The NRA-SCI connection is so apparent every time I walk the aisles at an SCI show, partly because many of us are members of both organizations and attend both annual conventions, starting with NRA's own Wayne LaPierre. But what caught my eye this time around is that, more than ever, this is where you see many women of the NRA, starting with members of the NRA Women's Leadership Forum (WLF). Not only does this philanthropic and outreach society gather here to celebrate their peers' achievements and a shared passion for the Second Amendment, but the WLF just became the sole presenting sponsor of the prestigious SCI Diana Award, which for the past 20 years has recognized one female leader in the big-game hunting, wildlife conservation and education arena. As for the 2015 Diana Award recipient pictured here—Mary Harter, editor of The Front Sight, an award-winning publication of the Mid-Michigan Chapter of SCI who has hunted five continents, including the Big Five and, most recently a Marco Polo—we'll see her receive the award at SCI's annual Grand Finale banquet Saturday evening. By the way, this long-range hunter is 84 years old and dropped a sheep that was standing a good 600 yards away!
For another NRA-SCI connection, check out the 2015 SCI International Professional Hunter of the Year. Award recipient Kaan KaraKaya, owner of Shikar Safaris in Turkey, had quite a list of recommendations, one of which was written by NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox. KaraKaya, who launched his operation in 1996, worked to open hunting in new destinations including Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Iran and Tajikistan. He has also worked to protect multiple endangered animal species, educated more than 100 professional hunters and guides, and established programs granting up to 80 percent of hunting fees to local communities. He has hosted thousands of hunters, including quite a few Weatherby Award winners. More than 80 of Shikar Safaris' trophies are Top 10 in SCI's record book. For another outfitting connection, there's my husband, Phil Phillips, who in 1991 was presented with SCI's Bowhunting Outfitter of the Year for his Phil's Bowhunting Adventures operation in Colorado. Though not many bowhunters were NRA members at that time, Phil understood what NRA did for hunters, regardless of whether one used a gun or a bow, and was a Life member of both NRA and SCI.
Of course, there's a big NRA-SCI connection with NRA Golden Ring of Freedom members Larry and Brenda Potterfield, who I blogged about here earlier this week after they were presented with the inaugural Beretta Conservation Leadership Award. As the owners of MidwayUSA, the Potterfields continue to work wonders in the name of hunting and wildlife conservation.
As I head back to the show floor, I'm enjoying that feeling of synergy as NRA and SCI members are all on the same team. As for the definition of team, I think I like this one best: "Together Everyone Accomplishes More!"