From Terrible at Shooting 😔 To Making a Living Shooting 🤯 How it all changed!Dec 22, 2022
From Unqualified to Unstoppable
I get to shoot guns for a living, how cool is that!? But not too long ago, I was a guy heading down a completely different path. I didn't have much of an interest in shooting or hunting until one decision changed the whole trajectory of my life. So what was the one change and how did it lead me to the dream of becoming a professional exhibition shooter? That is exactly what I will be sharing with you. The cool thing about this story is that the same decision I made and the principles I followed that led me to where I am today can also help you step into your big dreams and the life you were born to live.
Growing up, I had great parents who loved and supported me. I knew that I would never go without. We also spent a to of time in church - multiple times a week even. I had grown up believing in God and everything my parents taught me. But as I got into middle school, I saw what the world offered, and I wanted it. I figured I was only young once, and now was the time to live it up. I wanted to pursue whatever I thought would bring me joy and satisfaction. I went after things like chewing, smoking, drinking, music, movies, girls, pornography, and a whole lot more, believing this would lead to my best life.
Girls were on the list, and a girl I found! I started dating Courtney in 10th grade, and let's just say our relationship was far from healthy. Somehow we managed to stay together, and we eventually graduated and went on to college together at NDSU. Courtney was a great girlfriend, and she helped keep me in check the best she was able to. As Courtney and I continued to date and college graduation approached, the logic seemed clear: Graduate, get a job and get married. But every time I thought about marriage, something seemed off. I had no doubts about Courtney, but the idea of marriage didn't sit right every time I thought about it.
Everything changed one night when Courtney and I were invited to a college-aged church service. I would only go to church when I was back home to save face with my parents, but I certainly did not attend church at school. For some reason, I said yes to the invite from a friend to go to this church service, as did Courtney and a few other friends. This particular service was a baptism and testimony night. I wasn't really excited about spending my Friday night at church, to be honest, but I had no idea what was going to take place that night that would change the trajectory of my life.
Students that had professed their faith were going up, sharing their stories, and being baptized. What I witnessed was multiple people telling stories about what their lives were like and how their lives changed through the saving grace of Jesus. These people had brokenness but had somehow found joy and peace in Jesus. It was a message I had heard my whole life growing up, but this night it hit differently. I found myself crying and knowing deep down inside that Jesus was what was missing from my life. It's not something I can explain, but I know that God was moving in my heart to show me that my desires were not his, and the only way I could fill the hole I was feeling would be through Him. That night I made a decision that the path I was on wasn't leading to what I was looking for. I realized that all my efforts had been selfish and empty. That night I made the decision to put my faith in Jesus and trust the plan he had for my life.
After this decision, I knew Courtney had to be on the same page. This couldn't go on if we had differences about this decision. I manned up, told her everything on my heart, and then clicked send... Yes... I said it all in an email. But it was her reply that shocked me. I had no idea what she would say. For all I knew, she may have said that's great, but I'm moving on. Courtney told me that she had made the same exact decision that night and that she was ready to move forward together, living for Jesus. Wow, I was blown away!
When I made the decision to give my life to Christ, so much changed, it was like a weight was lifted. I lost the desire to do many things I had been doing, and I now had new desires. One of these new desires was to start hunting. This newfound passion for hunting is one of the big things that brought my brother and I together. I didn't grow up hunting or shooting, but Aaron had pursued those passions since he was young. We started hanging out together and spending time in nature hunting and shooting. Since there was nothing to hunt in the summer, we started shooting clay targets. Getting bored with the hand thrower, we started throwing clays with our own hands. Being competitive, we always wanted to push to see who could get to the next level. If Aaron was able to shoot three, I certainly didn't want to be stuck at two clays.
Our clay shooting was nothing serious, just a fun way to shoot shotguns in the summer. In April 2009, we decided to attend the Reeds Gun Fair at Rice Creek. A man was performing there named Tom Knapp. Tom was an amazing exhibition shooter that aimed to entertain as he pulled off amazing trick shots. And he did that very well - his performance so inspired Aaron and me that without even saying it, we both left that event knowing in our hearts that we were made to be exhibition shooters. And thus, the Gould Brothers' journey began.
Now that you have the back story, let's jump into how this dream was even attainable. I was the least qualified person to ever think of trying to become a professional exhibition shooter. This job would involve public speaking and good shooting. At NDSU, I was voted "Most nervous public speaker" and to be honest, I wasn't very good with a shotgun. Despite being highly unqualified, I had a clear vision of what could be, and I started taking consistent action to make it a reality. My prayer was that God would open the right doors and close the wrong ones. My desire has always been to take the path God wants me on.
One of my favorite verses at this time was Proverbs 3:5-6 which says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."
The dream was born in April 2009, and in December 2012, this dream became a reality when I left my job as a financial analyst to shoot for a living. Looking back, that happened fast! To me, it's so crazy how I was on a totally different path until I gave up living life for myself and surrendered to Jesus. God gave me the dream and opened a lot of doors, but I also believe that when God calls us to something, we have to do our part as well. In my case, there was a lot of ground to cover if I was ever going to be a professional. It was through this journey of becoming a professional shooter that I realized how much more is possible in our lives. I was so unqualified for this and yet had the seeds planted in me long ago.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 NIV
A few years ago God placed another desire in my heart. What I believe God placed in my heart was this, "look what is possible when you follow me; now go and help others." It was out of this heart that Target Focused Life was born. I got to see what is possible when you follow the one who created you, the one that knows the plans he has for you. I also got to see the principles applied to do my part. These principles have become the pillars of Target Focused Life. What's cool about these principles is that they apply both to hitting our targets with shotguns and in our life.
We first must have a clear vision of what we are shooting for. What are we going after? What is the desired future?
With a clear vision, we now need to dial in the focus. Where our focus goes, our energy flows. So dial in the focus on the target and eliminate the distractions that are stealing your focus.
You can have clear vision and laser focus, but if you never pull the trigger, you'll never reach your target. Trigger pull is all about consistent and repeated action.
There is a whole lot more to these principles, and I can't wait to share them with you. I appreciate each and every one of you that have read this. My hope is that this inspires you to live more #targetfocused and go after the big things God has planned for you.
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