I first met Jane at the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and Spa in western Pennsylvania one year ago when she arrived to attend the first NRA Women’s Leadership Conference. She came with Lucy Heagy, Lucy Millar, and Beverly Gregory, members of the Annie Oakley all-women shooting group that she founded in Atlanta, Georgia. These women inspired everyone with their efforts on behalf of women in the shooting sports.
Jane has enjoyed shooting and hunting for many years, and stated that before coming to the Leadership Conference she had never really given a thought to the essential freedom and constitutional right at work to make this past time possible. Afterwards, Jane said that “As I learn more about our Second Amendment right and how fragile that right is as it comes under attack from all sides, I was humbled and then committed to doing everything possible to ensure that this essential freedom endure. That has become even more important to me than my love of the shooting sports and I will do everything I can to protect it.”
Five years ago, Jane and a few other women who organized the successful Atlanta Charity Clays fundraiser, decided that the women should have their own sporting-clays event. Jane founded what has become the annual Annie Oakley Tournament, with the most recent event taking place on November 6th at Burge Plantation, just outside Atlanta. What began with only a handful of competitors now boasts nearly 100 each year. This tournament has raised over $200,000 for an Atlanta charity.
The most inspirational part of the story is that Jane and the Annies created “Annie Monday,” which takes place the second Monday of each month. On these days, women of all shooting levels (from “peashooters to sharpshooters”) are welcomed to the club to shoot the sporting-clays course, receive lessons from top instructors, and then to stay and have lunch. The women build friendships and network with women from many different fields – doctors, lawyers, real estate, bankers, homemakers and retirees.
Jane is quite an impressive shooter, having won the Annie Tournament several times, and this year became the Wyoming Ladies Sporting Clays Champion. She also took second place in Wyoming 5 Stand. In 2006 she won Top Gun for the Inaugural Atlanta Boy Scout Sporting Clays Classic, and was the Virginia Cup and Simon Cup winner at the Homestead in 2007.
This year’s high Annie champion was Robin Howell, a woman with a sharp eye, bold flair, and southern charm. Robin attended a recent leadership council meeting for the Women’s Leadership Forum in Jackson, Wyoming last month, and is an ardent defender of the Second Amendment. Two days before the recent Annie tournament she hosted a women’s luncheon on behalf of the NRA’s Foundation to encourage her friends to make a statement about their values by making a contribution to the NRA and be included in the NRA’s donor recognition society, The Ring of Freedom.
The Annies were featured in a February 2009 article in Southern Living, and now include over 150 women on their monthly e-mail list. Currently, Mary Huntz, one of the early Annie organizers, maintains the list and schedules all the events. For more information on the Annies, please contact Mary at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to working with the Annies, Jane has taken a leading role with the NRA Women’s Leadership Forum, whose mission is to help secure the future of our freedom and Second Amendment rights through an outreach to women all across the country.
Jane recently wrote that “I believe that women are the critical component to the future of our Second Amendment rights. We are the ones who nurture the next generation and if we do not convince this generation of women of the importance of our Second Amendment freedoms, then the generation to follow will never live to see that freedom. I invited the Women’s Leadership Forum to gather at my home in Jackson Hole so we could formulate the template for bringing women from all aspects of this issue, whether hunters, shooters, educators, victims of violence, politicians, etc, together to plan for a ‘Women’s Philanthropic Initiative’ within the NRA. If we can mobilize the women of this country in defense of our constitutional rights, we will be successful indeed.”
I am thrilled to have the opportunity to shoot and spend time with these amazing women who shoot well, inspire and lead.
Heide Kaser has worked for the National Rifle Association since 1999, and is now the Assistant Director of Strategic Giving at the National Rifle Association. She is currently working with national leaders to develop the Women’s Leadership Forum. This group seeks to identify, inform, and involve women in the shooting sports, hunting, and helping to secure the future of the NRA.
Heide became an FBI Special Agent after completing her Masters in Criminal Justice at American University in 1985, and took time off from her career to be a full-time mother before joining the NRA Law Enforcement Activities Division. Heide is an avid USPSA competitor, an NRA certified firearm instructor for pistol, rifle, and shotgun, and is now focusing on shooting clays.
You can reach Heidi at Shotgunsavvy1@verizon.net.