The National Rifle Association
Union veterans Col. William C. Church and Gen. George Wingate formed the
National Rifle Association (NRA) in 1871. The primary goal of the association
was 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 NRA’s first president.
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.
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 1990, the 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.