Dr. Tom Stevens, who already had donated $1,000.00 to purchase a Life Membership in the National Rifle Association, upgraded his membership to an Endowment Life Membership on December 10, 2009.
Endowment Life Membership is currently valued at $2,000.00. Endowment Life Members receive priority seating and guaranteed admission for two to the NRA's annual Celebration of American values events.
Dr. Stevens decided to upgrade his membership at this time because the upgrade came with the promise of an heirloom "Minuteman at Concord" statue, which will include a brass shield engraved with his name. The sculpture measures over 11" tall and is over 12" wide with a bronze patina and a rich, walnut-finished wood base.
The National Rifle Association was formed in 1871 by Union veterans Col. William C. Church and Gen. George Wingate who were concerned with the lack of marksmanship shown by their troops. The primary goal of the association would be to "promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis," according to a magazine editorial written by Church. After being granted a charter by the state of New York on November 17, 1871, the NRA was founded. Civil War Gen. Ambrose Burnside, who was also the former Governor of Rhode Island and a U.S. Senator, became the NRA's first President.
An important facet of the NRA's creation was the development of a practice ground. In 1872, with financial help from New York State, a site on Long Island, the Creed Farm, was purchased for the purpose of building a rifle range. Named Creedmoor, the range opened a year later, and it was there that the first annual matches were held.
Dr. Tom Stevens lives within 5 miles of the old Creedmoor rifle range, which is currently in Queens County, New York.
Political opposition to the promotion of marksmanship in New York forced the NRA to find a new home for its range. In 1892, Creedmoor was deeded back to the state and NRA's matches moved to Sea Girt, New Jersey.
In 1949, the NRA, in conjunction with the state of New York, established the first hunter education program.
The NRA continues to be a leader in firearms education. Over 50,000 Certified Instructors now train about 750,000 gun owners a year. Courses are available in basic rifle, pistol, shotgun, muzzleloading firearms, personal protection, and even ammunition reloading. Additionally, nearly 1,000 Certified Coaches are specially trained to work with young competitive shooters.
The NRA today is widely recognized as a major political force and as America's foremost defender of Second Amendment rights. Since its inception, it has also been the premier firearms education organization in the world.
The NRA currently has over four million members.