Annual fundraiser awards grants to youth firearms safety and education programs

Annual fundraiser awards grants to youth firearms safety and education programs

Celebrating its 27th year, Wilmington Friends of NRA will host its fundraiser at the Wilmington Convention Center on Saturday, Mar. 23 at 6 p.m.

Last year’s event netted $60,000, the highest FNRA fundraiser in Eastern North Carolina. It earned a second Defender Club award for raising more than $50,000. Greenville was the only other event raising as much in the eastern part of the state.

WFNRA President Ray Campbell congratulating the winner of a shotgun raffle.

“This year’s event will be bigger than last year’s,” said WFNRA Chairman Ray Campbell. “We have several new sponsors, including Shooters Choice indoor firing range, which is reopening soon. Jim’s Pawn and Gun has stepped up with a big firearm and equipment donation. Amchair, a law enforcement equipment dealer, has made a donation as a corporate sponsor. Pro Gun LLC, is another new corporate sponsor.”

Campbell has worked on behalf of the FNRA Foundation more than 20 years. He also sits on N.C.’s FNRA grant committee and has chaired or co-chaired WFNRA more than a decade. He was also president of Buccaneer Gun Club for eight years. When he isn’t raising money and awareness of youth shooting sports, he is shooting a Glock 9mm in an IDPA match or running an NRA action pistol competition at Buccaneer Gun Club.

“Since 2011, we have given Cape Fear Council BSA and Venture Scouts $30,000 for shooting equipment,” he said. “This year’s $6,800 grant to Cape Fear Council BSA even included archery gear. We also gave Ashley High School $2,300 for shooting gear and air rifles. We had more than $500,000 in grant requests, but Eastern N.C. committees had only $253,000. The FNRA grants committee considers all requests. For example, Ashley High School put in a request for an expensive air rifle. However, the cost was too great, so the committee gave their JROTC shooting team a grant for items of lesser value. Maybe someday we can fund all requests.”

FNRA began in 1992 as a volunteer fundraising organization that uses 100 percent of the money raised to support local shooting sports. It has awarded grants to youth firearms safety and education and hunter education programs, range safety projects and law enforcement agencies’ firearms safety programs.

Tra Story is NRA’s Eastern N.C. Field Representative. He said last year’s $253,000 funded 77 grants.

“We buy items shooting teams use, including skeet targets and throwers, .22 ammo, shotguns and ammo, and air rifle competition equipment,” Story said. “We netted $506,000 last year with half returned to eastern North Carolina and the rest went to youth shooting programs at the national level. Grants are based on the number of kids on the shooting team. A smaller team doesn’t receive as many shotgun shells as a team with more members.”

Story added the FNRA Foundation is the tax-exempt arm of the NRA. No money raised by FNRA funds political activities. North Carolina hosts fifty FNRA events, including a new one in Alamance County this year. Western N.C. has 27 events and Eastern N.C. 23.

“We give more guns away than any other organization, with more than 40 available this year,” Campbell said. “The 425 members of Buccaneer Gun Club make this event the success it always is. Buccaneer members donated four firearms, six artworks, jewelry, duck hunting gear, knives and gun cases. Buccaneer members man the games and help to set up and market the event. Tami Hahn is an old hand. This year, Frank and Jane Hassel and James and Janet Qualter are new to the committee.”

With big Silent and Live Auctions, the evening is filled with multiple chances to win great prizes.

This year’s Gun of the Year is a SIG Sauer P210 9mm. Another special pistol is a Ruger SR1911 10mm with “High Caliber” engraving, only available to committees that raise at least $25,000. Berretta A300 and A400 shotguns will be available as well as a Springfield Saint AR15 .223 and a Daniel Defense DDM4V7 .223.

“Don’t wait until the last minute for tickets because space is limited,” Campbell said. “And, don’t forget to take a kid shooting.”