Friends of NRA benefit in planning

Jeff Massengill of Americana Arms, left, listens as Ed Griffin, right, explains how he and fellow National Rifle Association volunteers have been able to organize successful fundraising events for the Friends of NRA program in recent years. The two men were at a meeting held at Americana Arms last Thursday evening to discuss holding a Friends of NRA banquet in Beeville in late October.

BEEVILLE – A small group of volunteers met on the evening of June 6 at Americana Arms to start the process of organizing the first-ever Friends of the NRA banquet in Beeville.

Before adjourning, the group decided on holding the event on Oct. 24, probably at the Bee County Expo Center.

Ed Griffin, one of the organizers responsible for organizing similar events in Falls City, was at the meeting to share his expertise.

National Rifle Association representative Tyler Ward, NRA field representative for southern Texas, led the meeting.

Griffin and Ward explained that funds raised by the Friends of the NRA organization help provide a number of services for those who support the Second Amendment to the Constitution.

A full 78 percent of the money raised supports youth programs while the remaining funds help provide training and education, range development, women’s programs, conservation, special grants and endowments.

Those programs all are funded on the local, state and national level by the NRA Foundation.

The funds have been responsible for providing more than 18,000 grants since the foundation was established in 1990.

Money is raised by selling tickets to the banquets and by silent and live auctions of items.

“It’s a night out,” said Jeff Massengill, who hosted the meeting last Thursday at his business, Americana Arms.

“If you’re a volunteer for Friends of the NRA, you’re making a big difference,” Ward told those at the meeting.

Massengill called the banquet “a cool place to be able to bring people of like minds together, and you get to slobber over lots of guns.”

Although the auctions will feature plenty of items like camping gear, knives and other shooting-related equipment, Ward and Massengill said the guns are what will attract the higher bids in the auctions.

The guns to be auctioned off will include handguns, rifles and shotguns with NRA logos engraved on them.

Some of the other items will include home decor, knife sets, ammunition, luggage and even some jewelry.

Since 1992, the organization has held almost 22,000 events, attracting 4.1 million persons, raised $850 million, and awarded $396 million and 45,000 grants to support various NRA programs.

Ward and Griffin recommended charging $50 a ticket for the event to be held here and to provide tables of eight persons for $500.

Griffin recommended using a caterer he has used for events in Karnes County because the food is prepared at the site, and the steaks are excellent.

Griffin told those at the meeting that their banquets have raised between $75,000 and $95,000 for the organization after expenses have been paid.

The organizer added that the Karnes County events have been fortunate be located in the Eagle Ford Shale oil field where money is often no problem for some supporters and auction bidders.

“Karnes City outdoes San Antonio every time.” Griffin said of the events he has helped to organize.

Those at last week’s meeting agreed to meet again on July 25 to continue planning for the October event.

Griffin said he has been involved in the process of awarding grants to local applicants because he has been on the local board.

Money awarded in the grants often goes to 4-H organizations and Reserve Officer Training Corps units to help pay for the guns and ammunition used by their members.

“I want to see the kids with the big checks,” Griffin said. The idea is to see youngsters “get to have that next gun or ammunition.”

Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at