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Charleston NRA banquet ranks among nation's largest

Shooting sports

Proceeds from the Midland Trail Friends of NRA banquet help to fund shooting-sports activities throughout the Mountain State, including the Putnam County Gun Club's Junior Smallbore Camp.

It’s no secret that thousands of West Virginians enjoy owning firearms.

That will be on display Feb. 29, when the Midland Trail Chapter of the Friends of NRA holds its annual fundraising banquet.

David Rossi, the event’s coordinator, expects 650 to 700 people to attend the 5 p.m. event at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center. Unless bad weather or some other unforeseen problem suppresses attendance, it should rank as one of the best-attended banquets in the nation this year.

“We have a reputation for attracting big crowds at our banquets,” Rossi said. “Last year, which was our first year at the Convention Center, we had 610 people. We were No. 1 in the NRA’s east region for attendance, and No. 3 in the entire country out of 1,140 banquets.”

For years, the chapter held banquets at the Embassy Suites Motel in Charleston. The events were wildly successful.

“We have a friendly competition with the chapters in our region, which includes West Virginia, western Virginia and southern Maryland,” Rossi said. “We like to brag that we’ve been No. 1 in our region for many years.”

As successful as the Embassy Suites events were, there was a problem. The event outgrew the motel’s 500-seat banquet hall. In 2019, the chapter moved to the newly renovated Convention Center and immediately enjoyed a 110-person jump in attendance.

“It looks like we’re going to do even better than that this year,” Rossi said.

The event will feature a meal; a silent auction that will include firearms, art prints and other items; and raffles for firearms and other prizes.

Net proceeds from the fundraiser will be sent to the NRA’s national office in Vienna, Virginia, and will later be rebated back to the state for distribution as grants to local shooting-sports teams and organizations.

Rossi said the Midland Trail chapter ranks among the top 50 chapters for fundraising, and money raised by the organization has gone to help fund shooting activities for Boy Scout councils, 4-H clubs, Junior ROTC clubs, the state Rifle and Pistol Association, the WVU Rifle Team, the DNR’s Archery in the Schools Program, the Putnam County Gun Club Smallbore Camp, and National Wild Turkey Federation JAKES Day celebrations.

“We raise a lot of money, and we give out a lot of grants,” Rossi said.

Individual tickets for this year’s events cost $75 each. Packages that include raffle tickets are $135 and $270. Corporate tables start at $1,000.

Rossi said people who wish to purchase tickets can call 304-545-1413, 304-539-2944, 304-757-7254, or 304-586-3116.

Reach John McCoy at, 304-348-1231 or follow

@GazMailOutdoors on Twitter.

Funerals for Saturday, march 28, 2020

Adkins, Eugene - 1 p.m., New Bethel Baptist Church, Spurlockville.

Bee, Charles - 11 a.m., First Baptist Church, Parkersburg.

Blaylock Sr., Robert - 11 a.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville.

Dingess, Cheyenne - 11 a.m., Highland Memory Gardens, Godby.

Lee, William - 1 p.m., Liberty Missionary Baptist Church.

Russell, Wilma - 2 p.m., Fields Cemetery, Nettie.

Skeen, Thomas - 1 p.m., Casto Funeral Home, Evans.

Smith, David - 11 a.m., procession to leave Koontz Funeral Home, Hamlin.

Tolley, Mary - 11 a.m., Gandee Chapel / Ward Cemetery.

Young, Kathryn - Service cancelled.