The Richmond Friends of NRA (FNRA) banquet was held last Thursday before the start of the 30th Annual Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show (VOSS). This is the second year the committee has partnered with the annual sportsman show and it has definitely paid off. Preliminary numbers are in and this year's event grossed $101,500. Not only is that the largest grossing FNRA event ever held in Richmond, but it is the highest grossing event in the state so far for 2013.
Richmond has always been had difficult place to hold the typical FNRA banquet. The area has been saturated with National Wild Turkey Federation banquets, Ducks Unlimited banquets, Quality Deer Management Association banquets and the annual Virginia Deer Hunters Association banquet (by far the most successful of all the outdoor banquet events). In the late 90's the original Richmond FNRA committee moved to an outdoor shooting event in partnership with Dance's Sporting Goods, Green Top Sporting Goods, and DeGoff's. That move paid dividends as average attendance increased from 75 to over 200 people. But by around 2003, with a change in the NRA Field Director and the committee members having been involved for almost 10 years, the event was discontinued. An attempted to revive the Richmond FNRA events was attempted but when they tried to transition back to the traditional indoor banquet, the same problem with lack of attendance surfaced.
Enter new NRA Field Director David Wells in 2011. Wells worked with local folks, including Green Top, to partner with the successful Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show. The decision was made to hold the first event in 2012 at the Richmond Raceway Complex the night before the start of the outdoor show and in two years, the result has been phenomenal. While there are still FNRA events scheduled through the end of the year, it's going to be tough to top what the Richmond Committee has done. What can be expected for this fledgling event next year? With the VOSS continuing to grow - they added a third building of exhibits - The Green Top Pavilion - this year, as long as they remain partnered, it would seem the sky is the limit.