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Runner dodges bullets in Pike National Forest

Man says target shooters violated 'no-shooting' zone

Runner Dodges Bullets in Pike National Forest

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. - If anyone knows whether gunfire is too close to you, it would be former Army soldier Israel Archuletta.

Now a marathon runner, Archuletta said he and a friend were training on Mt. Herman Road west of Monument in Pike National Forest last Saturday when they noticed rapid gunfire that appeared to be coming in their direction.

Archuletta said he made eye contact with several men who were target shooting off the road, in an area where shooting is not allowed.  Target shooting and hunting normally are allowed in the Pikes Peak Ranger District section of the Forest.

"If they're shooting into a mountain, that's fine," said Archuletta.  "I don't have a problem with that.   But we were crossing the (road).  The road didn't dip deep enough for us to have gotten out of the way, had they been shooting (there).  That was my biggest concern."

Archuletta said he always carries a camera during training runs and recorded the situation.  He posted it on YouTube.

In several areas of the no-shooting zone, the ground is littered with shell casings, broken targets, shattered glass and other debris.  The forest is popular for gun owners as one of few areas where free access is available.

According to forest regulations, it's illegal to shoot from or across a road, lake or other traveled route.  Shooting within 150 feet of anywhere people or property can be affected also is prohibited.  The penalty for violators is a $5,000 fine and/or six months in jail.

The Forest Service was unavailable Tuesday to explain how it enforces shooting regulations.

Archuletta said he's trained on Mt. Herman Road only a few times, and his experience has changed his mind about returning.

"With the number of people that we saw up here, I wouldn't feel comfortable being here because you just never know what's going to happen," he said.

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