Airsoft guns aren't just for some mindless game where you shoot BBs at your enemy until you hit someone. Of course, it can be that way and depending on who you play with, an airsoft game often devolves into a mindless shooting match until the other team is eliminated. However, if you're seeking consistent victory, tactics is required.
Assigning your team tasks will give you an edge over an organized rabble of players on the opposite team and is the first step to implementing complicated but sound tactics on the airsoft field. This is called Task Organization in which a team leader assigns the teams under his command certain tasks to fulfill during battle. Often times a large squad will be broken up into multiple fire teams.
There are the most common tasks you'll find on many airsoft teams:
- Squad leader - this is the overall leader of the team. This person should have the most experience out of all of the troops on his squad. He knows the best tactics to win the game and can reign his men in when they become unorganized. The squad leader communicates directly with the fire team leaders who in turn communicate with their fire team. Many times the squad leader will command from the rear to keep his men on task but must be willing to get his hands dirty when necessary.
- Fire team leader - the fire team leader takes his orders directly from the squad leader. He then executes those orders by leading his unit into battle. A good fire team leader will be able to hone his unit into a well-oiled machine that can overwhelm an enemy with small-scale tactics (i.e., flanking, cover fire, stacking on a door to clear a structure, etc.).
- Riflemen - these are the guys who do what they're told and are ready at a moment's notice to pull the trigger. They're the ones clearing rooms, fighting in the trenches, and confronting the enemy in open battle. It's the job of the rifleman to always be on alert for their next orders. Going "Rambo" isn't an option on an organized fire team. You're assigned a role, and you fulfill it to the best of your ability, even if that role is watching the flank, often times a job that ensures less action, but ultimately provides security for your squad as they move forward. Awareness is among the most valued traits of a rifleman.
Not a very complicated set up, but each person has an essential role to play in their squad. From here on out we're going to jump into more complicated tactics.
Image Credit: Wikimedia - US Army – Airsoft Combat Training
Now you may be thinking to yourself "there's much more to a fire team than just a squad leader, a fire team leader, and riflemen. What about snipers, heavy weapons, and so on?"
Well, that's where special teams come into play. Specialized load outs are essential to differentiating your team from the enemy and gaining victory. Examples of a specialized loadout include:
- Heavy weapons
Keep in mind that each field that you play on may require the riflemen on your squad to switch up their specialized roles. For example, a sniper wouldn't work well in a CQB situation, whereas taking a heavy machine gun onto a massive field with trenches will prove advantageous to your team.
Let's take a closer look at the various specialized load outs that are most common in airsoft:
If you want to give your team extra firepower, it will behoove them to bring along a grenadier. If it can be managed, bring along one grenadier per fire team. That way, the team will be able to bring along enough firepower to handle most situations. One such situation is clearing out bunkers and other types of fortifications. Grenadiers are also perfect for initiating an ambush on the enemy. The first round will have a wider kill radius, taking down more opponents and allowing the rest of the squad to engage with small arms.
Heavy Machine Gun
Often it's rare that your team will have someone with a SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon). This weapon is solely dedicated to supporting the team with a constant stream of automatic fire. The person in this position will be able to suppress the enemy as the rest of the squad moves up.
This position is most effectively used in a situation where you have a large enough squad to break them down into three or more separate fire teams. One team can be solely dedicated as a heavy weapons team. It's their job to be such a nuisance to the enemy that the opposite team focuses most of their attention on the heavy weapons squad. While this is happening the other fire teams will move up and engage the enemy when the time is right.
Medic and Engineer
The medic and engineer roles are very specialized. The medic role is solely reliant on the rules of the game. If you're allowed to bandage a player up or even drag them back to a specific zone to treat the wounded, then the medic will be crucial to the success of that game. It's solely up to the rules how the medic can be played.
The engineer is the guy who happens to be carrying items such as landmines and claymores. He can set up ambushes where the enemy walks into a tight area where a forward facing claymore can take out everything in its path. This role is rare, but definitely has its uses on a fire team.
