Who are the Friends of NRA? What do they do in our community?
According to Steve Payne, the co-chairman of the Johnson County, Friends of NRA,
“We say that we raise funds to support youth shooting sports but it is much bigger than that. With the money we raise, 50% of it goes to the national level, allowing the NRA foundation to put together educational programs for kids, women, and different programs that support the youth throughout the nation. The other 50% of funds are distributed at the local level by Friends of NRA for schools, 4-H, and other shooting programs that fill out grants for their programs to be supported.”
I was able to sit down with Steve to discuss the function of the Friends of NRA and how they are making an impact at the local level. Friends of NRA is a 501 C3 non-profit organization that is run at the local level by all volunteers. Funds are raised through donations they collect throughout the year and the fundraiser they host at the end of the year. The money raised in 2021 allowed the Friends of NRA to give out 36 grants in the state of Arkansas. Nine grants were given to schools within Johnson, Polk, and Logan counties. The grants presented to shooting programs at schools and 4-H clubs, allow them to keep the programs running, growing, and thriving. The schools and shooting programs in Johnson County that received grants are the University of the Ozarks, Clarksville High School, West Side High School, Lamar High School, and Oark High School. In Logan County, Magazine High School and County Line High School received grants, and in Pope County, Russellville High School received a grant.
The Johnson County Friends of NRA fundraising efforts include things like firearm raffles, giveaways, etc. In order to do what they do, though, the Friends of NRA have to have a Federal Firearms License to receive, handle, and transfer firearms to the future owner, legally. As a donated service, Big Buck N Bass in Clarksville, AR provides that service for Friends of NRA and deals with all of their firearm handling and paperwork for them. By providing this licensing service for Friends of NRA, Big Buck N Bass does not just aid them with this cost, they also aid them in providing them a service that allows the Friends of NRA to go out into the community and provide their services to others.
Currently, Friends of NRA are actively fundraising and working towards hosting their end-of-the-year banquet in October. They have many moving parts for their fundraiser, but it all starts with local businesses that have been given the opportunity to donate a specific amount of money based on the pricing chart or service provided that is equal to the value on the pricing sheet. This donation from the small business allows them to be promoted by Friends of NRA. Friends of NRA publishes an annual flyer and a banner that they take to all of the events that they set up at, and each of their supporting businesses will be on the flyer and the banner. Each business also receives its own banner that will be displayed at the banquet and then given to the business so that they can hang it up in their business. Steve mentioned that Big Buck N Bass Outdoors is automatically included in their promotional materials and benefits because of the value of the services that they donate to Friends of NRA.
“Friends of NRA will set up a booth at 11 or 12 different fairs, festivals, and those kinds of things throughout the summer. At these events, we will sell raffle tickets for several firearms, as well as tickets to the banquet, and will hand out a thousand (or more) of those flyers that list our partners, their name, their business, and their contact information” Steve explained.
I was also able to sit down with Dondi Harkreader, who is the co-owner of Big Buck N Bass Outdoors with his dad, who is also a chairman for the Friends of NRA. Big Buck N Bass Outdoors is a local small business in Clarksville that sells everything from hunting apparel, to firearms, to fishing supplies, to protein powders and health-centered products.
When discussing the origination and the mission behind Big Buck N Bass Outdoors, Dondi shared, “I’ve always wanted to own a small business in Clarksville because it has always felt like home to me. When me and my wife bought this building, we didn’t exactly know what we wanted to do with it. I knew I wanted to pursue my health and wellness thing but didn’t need an entire building for that. So, I collaborated with my dad, discussed some options, and landed in the outdoors because it has always been something near and dear to our hearts. So, we decided to open Big Buck N Bass last October and the rest is kind of history.”
Dondi expressed how important it was to him to open up a business that allows him and his dad to work their “regular” jobs, run their business together, and provide jobs to the citizens of Johnson County. Supporting the Friends of NRA is an added bonus for them because of how passionate they are about non-profit organizations and supporting those organizations. A long-time connection between the Friends of NRA and Big Buck N Bass has provided extreme benefits for all parties involved. If you are interested in checking out Big Buck N Bass and all that they offer, you can go to their Facebook page, Big Buck N Bass Outdoor, where you will find all of their contact and location information.
Other current partners and supporters of Friends of NRA for the past year include: Master Printing, Meadors Lumber Co, ARTRAC Sales & Rentals, B&B Sales, Crooked Cow Restaurant & Catering, River Valley Oil & Propane, Moore & Company Realtors, Nowotny Service, Miller Roofing Company, Omega, Haller Motorworx & Farm Equipment, Oark General Store, King Gallery & Auction Services, Custom Automated Mfg Inc, Jeromy Carpenter & Sons Heating & Air, Hampton Gun & Pawn, Alethes Realty, Clarksville Family Pharmacy, Circle H Bar Ranch Meats, and Clarksville Cinema.
Members of the community can support the Friends of NRA by signing up to be a volunteer and help set up and work a booth at the different events they will be at selling raffle tickets and talking to different people about Friends of NRA. You can also support Friends of NRA by purchasing a ticket and attending their annual banquet in October. A ticket to the banquet provides your entry into the event, a dinner, and your name in a door prize. This will also allow you to participate in the silent auction and live auction at an additional expense. For any information about volunteering or the Friends of NRA, you can like their page on Facebook (Johnson County Friends of NRA-Clarksville, AR ) or contact Steve Payne via phone (501-339-1444) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you wish to attend any of the events that the Friends of NRA will have a booth at to sell raffle tickets for their banquet in October, the schedule is listed below.
County Event Location Dates
Logan Springtime in Paris Paris 7 May 2022
Pope Atkins Picklefest Atkins 20-21 May 2022
Pope Party in the Park Russellville 21 May
Johnson Gun Show Clarksville 18-19 June 2022
Johnson Peach Festival Clarksville 22-24 July 2022
Johnson Bargains Galore on 64 Clarksville 11-13 August 2022
Logan North Logan County Fair Paris 16-20 August 2022
Johnson Fair Clarksville 30 Aug – 2 Sep 2022
Logan South Logan County Fair Booneville 6-10 Sep 2022
Pope Fair Russellville 14-17 Sep 22 ???
Pope Ozark Memory Days Dover 24 Sep 2022
Logan Frontier Day Festival Paris 1 Oct 2022
After her time at the University of the Ozarks, Abby Asencio graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She now works as our Community Relations Director, continuing to connect our community.