CHANNING — In every sport, it’s nice to be recognized when you accomplish something so great. There are some athletes in the U.P. who need to fight for that publicity.

Their accomplishments, though astounding, seem to go unnoticed. Katherine Erickson and Sydney Smith are the best in the state at what they do. They both shoot air rifle and .22 for the American Legion, as well as 4–H. They are both first and second place in the state of Michigan in both divisions. The problem is very few people notice.

“It’s a lot harder of a sport to deal with because the football team–they can announce their win, everyone goes to their games, where for shooting sports, nobody really knows about it, or at least they don’t want to talk about it,” said Erickson.

Throughout the last couple of years, the country has seen more than one incident in which many lives are lost due to gun use. With each passing attack, we see advocacy for the banning of guns. But the shooting range, inside or out, has become a safe place for people like Katherine, both physically and mentally.

“For what we shoot, we’re very safe with it,” said Erickson. “And that should be stressed; many–a–times the media portray what’s unsafe. And that’s the hardest part, because there’s a very diverse range of safety, and we’re at the high end of it. We stress safety, and that’s why our program is doing as good as it is.”

The Big Shooters Club follows religiously the 3 rules of NRA Gun Safety: Keeping the gun pointed away from others, keeping your finger off the trigger, and keeping the gun unloaded unless ready to shoot. Despite the major concerns behind gun safety, Katherine, among others, find a way to enjoy the sport.

“Shooting sports is something that needs to be taken very seriously, but also when taken seriously; you can have fun with it, because you’re competing.”

It also needs to be taken seriously because some of the best shooters in the country live almost in our back yards.