I wish every American hunter understood the extent to which the NRA works on behalf of all hunters—NRA members and non-members alike. Those of us who keep tabs on the NRA’s eternal vigilance on the legislative and political front witness the difference the NRA makes in defending our freedoms every day. As the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) fights to protect hunting’s future, many times we hunters never even hear about a proposed anti-hunting law because NRA-ILA already has shut it down. Likewise, when it comes to NRA General Operations, the NRA’s safety and training arm, the NRA offers hunter safety, education and training programs for hunters at every skill level, from the NRA’s free state-of-the-art online hunter education courseto the NRA Youth Hunter Education Challenge, America’s premier youth hunter event launched in 1985, and more. On that front, some hunters may not be aware that 70 years ago it was the NRA that created America’s first-ever hunter education course in conjunction with the state of New York in 1949. And then there is NRA Publications and the NRA’s American Hunter magazine—the largest all-hunting monthly hunting publication worldwide, delivering one million readers.
But the NRA’s efforts go even farther. While the following does not cover it all, here are just a few extras the NRA does to support mainstream, all-American hunters 24/7.
Bureau of Land Management employee and veteran Justin Kelly hunts for deer on BLM lands in southern Oregon. (Image by April Kelly.)
NRA Affiliated Clubs, Associations and Ranges The NRA Clubs and Associations Department provides services and assistance to a network of more than 15,000 NRA-affiliated clubs, associations and businesses. From hunter-backed NRA state associations such as the Texas State Rifle Association and the California Rifle and Pistol Association to the Chelsea Rod and Gun Club in Michigan, the NRA’s grassroots network of affiliated organizations puts the NRA in the forefront of community action. Its quarterly NRA Club Connection magazinekeeps hunters and shooters connected by informing them about NRA programs, advice on range services and grant funding opportunities.
In addition, NRA’s Range Services Department provides resources for public and private shooting ranges as we hunters look for more places to hone our skills. Services to range owners and operators include on-site range maintenance, educational seminars, grants and marketing. It also oversees a Range Technical Team consisting of a national network of volunteers trained in shooting range development, design and operations. The hunting- and shooting-oriented events these facilities ultimately offer further provide for hunting’s future.
NRA-Certified Instructors Do prospective hunters and shooters know that the NRA, through its Education and Training Division, trains more than one million people in firearm safety and marksmanship each year? It does this through a network of 125,000-plus NRA-certified instructors, 8,000 coaches and 2,200 training counselors. Whether people want to learn firearm basics to begin hunting or they are seasoned hunters who want to become NRA-certified instructors, courses cover the gamut. For more information, visit firearmtraining.nra.org. To find an NRA course near you, visit findnra.nra.org, enter your zip code or city and state and select a search radius.
A family scouts for hunting locations in the Midwest. (Image courtesy of USFWS Midwest Region.)
The NRA Foundation Grants TheNRA Foundation,Inc. is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that raises tax-deductible contributions to support the firearm-related public interest activities of the NRA and like-minded organizations. It builds partnerships and provides grants to fund programs supporting a shared vision.
Since its establishment in 1990, The NRA Foundation has provided in excess of $398 million in grant funding, much of which has benefitted hunting-related endeavors. Over the last five years alone, it has funded nearly $10.6 million in grants and programs specifically for hunting and conservation.
Will You Bring Other Hunters into the NRA Loop? Hunters will appreciate learning this NRA background and will want to take advantage of the opportunities and services the NRA provides to the hunting community. No other hunting organization in America does more for American hunters than the NRA. If hunters knew more about what the NRA does—often behind the scenes—I believe they all would be NRA members.
Nothing beats hands-on continuing hunter education. (Image courtesy of the USFWS Midwest Region.)
About the Author: Karen Mehall Phillips is the director of communications for the NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum and senior editor of NRA’s American Hunter. An avid rifle and bow hunter, she has hunted for 30 years and in 29 states, Canada, Italy, Finland, Germany, Spain, New Zealand, Greenland and Africa, including for two of the Big Five.
Karen draws on her experience to educate non-hunters on the critical role that hunters play in wildlife conservation worldwide and to inform them of the dangers anti-hunting extremists present to the future of wildlife conservation. She is invested in fighting America's culture war on hunters and hunting and works to shed light on anti-hunters’ blatant attempts to tout emotion and misinformation over scientific facts.
An NRA Endowment member, Karen worked in the NRA public relations arena prior to joining NRA Publications in 1998. She is the founding editor of two NRA official journals: America's 1st Freedom and Woman's Outlook. National writing awards include being named the 2015 Carl Zeiss Sports Optics Writer of the Year. She actively promotes women and families in the outdoors. She is also a member of the Washington metropolitan area's Fairfax Rod & Gun Club, a founding member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association, a member of Safari Club International and a Life member of the Dallas Safari Club and the Mule Deer Foundation.
Follow NRA Hunters' Leadership Forum on Twitter@HuntersLead.