I really appreciate the opportunity to share my story, insight and of course SHOOT. The shooting sports are filled with awesome people who are so enthusiastic about sharing their sport. I think that’s one of the things I enjoy most about being a part of it all.
PHOTO CREDITS - Paul Hyland and Bill Goloski
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