Photo By: Lance Cpl. Gloria Lepko
In the real world, the sniper is the most feared warrior on the battlefield. You don't know where he's hiding or where the next bullet is coming from. You just have to pray that you're not his next target. In most cases, snipers aren't ideal for a fire team. In fact, sniper teams work best in two-man squads: the shooter and the security. Due to the limited range of airsoft sniper rifles, concealment, cover, and security will be his best friend.
This is how a sniper team should ideally work - the shooter picks out his targets from a concealed position as his security sits about 15 to 20 feet behind him (offset to the left or right) to engage enemies trying to get the jump on the sniper. The sniper will be too busy looking down his scope and spotting enemies to engage anyone who may get the jump on him. Hopefully, even if the security is taken out the sniper will be alerted to the presence of the enemy and can act accordingly.
Image Credit: Senior Airman Schelli Jones
Getting on Line
Now we start getting into the more advanced tactics. Keep in mind that none of this will work if your team doesn't follow orders, so ensure that your men are on the same page in that regard. Discipline is key to the success of any fluid team. Taking command under fire can only be done successfully if the team has the discipline not to lose their cool in the heat of the moment.
Formations are key to squad cohesion. Formations allow your team to move forward or hold in a manner that will provide the most security. The proper formation will allow you to react to enemy contact in the most effective way possible, but as I've previously stated, this all comes down to discipline and squad cohesion.
The two basic squad movement formations are the File and Wedge. You're likely familiar with the File. You see it every time you go to the movies, and a SWAT team or military unit is moving in a single file line. This formation provides excellent flank security, but the point man and the person taking up the rear are the most at risk when it comes to contact with the enemy. This is also a good formation when there is thick brush in the area, though it can be used in any number of environments.
The other movement formation is the wedge. This formation requires that a fire team form a 'V' shape as they advance forward. Ideally, a second fire team will follow behind, also in wedge formation. The rear security of this formation is minimal, but the front and flank security are solid.
If your squad should master any movement formation, it should be the line formation. Your squad should instantly fall into a line formation when you encounter enemy contact.
Getting On Line facing towards the enemy will allow the squad leader to assess the situation and issue orders to the squad. This type of reaction to enemy contact will allow the squad captain to issue commands to everyone because they're all in close proximity. It brings a measure of order to a chaotic situation. Now your squad can either attack or break contact. Of course, this decision falls upon the orders of the squad captain.
If your squad leader finds that the situation is not advantageous, he may call for his team to break contact. Those familiar with milsim strategies will likely understand how important breaking contact with the enemy may be if the situation isn't going well. Casual players may only see it as "retreating" and not truly understand the advantages of pulling back to give your squad leader time to reassess the situation.
In the real world, the U.S. military will typically pull back if they do not have a 3:1 advantage over the enemy. In the same sense, your squad leader may find that he or she doesn't like their chances against the opposing enemy force and may see breaking contact as the only way out of the situation with your squad still "alive".
The most popular method of breaking contact is a strategy called the Australian Peel in which each squad member takes turns laying down suppressive fire as the team falls back. As the team breaks contact a squad member fires at the enemy. Then he will fall back as another squad member behind him will start to fire and so on. This strategy ensures that the enemy is continuously suppressed as your squad falls back.
Understand that breaking contact isn't exactly considered "retreating" in the sense that you're running for your lives. Your squad leader may be leading the enemy into an ambush or simply buying himself time to think of a new strategy.
The opposite of falling back is moving forward. That's exactly what you will do if your squad leader calls for an attack on enemy forces. When it's time to hit the enemy with everything you have then your squad leader can use one of the most basic squad attack methods.
You can begin by having every squad member on line firing at the enemy with the goal of suppressing them. Now, as one fire team continues to engage the enemy, a second fire team can move up on either the left or right flank and then get on line before firing at the enemy. You'll find that you will have created an "L" shape.
If you execute this basic strategy successfully and outnumber the enemy, your likelihood of succeeding will be quite high. This is especially the case if the enemy has no clue how to counter your attack.
