Two FNRA fundraising events coming up in August

Shooting ranges and shooting sports in Alaska are beneficiaries

NRA Special Event Coordinator Megan McConnell, barbecue master John Greenwood, and Cordova FNRA President Gary Graham check on the meat in the smoker for the pre-event dinner on Aug. 25, 2016. Photo courtesy Cordova Friends of the NRA/For The Cordova Times

Cordova’s chapter of Friends of the National Rifle Association is gearing up for its annual fundraising events, Smoke N’ Guns on Aug. 24, and a prime rib banquet on Aug. 26.

The magnet for many is the chance to win various firearms, bid on adventure tours, hunting trips, jewelry, and other prizes, and partake in a prime rib dinner.

The local events have also gained Cordova a nationwide reputation in NRA circles for having the highest amount spent per attendee in the nation, says Gary Graham, chapter president.

“We fell from first place in 2016, but we’re still in the top 10. We’ll be right up there again this year. Most banquets in the nation, and even in Alaska, have hundreds of banquet attendees. Cordova has 80. We’re the biggest little event in the nation,” Graham said.

The Cordova chapter has grossed nearly $80,000 a year for the last three years, he said, and approximately $30,000-$42,000 are made available for grants in each of those years.

Only 80 tickets are available for the banquet event, complete with silent and live auctions, raffles, games, and the Wall of Guns.

“During the Wall of Guns raffle, tickets are sold at $10 each. As soon as the 100 tickets are sold, the bell is rung and a winner is drawn from that round and gets to pick from about 35 available guns pictured on the wall. That round’s tickets are then discarded, and another round of tickets are sold. This goes around an average of seven times during the night,” he said.

Smoke N’ Guns, a precursor to the banquet – and known in previous years as Spit N’ Guns,

will feature John Greenwood’s famous slow-roasted, smoked pulled pork, cowboy beans, and cornbread.

Due to limited space at the banquet, for which only 80 tickets are available, “we hold a pre-event dinner and drawing to allow more people to participate, who might not be able to attend the banquet,” Graham said.

Both fundraisers take place at the Powder House Bar and Grill, which is owned by Graham, and his wife, Libbie.

The couple helped organize the local FNRA chapter eight years ago, and now, said Graham, “it has become a passion for us to support the Friends of NRA and the shooting sports.”

Fifty percent of funds raised at Alaska FNRA events, like Cordova’s, goes back to communities across the state, in the form of grants.

“The first year of awarding grant money locally was used to purchase new body armor for the Cordova Police Department, with a grant for a little over $5,000. This year, we made a grant to the Cordova Trap and Gun Club for a little over $38,000 for range improvements, and Women on Target classes.

“Cordova is a very patriotic town with a high percentage of military veterans. The support from the town in very impressive, and appreciated,” he said.

In 2017 FNRA fundraisers resulted in over $1 million in grants within the state, from shooting range development to shooting programs for women and youths.

Youth courses are a top priority, Graham said.

Purchase dinner tickets to Smoke N’ Guns and banquet, or raffle tickets at the Powder House, 907-424-3529, or call Gary Graham at 907-429-3332, or Libbie Graham at 907-429-3331.

For more information on the Friends of the NRA, visit www.friendsofnra.org.

RELATED: Check out FNRA’s recent Women On Target class

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Cinthia Gibbens-Stimson is a staff writer and photographer for The Cordova Times. She has been writing in one form or another for 30-plus years and has had a longstanding relationship with The Cordova Times starting in 1989. She’s been an Alaskan since 1976 and first moved to Cordova in 1978. She’s lived in various West Texas towns; in Denver, Colorado; in McGrath, Cordova, Galena, Kodiak, Wasilla, Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska and in Bangalore, India. She has two children and three grandchildren. She can be reached at cgibbens-stimson@thecordovatimes.com or follow her on Instagram @alaskatoindia.