2011 WSCA Honorary Hall of Fame Inductee
Jim Fendry was born with the fall bird hunting season in Wisconsin in 1938. When growing up, he enjoyed baseball and football like all other kids in the 1940's, but his favorite pastime was an improvised game that all the kids called "GUNS". Frequenting all the dime stores that his parents would allow, Jim bought every cap gun that his allowance would permit. By nine years of age, Jim's dad had bought him the first of many BB guns that he would own. Even though Jim had started shooting 'real' guns when he was seven, Jim was twelve years of age when his father bought him his first .22 rimfire rifle. Thereafter, Jim spent many hours at John Lees All American Firearm range at S 76th street and Loomis Road in Greendale.
While in High School, and again in College, Jim organized the school's first rifle and shotgun clubs. In 1958, Jim started his first business. That was JEF's (James E Fendry) Outdoor Firearm Range in Muskego, Wisconsin which was open to the public from spring until the deer hunting season. While still in high school, Jim joined the United States Marine Corps serving both active and reserve from 1955 to 1961. In the USMC, Jim quickly rose to the rank of sergeant as a Marine Corps firearms instructor. Jim's skill with firearms and as an instructor elevated him to the national finals in the Marine Corps at Marine Corps Headquarters, Henderson Hall, in Washington D.C..
While attending college and preparing to enter law school, Jim made a change in career choices. Jim joined the Police Department graduating from the Milwaukee Police Training Academy in the class of February 25, 1961. The main reason for the decision was that Jim felt that the best career for a firearms enthusiast would be on the Police Department. Jim also worked on assignment with the Department of Justice on classified cases. Within a few years that choice forced Jim to close his weekend shooting range due to the conflict of hours.
By the late 1970's Jim had left police work and had developed a lucrative firearms training business wherein he trained and certified police officers, sheriff deputies, federal police, and a variety of licensed security guards. When he opened his training facility to civilian shooters, the media loved the conservative content and they soon made Jim a local media personality. Acting on his own initiative, Jim developed an army of activists and also developed the funding to do battle with and win fights in Milwaukee County when local politicians began their attempts to pass restrictive anti-gun laws including handgun bans. By the late 1970's, after developing their now famous Institute for Legislative Action in 1977, the National Rifle Association approached Jim to organize and develop the Wisconsin Pro Gun Movement. The NRA-ILA told Jim they would help him learn how to do the job, but he would have to develop the funding to pay the expenses. The rest is - as they say - history. Jim has worked for firearms rights and freedoms 365 days each year for over thirty years.
In addition to fighting the passage of anti-gun laws and the closing of shooting ranges all over the state, Jim's major accomplishments are the pro gun laws passed by the Wisconsin State Legislature while he and the NRA-ILA worked tirelessly to gain those victories. These statutes include the HUNTERS PROTECTION ACT, THE FIREARMS PRE-EMPTION AND UNIFORMITY ACT, THE SHOOTING RANGE PROTECTION ACT, THE STATE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT FOR THE RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS, THE STATE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT FOR THE RIGHT TO HUNT AND FISH, and for the third and final time THE PERSONAL PROTECTION ACT AKA CONCEALED CARRY.
Even with the passage of this landmark legislation to protect gun owners' and hunters' rights, Jim feels his most memorable day took place several years ago on the final day of the two year session of the Wisconsin State Legislature. Working hand in hand with NRA-ILA's Wisconsin state liaison Susan Misiora, they were able to kill a teenty tiny somewhat anti-gun bill drafted at the request of anti gun (then) Attorney General Jim Doyle. Jim says they stopped every piece of anti-gun and anti-hunting legislation introduced that session. That was close to ninety (90) bills! The NRA members and gun owners in Wisconsin will never know or ever remember what Jim accomplished in that session and how close they often came to losing their gun rights.
Jim predicts that with NRA's lead, the CASTLE DOCTRINE legislation will become law in this session of the state legislature. Too, and hopefully, more shooting range protection. In the meantime, Jim continues to lead the battle to protect our many Wisconsin shooting ranges and hunting clubs that are under attack from local politicians in municipalities all over Wisconsin that refuse to obey the limits placed upon them by Wisconsin's shooting range protection laws. These include, but are certainly not limited to, the Hartland Sportsmans Club in Waukesha County (this is the club where Steve Knoll and Dan Tinnes first brought sporting clays to Wisconsin), the McMiller Sports Center in Waukesha County, the Beloit Rifle Club in Rock County, the Gehrig Farm sporting clays fields in Rock County, the Coon Creek Sportsmans Club in Rock County, the Menn Falls Road and Gun Club in Waukesha County, the Hunter's Point H.C., LLC in Fond du Lac County, and more.
Shooting is Jim's recreation to the exclusion of everything else. Jim is an avid sporting clays shooter who shoots nothing but side by side shotguns. Some trap and skeet too. Jim also shoots a lot of muzzle loading shotgun events as well. Additionally, Jim shoots black powder round ball rifles and pistols, black powder long range rifles, civil war skirmish competition with original firearms, cowboy action shooting, international defensive pistol association, international practical shooting confederation, united states pistol shooting association, bench rest rifle, silhouette shooting with both rimfire and high power rifles, and is a collector of firearms with membership in a laundry list of collector's associations. Even Jim could not likely name all the national and state firearms organizations to which he belongs or serves on the board of directors. Too, Jim is an avid hunter, slowed not by age, but only by the work he does to protect Wisconsin's firearms freedoms.
Jim and his late wife, Elizabeth, have 6 children and 7 grandchildren.
Jim Fendry remains today as the single most important and effective gun and shooting sports rights activist in Wisconsin.