General Vokes Range re-opened to military marksmanship training on Sept. 20 with some changes in place to increase safety for everyone in the area.
The well-maintained rifle range complex in the Chilliwack River Valley is used by Lower Mainland reservists with the Canadian Armed Forces but was shut down in the summer of 2018 to rectify safety issues stemming from richochets.
“The 600-metre Rifle Range at the General Vokes Range Complex was closed temporarily in the summer of 2018 out of caution, because it was determined that the existing range boundaries did not encapsulate all the potential impacts and ricochets for the weapons systems then being used on the rifle range,” said Capt. Graeme Kaine, spokesperson with the Canadian Armed Forces.
The danger perimeter of the Vokes range was “templated” by experts during the closure to consider various distances, such as how high and how wide the potential was for richochet shots into the woods.
“The new danger area perimeter has been re-established within the current boundaries in a manner that assures that potential projectile impacts and their ricochets for the permitted weapons systems are fully contained,” according to the news release.
Changes included reducing the number of firing lanes, and increasing signage.
The entire perimeter of the danger area has now been marked with signs that read: “DND – Danger – Firing Range Boundary” and the signs are spaced about 50 metres apart.
The boundary signs face away from the Firing Range Boundary in order to warn the public, as they are approaching so they may stay clear of the area for their own safety.
When the General Vokes Range Complex is in use the red flag at the main gate will be raised, and then lowered once firing is done for the day. It’s a military range without any public use days, but sometimes there are scheduled competitions.
The reservists who use the range train on two weapons systems mainly, the GPMG C6, or general purpose machine gun, or the the LMG C9, the light machine gun.
If anyone with questions about when the Vokes Range will be in use can leave a message with Range Control Chilliwack at 604-858-1011 ext. 1123.