The Pony Express Chapter of the Friends of NRA will be hosting their inaugural banquet in St. Joseph next month to raise funds for the shooting sports and wildlife conservation efforts.

Travis Scott, NRA field representative, said funds raised at the event are not used for political action, legislative funding or salaries of employees. He said the money is used to provide grants for youth firearm safety and education programs, hunter education, range development and improvement, women’s training seminars and wildlife conservation efforts.

In addition, the state funds are used in public and private schools along with homeschool shooting sports. The grants the organization offers have benefitted shooting programs in 91 of Missouri’s 114 counties.

He said they are one of the largest funding mechanisms for the Missouri National Archery in the Schools Program (MoNASP) through the Missouri Department of Conservation.

“We gave a $30,000 grant this year and all the schools in Platte County are going to have archery in the schools in the coming year,” Scott said. “So this summer they’ll be getting all their equipment.”

In addition, they help fund and staff the Missouri Youth Hunter Education Challenge which is a weeklong competition in June. The conservation department sponsors the event which offers a chance for participants to build on the skills that were introduced in the hunter education classroom. The event includes eight disciplines of shooting, wildlife identification and shooting safety.

Steve Groshong, chairperson of the local chapter, said they are a major contributor to 4-H and FFA shooting sports programs in the state.

They have provided grants for Buchanan County 4-H, Maysville School District R-1 FFA Trapshooting Team and Daviess County 4-H Shooting Sports.

“We get a lot of support from hunters because they realize that the future of outdoor sports and hunting is in our youth,” Groshong said. “We want to concentrate on making sure that they have a respect for firearms and know how to safely handle them so they can engage in and enjoy shooting sports whether it be target shooting or hunting.”

Groshong said during the Friends of NRA banquet, there will be raffles for firearms and outdoor related products along with a silent auction and a live auction for larger items. Longtime auctioneer Greg Clement from Holt County will be at the event.

Pony Express Chapter of the Friends of NRA will host the banquet at 5:30 p.m. on June 1 at Kovac’s Hall located at 121 SE Turner Road in St. Joseph. An individual ticket is $35 and business table prices for eight people range in price.

Tickets can be ordered online at www.friendsofnra.org by clicking “events” or by contacting Groshong by phone at 816-387-1424.

Margaret Slayton can be reached at npsports@newspressnow.com.