Julie G.: Where Julie Golob asks IDPA’s Joyce Wilson 7 questions about her life.
The fastest growing and one of the youngest action shooting sports, the International Defensive Pistol Association’s (IDPA’s) membership has exploded by 58 percent during the past 4 years. What makes IDPA different? Aside from its appeal to new shooters and concealed carry permit holders, this male-dominated sport is led by a woman, Joyce Wilson.
I wanted to learn a bit more about IDPA’s fearless leader — beyond the usual shooting and range talk. From music to raising cows, dreams of flying to Alaska and a little embroidery on the side, Joyce’s life is definitely an adventure!
JG: Thanks so much for taking the time out of your extremely busy schedule to chat with me! Let’s start off talking about IDPA. Your name has been associated with the sport for so long, that I suspect many people assume that guns and shooting sports have always been a part of your life. How did you get started in shooting and what drew you to the shooting sports?
JW: I grew up in Morgantown, WV, and all my early hobbies revolved primarily around music and marching bands. I played clarinet and alto sax from grade school through college and practicing took up most of my free time. I spent one summer in college traveling the country with a Drum and Bugle Corp out of Pittsburgh, Penn., the Royal Crusaders.
It might be a bit surprising, but I didn’t grow up around guns or hunting. My parents weren’t against firearms, they just didn’t shoot or hunt. I fired my first handgun at the age of 34.
In 1994, I was working at Weirton Steel Corporation as the Industrial Audiologist and was going through a bad divorce. My ex-husband was an alcoholic and had become abusive. I immediately left, but was concerned for my own safety. One of my patients, also a good friend, was a concealed carry instructor. He made sure I was in his next class and that’s where it started.
In that class I shot a 2-and-½ inch Ruger SP101 with .357 loads because that’s what I was going to buy to carry. The club where the class was held happened to have monthly USPSA matches. This was in 1994 and IDPA hadn’t started yet, but it only took the one USPSA match for me to be hooked on competition. You could have timed me with a sundial, but it was the most fun I think I ever had.
Shooting became a very important part of my life. It empowered me to know that I could take care of myself and I didn’t have to be afraid. When IDPA started, I immediately joined as it appealed to my desire to learn to even better protect myself.
My husband, Bill Wilson, and I met in Springfield, Mass., at the 2000 Smith & Wesson Winter Nationals. It was my first major match to take High Lady. We hit it off immediately and 6 months later I moved to Arkansas and started working with IDPA.
JG: What a great story! I never knew you had a background in music and it’s something we share as well. I also greatly admire how serious you are about staying true to your desire to become proficient with your carry gun. I think that is so important. So your first national title was in 2000, is there a moment in competition you are most proud of?
JW: The 2000 IDPA National Championship. I had moved to Arkansas in May of 2000 and Bill basically said, “OK, you need to run the Nationals.”
To say the least, I was a little overwhelmed. I had helped run our club in West Virginia and even a state match, but a National Championship was a different game. Not only had I moved from my home state, but I had also changed careers as well. There were a whole lot of things going on behind the scenes of that match, but I still managed to shoot one of my best matches ever and took High Lady. It was incredibly gratifying to walk up and receive that trophy from Bill.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of “7 Questions with IDPA’s Joyce Wilson.”
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