By: Kate Nation
When we held our first sporting clays shoot in Maryland in 2009, 152 shooters were chased to the pavilion by a torrential downpour. Instead of dampening spirits, it set the bar for the USA’s highly successful events program. Whether the sun is out, it’s pouring rain, the wind is blowing or there’s snow on the ground, union members show up at our shooting events for fellowship and fun. Bringing together everyone from veteran to novice shooters, union presidents to apprentices, retirees to children, service members and the occasional Super Bowl champion, shoots are one of our most effective tools for uniting the union community and fundraising.
In 2013, the USA shooting tour raised more than $1 million, and it has continued to grow. New records set last year include most funds raised (single event) at the Boilermakers’ shoot in Kansas City with $159,000 and highest attendance (single event) at the Roofers’ shoot in Minnesota with 228 shooters.
The introduction of conservation dinners in 2012 bolstered the USA’s events program not only as a critical funding source, but also as a foundation for USA’s local conservation projects. Organized by union volunteers with support from USA staff, the dinners are a true testament to the dedication of USA members and volunteers. The conservation dinner season broke the $1 million milestone in 2015, and the program has grown from three dinners in 2012 to 22 dinners in 2016. Last year, the Des Moines dinner hosted 663 guests and raised a record $148,000.
As staples in the USA community, shoots and dinners raise critical funds to support our mission and operations while educating union members about the organization and recruiting volunteers for conservation projects. The growth of USA events in the past eight years has been nothing short of amazing thanks to our members, volunteers, sponsors and friends.