The National Rifle Association’s office of Women’s Programs is now accepting nomination applications for both the Sybil Ludington and Marion Hammer awards.

The NRA has awarded the Sybil Ludington Women's Freedom Award since 1995. The award is named in honor of a woman, who at the age of sixteen, etched her name as perhaps the American Revolution’s most revered heroine. As British troops approached the town of Danbury, Connecticut, in April of 1777, Ludington’s father, a New York militia colonel, asked his daughter for help. On her father’s orders, Ludington mounted her horse, raced through the town, and rallied the patriots in time to counter the attack.  More

And now for the Sybil Ludington Women's Freedom Award winner. 

To honor women’s contributions in support of the Second Amendment at the national level, the Sybil Ludington Women’s Freedom Award has been presented since 1995. It recognizes exceptional accomplishments of modern heroines through their legislative activism as well as advocacy, volunteerism, and education of others to the goals of the Second Amendment and the NRA on a national level.

Linda WalkerThis year's winner of the Sybil Ludington Women's Freedom Award is Linda Walker of Alexandria, Ohio, who received the Sybil Ludington Women’s Freedom Award for her outstanding history of achievements.

A positive presence in the Ohio Statehouse, Linda Walker contributes greatly to legislative work and was instrumental in the passage of SB 184, Ohio’s Castle Doctrine, referred to as “one of the most sweeping firearm reform bills in the United States.” Linda, a NRA Certified Instructor, regularly holds classes hosted at her own private firing range; one of which meets the Ohio requirement for education to apply for a concealed handgun license. A strong advocate in gun legislation and a teacher of the next generation of safe gun owners, Linda also serves as NRA’s Election Volunteer Coordinator for the 12th Congressional District for the State of Ohio.

The award is named for Sybil Ludington, a heroine of the American Revolution who made a night ride to alert colonial forces in the same way as Paul Revere. 

On the night of April 26, 1777, Sybil was putting her younger siblings to bed when her family received word that the British had begun burning Danbury, Connecticut, a town only 25 miles away. Her father was a colonel in the local militia at the time and his men were spread out over a large area around the Ludington house. Sybil persuaded her father to let her ride out and alert his men so they could attempt to drive the British back. Riding alone, she covered over 40 miles on dark, unmarked roads, warning militiamen of the approaching threat while avoiding British soldiers and loyalists in the area. The men she helped gather were able to assemble just in time to help drive the British force back to their ships in the Long Island Sound and save many American lives. 

The National Rifle Association has selected one woman to receive the 2009 Sybil Ludington Women’s Freedom Award and three women to receive the 2009 Marion P. Hammer Woman of Distinction Award for their outstanding contributions to the Second Amendment and the shooting sports in support of the goals of the NRA.

First up, we will cover the Marion P. Hammer Woman of Distinction Award winners.

Presented since 2004, the Marion P. Hammer Woman of Distinction Award is named for the first female president of the NRA and recognizes the achievements of women who have worked at the local, state, or regional levels to promote the shooting sports and defend the Second Amendment. This year's winners are:

Susan Bierly, who has worked on and helped promote many NRA programs including Friends of NRA, Eddie Eagle GunSafe® Program, Women In The Outdoors, Refuse To Be A Victim®, and Women On Target® Instructional Shooting Clinics. A Refuse To Be A Victim® Regional Counselor and an NRA Certified Training Counselor in multiple disciplines, Bierly’s supportive mentoring attitude and extensive networking have established her as an instructor of preference. Since 2006, Bierly has trained more than 1,000 students at NRA programs and other events.

Marlene Duncan has also volunteered countless hours to the promotion of the shooting sports, and is an accomplished shooter herself. Marlene has volunteered for fifteen years with Friends of NRA and has helped direct many Women On Target® Instructional Shooting Clinics in addition to instructing JROTC and NROTC units in her area. Together with her husband, who is also an NRA Training Counselor, Marlene has trained over 3,000 NRA Certified Firearms Instructors since the 1980s.

Donna Vandermolen became the first woman Five-Gun Expert with the International Defensive Pistol Association, who she is also a Safety Officer for. Being a NRA Certified Pistol Instructor, Personal Protection In the Home Instructor, and a Range Safety Officer, Donna teaches many practical skills to all who are willing to learn. She has a strong interest in introducing women to the use of firearms and helping them learn proper safety habits and firearm-handling skills while overcoming preconceived notions that the shooting realm is for just men.

For more information on both awards, or to find out how to nominate a deserving woman, visit or call (800) 861-1166.

2007 Women's Award Winners

Do you know a woman who works tirelessly to promote and defend the Second Amendment, hunting or the shooting sports? If so, nominate that woman for recognition in NRA’s Women’s Awards Program. Nominations for the 2010 awards are being accepted now through Nov. 1, 2009.

The nomination period for the 2009 awards has closed, with the winners slated to be selected in January.

NRA bestows two awards to women who, through education, volunteerism and legislative activism, have made exceptional contributions to Second Amendment rights and/or the shooting sports in support of the goals of the NRA. The first of those awards, the Sybil Ludington Women’s Freedom Award, recognizes women who have made such contributions at the national level. A second award, the Marion P. Hammer Woman of Distinction Award, honors achievements made at the state, regional and local levels.

Named for a heroine of the American Revolution, the Sybil Ludington Women’s Freedom Award has been presented annually since 1995. The Marion P. Hammer Woman of Distinction Award was created in 2004 and is named in honor of the first female president of the NRA.

The deadline for nominations for the NRA's recognitions for women: — the Sybil Ludington Women's Freedom Award and the Marion P. Hammer Woman of Distinction Award — is coming up soon!

