The election year and concern by National Rifle Association members across the state that their rights could be impacted by new national leadership have increased not only membership but also donations to the foundation.

Those and other comments about the condition of the NRA locally, statewide and nationally were made by NRA Senior Field Representative, Darren Delong Of Moore.

Delong made the comments at a monthly meeting of the Woodward Friends of the NRA held Tuesday evening at Butch’s Gun Shop west of Woodward.

Delong made the comments with regard to the growing number of sponsors willing to drop more than $1,000 toward the sponsorship of local activities that introduce shooting sports to youth across the state.

“We here in Oklahoma are the number one sponsor selling state in the United States,” Delong said. “And I think if things keep going the way they look like they are, this club here could carry Western Oklahoma for donations.”

Delong made his comments as the local club here prepares for the annual fundraising banquet slated to take place Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Woodward County Fairgrounds. The banquet already has sold more than 400 meal tickets and will boast many firearms and works of art as well as hunting trips for its auction. For instance, there is an African hunting trip as well as an Alaskan trip that will be on the auction block Saturday night.

According to Delong, the banquet stands apart from almost all other large organizational fundraisers for two reasons.

“The money we make at this does not go for any political purpose,” Delong said. “It all goes to the national foundation and comes back to us to support youth shooting events like the 4-H, the FFA shooting program and now the Oklahoma Junior Rodeo Association shooting program that we have begun.”

Delong said perhaps one of the most important activities of the NRA is the mentorship of youths who become interested in and take up shooting sports.

“Also, while most banquets are boring for the kids, we have an air rife shooting range for the kids to participate in while their parents are at the banquet, said committee member and manager of the kids shooting range, Pat Kenneaster. “That is what we want to do, make it a family event and watching the excitement in those kids over that range is just addictive. Sometimes I don’t even eat.”

To further the youth focus of the event, the Friends of NRA have continued a popular event that draws hundreds of children.

“This year, each child that comes to the banquet will get either a BB gun or a dufflebag to go home with,” said committee member, Dale Blaylock. “it is through these kids that we build future NRA members.”

According to Delong, the national front is similar and perhaps even more significantly impacted by this year’s election with regard to a sharp increase in NRA membership and fears about the loss of the freedom to own firearms.

“States like California, Alaska and Colorado have increased membership because where your risk for losing those freedoms is most pronounced, your going to have memberships that have to fight to keep those freedoms that much harder,” Delong said.

Delong believes the most significant issue for the NRA at present was the recent Supreme Court decision agreeing that the Second Amendment did have individual implications.

“Oh, that was a good decision on their part, we will continue to see this issue come up again because now all these cities are trying to come up with ordinances too,” Delong said.

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