Stopping in a Hostile Area
Sometimes it's necessary to stop while you're deep in a hostile area. Charging forward blindly may seem sexy and cool in the movies, but situations can change in a heartbeat during an airsoft battle, and you may have to stop to reassess the situation. The best way to secure yourself while deep in enemy territory is to have the squad form a "tight 360" in which your men will form a tight circle around the squad leader and fire team leaders as they plan out their next strategy. The idea is to eliminate every blind spot so that the enemy can't sneak up on your squad.
Photo Credit: Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod
Ambushes and Counter-Ambushes
There's nothing more satisfying then getting the drop on the enemy and catching them in an ambush. However, knowing how to fight your way out of an ambush is crucial to increasing your chances of surviving the game. Keep in mind that these strategies are just concepts. You may find better ways of executing the strategies we have listed here.
The traditional "L-Shape" ambush is a classic strategy that's often used to quickly eliminate an enemy force that has been caught with their guard down. This type of ambush requires your team to set up in a linear fashion alongside the ambush point. Let's say that it's a road surrounded by trees. Your squad should space themselves out along the tree line and wait for the enemy to walk into the trap fully. Jumping the gun prematurely will ensure that the enemy can either beat a hasty retreat or counter-attack.
The two people who should initiate the ambush should be the point man, the guy at the front of the ambush, and the rear-guard, the guy at the rear of the ambush (we'll take a more in-depth look at the rear guard's job in a moment). With the front and rear cut off, the enemy will have nowhere to go. Hopefully this will create a panic amongst the ranks of the enemy, but even if it doesn't this is the point where the rest of the squad opens up and quickly eliminates the enemy. If executed properly this tactic can be incredibly effective.
Now, onto the rear guard. His role expands beyond just "swinging the door shut" on the ambush. It's also his task to ensure that enemy scouts aren't creeping forward onto the position of the ambush. Furthermore, it's his job to warn the team if the enemy decides not to use the ambush route.
You can set up an ambush practically anywhere. Some locations may take a little bit of creativity to get the jump on the enemy effectively, but you can definitely make it happen if you put real thought into it. Sure, roads and tree lines are ideal for an ambush, but they're certainly not necessary.
The key to a successful ambush is that your team should have more cover than the enemy. Let's say you catch them on an open road as you shoot at them from a building across the way. Even if they return fire, you can duck down and take cover whereas the enemy has to either stand and fight their way out of the situation or run for their lives. Either way, you still hold the initial advantage.
Prot tip: If it's hard to get into your ambush spot it's going to be difficult to get out. Try to find a location where you can extract quickly if the need should arise. If you decide to climb a tree, you're basically a sitting duck. Sure, you'll get the jump on the enemy initially, but you better pray that you get them all or you're as good as dead if you're spotted.
Photo By: Lance Cpl. David Gonzalez
Counter-Ambush to the "Linear" Ambush
Now let's say you're at the receiving end of the linear ambush. What do you do? How do you get out of it? It's the job of the squad leader to prepare his men to repel an ambush. Constant training is needed to build up quick reaction time and mental toughness. Panic is the greatest ally of any ambush.
One tried and tested method of fighting your way out of an ambush is the Australian Center-Peel. This tactic requires that your team adopt a "zig-zag" formation where your men create little groupings of "Zs". For this tactic to work when going up against a linear ambush, you and your team must be completely in synch. Panic will only send the entire formation into disarray, which is why drilling is so important to keep your men cool under pressure.
Let's look at an example. Your men are suddenly ambushed while walking along a forest path. Upon the point of contact, all of the squad members should return fire.
This is where the "Z" groupings come into play. One man should fall back within his own little grouping and set up behind the other two members of his group and provide cover fire. Now the next man falls back, but as he does so, he taps the remaining guy on the shoulder to let him know he's the last one out.
When the second guy runs to the rear of the formation the "last man" (who has been firing the entire time) can now circle to the rear of the line, tapping the shoulder of the next guy in line to communicate that he now is the "last man". All the while the men who fall back turn around and provide covering fire. This process is repeated until contact with the enemy has been broken.
