The Men Who Helped Shape Our World: NRA Women Pay Tribute on Father's Day

Whether he's called Dad, Grandpa or by another name, the father figures in the lives of many NRA Women have shaped their love and respect for the outdoors lifestyle. Read some of the tributes to them here.

by posted on June 20, 2021
Father Holding Little Girls Hand

My grandpa was a Navy veteran, animal-lover, hunter, fisherman and shooting enthusiast who taught me to stand up for myself, respect nature and search for adventure. My most fond memories of him are from exploring creeks and woods, picking homegrown fruit and vegetables and interacting with wildlife. From him I learned not to be afraid of animals, the unknown or the wilderness, but to instead always be prepared, fearless and, most importantly, a steward to the earth. Hold the tough and stubborn, but gentle and caring men in your life a little tighter today, NRA Women. Rest in peace Grandpa George, and Happy Father’s Day. —NRA Women Assistant Editor Ashley Thess

My dad encouraged me to shoot and hunt from the time I was old enough to trample through the woods or hold a gun. When I got too tired to keep up in the woods, he would even let me ride on his shoulders. I have an older brother who my parents were very proud of. He was old enough to be accomplishing great things on his own. My father solidified my status as a hunter and shooter when he passed his Winchester 243 to me. I was a very young teen at the time. I said to him, “I thought you would give this to my brother.” He answered, “I want you to have it. Besides he already has one.” It meant so much to me that he had faith in my skills and he wanted me to identify as a hunter. When did I become a “real” hunter?  When Dad said I was. —Samantha Mann

My dad, who lives to hunt and fish, had three daughters. No matter—he taught us all firearms safety and made sure we knew how to shoot, but he didn't push us to hunt if we didn't want to. My sisters hunted with him as soon as they were old enough, but I never did. It just wasn't my thing back then. Years later, I'm hunting as much as I can and making my living at it, and none of that would be possible without the example he set and the skills he taught me in childhood. I killed a turkey with him a few years ago, and I have never seen him so happy and proud—that is, until a couple years later when he guided my daughter to her first buck, on his birthday, no less. Without a doubt, a dad (or granddad) who passes on the outdoors heritage is one of life's greatest blessings. It certainly has been for me. —Jo Deering

 


I feel so blessed to have grown up in a family where my passion for the outdoors was celebrated. My father has always been right there by my side offering advice, help, assistance and encouragement anytime I need it. He always put his hunting and shooting to the side to ensure I had the best time possible, and it truly paid off.  The memories that we made in the field are still some of our favorites and to this day we are always looking forward to the next hunting trip together. To my father, and all the fathers out there who have inspired others to get involved in this great outdoors lifestyle, thank you from the bottom of my heart. —Melissa Bachman

 


My dad is a big part of why I began and have continued to participate in not only competitions with firearms, but in working with them on and off the range. My dad spent over 30 years as a gunsmith for Krieger Barrels, and he will still work with my sons when they need gunsmith expertise. In my life, my dad’s influence is a direct example of how families that are active with firearms (not just owning them, but also working with them), and how that activity with the firearm and everything surrounding it is put into perspective. These aren’t abstract ideas from some past century … they are tools owned by living humans with concrete applications for the betterment of themselves and society. My dad’s legacy is an example of how to involve your children in the family business and teach them as you go through life. For me, firearms just happen to be the family business. And if that was the case for more people, I think our understanding of the second amendment would look different. —Becky Yackley

 


Growing up in rural Midwest, we spent a lot of time outdoors and on the lakes. Although we did not grow up hunting and shooting, I always had that spark to learn, and Dad never slowed me down. I surrounded myself with hunting and shooting while in college, and then marrying my Texas Game Warden husband. Raising our four boys to also love hunting and shooting, we immerse them in all things outdoors. Life always makes full circle though. I have had the pleasure of introducing my dad to the shooting sports when my parents come to visit. Their trip is not complete without a day on the range! Happy Father’s Day to the strong and influential men in my life! —Heidi Lyn Rao

 


If it wasn't for Chuck Malone, who I consider my grandfather, I wouldn't be where I am today. He taught me how to shoot offhand, and made it possible for me to start competing. I am also grateful for my dad who has supported me endlessly in outdoor pursuits, mentoring me as a hunter and competing alongside me. —Serena Juchnowski

My dad, the oldest of 13 children, was born in November 1929, just a few days into the Great Depression. Needless to say his early life was not easy. At 17, shortly after the end of World War II, he left home to join the military, where in his 28-year U.S. Air Force career he served in Vietnam and eventually rose to the highest enlisted rank of CMSGT. We lived worldwide during his service years, and were benefactors of my father’s spontaneity and spirit for adventure. On occasion we kids—five of us—were awakened far too early on weekends to his roar, “C’mon, we’re going for a ride!” We begrudgingly and sleepily piled into the family station wagon, but were always delivered to surprise locations, fantastic ones like English castles or ones that held the stories of heroes and lessons of freedom—hollowed grounds of American cemeteries abroad; Checkpoint Charlie and the Berlin Wall, where he encouraged us to run and pick up some of the loose bricks that had fallen onto the western side; solemn places like the Dachau concentration camp; or, when stateside, national treasures like the Alamo. And while I did not grow up hunting and shooting, the patriotism and love of freedom instilled by my father through his service to country, family and others played a role in my wanting to work for the NRA. My dad was a “man’s man” from a different generation, and my parents were never ones to heap tons of praise on their kids (even when warranted). But I saw the deep pride in my father’s eyes when in 2003 I shared with him pictures of my first hunt, during which I harvested a Texas doe, buck and javelina. I later learned that he passed those pictures around his VFW chapter, of which he was Commander, and bragged about my working for NRA. Shortly after that, my dad unexpectedly left us for his final adventure into the next world, leaving me grief-stricken but forever grateful for our final father-daughter connection. Ann Y. Smith, Editor in Chief, NRA Women 

 

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