Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Milsim Adventure

It's midnight, the campfire is dwindling in front of you while you keep watch. You're reloading your magazines, one round at a time. You had to use your m4 a lot today. Too many rough patches for your ragtag group of survivors. You all made it through though. You're an eclectic mix of men, teenagers, even a ten year old boy and his mother. But you don't let that fool you, you've seen them, they're as good with a tent post as they are with an assault rifle. You reach over to grab the small tin cup where you're boiling your water, you've already filtered it but safe is better than sorry. It's then you hear the snap, a faint rustle - it could be the wind- it could be something else. You quietly and smoothly reach down for your rifle, and listen. Another rustle, this time a whisper, thirty yards away in the dark. You knew you weren't imagining it, you'd had the feeling since the afternoon that you were being watched. A flash in the distance, optics being reflected in the moonlight. You raise your rifle like you trained and sight down the ghost ring sights. "Crack" "Crack" "HIT!!". You look in surprise as the 10 year old boy kneeling right next to you lets go shot after shot from his AK47 with pinpoint accuracy. “Hit! Hit!” you hear the sounds of the people in the distance. A moment later three men come up with their arms over their heads. “That was a good shot.” One of them says as they come up to shake your hand. Then you invite them for a cup of tea. All in a good days fun.

What It’s All About

What I've just described isn't the latest Hollywood action film or end of the world scenario: it's the sport of Airsoft, and while fun, can be a valuable tool in teaching real world skills for emergency preparedness and survival.

Airsoft is different from air rifles and pellet guns in that they use standardized airsoft 6mm plastic bb's that weigh far less than metal pellets or sabots, and are perfectly safe in a controlled play environment.

There are an increasing number of airsoft clubs and organizations organizing multiple day airsoft milsim events that can be attended for a set fee. They're run on weekends, usually centered around military scenarios, and the core skills practiced are valuable to real world preparedness. There are varying degrees of immersion, ranging from "play and go back to the car for a snack" to full airsoft milsim, where one acts, functions, and performs like a real military force for the entire duration. These latter are great for testing the survival skills you already have. You'll make camp and have to spend one or two nights in the wilderness. You can practice making your tent or sleeping area using local materials and a tarp. You'll have to bring your own food and water and manage it. If possible, you can research local flora in order to gather and prepare it while immersed in the event as a way to supplement your initial supply. These games are full immersion, so even when you're ready for bed, you have to be alert for surprises coming at a moment's notice. If there's local sources of water, like a stream, water filtration devices can be put to the ultimate test so you know their true reliability.

On a recent excursion, we arranged night watch shifts, nothing feels greater than being the only one awake in your unit scouting for moving shadows that could be the enemy. During the day you'll work with your group or squad and practice maneuvers such as stalking, advancing, assault, and defense. Make sure to ask the event planner if you can practice first aid on "injured" soldiers with faux sprained ankles, cuts, and broken bones using a real First Aid Kit. Another great thing is familiarizing yourself with firearms and learning how to use them properly for self-defense. Airsoft teaches proper weapon usage, maintenance, and safety precautions. Most airsoft guns in the mid-range price look, feel, and function as close to the real steel guns as possible. Some gas airsoft pistols even disassemble the same way as the real thing! Real firearms training is great for becoming accustomed to the physical feel of shooting a gun, but airsoft simulation events teach valuable self-defense tactics.

The most important skill learned at these events is mindset. You can put all your survival gear through real world paces and determine what works, and lose what doesn't. Working in a team, you're depended upon and also forced to rely upon others. Trust is crucial to any worst-case survival scenario. You have to be constantly aware of your surroundings, because you are a set of eyes and ears for your group. You learn to distinguish between friend and foe. You'll hone your aiming and marksmanship skills on real targets that will react and move. You'll train yourself how to respond - rather than react – to surprises and potential threats. And if you're "killed" you can learn from your mistakes, so you survive next time!

With all the great open land
Texas has to offer, there are numerous other fields and groups. Airsplat is a great resource for Texas Airsoft Sites and can be found at http://www.airsplat.com/texas.htm if you're interested in playing and want to find a field.

John Durfee is a Gulf War veteran and the marketing manager for Airsplat, the nation's largest retailer of Airsoft Guns.

Thanks John for an informative guest post.


Friday, August 6, 2010

Coastal Report

Just thought y'all might like to know that all is well here in the Corpus area. No oil or tarballs have come ashore from the Deepwater Horizon gusher. I was down at South Padre last week, and all was clear down there as well. However, we are not out of the woods yet. The submerged oil plumes are still out there, and when Gulf currents switch directions in October they may bring oil with them. I will keep a sharp eye out for any oil coming ashore, as well as on any hurricane activity that might come our way. Y'all take care, and keep preppin'...