When it comes to living up to a reputation, it’s hard to find a better example than the dedicated supporters of Friends of NRA in western Tennessee. For everyone from committee members and shooting sports program coordinators to local business owners looking to support their community, volunteering is a love that runs deep. "Through the many programs The NRA Foundation supports, contributes to, funds and generally makes possible, it is reaching so many young people."
Friends of NRA committees all across the region—and even the entire state—have enjoyed a special boost to their fundraising efforts for several years. It comes in the form of Scott Kilby, owner of the local Range USA, Inc., indoor shooting and training facilities.
“Range USA has been involved with Friends of NRA in some capacity since we opened in 2002,” Scott explains. “Range USA is passionate about the Second Amendment and the vital role our youth will play in protecting that freedom—they are ones the baton will be handed off to. Through the many programs The NRA Foundation supports, contributes to, funds and generally makes possible, it is reaching so many young people. Range USA loves and supports all the wonderful things Friends of NRA is involved with. My only regret is that we aren't able to help even more than we do!”
Attendees line up for a recent Gun-O-Rama event at Range USA. Photo courtesy/Scott Kilby.
“Scott is a true patriot and friend to Friends of NRA,” says Mike Webb, NRA senior field representative for Tennessee. “Range USA hosts our Gun-O-Rama events at its two locations in Jackson and Memphis. Scott donates door prizes, food and range time for attendees of those events and hosts other fundraising contests for us in his shops all the time.”
Driving the interest in and success of those Gun-O-Rama’s even more, Scott pays for all postage on the promotional marketing materials sent out by the committees and also advertises in the Range USA newsletter—which reaches tens of thousands of shooting sports enthusiasts in the area. Postage might seem like a minor detail in a fundraising budget, but that donation adds up to more than $10,000 in net revenue to the Memphis Friends of NRA event and more than $7,000 to the Forked Deer Friends of NRA event in Jackson.
For the Memphis, West Tennessee, Tipton County, Fayette County and Forked Deer Friends of NRA banquet events, Scott underwrites the firearm door prize and provides a free range pass—valued at $18—to every attendee. Plus he sponsors four event game tables at his hometown banquet in Memphis. In 2017 and 2018, Scott also contributed to Friends of NRA as a statewide donor, providing God’s Glory Bible for every event held in Tennessee to use for its fundraising efforts.
Attendees browse the merchandise at a recent Gun-O-Rama event at Range USA.
“I'm always thrilled to see the fundraising success at the area Friends of NRA banquets that Range USA supports and donates to,” notes Scott. “Obviously, Range USA is not the only reason all the banquets do so well—it’s because of the community involvement including other supporting business and the amazing committee volunteers.”
One of those volunteers is Mitch Dean, the new chairman of the Memphis Friends of NRA committee. He returns that recognition and appreciation for all the contributions of time, space and monetary support provided by Range USA to the Memphis committee. “Scott and the team at Range USA have a huge impact on our fundraising efforts through a multitude of ways,” he notes. “They contribute thousands of dollars of support, act as one of our event FFLs, provide space for our committee to meet and help in most any way that we ask. They are truly one of the anchor holds to our success. We also have a phenomenal field rep in Mike Webb and some of the finest people on our committee that I’ve ever met. It’s an honor to work with all of them.”
When Mitch came across Friends of NRA through a Google search in 2014, he quickly put the full weight of his volunteering commitment into the program after learning about the impact of NRA Foundation grants.
MidSouth Quail Forever youth program participants display their NRA Foundation recognition. Photo courtesy/Johnny McFarland.
“Having been in non-profit work before and having a new-found passion for shooting, I decided to explore [the program] deeper,” Mitch explains. “I went to my first committee meeting and learned about the work being done in our area from some of the coaches and supporters. One coach worked with a small group of young men at an inner-city school that would be the last place you would expect to have a trap program. I heard, from more than one witness, the discipline of those young men and respect they demonstrated to their coach, the other competitors and their sport. That's when I decided this was an effort in which I could invest myself.”
Fellow Memphis Friends of NRA committee members Johnny McFarland and Robert Gorman join Mitch as dedicated volunteers. They both see the fundraising come full circle, experiencing the direct impact of grant funding through their involvement with local firearms education and training programs.
A MidSouth Quail Forever YHEC participant is coached in rifle. Photo courtesy/Johnny McFarland.
The MidSouth Quail Forever chapter, for which Johnny McFarland is the sporting clays chairman, has received 11 NRA Foundation grants totaling nearly $14,000 to fund the organization’s Youth Hunter Education Challenge (YHEC) and Youth Quail Hunt activities.
“The NRA Foundation grants enable us to have a much larger group participate than the chapter could afford on our own,” Johnny notes. “Our Quail Forever chapter became involved with Friends of NRA more than ten years ago. We usually sell out one or two tables at the banquet each year, and banquet committee members volunteer at the YHEC event. Our chapter is happy to support Friends of NRA events, and we have even been a statewide sponsor in conjunction with other Tennessee Quail Forever chapters. The NRA Foundation has been a big supporter of youth hunts and youth events throughout the state of Tennessee.”
The Arlington Trappers SCTP team at 2017 Nationals. Photo courtesy/Robert Gorman.
Among those youth activities, the Arlington Trappers has received an NRA Foundation grant every year since 2007—adding up to 12 grants totaling more than $40,000—for its Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) team. Robert Gorman continues to help with the Arlington Trappers shotgun and Arlington Steel action pistol programs after eight years of direct involvement. "When it all comes down to it, these young men and women are the future of shooting sports and gun safety, so it really is all about them and making an impact on their lives."
“The ammo, firearms, practice equipment and safety gear provided through NRA Foundation grants have allowed us to practice more and develop skills, including through dryfire systems and other training devices when we cannot shoot outside,” Robert explains. “When it all comes down to it, these young men and women are the future of shooting sports and gun safety, so it really is all about them and making an impact on their lives. Friends of NRA understands that and helps provide an avenue for young people to be involved with shooting sports.”
Robert also emphasizes the value in the approach that Friends of NRA takes to fundraising for and promoting firearms training and education programs. “I really like how Friends of NRA is not political and is all volunteer-driven,” he shares. “It is for programs that help kids, law enforcement, hunting initiatives and all kinds of safety programs. I continue to volunteer for the program due to the impact it can have on youth, women and shooting programs across the country.”
Robert captures the driving force behind his fellow west Tennessee Friends of NRA volunteers and community supporters—and that of everyone around the country who works to continue building this program’s success. The efforts of these Memphis committee members and local sponsor Range USA prove that where there’s a volunteer spirit, there’s a positive impact just around the corner.
MidSouth Quail Forever YHEC participants on the archery line. Photo courtesy/Johnny McFarland.
“At every banquet, there is a list of programs that The NRA Foundation funds statewide,” Scott concludes. “I have seen the Eddie Eagle Program brought to several area law enforcement agencies and seen the program delivered to area schools. And I am aware of several area high school trap teams that wouldn't exist without the NRA Foundation grants funded by Friends of NRA. So, I know that Friends of NRA is touching the lives of children and teenagers all over west Tennessee for the better! It makes me proud to know that Range USA played a part and contributed to the community and our young people in all those wonderful ways. And, I just want to see those numbers and programs grow.”