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A Brief History Of NRA
Dismayed by the lack of marksmanship shown by their troops, Union
veterans Col. William C. Church and Gen. George Wingate formed the
National Rifle Association in 1871. The primary goal of the association
would be to "promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis,"
according to a magazine editorial written by Church.

After being granted a charter by the state of New York on November 17,
1871, the NRA was founded. Civil War Gen. Ambrose Burnside, who was
also the former governor of Rhode Island and a U.S. Senator, became the
fledgling NRA's first president.

An important facet of the NRA's creation was the development of a
practice ground. In 1872, with financial help from New York state, a site on
Long Island, the Creed Farm, was purchased for the purpose of building a
rifle range. Named Creedmoor, the range opened a year later, and it was
there that the first annual matches were held.

Political opposition to the promotion of marksmanship in New York forced
the NRA to find a new home for its range. In 1892, Creedmoor was
deeded back to the state and NRA's matches moved to Sea Girt, New

The NRA's interest in promoting the shooting sports among America's
youth began in 1903 when NRA Secretary Albert S. Jones urged the
establishment of rifle clubs at all major colleges, universities and military
academies. By 1906, NRA's youth program was in full swing with more
than 200 boys competing in matches at Sea Girt that summer. Today,
youth programs are still a cornerstone of the NRA, with more than one
million youth participating in NRA shooting sports events and affiliated
programs with groups such as 4-H, the Boy Scouts of America, the
American Legion, U.S. Jaycees and others.

Due to the overwhelming growth of NRA's shooting programs, a new
range was needed. Gen. Ammon B. Crichfield, Adjutant General of Ohio,
had begun construction of a new shooting facility on the shores of Lake
Erie, 45 miles east of Toledo, Ohio. Camp Perry became the home of the
annual National Matches, which have been the benchmark for excellence
in marksmanship ever since. With nearly 6,000 people competing annually
in pistol, smallbore and highpower events, the National Matches are one
of the biggest sporting events held in the country today.

Through the association's magazine, The American Rifleman, members
were kept abreast of new firearms bills, although the lag time in publishing
often prevented the necessary information from going out quickly. In
response to repeated attacks on the Second Amendment rights, NRA
formed the Legislative Affairs Division in 1934. While NRA did not lobby
directly at this time, it did mail out legislative facts and analyses to
members, whereby they could take action on their own. In 1975,
recognizing the critical need for political defense of the Second
Amendment, NRA formed the Institute for Legislative Action, or ILA.

Meanwhile, the NRA continued its commitment to training, education and
marksmanship. During World War II, the association offered its ranges to
the government, developed training materials, encouraged members to
serve as plant and home guard members and developed training materials
for industrial security. NRA members even reloaded ammunition for those
guarding war plants. Incidentally, the NRA's call to help arm Britain in 1940
resulted in the collection of more than 7,000 firearms for Britain's defense
against potential invasion by Germany (Britain had virtually disarmed itself
with a series of gun control laws enacted between World War I and World
War II).

After the war, the NRA concentrated its efforts on another much-needed
arena for education and training: the hunting community. In 1949, the
NRA, in conjunction with the state of New York, established the first hunter
education program. Hunter Education courses are now taught by state fish
and game departments across the country and Canada and have helped
make hunting one of the safest sports in existence. Due to increasing
interest in hunting, NRA launched a new magazine in 1973, The American
Hunter, dedicated solely to hunting issues year round. NRA continues its
leadership role in hunting today with the Youth Hunter Education
Challenge (YHEC), a program that allows youngsters to build on the skills
they learned in basic hunter education courses. YHECs are now held in
43 states and three Canadian provinces, involving an estimated 40,000
young hunters.

The American Hunter and The American Rifleman were the mainstays of
NRA publications until the debut of The American Guardian in 1997. The
Guardian was created to cater to a more mainstream audience, with less
emphasis on the technicalities of firearms and a more general focus on
self-defense and recreational use of firearms.  The Guardian was
renamed America's 1st Freedom in June of 2000.

Law enforcement training was next on the priority list for program
development. Although a special police school had been reinstated at
Camp Perry in 1956, NRA became the only national trainer of law
enforcement officers with the introduction of its NRA Police Firearms
Instructor certification program in 1960. Today, there are more than
10,000 NRA-certified police and security firearms instructors. Additionally,
top law enforcement shooters compete each year in eight different pistol
and shotgun matches at the National Police Shooting Championships held
in Jackson, Mississippi.

In civilian training, the NRA continues to be the leader in firearms
education. Over 50,000 Certified Instructors now train about 750,000 gun
owners a year. Courses are available in basic rifle, pistol, shotgun,
muzzleloading firearms, personal protection, and even ammunition
reloading. Additionally, nearly 1,000 Certified Coaches are specially
trained to work with young competitive shooters. Since the establishment
of the lifesaving Eddie Eagle® Gun Safety Program in 1988, more than 12
million pre-kindergarten to sixth grade children have learned that if they
see a firearm in an unsupervised situation, they should "STOP. DON'T
TOUCH. LEAVE THE AREA. TELL AN ADULT." Over the past seven
years, Refuse To Be A Victim™ seminars have helped more than 15,000
men and women develop their own personal safety plan using common
sense strategies.

In 1990, NRA made a dramatic move to ensure that the financial support
for firearms-related activities would be available now and for future
generations. Establishing the NRA Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt
organization, provided a means to raise millions of dollars to fund gun
safety and educational projects of benefit to the general public.
Contributions to the Foundation are tax-deductible and benefit a variety of
American constituencies, including youths, women, hunters, competitive
shooters, gun collectors, law enforcement agents and persons with
physical disabilities.

While widely recognized today as a major political force and as America's
foremost defender of Second Amendment rights, the NRA has, since its
inception, been the premier firearms education organization in the world.
But our successes would not be possible without the tireless efforts and
countless hours of service our nearly three million members have given to
champion Second Amendment rights and support NRA programs. As
former Clinton spokesman George Stephanopoulos said, "Let me make
one small vote for the NRA. They're good citizens. They call their
Congressmen. They write. They vote. They contribute. And they get what
they want over time."