Shooting Straight is an interview-style series highlighting the movers and shakers supporting Friends of NRA, The NRA Foundation, and the programs they fund. Learn about these high-profile influencers from the world of firearms and the shooting sports in their own words.
Sandy Froman is an author, attorney, professional speaker and past president of the National Rifle Association of America. Froman grew up in a “gun-free” home in San Francisco, California but now lives in Tucson, Arizona, and is a dedicated advocate of the Second Amendment. She speaks and writes regularly on the importance of the right to keep and bear arms and emphasizes the importance of the right of self-defense for women and minorities. Through decades of active participation in local, state and federal politics, Froman has promoted pro-Second Amendment legislation in Arizona and on Capitol Hill.
With her undergraduate degree in economics with honors from Stanford University and a juris doctorate degree from Harvard Law School, Froman has worked as an attorney in private practice for over 40 years. She promotes the appointment of judges who advocate a textualist approach to the Constitution and the faithful interpretation and application of its original meaning. Froman also speaks to college and law school students about the Constitution and Bill of Rights, teaching future lawyers and judges that government should exist to preserve freedom.
A member of the National Rifle Association Board of Directors since 1992, Froman served as second vice president for five years under Charlton Heston followed by two years as first vice president. In April 2005 she was elected NRA President, only the second woman elected to the role since the NRA was founded in 1871. She completed her second term in April 2007 and currently serves as a member of the NRA Board of Directors. Froman was elected to The NRA Foundation’s Board of Trustees in 1992 and became The NRA Foundation’s first woman president. She helped to build the successful Friends of NRA program and establish the Foundation’s permanent endowment, which now exceeds $53 million. Froman also promotes firearms education, safety and marksmanship training as an NRA-certified instructor, focusing on women and youth in particular. She helped develop NRA’s Refuse To Be A Victim® program as well as the hunting component of NRA’s Women on Target® program.
How did you transition from being a prominent lawyer in Los Angeles to becoming the second female president of the NRA?
I came very close to being the victim of a home invasion, and I was determined that I would never again be defenseless. I bought a gun very soon after that experience and started training. I became an NRA member and after I moved to Arizona, I spoke in Phoenix at a pro-gun rally. In my speech I said, "If you are strong enough to carry a man's groceries, strong enough to carry a man's babies, then you are strong enough to carry a man's gun." It was 100 degrees at nine o'clock in the morning and that crowd went wild. One gentleman in the crowd came to me afterwards and asked if I was an NRA member. I said, "Of course." He then asked if I had ever thought about running for the NRA Board of Directors, and I said, "No." He said, "Well I think you should, and I'll sponsor you." That gentleman was Bob Corbin, who was Arizona’s Attorney General and about to become president of the NRA. I ran for the Board of Directors in 1992 and had the highest number of votes in the country. Perhaps it was because I was a woman from a western state who liked guns. I paid close attention my first year on the board-in fact I don't think I said a word until the last meeting when I asked a question. I tried to understand how the organization works. It is like no other organization in the country in terms of its structure and function. I was asked if I was willing to serve as second vice president in 1998, and I said yes. I moved up to first vice president two years later and became president in 2005.
What was it like working under movie legend and political activist Charlton Heston?
I learned a lot from Chuck Heston just watching how he interacted with others. He was fair, and he listened to all sides of a matter, but once he made a decision that was final. He did not want to rehash the topic. He was ready to move on to the next issue. Heston was focused on NRA's public image, and he did an awesome job of raising NRA’s positive image with the general public. He brought so many friends to the NRA–we still talk about his uncanny ability to charm even his biggest critics. It wasn't until Heston was president that a lot of media focus came to who the NRA president was.
Women are the fastest growing segment in the shooting sports. To what do you attribute to this growth?
Today, women have more responsibility for their day to day lives and the lives of their children than ever before. There are more women who work outside the home. There are more single women and many are single by choice. Women today have a heightened awareness of ordinary crime, of potential domestic violence, and of possible terrorism. Women are becoming more concerned about understanding their choices for personal safety and for defense of their families. This is why more women are buying guns. This is why more women are taking training. This is why more women are getting their concealed carry permits. It's a change in the culture of our country that is reflected in women's attitudes and their choices about firearms. I'm a big proponent of women-only firearms classes, but not because I don't think women can compete with men-they actually compete very well. In an all-female class, women tend to ask different kinds of questions than they would in a co-ed class. Many women come to these classes because they have been a victim of a crime; they have been raped, they have been attacked, beaten, molested. They understand their physical vulnerability, and they want to do something about it. Once they master the basics of mental preparedness, gun handling and marksmanship, they quickly become more confident and go on to competing and hunting and teaching other women. I love seeing women teaching other women informally and supporting other women in the shooting sports.
The NRA Foundation's blockbuster fundraising program, Friends of NRA, is celebrating 25 years in 2017. How would you describe its impact on the NRA?
