By Lars Dalseide | April 3 2012 10:47

Senior Event Services Coordinator Nicole McMahon joined a few members of NRA staff for a local Friends of NRA banquet last weekend — here's her report:

Culpeper Chairman Barry Ranney spreads his arms wide during the Arm Raffle game.
Chairman Barry Ranney spreads his arms wide during the Arm Raffle game.

Culpeper, Virginia - Anyone from the DC Metro area knows to allot twice the amount of time it should take to get anywhere during rush hour. A little more than an hour from NRA Headquarters, Nick Tsoucalas (National Manager of Finance & Operations) and I spent over two hours in traffic last Friday afternoon to get to the Culpeper Friends of NRA banquet. Frustrations melted away once we entered the Best Western banquet room and were greeted with the smiling, friendly faces of the Culpeper committee.

We saw Chairman Barry Ranney on the Arm Raffle, NRA Field Rep David Wells walking the room, a volunteer working the Wall of Guns, another volunteer selling blocks on the Grid Board game and a raffle girl who came all the way up from Atlanta, Georgia to work her magic on the crowd. It was only a little past 6:00 PM and the room was filled with excitement as attendees played the games and talked with one another about the firearm they hoped to win.

NRA Grid Board game featured the 2012 Gun of the Year Benelli Ultra Light 12GA and the 2010 Gun of the Year Kimber 84M Classic Select Grade .308 WIN.The Grid Board game featured the 2012 Gun of the Year Benelli Ultra Light 12GA and the 2010 Gun of the Year Kimber 84M Classic Select Grade .308 WIN.

I dove head first into the Wall of Guns, hoping to be one of the lucky winners to go home with a firearm that night. Volunteer were selling tickets for $20 per chance — I bought three tickets and crossed my fingers. Once 50 tickets were sold out, a volunteer announced the winner and much to my dismay it was not me. When the next raffle started, I changed my strategy by buying one ticket and waiting until only a few were left before buying another. Unfortunately, my luck did not change. When a new winning number was announced, I put on the best fake smile I could muster and clapped for the winner as I thought about how much I wanted one of those guns!

Fortunately, the Wall of Guns was not the only game featuring firearms that night. I bought a raffle package and placed my tickets in buckets for a couple Weatherby rifles, a Taurus Judge, and whatever else caught my eye. After dropping the last of my tickets in a bucket, I made my way over to the silent auction table and put my name down for the Friends of NRA 20th Anniversary Boyt pistol case. Nick played the Grid Board game, placing his name in six of the 100 blocks on the board, hoping he’d have a chance at either the 2012 Gun of the Year Benelli Ultra Light 12GA or the 2010 Gun of the Year Kimber 84M Classic Select Grade .308 WIN.

Virginia NRA Field Representative David Wells and National Manager of Finance & Operations Nick Tsoucalas during the Culpeper banquet.
Virginia NRA Field Representative David Wells and National Manager of Finance & Operations Nick Tsoucalas are all the smiles during the banquet.

We walked the floor, scouting other games to play, before sitting down with people who we later discovered were on the Loudoun County Friends of NRA banquet committee. Sitting at neighboring tables were folks from Fauquier County Friends of NRA, Northern Valley Friends of NRA and even the chairman of the local Fairfax Friends of NRA. Seeing committee members from other banquets are typical at Friends of NRA events throughout the country—many because they love coming out to support the shooting sports, others because they are running around during their own banquet they want to sit down and enjoy another’s. Whatever the reason, these volunteers are dedicated to the cause and sacrifice their time and money to ensure the vitality of the shooting sports in their area.

Once everyone was seated, David Wells led the room in the Pledge of Allegiance and called up a pastor to deliver a prayer. Table by table, people headed to the buffet before the real fun began—the Live Auction. David reminded the room they were there to raise money for the shooting sports and, to emphasize the point, Barry Ranney produced a grant check totaling $4,088 for a local range in Culpeper to cover range improvements in 2011. Inside the banquet's program, committee members spelled out exactly where funds raised at Friends of NRA banquets were being spent; $585,197 to 4H, $113,234.75 to Boy Scouts, $150,792.53 to Sportsmen’s Club Youth Programs and more! The reminder served its purpose as the Live Auction was one of the best the Culpeper banquet has ever experienced. Although there were many popular items, the highlight of the auction was the Ronald Reagan “Tear Down this Wall” plaque that features an authentic piece of the Berlin Wall which sold for $850.

With 109 attendees, the Culpeper Friends of NRA raised more than $12,000—an astounding $10,000 increase over last year’s event! Although Nick and I didn’t win, it’s always a pleasure to attend Friends of NRA events. It’s a great feeling to get out and see the camaraderie and fellowship Friends of NRA brings to the community and know you help make that happen. People coming together from all walks of life to raise money for a cause they truly believe in is a humbling experience and I can speak for the rest of us here at NRA Headquarters when I say we are grateful for the support of our Friends!

The Shelburne Museum Decoy from Loon Lake Decoy Company went for $210 during the live auction.
A Shelburne Museum Decoy from Loon Lake Decoy went for $210 during the live auction.

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