JoAnn Gompers Hits the Mark with Career Choice

Angela Grossmann-Roewe - Contributing WriterNovember 1, 2012 

JoAnn Gompers’s heart belongs to Sig Sauer. And Glock. Oh, who is she kidding? She also has a soft spot for Colt, Springfield, and Ruger, and all these affairs actually bring her family closer together in more ways than one.

As co-owner of Ron and Jo’s Firearms in O’Fallon, this petite blonde doesn’t have the typical female career, or hobby for that matter. As a gun store goddess, Gompers can tell you the make and model of every firearm with a quick glance, how much power they pack, and the appropriate ammunition and accessories for them without checking a catalog.

Gompers, a Fairview Heights resident, wasn’t always into firearms and weapons. Her passion began a little more than two decades ago when her husband began showing an interest in firearms and practicing his shooting skills at local ranges. It didn’t take long before Jo was at his side, honing her skills as well.

“I remember the first round I shot, and how good it felt to hear Ron yell, ‘See, you hit the target’,” she said. “I then became more and more interested in the field.”

Their range outings quickly became “date nights,” and a way to meet other people interested in the sport to grow their knowledge. They achieved this and more, so much that they opened Ron and Jo’s Firearms in 1991. Soon after, Jo began the juggling act as a store owner, working woman, and mother as the couple’s children were born - Andrew, Christopher, and Sarah. Jo tended to her business and her family’s needs from the back room at the shop - often with a sweet toddler next to her in a playpen.

Since firearms are not only a hobby, but the income for the entire family, Jo has made sure her children, especially the youngest one, a daughter, learned the importance of respecting these powerful pieces from early on. Today, as the children are teenagers, her lessons have paid off. The family of five plays, travels to shows, hunts, takes target practice and works together.

Jo and her daughter went on their first hunting trip this past summer in South Dakota, but it wasn’t a deer or turkey search, it was a hunt for prairie dogs.

“I made my daughter a deal that if she went I would go,” Jo said. “We found ourselves on a rancher’s pasture, and the whole trip was very exciting. I also learned that once you got started hunting you don’t want to stop. It was very fun but I don’t think I will be hunting anything bigger than a prairie dog.

Jo and her daughter also like to get away for more feminine events, and it keeps them in check.

“Sometimes my daughter Sarah and I escape to do some girly-girl things like manicures, pedicures, shopping and lunch,” Jo says with a giggle. “I mean, I’m used to being around men as I worked in construction for many years before the gun shop, but it’s nice to remember not everything is about hunting and shooting.”

Jo’s favorite pieces, as much as she hates to admit, are the pink handguns, including her stylish Walther. “I didn’t think I would want one when they first came out, but once I saw that pretty pink color and held it in my hand,” she said, “I just had to have it. I actually own several pink guns now. Guys love to laugh at them, but imagine the look on a robber’s face when he realizes that pink handgun a woman pulls on him is real.”

Jo says although family and friends have always been very supportive of her career and hobby, many customers look right past her.

“Oh sure, men will call or come in the shop and say, ‘Is there a guy here I can talk to?’,” she said. “This question used to bother me years ago, but I just smile and get one of my male employees to help the customer.”

But, you can bet Jo silently giggles all the way back to the office because she’s confident she knows her business as much as the next guy. Actually better.

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