A good crowd -- Bidders participate in the live auction segment of the 6th annual Friends of the NRA dinner Thursday night at the Gainesville VFW banquet room. The benefit was held to raise money for local youth sport shooting events and hunter safety education programs.

It’s good to have friends — that’s something to which some of the 4-H sharp shooters and other Cooke County youth shooting sports enthusiasts can attest.

The Friends of the NRA held its 6th annual Cooke County Friends of the NRA dinner Thursday night at Gainesville’s VFW Hughes Tune post No. 1922 to raise money for hunter safety education and other programs that promote local youth shooting sports

The Friends of the NRA describes itself as a “grass roots fund-raising program designed to affirm and introduce the rights and privileges of lawful gun ownership in hometown America.”

Roy Bouldin, chairman of the event, said the fundraiser brought in “just over $13,000.”

“Everything went really well. It was the best one ever,” Joann Bouldin said Friday morning.

Members of the Friends of the NRA are glad to talk about the work they do for Cooke County youth. They get excited about teaching kids hunting safety and sharp shooting skills.

They also say they are all about promoting the 2nd Amendment right of citizens to bear arms.

Twenty-four specialty items were auctioned by expert auctioneer Renee Jones who kept the crowd laughing with her quick wit and keen eye for spotting (and sometimes gently swaying) bidders to dig into their pockets for the cause.

The fast-paced live auction included western home decor, sculptures, paintings, fire arms and a handmade American Eagle quilt.

Participants could also purchase tickets for a number of items such as camouflage back packs, camping gear and protective gear for all kinds of shooting sports.

One man who has found out first hand how a love for precision shooting can pay off big is Robert Purdy — who also has two younger sisters who shoot.

After years of honing his skills as a shooter, Purdy earned a scholarship to Murray State University in Murray, Ken. But the 23-year-old state trooper with the Kentucky State Police has not forgotten how he got his start.

“I moved to Texas when I was 15 and joined the 4-H Club and started shooting on the rifle team,” he said. “I’d never shot competitive rifle until I started with 4-H,” he recalled.

“I went to state that year, in 1998. I didn’t win that year,” he said.

“The following year, I started shooting some national matches and continued with 4_h and national matches through high school. In April, 2001, I went to Colorado Springs and competed in my first junior Olympic rifle match.”

He earned 6th class in air rifle, he said. He graduated from high school that year and received his scholarship to Murray State.

He explained how rifle competitions work.

“The competition is a rifle match,” he began. “You get 120 shots — 40 shots from a prone position, 40 shots sitting and 40 shots kneeling.”

He said the standing shots are probably the most difficult.

“The target is about the size of a silver dollar and the ten ring is the size of the period at the end of this sentence,” he said.

Competitions are placed 10 meters (33 feet) from their target.

Then there’s the small bore contests.

“It’s basically the same target, but you shoot at 50 feet.”

After he graduated, Purdy — who still has relatives in Gainesville — decided to became a state trooper. He said although each state has some kind of highway patrol, there are only eight state police agencies. Kentucky is one of them. His job is a little different from that of state troopers in places such as Texas. He said is called upon to answer any type of call one can imagine from domestic violence incidents to sexual assaults. He also said he writes “ a ton of tickets” and investigates auto accidents.

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