Heidi Rao is 2023's Marion P. Hammer Woman of Distinction Award Winner

Rao says her ultimate goal is to introduce hunting, shooting and the outdoors to everyone through quality training and safe, memorable experiences

by posted on May 1, 2023
Heidi Rao Shotgun

When you are honored with an award named for one NRA's most well-known trailblazers, leaders and outspoken activists, you know you are someone special. After all, Marion P. Hammer—NRA's first woman president (1995-1998)—remains one of the most staunch defenders and protectors of our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Marion P. Hammer has influenced many in her fight to preserve Second Amendment freedoms. From her role as lobbyist in the passage of Florida’s Right-to-Carry legislation, to her grassroots efforts in educating youth about firearm safety, Marion Hammer exemplifies activism and leadership. To honor her pioneering spirit, the National Rifle Association bestows the Marion P. Hammer Woman of Distinction Award in her name.

This year we are happy to announce that one of NRAWomen.com's most prolific contributors—Heidi Lyn Rao—has been named the recipient of this year's award. "Marion Hammer has been an inspiration to all who believe in and respect our Second Amendment, and I am honored to be the recipient of the award named after her," said Heidi. "It is our duty and responsibility to educate present and future generations, and my passion is to reach as many women as I can to introduce them to our firearm freedoms and the message of the NRA."

And although we know Heidi very well from her work on this site, here's how Heidi is described by her friends at the NRA Women's Leadership Forum

"Heidi’s passion for sharing her love and respect for the shooting sports and the outdoors is wildly apparent. Through her business, North American Outdoors, Heidi’s goal is to introduce hunting, shooting and the outdoors to everyone through quality training and safe, memorable experiences. She is an NRA Life member who is committed to advancing the mission of the Association and is a contributing writer for NRAWomen.com and NRA’s Hunters’ Leadership Forum. She is a certified Range Safety Officer and NRA Training Counselor, teaching all firearm disciplines. Heidi notes that recent classes have been comprised of mostly women, the largest growing segment of the population seeking knowledge, skills and training in firearms. Thank you, Heidi, for all you do to keep the Second Amendment strong!"

Who Is Marion P. Hammer?
Marion P. Hammer is an American gun advocate and lobbyist has been an NRA member all her adult life and had served as second and first vice president before being elected to the NRA’s highest office in 1995. 

Marion became a lobbyist during the 1970s and works with the Florida legislature to write pro-gun legislation. She is credited with influencing many of Florida’s gun laws including the 2005 Stand Your Ground law. The success of her pro-gun lobby has had an impact on similar laws across the United States. Marion began to develop the NRA Eddie Eagle GunSafe program for children in 1988. To date, more than 28 million children have completed this very successful program.  

Marion was awarded the NRA-ILA Legislative Achievement Award, Roy Rogers “Man of the Year” Award and was the first woman to receive this award. The National Safety Council awarded her the Outstanding Community Service Award, and in 2005 she was inducted into the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame. In 2018 she was awarded the NRA Women’s Leadership Forum Lifetime Achievement Award. We celebrate her achievements and are inspired by her extraordinary life of service.

To qualify for the Marion P. Hammer Woman of Distinction Award, the nominee must have demonstrated two or more of the following qualifications on a state, regional or local Level:

  • Recognition for performance in competitive shooting; dedication to hunting ethics and conservation or promotion of recreational shooting activities on a state or local level. 
  • Educational contributions to advance the purposes and goals of the National Rifle Association including appearance and/or writings of significance on a state or local level. 
  • Meritorious performance under perilous conditions through the lawful use of a firearm in defense of self or others. 
  • Protection of the Second Amendment through extensive legislative and/or legal contributions at the state or local level. 
  • Promotions of NRA programs, goals and issues in a volunteer capacity at the state or local level, that have a recognized positive impact on the organization. 

If you know of a deserving woman who represents those qualities and fulfills the requirements, you can nominate her for the award here.



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