At the 2017 Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Atlanta, I witnessed the record-breaking crowd of attendees who gathered to experience the programs, industry supporters and community of Second Amendment enthusiasts that make the National Rifle Association what it is today. By kicking off the weekend’s series of events with a focus on preserving our shooting sports traditions and teaching freedom through education, training and public service programs, the National NRA Foundation Banquet set the tone for another positive and passionate Annual Meeting that I was excited to be a part of.
NRA programs play a critical role in ensuring the future of the Second Amendment, and NRA Foundation grant funding supports them on local and national levels. Through those programs and grants we are able to reach millions of people with firearms education and training and to create lifelong supporters of the freedoms and traditions we cherish. I’ve come to realize how being a sportsman taught me invaluable life lessons As Friends of NRA celebrates 25 years of fundraising this year, I continue to be impressed by the level of support for programs and organizations that promote the shooting sports that it has made possible. The NRA Foundation has awarded more than 42,000 grants with the help of more than $743 million raised by Friends of NRA since its inception.
At the many Friends of NRA events that I’ve attended, including the one held each year at our banquet hall at Richard Childress Racing, it is especially rewarding to meet the young people who have been impacted by NRA Foundation supported programs. And it is grassroots events like these that are critical to reaching our current and potential Second Amendment supporters. As a sportsman, I am always looking for ways to recruit, retain and reactivate other shooting sports enthusiasts—Friends of NRA and The NRA Foundation are key contributors to those three principles. The next 25 years we’re going to have to work even harder Nonetheless, in the next 25 years we’re going to have to work even harder. With so many distractions competing for our time and attention in today’s modern world, it’s easier than ever for people to fall into complacency or disinterest in pursuing and protecting the shooting sports and outdoors lifestyles. We’ll need to continue increasing grant funding to programs and organizations that encourage people to get active, along with taking it upon ourselves to pass along our passion and experience. I’m focused on imparting our hunting heritage, outdoor traditions and American freedoms to our next generation I was introduced to hunting, fishing and the great outdoors at a very young age. My step-father used to take me hunting in the woods of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, when I was a boy—sometimes we’d spend all day squirrel hunting. I’ve come to realize how being a sportsman taught me invaluable life lessons: sit still, be quiet, be patient, and respect your surroundings, along with safety, ethics and marksmanship.
Today, I’m focused on imparting our hunting heritage, outdoor traditions and American freedoms to our next generation and to protecting our Second Amendment through grassroots efforts, policy and outreach. I want our grandchildren to have the same opportunities that I did when I was a child. The best way to ensure that is to be a mentor.
Take someone out into the woods to hunt. Take someone out sport shooting for the first time. Let them experience that thrill, and I promise you they’ll be hooked. We need more opportunities for people to take aim. And that’s where The NRA Foundation and Friends of NRA come in—to support, fund and maintain the programs, places and people who provide those opportunities to Americans of all ages and all levels of familiarity with firearms and the shooting sports. With your continued support, The NRA Foundation will carry on this mission to protect freedom’s future for generations to come.