A very warm welcome to our new contributor! We’re happy to have MilGeek give us his review of a game day we both attended recently. A cracking write up of a great day I had playing alongside him. Make sure you make a visit over to his regular home at the MilGeek blog for all manner of gaming, modelling and military history as well as airsoft. If you’re eagle eyed you can even spot him in some footage we put together of our visit to Centurion CQB. You can find the vid link at the end of the post… Enjoy!
First of all, I must thank Spider for giving me the opportunity to submit this game report as a guest writer. It’s rather nice to be trying out new surroundings!
Event: Centurion Airsoft’s’ first CQB ‘tester’ day
Venue: The Military Adventure Park, Scarborough, North Yorkshire
Something of a pleasant surprise, that very nice chap and airsoft aficionado Spider alerted me to a CQB event being run in Scarborough by Centurion Airsoft. Well, as the venue was virtually at the bottom of my street – sort of – there was no excuse for me not to join in.
In fact, I had been planning a return to airsoft for some time, it was just fortuitous that Centurion managed to secure a temporary indoor site at the town’s Military Adventure Park (which usually runs laser quest games). Centurion described the event as a ‘tester day’ to evaluate the viability of a game run in a relatively small building – which turned out to be the old outdoor swimming pool admin and changing rooms!
This dilapidated building is quite compact but is a bit of a Tardis as it consists of a maze of small rooms which filter into the large changing rooms – most recently the building has been used for Zombie Apocalypse games (hence the rather unnerving ‘blood’ smeared walls). Centurion Airsoft secured the venue for this one-off trial event and the building was just about right for short format games for about 20-26 players, any more and the rooms would become too congested.
Obviously, long format and complex ‘mil-sim’ operations were not perhaps appropriate for a site of such limited space. The limited number of rooms available to us was just not great enough to afford varied locations as we used all the available space for all the games. So, shorter ‘attacker/defender’ type competitions were organised, such as ‘free the hostage’, ‘escalating attacker’ and – a very ingenious – ‘find the bomb code’ game!
The ‘escalating attacker’ was ideal for a limited player situation – everyone but two players defended the main room and the two designated ‘attackers’ tried to ‘kill’ defenders in order to convert them into attackers. EVentually the balance of numbers would turn to the attackers favour and defending would become harder and harder.
It’s worth repeating that – as a first time venue – this was a ‘tester’ event and some of the games were modified and improved – based on player feedback – as the day went on. But all-in-all the day worked out very nicely indeed and it was a credit to the Centurion staff that things went off so well.
Safety and enjoyment
Obviously paramount importance was given to safety. As a very close quarters game a lot of emphasis was given to the need to avoid head-shots, also firing was limited to semi-auto only with a FPS limit of 350fps (nobody opted for sniping for obvious reasons).
Now, here’s where there was a bit of a conundrum (and the only hic-up in the day)…
By it’s very nature CQB prohibits the amount of fully exposed target opportunities and while the staff heavily emphasised the preference for ‘centre of body mass’ shots and ‘no head shots’ naturally the head is often the only part of the body which become visible in this sort of simulation!
Simply by random chance you ARE going to accidentally make a head shot even if you aren’t trying to – defy anyone to say they didn’t – I certainly did! The plain fact is, due to darkened rooms how would you know a lot of the time? (— Note to self: Erm, take a torch! —)
…The issue of limited target exposure aside, what made this such a contentious issue on the day was the baffling choice made by many of the players NOT TO WEAR FULL HEAD PROTECTION! Yes, despite this event being clearly advertised as a indoor CQB airsoft event approximately 75% of the players on the day opted for the ‘cooler’ polycarbonate ballistic glasses eye protection…And maybe a hat!
I personally opted for full helmet, goggles and lower face protection (which earned me some derisive glances)…
My goggles are the perforated steel plate type of ‘mesh’ googles and not the less safe wire mesh goggles – though I did take my hardy Bolle polycarbonate double-layer eye protection, but in the end I was concerned about ‘fogging’ up so went with the less safe mesh. I noticed that Spider chose to wear mesh goggles and a mesh lower face protection as well, and also had a handy head mounted video camera to protect his bonce!
At this point I could write a huge diatribe about the whole ‘full face protection spoils the realism’ and ‘it’s not paintball’ arguments made by some airsofters regarding full face protection….But guys, THIS WAS CQB! Headshots will – and did – happen, I know because one of the things about wearing a helmet is that you hear the head hits like a snare drum being played on your head and I had a virtual military tattoo being played on my head at times!
