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MARBLE FALLS — The Burnet County Friends of the NRA shattered the group’s previous fundraising record in 2013 when it raised $48,000 for national, state and local projects promoting gun safety, law enforcement, shooting sports and firearms education.

In 2012, the group raised $18,000.

But this year, organizers are poised to smash last year’s total. Friends supporters are selling chances on three rifles. Two of them, a Colt LE6900 M4 Light Carbine and a Stag Arms Model 2 Flat Top Rifle, are both .223 caliber (5.56 mm). While those would be big draws by themselves, it’s the third big-dog rifle that definitely turns heads.

“Yeah, it’s something else, isn’t it?” asked Mark McDonald, the co-chair for this year’s fundraising event.

“It” is a .50-caliber, semi-automatic Barrett Model 82A1 rifle, topped with a specially designed Leupold scope. According to Barrett, this model is the first and only semi-automatic .50-caliber rifle. Fully outfitted, it weighs more than 30 pounds. At a thousand yards, the .50-caliber round is still traveling more than 1,400 feet per second and packing more than 3,200 foot pounds of energy.

The rifle and scope would typically come with a price tag of more than $10,000, but the Burnet County Friends of the NRA supporters are offering people a chance to own this rifle (or one of the other two) for $100. The Friends group is selling tickets on the rifles for a drawing March 1 to be held at Rods, Barrels and Strings.

The proceeds go to the Friends of the NRA, which is a non-political group associated with the National Rifle Association.

“The Friends (group) raises money to support a lot of education programs, help law enforcement and even help programs like the 4-H shooting clubs,” event co-chair David Biegel said. “The NRA has a lot of educational and safety classes for people, whether they own a gun or don’t.”

Last year, the Burnet County Friends of the NRA was able to raise enough money to fund grants through the NRA Foundation to the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office for ammunition and protective vests. Other projects included supporting the local 4-H rifle club.

“This year, we think we can fund about five grant requests,” McDonald said.

Biegel said the group is looking at grants for an upstart Burnet County 4-H shotgun club, the Marble Falls Police Department, the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office, the Burnet Police Department and a new Venture program.

“A lot of the money we raise in Texas stays in Texas,” Biegel said.

Last year, the South Texas region of the Friends of the NRA (to which the Burnet County group belongs) was the No. 1 region in the country for raising money.

According to the Friends of the NRA, about 78 percent of the types of grants issued went to youth programs.

While some stereotypes abound about NRA members or gun enthusiasts, Biegel said NRA members and Friends supporters are just good, hardworking people who enjoy shooting sports.

“But I understand if somebody doesn’t want to own a gun,” he said. “A lot of people are simply scared of guns or don’t know much about them. The NRA, through funds from events like this, have a lot of safety programs that not only would benefit gun owners, but everybody.”

Tickets for the prize drawing are $100 each with only 300 available. Tickets may be purchased at Rods, Barrels and Strings, 1008 U.S. 281 in Marble Falls, or by calling McDonald at (830) 693-4613. The store also is handling all the firearms transfers for the Friends group.

McDonald said they chose March 1 to also celebrate Texas Independence Day, which is March 2 (Rods, Barrels and Strings is closed March 2, which is a Sunday.)

“We want to tie it in with Texas independence,” McDonald said. “We want people to come out. We want them to come and learn about the Friends (of the NRA) and learn what we do.”