Both of these recognitions are for NRA members in good standing. Nominees must have demonstrated one or more of the following (for the Ludington, on a national level; for the Hammer, on a local, state and/or regional level):

  • Outstanding performance in competitive shooting, outstanding dedication to hunting ethics and conservation, or outstanding promotion of recreational shooting activities;
  • Outstanding educational contributions to advancing the purposes and goals of the National Rifle Association, including appearances for the purpose of public education and/or significant writings;
  • Meritorious performance under perilous conditions through the lawful use of a firearm in defense of self and/or others;
  • Dedication to the protection of the Second Amendment through extensive legislative and/or legal contributions;
  • Outstanding volunteerism through personal involvement with, and promotion of, NRA programs and issues with significant recognized impact.

Be sure to have your nomination forms at the NRA Women's Programs Department by November 1. For more information, call Patty at (703) 267-1378.

Cathy LynchThousands of children and adults have benefited from the efforts of Cathy Lynch. Ms. Lynch, a 2008 recipient of the Marion P. Hammer Woman of Dis­tinc­tion Award, has promoted safety and the shooting sports to many people as a Boy Scouts of America Shooting Sports Director.

All throughout the year -- though, especially in the summertime -- Cathy can be found running around the Cascade Scout Reservation managing several ranges. She is the Shooting Sports Director in charge of Rifle, Shotgun and Muzzle Loading ranges at Boy Scout Camp Pigott, and the BB gun range at Cub Scout Camp Brinkley.
Cathy Lynch has been a positive role model not only for women, but for everyone she has worked with in the shooting sports.
- Jerry Harrott
In total, Cathy runs 22 ranges where in 2007 she gave over 1,100 scouts access to the range for shooting. This is her fourth year of instructing rifle and shotgun courses and is NRA Certified as a Rifle, Shotgun, and Muzzle Loading instructor.

Lynch also serves as a Range Safety Officer. Lynch, a school bus driver for the Kent School District, first became involved in the shooting world when she volunteered to be her son's Cub Scout BB gun coach.
Cathy serves as a role model for the many youth here at camp. She shows that a woman can become involved in the world of shooting sports. It is a lesson not lost on the female as well as male staff here at camp and the many scouts and their leaders.
- Steven Dazey
Her time with the Boy Scouts of America has also allowed Cathy to promote the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification program. In 2007, Cathy produced 114 Pro-marksmen, 93 Marksmen, 64 Marksmen 1st Class, 44 Sharpshooters, 22 Experts and 11 Distinguished Experts. Jerry Stein, an NRA Life Member, said that Cathy has encouraged many young men and women to take shooting sports as a serious endeavor that has become a life long sport for them either in marksmanship or as a hunter.
Cathy is truly promoting shooting sports and firearm safety in our community; she is generous with her time to help our young people, giving of her knowledge and expertise when it comes to the shooting sports. Cathy Lynch is a great example of selflessness and devotion to helping our community and promoting all the principles the NRA stand for; she deserves an award for all she does.
- Jerry Stein
If you know a woman like Cathy who deserves a little recognition, I would strongly recommend that you nominate that woman for either the Marion P. Hammer Woman of Distinction Award or the Sybil Ludington Women's Freedom Award. The deadline is November 1st.

Patricia Stoneking did not want to be in the kitchen with her aunties and mom while the guys in the family went out to shoot and hunt. As the only girl-child in the family, she preferred to be where the reach action took place -- shooting with the men.

- Barbara Baird, Women's Outdoor Wire

That's just an example of the women out there who tirelessly work to help open other women to the joys of the shooting sports. Patricia is example of the women out there who make this country so great.

One way to honor the women -- who are out there either making those phone calls to their local, state or regional level government official, training more women through running an NRA Women's Programs Instructional Shooting Clinic, or just making an appearance for the purpose of public education on the uses of firearms -- is to nominate them for the Sybil Ludington Women's Freedom Award or the Marion P. Hammer Woman of Distinction Award.

Here's some background on each award:

The Marion P. Hammer Woman of Distinction Award

Ms. Marion P. Hammer has influenced many in her fight to preserve Second Amendment freedoms. From her role as lobbyist in the passage of Florida's Right-to-Carry legislation, to her grassroots efforts in educating youth about firearm safety, ownership and responsibility, Ms. Hammer exemplifies activism. As the creator of the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program and first woman president of the National Rifle Association, she has significantly impacted her community, state and the nation. To honor her pioneering spirit, the National Rifle Association bestows the Marion P. Hammer Woman of Distinction Award in her name.

The Sybil Ludington Women's Freedom Award

On the night of April 26, 1777, a wounded messenger barely reached the home of New York militia officer Henry Ludington with desperate news of a British attack on nearby Danbury, Connecticut. Munitions and supplies for the entire region's militia were at stake, and with not a moment to spare, Colonel Ludington turned to his 16-year old daughter, Sybil for help. While he organized the local militia, Sybil mounted her horse and galloped through the night to rally troops in the surrounding countryside. Trekking on dirt roads that were unknown to her, Sybil never lost sight of her mission -- to alert the patriots about the British attack, thereby preserving the cause of freedom.

By risking her life that dark and desolate night, Sybil made a profound difference in America's successful pursuit to become a free and independent nation. For her act of courage, General Washington and General Rochambeau personally thanked her. Now to honor her accomplishment and the accomplishments of modern heroines, the National Rifle Association bestows the prestigious Sybil Ludington Women's Freedom Award in her name.

Time is running out to nominate someone you know for this prestigious honor. Tomorrow I'm going to highlight some of the women who have been honored for this.

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