Headshots – a lesson learned
As if to stress the point even further, I was involved in an incident which perfectly illustrates why head-shots can happen even though there is a ‘no head shots’ rule in place. As I say, head shots can happen purely accidentally but more particularly in the case where you are dealing with a darkened room. Putting fire into a darkened room without illuminating a target (…oh, I wish I had brought a red dot and a torch…) is something of a necessary evil at times – you want to lay down suppressing fire but you may only have the vaguest notion of where your target actually is (judging by the direction of incoming fire).
Now remember at this point that the defenders in the darkened room have the advantage – as attacking from even a low lit room means that you are silhouetted against the doorway every time you pop out to take a shot!
Because I had good head protection (LOL) I popped my head out the doorway more than I perhaps should – in fact on a number of occasions I moved across the open doorway laying down fire as I went…And I got a hit, a head shot! Du-oh! To which the recipient shouted ‘no blind firing’!
A bit annoying as THEY had the tactical advantage in that they could better see me than I could them – and I must have been clearly visible crossing the doorway as I fired!
— Discuss this situation! (The moral could be to only fire at positively identified targets BUT this is difficult in the frantic situation of CQB and without illuminating the target – and in so doing giving away your position in return. Maybe clarify the ‘suppressive fire’ rule so everyone understands the difference between ‘suppressive fire’ and ‘blind firing’? Though I suspect the guy was just annoyed that I hit him!)
Conclusion – emphasising the positive
Now, I’ve gone on far too much about negative sounding isolated events – but hopefully you will understand that there are ‘positive’ reasons I included these incidents as they highlight some of the challenges about playing CQB – a very difficult game format. However, I have to balance these with a whole day of enjoyment and good play.
The Centurion staff did an amazing job, they were friendly but firm about discipline (a good thing) and were very ingenious in their game format development. Saying that this was the first time they had done this I think they really have to be commended for running such a well organised and fun event!
I really hope that they think that the event was a success and decide to run more – and not just because having a airsoft event at the bottom of my street is ‘convenient’ for me! If I had journeyed to this event I would still have thought it very much worth while. So thank you very much Centurion Airsoft and also a big thank you for the owner of Scarborough’s MAP for making the venue available.
SO – now to the traditional pros and cons:
- Perhaps not advertising/emphasising the ‘advantages’ of full head coverage in a CQB event so that potential players can make a more informed choice about whether to wear it.
- Not marking ‘safe zone’ with signs (just as a visual reminder)
- Not organising an alternative mini-competition for the long-arm shooters while the pistol comp was going on (those not involved with the pistol comp were getting restless due to the length of waiting)
- And that’s it!
- Well and courteously run event.
- For your £20 (walk on) fee you got a a bacon butty and cuppa before starting and a bread and stew lunch! Terrific!
- Very sporting fellow players – as far as I could see everyone took their hits! Excellent.
- No arguments – not one ‘it was a hit’ – ‘no you didn’t’ nonsense (again this was due to good event management, well done Centurion).
- No-one was sin-binned or sent home (I probably came closest by my unfortunate head-shot on the Marshal)…Oh dear!
- Very enjoyable and ingenious game – I particularly enjoyed the ‘bomb code search’ game.
- Just the right amount of players, it could have so easily be over-congested
- Very good venue – small, but an interesting set of rooms
- Very friendly and entertaining set of fellow players (Spider was on his usual great form)
- There were proper toilets – hurrah!
- BBs were on sale.
- …Oh dear, I could go on and on…
Bottom line: Bloody good day and I’d definitely do it again! Highly recommended – 7/10.
WELL DONE CENTURION AIRSOFT!
And finally, just a few ideas for whatever they are worth…
- Portable cover with ‘kill house’ boards: These are free standing portable boards – about one player wide – that can be moved about by the staff to vary the cover in the ‘kill house’. They are particularly useful for modifying ‘bottle necks’ by providing additional cover just inside doorways and in the middle of large rooms.
- CQB timed target clearing mini-events: One idea that could have been used for the ‘long arm’ shooters while the pistol shooters did their thing would have been a separate ‘steel plate’ or paper target course through a few rooms. Timed target course for room clearance techniques.
- ‘Hostages’ scenario: A few designated people could have acted as hostages – shooting a hostage would have resulted in the attackers loosing a player. More than two hostages killed would mean a win for the defenders.
- CQB tactics mini-briefing: Not a training session as such, but some ‘useful hints’ about good CQB entry techniques for everyone at the beginning.
- White board availability: Sounds daft BUT it might be useful to have a large white board available in the safe zone to illustrate game rules and job down ideas, techniques and tactics.
And now the vid as promised!
A bitter sweet report this one, the final game day as the guys at GunHo airsoft in Guisbrough go for the big Endex. We made the effort to get along whilst we could and see them off.
