Pieces of our Outdoor Heritage

You gotta love May.  You can scratch an outdoor itch with the wild turkeys that are still afield, a family hike most anywhere, or with fishing for anything from truck trout to smallmouth bass, walleye, salmon and halibut.  Engage in your fall hunting fantasies right on through the deadline for filing your special hunt permit applications (22 May)and on up to the drawings next month.  Mostly, though, May gets me thinking about our heritage.

There is no shortage of issues.  In several recent gatherings, Reecer Creek Rod, Gun, Working Dog & Outdoor Think Tank Benevolent Association homeys have been formulating The Washington Outdoor Kids Bill of Rights, and looking at the inclusion of hunting and shooting traditions.  We’ve struggled over proposed and actual road closures, along with access to our public lands.  We consider the future implications of too much indoor activity, adults not standing up for protecting open and scenic lands and wildlife habitat, lack of shooting ranges and firearms safety training programs in schools.  These are just a few of the things impacting the recruitment of adults and children into active, long term outdoor lives.  This is important stuff.

For now, though, let’s talk about our shooting heritage and keeping kids safe around firearms; let’s talk about the NRA Foundation and its work.

You may know that the NRA Foundation is the largest charitable supporter of shooting sports in the US.  Since its inception in 1991, the foundation has raised and awarded 200 million dollars to more than 180 different NRA shooting sports programs.  These programs include training and educational opportunities, such as programs for youth education, law enforcement training, hunter education, conservation, firearms marksmanship training and safety, and range development.  The “Friends of the NRA” program was created specifically to provide a stable long-term funding source for important work outside NRA’s efforts in the political arena.

The NRA Foundation (a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization), through thousands of friend events, raises “tax-deductible contributions in support of a wide range of firearm-related public interest activities of the National Rifle Association of America and other organizations that defend and foster the Second Amendment rights of all law-abiding Americans. These activities are designed to promote firearms and hunting safety, to enhance marksmanship skills of those participating in the shooting sports, and to educate the general public about firearms in their historic, technological, and artistic context. Funds granted by The NRA Foundation benefit a variety of constituencies throughout the United States including children, youth, women, individuals with physical disabilities, gun collectors, law enforcement officers, hunters, and competitive shooters.”

To date, Washington State has received more than $2,700,000 for work on behalf of safe shooting and education for all ages.  That money went to 4-H programs, Boy Scouts, Junior ROTC, range repairs and upgrades and various safety programs in the state.  For example, 4-H received up to $10,000 for safety and shooting equipment and supplies for programs and competitions with pellet rifles, .22 target rifles, bows and black powder gear.  4-H programs involve boys and girls from third grade through high school in various shooting disciplines.

Over the past two decades, the foundation has awarded grants totaling nearly $90,000,000 across the U.S.  Nearly twenty million was raised in well over a thousand Friends of NRA events last year.  Now it is our turn.

A week from tomorrow, our local Friends of the NRA banquet happens.  This banquet, in partnership with many others, will support ranges, equipment and safety training.  No more than half the money raised at friends’ events goes to meals and production costs, and 100% of net proceeds go to qualified local, state and national programs.  Last year alone, Washington State raised $480,000.  Half of that stayed in our state, and the rest went to help national programs such as Eddie Eagle (teaching firearm safety rules to youngsters), Y.E.S. (Youth Education Summit), and other educational and shooting programs.

Pick up your dinner and raffle tickets at Brothers in arms and Midstate Co-Op.  Dinner is $35 and the raffle tickets are $50 for three tickets—this raffle winner will receive five firearms and a 24-gun safe from the Grizzly Safe Company on West University Way.

When I was a kid, millions of us learned to respect and safely use and handle firearms in NRA certified shooting programs.  Today, the NRA Foundation=s money could help us build a safe and secure shooting and training facility here in Paradise.  We need the range and the training.  What would happen to firearm accidents and firearms violence if the safety and marksmanship programs were required of every kid in the United States?

For many, “NRA” still triggers a visceral—and largely inaccurate—response.  A time back, a colleague and I were talking about guns on campus.  She looked at me and said, “The NRA?  Oh, wow, I don’t know about them!”  After a moment, she said, “Oh, by the way.  Do you know where my daughter and I can learn to safely handle a handgun?”

It’s about our future, really.  Get your tickets and come play.


Written by Jim Huckabay. Posted in Uncategorized

Trackback from your site.

Comments (1)

  • JLH
    May 4, 2013 at 6:07 pm |

    What do YOU think? JLH

Leave a comment