The Friends of NRA program has had an enormous impact on the Second Amendment and the shooting sports. As a NRA board member and past president, I went to hundreds of Friends of NRA events across the country for a half dozen years. What I realized immediately was that this was a way for Second Amendment supporters to connect with other like-minded individuals in their communities. This was a huge unintended benefit of the Friends events. At my first Friends of NRA event, I saw people I knew but had no idea they were supporters of the right to keep and bear arms. These events created an opportunity for networking among like-minded people for many Second Amendment-related activities. In some ways, the Friends of NRA events were like a mini NRA Annual Meeting and Exhibits. Even if you couldn't afford the time or expense of travelling across the country with your family to attend annual meeting, once a year you could buy your family tickets to the local Friends event, buy raffle tickets, win prizes and find out what was going on in the Second Amendment arena. Most people unfamiliar with NRA only think of us as a political organization. They don't realize how much the NRA-how much of our resources, how much of our personnel-are devoted to non-political, educational programs. I have my favorite Friends events that I attend every year because I love the field reps and I love the volunteer committees who put on these banquets. This is where you find the heart and soul of the NRA. They put on these events year after year for the love of the Second Amendment and the NRA and I hope this article is dedicated to them.
When did you become a huntress?
When I was an officer of NRA, I met Larry and Brenda Potterfield of Midway USA. One afternoon on a break from a meeting, I went shoe shopping with Brenda. [Laughs] We were hunting for shoes! And this ties in with the Potterfields since they hosted the first Friends of NRA event in Columbia, Missouri, in 1992. Brenda and I got to know each other and she showed me photos of her family trips to Africa and the animals they hunted. I was intrigued by these pictures of this beautiful, intelligent, well-dressed woman in her hunting clothes with the exotic wild animals she had hunted. I was fascinated by this contrast-here was a cultured, sophisticated woman who loved hunting! Later Brenda invited me to her farm to go pheasant hunting. I had never shot an animal and so at first I wasn't sure how I would feel about shooting a pheasant. Well, I shot my first pheasant, and I was immediately hooked on hunting. I was invited back to the Potterfield’s farm go wild turkey hunting with Brenda’s husband Larry. Soon after I went to one of the very first Women On Target hunts in Texas. It was a wild pig hunt, so I shot my first mammal. Hunting provides the excitement and satisfaction of being able to hunt animals and eat what you've harvested-and I've eaten everything I've hunted except for this one very nasty, old European mouflon sheep. After I downed the sheep,and asked my guide where I should take the meat for processing, he said, "Lady, you don't want to eat this." So hunting my own food has been truly an educational experience for a girl who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area.
What words of advice do you have for the future generation of shooters?
Exercise your Second Amendment rights. My dear friend and former NRA board member, the late David Caplan, warned that rights not exercised cease to exist. If you don't go to the range and shoot, pretty soon there won't be shooting ranges. There won't be places to shoot. If there aren't places to shoot, there won't be guns. Guns will be collectibles-things under glass that future historians will talk about: "People actually used to shoot these things." So I tell folks: Support ranges. Support your gun clubs and gun stores. Support The NRA Foundation. You know why the NRA is so successful? "Each of us, one by one, together." Wayne LaPierre says this all the time. You have to go out and do something if you want to be part of the solution.
What is your favorite firearm to use and why?
Well I don't just shoot one gun. My favorites change. Right now my favorite is my Ruger Precision Rifle. I do have to disclose that I am on the Ruger Board of Directors. The Precision Rifle is affordable, American-made, reliable and accurate long-range rifle. I've been interested in long-range shooting for a while now. I took up rifle shooting late in my experience with firearms because it took me a while to understand that stock length and fit is critical. I'm 5 feet 2 inches with a very short (11-1/2”) length of pull, so I didn't like rifle shooting until someone found me a rifle with a very short stock. And then all of a sudden I realized, "Wow, rifle shooting is fun!"
What do you like to do when you aren't working?
I shoot, of course, but not as much as I would like. And I will go on a special hunt every other year. Other than shooting and hunting, I like to make chain maille sterling silver jewelry. I also do bead weaving, which is like crocheting with beads. I do like making things with my hands. I tell people it's like reloading-you have to be precise. The best part is that when I've finished a piece of jewelry, I get to wear it or I auction it off to raise money for the NRA Foundation at Friends events across the country.
You've lived a full and accomplished life with some very strong highs and some lows, do you have a life motto?
I find as I get older that I have more in common with my late father and his life philosophy. He was a scientist-a physicist-and he loved learning new things. When I asked him that very question, he said he wakes up every morning wondering what interesting people he's going to meet that day and what fascinating new things he's going to learn that day. And that's how I like to start every day.
I have two favorite quotes. One is by Judge Alex Kozinski of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, regarding the Second Amendment:
"The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed - where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once."
The other is a quote by Theodore Roosevelt called, "The Man in the Arena": "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
I'm a "doer," and that quote is all about doing something-having courage, not being afraid of failing, not being afraid of being criticized. Doing what you believe is right, knowing that even if you fail, you did more than those who never tried. I'm just like the rest of our NRA supporters out there who do what they can to help the Second Amendment.