The letter from Ed Hein in the Nov. 9 Empire decrying handgun instruction at Floyd Dryden is a perfect example of alarm raised by inaccurate reporting and unfortunate photo selection to attract attention rather than for effective illustration.
First, the Juneau Gun Club does not promote handgun use because that is not its function. Neither does the club oppose handgun ownership, use and enjoyment. And incidentally, many people do hunt with handguns. The club is, except for special events, almost exclusively a trapshooting organization. Trapshooting is done with shotguns. Immaterial perhaps.
The instructor pictured, Roy Iutzi-Mitchell, is neither a club member nor representative. The term "weapon" used in the article was assiduously avoided during training in exchange for the more correct term: Firearm. There was no "weapons" training.
While the club wholeheartedly supports the outdoor skills training, including firearms safety and all its other aspects, the club grounds and clubhouse merely provided a site for the field portion of the training and a warm building for shelter and part of the indoor portion of the training.
If selection of a picture and caption were intended to mislead and instigate controversy, it could have not have been done more effectively and the "bait" could not have been gulped down more hungrily than by Mr. Hein and no doubt others. Slightly touched on was the extraordinary cooperation of many agencies and individuals, most of them volunteering their time. Look elsewhere for a more accurate account of an excellent, very well-planned and executed educational exercise. Incidentally, it's very difficult to teach about objects such as firearms in the abstract, better to have kids satisfying their curiosity under controlled circumstances with qualified instructors than "out behind the barn" or in a parent-less home. Where better than in schools where education is expected to occur?
Mr. Hein and others are welcome to volunteer their help whenever another session is held, and be subsequently knowledgeable, positive critics to further improve the training.
Wayne R. Nicolls,
Juneau Gun Club