Del. Patricia R. Sher (D-Montgomery) was endorsed by a major organization yesterday in her campaign for state Senate.

But it was her opponent who cheered.

The group was the National Rifle Association, and in liberal Montgomery County, the distribution of a letter giving Sen. Margaret C. Schweinhaut (D-Montgomery) an F on gun issues and endorsing Sher did not exactly thrill the challenger.

"Could you believe anything more could happen to me? . . . It's one emergency after another," Sher said when told of the endorsement, which an association spokesman said was mailed to about 2,500 NRA supporters in Sher's district.

Hardly a gun enthusiast, Sher said she did grow up in a family of Marines and went skeet shooting once with her brother. But she also voted in favor of the state's controversial limit on the sale of cheap handguns two years ago, opposition to which was fueled by a $6 million NRA-backed referendum campaign.

Richard Manning, the NRA liaison for Maryland, said that while Sher was not an ardent backer of the group, she had displayed "open-mindedness" on gun issues, while Schweinhaut was considered an automatic vote in favor of gun control.

That was music to Schweinhaut, who is fighting to hold her seat from a stiff challenge by Sher.

"I don't know how good their aim is, but being targeted by the NRA is something to be proud of," she said. Manning said the NRA endorsed about 40 General Assembly candidates in Tuesday's primary, and is leaving it up to individuals whether to notify the media. A copy of the Sher endorsement was obtained by David Weaver, a gun-control advocate who is running for the House of Delegates in the district. He received an F-.

One incumbent quick to tell reporters of his NRA grade was Del. Peter Franchot (D-Montgomery), who issued a press release saying his grade was so low it fell off the group's chart.