Last week at the SHOT Show in Las Vegas, I had the honor of sitting down with world shooting champion, hunter, Army veteran, mother, author and Smith & Wesson team captain Julie Golob. Julie has won over 120 championship titles and wrote her first book, SHOOT: Your Guide to Shooting and Competition, in 2012. If you’re new to shooting or want to learn more about the sport, I highly recommend picking up her book. She also offers tips and tricks on everything from cooking wild game to shooting on her website.
KP: How many classes or what kinds of classes should young women take before considering a gun purchase?
JG: Everyone needs to learn firearms safety and whether you learn that through an actual firearms safety class or you learn to understand them online, it’s absolutely critical even before you start to think about purchasing a gun, or training or anything else. After that, I think it has to do with your comfort level, it’s a very personal thing. If you’re anxious about owning a firearm or shooting for the first time then you’re going to need a little bit more guidance into the process than somebody who maybe grew up around guns who is, you know, starting to get interested. So it all depends, it’s a very personal question.
KP: After women have gone through that process, maybe taken some classes, gotten their education, what kind of firearms, obviously Smith & Wesson, but how should women choose a gun because I know a lot of the time they’re overwhelmed. We’re at SHOT Show, there are so many options, how do you decide what you pick and what to choose?
JG: Yeah, you have to decide whether you want a semi-automatic or a revolver, you have to decide what caliber you want. You know, there’s a lot of things that can become confusing but I think that it is important to go with what feels comfortable. If you can’t reach the controls in the firearm, it’s not the gun for you. If you can’t pull the trigger because the trigger is too heavy, it’s not the gun for you. Some women like full size big guns and other women want something that’s absolutely concealable because they want to wear it on their body everyday. So again, it’s so personal. It’s like shoes.
KP: A lot of the time the argument is, people don’t need guns. Why should women own and learn to operate firearms?
JG: I hate that concept of ‘why,’ ‘why should you have to have this,’ it’s so bizarre. You can go and buy a sedan, or a mini-van, or a truck, or a sports car. You know, we have all of these options and people want to regulate something that is so simple and that is a tool for either self-defense, personal protection, shooting sports, hunting, and because they’re not part of it they think, ‘Oh why do you need that?’ And it’s ridiculous. Why do I need high-heels? Why do I need stilettos? Why do I need this or that? They don’t get to determine that.
KP: How do young women who maybe haven’t gotten into firearms yet push back against that argument that they don’t need a gun to protect themselves because that’s really the cultural perception, especially in the media telling young women that’s not what they need to protect themselves, 'there are other ways to do it.' What would you say to people who make that argument?
JG: I find it hypocritical because we tell women that you know, you have control of your bodies, you have the right to say and do everything, you are equal but in this [gun ownership], you’re not, you don’t need that. It’s so condescending and such an insulting concept. Instead we should be saying, ‘Do what you want. Be responsible, be safe but if you want to do this or try this or be strong an independent, you can do that.’
KP: A lot of the time talking to young women I find they feel intimidated by the [gun] industry because they feel like it’s male run, that it’s a guy’s thing. Obviously it’s not just a guy’s thing. You’ve been very successful in the industry, there are a lot of other women like you, well, not a lot but we’re growing, the fastest growing demographic of gun owners are women, so how would you talk to young women and let them know, ‘Hey, this is something you can actually do. Come be a part of the club.’
JG: I think the key is, and we’re seeing it all over the nation, we’re seeing women’s leagues, we’re seeing special events for women at ranges, at dealerships, at gun clubs in general and I think that we as an industry have to start communicating better to this demographic and using the tools that are out there, social media, blogs, the Internet is our best friend right now. There is a lot of testosterone I won’t lie, but there’s a lot of freedom and excitement and being able to have fun and be responsible and safe and all those things. It doesn’t have to be all fear based and macho, because it’s not.