All hunters want to think hunting will be around and available forever. However, the facts show that as early as 10 years from now, many Fish and Game agencies which depend on license sales may find themselves short on funds. The First Hunt Foundation, which has one of the largest dedicated cadre of volunteer mentors and hunting coaches in the nation, is working hard to ensure our hunting heritage is alive and well decades into the future. Rick Brazell, President and Founder of the Foundation, says, “We currently have over 800 volunteers scattered across 38 states willing to help any new hunter regardless of age learn the skills necessary to become a hunter and our goal is to have thousands more mentors in the future.”
The NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum has watched the First Hunt Foundation grow and wanted to help, therefore recommending the establishment of the “Hunting Heritage” endowment. They awarded a challenge grant to the FHF, and Vista Outdoor then immediately stepped up with another $15,000 to help establish the first $50,000 for the endowment.
“The NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum is happy to support the First Hunt Foundation,” said Peter Churchbourne, Director of the NRA Hunter’s Leadership Forum. “Our missions align, and it is only natural that we partner to provide opportunities for new hunters to experience the empowerment and personal fulfilment of hunting. I want to thank the generous Hunters’ Leadership Forum donors for providing the funds that made this grant possible.”
“Having the funds to start the endowment was great,” says Brazell, “but we also needed to figure the best course to manage and grow the funds in perpetuity. FHF can use 5 percent of the funds, each year so we needed to find the right institution to help it grow and become sustainable for the long run. We approached several banks and national investment companies when I remembered we had a small endowment already housed with the MidwayUSA Foundation.”
Brazell reached out to Ashley Petersen and John Linquist of the MidwayUSA Foundation and they both were excited to help FHF restructure its current endowment and formally establish the national “Hunting Heritage Endowment.” Everyone knows you have to learn to shoot before you go hunting, and teaching that skill is one the mentors/coaches of First Hunt Foundation see as a basic duty.
MidwayUSA Foundation Program Manager Ashley Petersen talked about the relationship with the First Hunt Foundation. “It is always an honor and privilege to work with people, like Rick, who see the importance of sustainable funding for the future of youth shooting sports. The impact of Rick’s hard work, in raising substantial funds, will impact countless youth who wish to be involved in shooting sports for generations to come.”
MidwayUSA Foundation helps communities and organizations raise funds for their youth shooting teams. Approximately 2,800 youth shooting teams and 74 organizations hold an endowment with MidwayUSA Foundation. These youth shooting programs grow their respective endowment through donations and fundraising and are eligible to receive a cash grant every year to cover critical expenses, including travel, targets, safety equipment, entry fees and more.
In addition, each team or organization can acquire products from MidwayUSA Foundation’s product grant, such as shooting gear, firearms, optics, coolers, etc., provided from major companies, that can then be used in their fundraising efforts. Likewise, MidwayUSA Foundation has a Matching Program to match all the donations the teams raise, enhancing fundraising efforts and making donors’ dollars go further. “We were ecstatic to say the least,” says Brazell, “and I can’t wait to see all the people who now will get into shooting and eventually hunting because of this MidwayUSA Foundation endowment.”
The Endowment helps bring funding certainty to programs and organizations whose mission is focused on keeping America’s hunting heritage alive forever. Anyone who wants to support efforts to grow the Hunting Heritage endowment can contact the MidwayUSA Foundation or go directly to this link to make a donation. Donations may be eligible to be matched through the MidwayUSA Foundation Matching Program. Donations can also come directly to the First Hunt Foundation.
The First Hunt Foundation has no paid staff and depends on donations to host events, provide liability insurance, attend and host recruiting events, and purchase needed equipment. FHF works with any organization or agency that seeks to preserve our hunting heritage. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has been the primary organization helping FHF grow to its current scope, and others like the National Wild Turkey Federation, the NRA Hunters Leadership Forum, Pheasants Forever, Boone and Crockett Club, Backcounty Hunters and Anglers, numerous Fish and Game agencies, a huge number of private companies and individual supporters have all stepped up to help. Brazell says, “We all have to work together to make a difference. No one organization can do it alone and having MidwayUSA Foundation on the team will help ensure we can be successful in our mission delivery for the long term.”
For more information on the First Hunt Foundation visit: https://firsthuntfoundation.org