Summer had definitely departed as we all kitted up, despite it being the last day there was a good briefing before we got stuck into some games. The first few games were of the attack/defend variety, getting everyone warmed up and in the mood. It reminded me how much I like the woodland GunHo was set in. Fairly flat but with undulations allowing for movement and hiding, and the guys there had an impressive number of structures accumulated.
The next couple of games were attacking bases set in one of the forts. Now my own lack of familiarity with the site showed here as I happily set off to attack completely the wrong structure – but it did allow us to flank a bit and get a few good shots in before it was quickly over.
When we defended at first we ended stuck out on a flank and I though it may be a quiet one, but before long the heavy resistance elsewhere lead the Opfor to try the route past us. Plenty of kills ensued including this belter…
The last few games we took part in were much larger rambling games, centred around capturing a device and getting it into the enemy base – one of the forts, whilst they tried to get it to our base. We set off on a stealthy and lengthy flank, which saw us getting into a few close firefights, some mad dashes and an advanced position putting fire on the enemy base. Which, when some more of our team caught up with the two old fat gits went well..
All in all a fitting send off I think. It’s a shame that real life has got in the way for the guys running GunHo although completely understandable. I think many players don’t realise the amount of time and effort that goes into running sites, not just from the owners but all the volunteer marshals.
So thanks for some more great game day memories, all the best for the future and I hope to see airsoft played once again back on a great little woodland site.
I did make this my first game day using my new gopro, which if i can edit together enough decent footage I will add up in due course!
Finally got around to editing and posting some of the video…
The eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed a new page above on the menu – The Armoury. It will be the home of gear and gun reviews. Unlike most magazines or popular sites we do not get free (or even cheap) gear , we’re not sponsored, and like every other player we have to shell out our hard earned for our Airsofting supplies. So you can trust us!
Having said that, if anyone wants to send us free gear we’re totally for sale, and utterly without morals.
Sad news that GunHo Airsoft in Guisbrough is closing down. Sorry to see any site, especially one I’ve managed to get to a few times close up shop.
They’re hosting a final skirmish day this coming Sunday, hope they get a good turn out to see the place off in style all the best for future endeavours and thanks for all the games!
OK, maybe setting myself for some flack here, but I thought this needed wider audience.
The National Airsoft Event took place as usual over the August bank holiday weekend, with near 1500 players descending onto the Zero One site “Ground Zero” near Verwood. Now we didn’t make it this year for one reason or another but it seemed that a good time was had on the whole by most with the usual grumbles we’ve had over the years.
A good write up was in Popular Airsoft which if you read between the lines says good game, lots of people who don’t know each other so hit calling an issue.
What I find really worrying if accurate was the article by by Maree on Yossers Airsoft Odyssey. usually a good blog to read it describes seeing signs up at the Zero One shop stating “No UKARA needed this weekend with festival wristband”, and even stuck a photo in as evidence.
Now I have a similar view on UKARA to Yosser in that it is a purely voluntary industry association. There is nothing in law that says you must be a member. BUT it is an easy way of confirming membership of a skirmish site with public liability insurance. retailers and sites put a lot of effort (ie; time and money) into complying with it to allow their players to easily purchase RIFs and remain within the specific defence in the VCRA that was so hard fought for.
Even on the government website it advises that the first of the key elements of these arrangements for the airsoft specific defence under sec 36-38 of the VCRA 2006 are:
“new players must play at least three times in a period of not less than two months the two months before being offered membership”
This proves not only that you can turn up at an Airsoft “Festival” but that you are a bona fide member of a site with liability insurance.
For a founding member of UKARA to blatantly ignore the rules set up to protect the hobby to gain a commercial advantage on its competitors frankly takes the piss.
It takes the piss out of retailers who would all love to just sell you goods but choose to accept a regime that has commercial implications for them for the good of the sport.
It takes the piss out of players who abide by the rules by risking our sport for a few extra quid.
So what now?
Zero One are alleged to have a letter from the home office giving them an exemption to sell at their own events. Therefore it should be easy for them to publish this advice and we can all sleep easier.
If not then UKARA have suspended retailers before. It must maintain its credibility by doing so again and removing Zero One registered players from the database. Will this inconvenience players? Certainly. It will also hurt Zero One when players moan that membership there does not grant them the same ability to purchase from other retailers as other site memberships. Of course the cynical amongst you may ask if that is Zero Ones ulterior motive – to make so that their members can only purchase from them?
I have had multiple airsofters remark that comments regarding this on the Zero forums are shut down (no surprise really) but this is serious. This sort of behaviour risks everything that was fought for. I trust you will amend your airsoft purchasing habits accordingly.
BZ to Yossers for the report
Thought I’d check out the ZeroOne website for their rules. It appears that they know what they should do!