Honoring Our Heroes

HAVA Blends New, Recurring Events
To Expand Offerings For Veterans
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Approaching 15 years of serving thousands of disabled veterans and injured active-duty military personnel — and their families — Honored American Veterans Afield (HAVA) enters 2022 poised to further its mission of serving our nation’s heroes with the return of a full slate of events.

According to HAVA Chairman Tom Taylor, the organization has weathered the storms of the past two years — taking the opportunity to establish new partnerships and refine its operations.

“2020 knocked us out of the saddle with being limited to hosting small events, while 2021 was a year of getting back up to speed,” he shared. “In 2022, we’re going to have a full agenda of large HAVA Family Days, small-to-medium-sized training events and multiple hunts.”

A participant at the 10th Annual Clays for Heroes Sporting Event readies his sights for
the next volley of sporting clays targets. Clays for Heroes was founded 10 years ago by
Ashley Butcher when she was a teenager. “HAVA is proud to know the Butcher family and
is appreciative of their commitment to providing fun events for veterans to attend,” said
HAVA Chairman Tom Taylor.

HAVA has found recent success offering smaller, multi-day training exercises to train
more veterans and teach new techniques for disabled shooting. Pictured here, a vet
takes shots downrange at the Bandera Gun Club in Bandera, Texas, where 200 veterans
were served over three, single-day training events. Through events like this, HAVA has
developed a beneficial partnership with The Independence Fund to serve veterans.

New Partnerships Amplify Impact

Despite being limited to smaller events due to COVID-induced restrictions, HAVA has been very active developing new partnerships that will enhance its offerings in 2022 and beyond.

In July 2021, HAVA and The Independence Fund (TIF) conducted a joint event to host nine Army and Marine Corps veterans for two days of pistol training and shooting a steel challenge match at the world-class CMP (Civilian Marksmanship Program) Talladega Marksmanship Park in Talladega, Ala.

“The event was kept small, but HAVA seems to have forged a new relationship with CMP Talladega and is looking forward to doing larger events there in the future,” Taylor said.

Due to their shared goal of assisting veterans and their families, the partnership between HAVA and TIF has blossomed thanks to events like the one held at CMP Talladega.

“It’s so easy for these two organizations to join forces for this event and others, as both share the same goal — to help veterans, period,” Taylor noted.

HAVA’s efforts caught the attention of Matt Light, former New England Patriot offensive tackle, three-time Super Bowl champion and co-founder of the Light Foundation, who made HAVA a beneficiary of the Light Foundation’s inaugural Corporate Training Day in Sept. 2021.

“HAVA attended the event in Mapleville, R.I., as shooters, and Matt Light made HAVA a beneficiary for $50,000 — an incredible source of support,” Taylor said.

In October, HAVA took seven Army, Navy and Marine Corps veterans on a “blast and cast” weekend in Western New York — which included a tour of Niagara Falls, shotgun training, target shooting, a pheasant hunt and fishing on the lower Niagara River. The North Forest Rod & Gun Club in Lockport and the Fin, Feather and Fur Conservation Society (3F Club) in Lewiston joined forces to develop the weekend’s agenda.

HAVA Training Efforts Evolve

In a “normal” year, HAVA’s flagship Family Day events draw hundreds of veterans and their families. Adapting to the changing times, HAVA has found success hosting shorter, more intimate training events.

“HAVA’s training efforts have evolved from large single-day events to multi-day training exercises, giving us the ability to train more veterans with new techniques for disabled shooting. Compared to HAVA Family Days, these smaller events enable trainers to take an entire day to take someone and shoot with them on the line,” Taylor added.

One small-scale event has turned into an annual offering for HAVA. In Oct. 2020, HAVA partnered with the Bandera Gun Club in Bandera, Texas, to host a four-day training event for 60 veterans. Due to the success of the first event, the HAVA team returned to Bandera in Oct. 2021 to host three, one-day shooting competition events. Each day of shooting featured 45 different active-duty military members and disabled veterans.

“HAVA was honored to host these fine warriors in Bandera. Great food, music and the smell of gun powder made for a special time for all attending,” said Chris Fleming, HAVA event manager and firearms instructor. “With the help of the finest companies in the shooting and outdoor industry, we were able to bring in more than 200 veteran guests, friends, family members and volunteer staff to host an awesome range day to celebrate these men and women.”

In 2022, HAVA will continue its annual Family Days at ACADEMI Training Center in Moyock, N.C. and the San Antonio Police Training Academy in San Antonio.

The biggest event in HAVA’s hunting calendar, its annual elk hunt in New Mexico
saw 10 veterans and first responders harvest nine animals.

A mix of active-duty and Marine Corps veterans took part in a pheasant hunt at the Buffalo
Butte Ranch in Gregory, S.D. — an event HAVA hosted for the 10th year running.

Legacy Events Reach Milestone

While new events have created fresh ways to connect with veterans, annual HAVA staples continue to be favorites for attendees. Several events celebrated milestone anniversaries in 2021.

In August, HAVA hosted six veterans from the Walter Reed National Medical Center at HAVA’s 10th Annual Clays for Heroes Sporting Event — a two-day shotgun training and sporting clays event, held at the Rochester-Brooks Gun Club in Rush, N.Y.

In October, HAVA’s Outdoor arm — headed by one of HAVA’s first and longest-serving full-time volunteers Heath Gunns — hosted a mix of active-duty and Marine Corps veterans for a pheasant hunt for the 10th year at the Buffalo Butte Ranch in Gregory, S.D.

Late November, HAVA also hosted its 10th annual elk hunt in New Mexico, with 10 veterans and first responders harvesting nine animals — also spearheaded by Gunns.

15 Years Of Honoring Our Heroes

Later in 2022, HAVA will celebrate 15 years of serving our heroes. HAVA is on strong footing to advance its impact — thanks to support from 23 sustaining sponsor companies from around the industry and its growing all-volunteer base.

“HAVA’s volunteer base continues to grow,” Taylor shared. “We’re definitely expanding right now in terms of support, which will help us have even more opportunities to assist active-duty service members and disabled veterans in 2022
and beyond.”

HAVA is a 501(c)(3) organization formed by companies in the shooting and outdoor industry with the purpose of raising awareness and further assisting disabled veterans with their healing process through guided hunts, shooting events and other outdoor sports activities. To learn more about HAVA and how your company or facility can support its mission, visit honoredveterans.org or contact HAVA Chairman Tom Taylor at [email protected].

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