Giving Back - With Guns

Taking new shooters to the range is always a treat, and it's a double pay off when it's for charity.

One of the aspects of predator and varmint hunting that appeals to me is the service it provides to farmers and ranchers. But beyond helping out my landowner friends, I also like that I can use my skills to give back to worthy causes in the community. I do the this by donating two yearly events to charity auctions; one in the spring and another in the fall. It's something every gun owner and predator hunter can do as well, and I'd encourage everyone to consider it.

Every spring I donate a gift certificate for what I call "Range Day" to a charity fund raiser. It's a 3-4 hour shooting session at the local gun club tailored to the buyer's interests. I'll let them shoot handgun, rifle and/or shotgun in a structured lesson-like format, or just let them do safe blasting; whatever tickles their fancy. Shooting ARs is always a popular option and dusting clay targets with a shotgun isn't far behind. The buyer always has a good time, and I enjoy the day as well.

In the fall I support another worthy cause with a certificate for a "Coyote Safari." The buyer in this case gets a 1-day guided coyote hunt with either rifle or camera. They jump in the truck with me and we spend the day trying to get them as many coyotes as possible. I never need much of an excuse to go coyote hunting, and the opportunity to take some wide-eyed neophytes on a hunt is always a yearly highlight. In the many years I've been doing this safari, no one has taken the camera option yet.

Can you "sell" a coyote hunt at a black tie fund-raiser? You better believe it.

I've learned that these kind of experience-oriented events do better at live auctions than at silent auctions. The fund raisers I attend usually are a blend of both, and I now have the organizers trained to put my donation in the live auction. I've also found that it takes a couple of years for word to get out about the fun experienced during one of these outings. With a little promotion and some patience, I'm now averaging winning bids of $500 each for my two events. And that's from crowds who are primarily non-gun owning and non-hunters. After all, most people are intrigued by firearms, they just never have the opportunity to use them. I provide that in a safe and fun environment and make money for two charities at the same time. There's no downside that I can see. Especially since just about every event involves youngsters.

Look around at the community fundraisers you attend. I'll bet there's at least one that's full of non-shooters who would love the opportunity to go out with you on a trip to the range or a small game hunt of some sort. Use your imagination and use your guns to give back a little. You'll always gain more than you give.