Originally published in the March 2018 Official Journals of the National Rifle Association
You are the NRA. Every single one of you make us the great organization we have become. Every one of your voices counts. Every action you make as a member has impact. Every step you take to protect the Second Amendment locally has a compounding effect on our nation.
You all rallied to the call to support the Second Amendment at the national level this last presidential cycle. Now more than ever, local action by Second Amendment supporters is required. Become active locally by going to the range, by going hunting, by participating in NRA programs, which are plentiful.
One of the most important local programs in NRA’s history is the Friends of NRA. This hometown outreach is a 100 percent grassroots effort to secure the Second Amendment by raising funds to ensure all Americans have opportunities to learn and participate in the shooting sports. Friends events occurring in all 50 states make you feel like part of something special from the moment you walk in. The atmosphere at a Friends of NRA banquet is both entertaining and fulfilling. Best described as a mash-up of formal dinner, firearm auction and neighborhood party, I guarantee you will meet many like-minded shooters and hunters at these family-friendly affairs.
Since the program began in 1992, Friends of NRA has held nearly 21,000 events—currently more than 1,000 each year—raising $810 million, and counting, for The NRA Foundation. This tremendous feat could never be achieved without the commitment of local volunteers. They support the program by organizing committees, securing donations, selling tickets, and hosting Friends of NRA events in their communities. And as for that $810 million? All of the net proceeds are split 50-50: Half goes to support local and state projects, the other half to national projects. Learn more about the program at friendsofnra.org.
Another way the NRA is near you is through the thrill and accomplishment of competitive shooting. Training in marksmanship is the reason the NRA was started, and the tradition continues front and center. The NRA’s Competitive Shooting Division offers dozens of different types of shooting that range from beginner-level matches to championships involving the world’s best marksmen. The NRA sanctions some 11,000 shooting tournaments in all 50 states. Additionally, there are over 50 national championships conducted each year by NRA. For full coverage, check out NRA’s online competitive shooting journal, Shooting Sports USA, at ssusa.org.
Competitive shooting is a great way to exercise your Second Amendment-protected rights. Anybody can compete on equal footing—male or female, young or old—whether in small gatherings at your local range or in major tournaments attracting hundreds of competitors. There is no sport better for the entire family to enjoy together, and the skills obtained here will prove valuable for a lifetime.
NRA Education and Training programs (explore.nra.org) are the gold standard in firearms instruction. Each year, the NRA trains more than 1 million Americans to handle and shoot firearms safely and effectively. This occurs thanks to a network of 125,000 instructors, 8,000 coaches and 2,200 training counselors who provide invaluable service to communities. Training counselors recruit and educate hometown instructors to teach basic firearm courses, as well personal-safety strategies on avoiding dangerous situations, self-defense with a firearm, and protection inside and outside the home. NRA Carry Guard is NRA’s latest training outreach, featuring high-level tactical instructors to teach advanced personal protection. NRA coaches, in turn, develop competitors at the club, high school, collegiate and national levels.
Each year, more Americans are choosing to exercise their Second Amendment-protected rights, creating unprecedented demand for highly qualified instructors. The NRA works constantly to fill that need. You can find an NRA training course in your area at nrainstructors.org.
I encourage every member, along with family and friends, to make the most of what NRA is doing to strengthen our communities. Have a great evening out attending a Friends of NRA event. Step up to a tournament firing line and experience the thrill of competition while sharpening your skills. Join millions of fellow Americans in getting training that genuinely prepares you to defend your family, yourself and your community. You are the NRA! You are the voice that has moved a nation and kept our Second Amendment-protected rights alive in each of your communities. Do so once again by supporting local NRA programs.