But the biggest winners were local and national youth shooting-sports, ROTC programs, and firearm-safety organizations, some of which depend entirely on the financial support of Friends of NRA.
“Our shooting and competition teams would be cost-prohibitive without the support of the Friends of NRA,” says Gibby Gibson, coach of the Mt. Juliet Christian Academy Olympic Air Rifle team. The team earlier this spring received a grant of $3,584 from Friends of NRA.
The association has also donated almost $3,000 to the Cedar City Straights, Wilson County’s interscholastic trap-shooting team. It has donated over $7,000 to Lebanon High’s ROTC program, and similar amounts to programs at Wilson Central and Mt. Juliet High.
Going into its most recent event at the Ward Agricultural Center, Friends of NRA had donated over $53,000 in grants to Wilson County competitive shooting teams, ROTC programs, 4-H Clubs and school gun-safety programs.
One of its major funding efforts is the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program, designed to teach firearm safety basics to school-age youngsters. Its main message: if you see a gun, tell someone.
Working in concert with law enforcement officials, since its inception in 1988 the Eddie Eagle Program has reached more than 29 million youngsters nationally. In Tennessee 21 law enforcement agencies have used the Eddie Eagle mascot costume as part of their gun-safety instruction in schools, reaching over 826,000 children.
Since the Eddie Eagle program’s inception, firearm accidents among school-age youngsters have been reduced over 65 percent nation-wide.
The Eddie Eagle program is 100-percent funded by Friends of NRA, with over $142,000 contributed so far.
Friends of NRA supports Second Amendment causes and personal firearm training at a time when private gun ownership is under pressure from several fronts. It also supports hunting and conservation efforts.
In recent years the Wilson County chapter of Friends of NRA has grown into one of the most active in the country. It ranks high in membership and funds generated, and last year received a national award for its service.
The local chapter receives support from state and national Friends of NRA headquarters, which help organize the fund-raisers and contributes many of the items offered at auction, such as the African safari, a wide range of specialty firearms, and NRA-themed arts and crafts such as a framed Roy Rogers photograph and personalized bullet.
Other items are donated by local gun shops, shooting enthusiasts, craftsmen, and outdoorsmen.
While proceeds from the annual banquet/auction account for most of the chapter’s funds, donations are welcomed year-round. For information contact Lisa Kirkus at 615-414-6120 or [email protected]