Friends of NRA provide thousands in grant funds

Since 2005, Mid Nebraska Friends of NRA has contributed more than $55,000 in grant money for equipment, and youth and adult education in Custer County and surrounding area. Next weekend the committee’s one major fundraiser will take place in Broken Bow, with the 8th Annual Mid Nebraska Friends of NRA Banquet. The banquet will be April 14, with social hour and games beginning at 5 p.m., a prime rib dinner at 7 p.m., and a live auction and silent auction rounding out the evening. Tickets for the event are $25 in advance, which not only gets you the prime rib dinner but an opportunity to win some fantastic prizes. The proceeds from the banquet are used for education and safety programs, range development, conservation efforts and many other qualified educational programs in Nebraska and Custer County. Those funds are awarded to various clubs, shooting programs and organizations in the form of grants. Friends of NRA committee members Matthew Haumont, Ray Hunt and Randy Peterson encourage any group involved in shooting education and safety programs to apply for these grant funds. “We need some good grant applications to come in so we can get some of these funds out,” says Ray Hunt. “We would like to see the money come back home.” Mid Nebraska Friends of NRA has gained quite a reputation for hosting one of the top banquets in the country. Nationally, Friends of NRA is in its 20th year, and in only its eighth year the local group has become the 20th largest banquet of the more than 1,100 in the nation. In the 10-state Midwest Region, the Mid Nebraska Friends are the fourth largest banquet, and first in net to gross. An astounding 67 1/2 percent of every dollar raised goes toward the program, a figure the committee members are very proud of. The Mid Nebraska Friends of NRA committee is made up of 15 members. However, being a foundation there is no membership requirement for Friends of NRA. “It is people participating in and promoting safe hunting,” explains Hunt. The banquet is open to anyone and everyone. In its first year, the Mid Nebraska banquet welcomed more than 400 people, and last year 391 meals were served. Committee members all agree it is the support from the local community that makes the event the success it is. Everyone makes their contribution to the cause, with even the committee members purchasing their own tickets for the banquet. Many of the prizes and auction items are underwritten or donated, all of which creates more money to potentially come back to the area. Half of the money raised goes to the National Friends of NRA, with the other half staying in Nebraska. However, Peterson points out that of that half that goes to national, some of that money has come back to the state as well. The committee emphasizes the fact that the banquet is not a political event - the only agenda is education and safety. The past couple of years have also included a pre-event raffle, with the winners drawn at the banquet, and a post-event raffle in the summer with the winners drawn at the Custer County Fair. Thousands of dollars in prizes will be given away at the banquet, with specific drawings for veterans and/or active military personnel. That was a tradition started early on, with the banquet being originally held in the National Guard Armory. It had to be moved due to national security which required the lockdown of the Armory, and the banquet has been at the Municipal Auditorium since. One of the special items available at the banquet this year will be a 2012 high caliber series limited edition .45 pistol. The committee tries to mix things up, introducing some new games each year. They also offer a wide variety of prizes and auction items, some just for kids and some just for the ladies. The prizes are made possible by donations, sponsorships and underwriting. Each fall, committee member Gary Lawrence hosts a game walk, paying all the costs of the event himself. The proceeds from the game walk are donated to the Friends of NRA banquet. Anyone wanting tickets to the banquet, or more information on becoming a sponsor or underwriter for the banquet, may contact one of the following committee members: Randy Peterson at 870-3000, Matthew Haumont at 872-2348, Ray Hunt at 643-2241, Adam Glendy at 527-3305 or Rod Palmer at 935-1285. Grant recipients for 2012 from Friends of NRA include the Broken Bow Police Department and Custer County Historical Society, who both used the funds for new gun cabinets. Grants were also awarded to Broken Bow Boys Scouts Troop 48 and the Nebraska 4-H Camp, plus many more throughout Nebraska. For more information on applying for a grant through Mid Nebraska Friends of NRA, contact one of the committee members listed above. They are even happy to help fill out the grant application as well, which are due by Nov. 1.