Private individuals risk their lives in military firing ranges

The number of private individuals entering military firing ranges is a growing problem for the Swedish Armed Forces. It is not only prohibited to enter these areas according to the Installations Protection Act, it is also extremely dangerous.

Stoppskylt in på skjutfält.
Stoppskylt in på skjutfält.
Ignoring signposts and entering a military exercise area during an ongoing exercise is very dangerous. Photo: Jimmy Croona/Swedish Armed Forces

”Sadly enough I’ve already reconciled myself with the thought that I will be responsible, at some point in time, for the death of a private individual. That is how serious the problem has become”, says Magnus Ståhl, chief of the Artillery Regiment, A8 in Boden.
Unauthorised individuals enter the Swedish Armed Forces’ firing ranges during exercises at all times of the year and all over the country. It is not possible to pinpoint a particular group of people; horse riders, mountain bikers, joggers, berry pickers, snowmobile users and those looking for empty cartridges, they all enter from time to time. Each time unauthorised individuals enter our areas we are forced to interrupt our exercises. This is both expensive and a waste of resources.
”My colleagues are very concerned about this. Being responsible for someone’s death, if it comes to the worst, is obviously a nightmare. We do what we can to prevent that from happening. But the general public needs to take responsibility as well”, says Magnus Ståhl.

Sealed-off means closed to the public

During exercises, the Swedish Armed Forces’ firing ranges and exercise areas are sealed-off, i.e. closed to the public. This means that according to the law, it is prohibited to enter these areas. Swedish Armed Forces personnel are required to detain individuals and file a police report everytime it happens. In many cases, heavy fines are imposed.
At all firing ranges and exercise areas are signposts with clear information regarding exercises. In connection with exercises, road barriers are used. Signposts are also placed at close intervals along the borders of the exercise grounds. The fact that you do not see or hear any military activity does not mean that you can enter the area.
”Even if you don’t see any activity or hear firing, it is not safe to enter the exercise grounds. On the contrary, the empty parts of the firing ranges are usually the areas we fire at”, says Magnus Ståhl.