When members of the Greater Kamloops ATV Club set off for an evening ride near Pinantan Lake, they probably expected some action on the trail, but not the sort that could leave them dead or wounded.
Nine members of the club were returning from a ride at dusk when they were halted in their tracks by gunfire from rogue shooters.
"We were sitting there watching the bullets hit the top of the hill and the dust flying and could hear the bullets whiz past our heads," Rosella Boulton told The Daily News.
They hollered to the shooters, who continued to fire in their direction. The riders were able to make it back to the parking area unharmed, though more than a little rattled. The shooters, when confronted, were belligerent and suspected of being drunk. A full licence plate number was not obtained.
Fortunately, no one was injured in the incident, which could have easily turned tragic. Unfortunately, this sort of incident has increased within the last few years, with more people discharging firearms in places and at times when it is illegal to do so.
In season, of course, hunters are given a wide berth and most are responsible enough to follow the rules, mindful of public safety. Non-hunters know to stay out of the woods, wear bright clothing or avoid hunting areas in season.
Now, possibly due to the increasing popularity of target shooting, people are discharging firearms - including semi-automatic weapons - in the Dewdrop-Rousseau Ecological Reserve near Kamloops Lake and Lac du Bois Provincial Park. These are areas frequented by hikers, campers and ATV riders, who suddenly find themselves in the line of fire.
Rogue shooters behave with impunity and there is little likelihood of consequence unless a licence plate number can be obtained. They can be fined up to $5,000. Maybe it's time to stiffen the penalty.
The danger is compounded by the fact that there are simply more people engaged in recreational activities in the outdoors. It's only a matter of time before a serious incident occurs.
What to do?
Either take cover behind a vehicle or make a beeline in the opposite direction, providing there is some natural cover. It's probably not the safest idea to confront armed (and possibly drunk) lawbreakers in the wilderness. Merely approaching them elevates the risk.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.