When Team Smith & Wesson Captain Julie Golob was a little girl, she loved to tag along with her father on trips to the range. In doing so, she found a sport—and a group of friends—that helped shape her future.
Now multiple national and world championships later, Julie still loves a trip to the range. She loves sharing the joy of the shooting sports with all who will listen. And she looks forward to taking her young daughters shooting someday when they get old enough to participate in the sport that has taken her around the world.
“What do you do for a living?” As a frequent traveler, it’s a question I am asked often. My answer is rather unconventional, and one people rarely expect. I am a professional shooter.
Some people are put off by my career and affiliation with firearms. But more often than not, I end up in a lengthy, positive conversation about guns, hunting, the shooting sports and how I ended up, of all things, shooting guns as a day job.
It goes back to developing a respect for firearms as a child. Whether it was tagging along with my dad during deer hunting season or hanging out with him on the shooting range in the summer, shooting has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. As a young girl, I was quite an anomaly at the range, considering shooting has long been considered a male hobby. Yet I was welcomed with open arms. Shooters became my extended family.
It was there I learned the value of hard work, ethics, sportsmanship and the importance of safe gun handling. When I began competing, shooting also ignited something else in me—the desire to be the very best. Growing up, I had a front-row seat to watch the top action shooters in the world, in their colorful sponsor jerseys, race through courses of fire while engaging a variety of steel and paper targets in ever-changing scenarios. I wanted to be one of them.
My first trip to the United States Practical Shooting Association national championship at age 16 landed me a spot on the prestigious Army Marksmanship Unit’s Action Shooting Team and marked the beginning of my career. After nearly eight years on Team Army, I built a strong foundation of marksmanship and leadership skills that I rely on today as the captain of Smith & Wesson’s extremely successful shooting team.
In my 20-plus years of competitive shooting, the sport has taken me all over the world. From visiting grassroots shooting clubs throughout the country to traveling to six continents to compete against shooters from all over the world, I have experienced different cultures and met talented and generous people.
There’s nothing quite like the thrill of performing at your best and taking home a prestigious win, but more than that keeps me coming back to the range. I enjoy spending time with shooters. Ranges enforce strict safety rules, but there’s also a sense of responsibility in those involved in shooting competitions. Perhaps it’s the respect for firearms and firearm safety that helps contribute to a sense of camaraderie, but I have found that the people who participate in shooting sports are some of the finest folks I have ever met.
Shooting hasn’t just taken me places; it has helped me grow as a person. Thanks to my loving parents, I was able to discover a hobby that helped me learn to set goals and accomplish them. I developed a sense of responsibility, confidence and fun in a sport that men and women, young and old, and those from all walks of life enjoy. Spreading the word about shooting sports is something I am passionate about, and as a mother of two little girls, I can’t wait to share it with them, too.