As a former competitive target shooter and daughter of a former national rifle champion (Miralotte Ickes), I was very perturbed by the two photos accompanying the congratulatory article on Madelynn Erickson in the March 22 Appeal Democrat Sports Section.

While I heartily congratulate Madelynn on her scholarship achievement, I must take issue with the startling images that show her aiming directly at the camera/viewer. 

These poses violate two fundamental firearms safety rules: 1. Never point your firearm at anything you do not intend to shoot. 2. Treat all firearms as loaded even when you know they are not loaded.

Since these photos were submitted and did not involve a newspaper photographer, I can only assume that a coach or parent was involved in the photo session. That makes this flagrant breach of proper firearms protocol even more shocking.

In consulting with a veteran hunter safety instructor, I was informed: There are other poses that would have conveyed the same support for the activity and the girl with proper safety shown. 

If some students did this in one of our classes, they would be thrown out immediately.

I hope the Sutter High School rifle team coaches will take this opportunity to rethink their safety instruction, and delete these offensive photos from their publicity portfolio. 

It is precisely such lapses in judgment that contribute to firearms accidents and tragedies. Now that Madelynn Erickson is an iconic local figure, her image needs to convey proper respect for her sport.


Andrea Ickes-Dunbar,


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