When you're engaging in the Australian Center-Peel, and it's your turn to be tapped on the shoulder, you should empty an entire magazine in the direction of the enemy. Now when you fall back, you can reload on the fly and be ready to provide covering fire for your retreating squad mates. Reaction time is key. Even a second of indecision can mean the difference between "life and death". Though, let's not forget that we're playing airsoft, so it's more so a matter of staying in the game or being eliminated.
Traditional "L-Shape" Ambush
The L-Shape ambush is among the best that you can use to entrap the enemy. The more men, the better, but even smaller numbers can work if you set it up correctly. When setting up an L-Shape ambush think of a capital "L". The longer portion of the "L" will be set up alongside the enemy. So think of a linear ambush in this sense, but there will also be another smaller line facing towards the enemy. Once the enemy has fully walked into your trap, your squad leader should signal the attack and then you can cut loose on them.
Hit them with everything you got: grenades, heavy machine guns, and even snipers. Pour down so much fire that they won't have time to think or react. One great tip is to make the ambush as loud and chaotic as possible. Use Thunder Bs, airsoft grenades that use CO2 to emit a loud BANG when they're activated. Scream and play loud music. You can consider this psychological warfare because you won't give the enemy squad a chance to do anything but fall victim to your masterful ambush. Hopefully, you may even be able to drown out any commands being given by the enemy squad leader.
Anti-Ambush Tactics - "L-Shape" Ambush
Once again the Australian Center-Peel is the best option for getting out of this particular type of ambush. Simply falling back won't work with an L-Shape ambush because you'll be getting hit from the side and the front. Therefore, retreating at a 45-degree angle will be the best way to implement this tactic. The point is to escape the entirety of the ambush, not just a single part of it.
As we've discussed, the Australian Center-Peel involves troops falling back by cycling between shooting, falling back, and tapping the shoulder of the "last man" until you have broken contact. Of course, this is easier said than done. You'll have to maintain rock-solid discipline and react instantly. However, if your squad can keep their wits about them you just might be able to fight your way out of an "L-Shape" ambush.
When you think of the "L-Shape" ambush, you could very well view it as two separate linear ambushes tapered together at the ends. When it comes to the V-shape ambush, however, the enemy is nearly enveloped within your V shaped attack. This can be a very effective ambush, especially if you pour it on heavy in the initial stages of the attack.
The one glaring weak point of this tactic is the point at the very base of the neck. When you think of a "V", the sides are nice and long. This is where the ambush will be strongest. But if you continue towards the base of the "V" the line becomes very thin which is why it's the weakest point of the ambush. If the enemy team realizes what's happening, they may just push forward and decimate the weak point of the ambush by charging ahead. They may now have your squad at their backs, but at least they're no longer trapped in your ambush.
Counter-Ambush to the "V-Shape" Ambush
You only have two real options when fighting your way out of a "V-shape" ambush. You could try to fall back on the tried and tested Australian Center-Peel and attempt to break contact with the enemy. Though this is typically a pretty effective tactic for getting out of ambushing fire, the V shape will almost ensure that you're cut down as you fight your way out of the bottleneck. At the very least you'll take heavy casualties.
The second option is to push forward and exploit the weakness of the "V shape" ambush and go on the offensive. Be fast, aggressive, and continuously fire no matter what. Your only hope of breaking through is to suppress the enemy as you forge ahead.
If you don't remember anything else, remember this: always keep moving and always keep firing. Again, this all comes down to staying cool under pressure. Don't give in to fear and lay your head down as you wait to get shot. Forge ahead as a unified force, and you just might be able to break through the ambush. Then you can turn around and take the fight to the enemy.
As the name implies, this particular tactic is the linear ambush times two. The way the Dual-Linear ambush works is by setting up a fire team on one side of the ambush point, let's say it's a road and they're set up on the left. A little further down the road, a second fire team will be lying in wait on the right side.
Though it's obvious this needs to be said. The reason that the two fire teams don't set up directly across from each other is that there's a higher chance of friendly fire. Imagine firing at the enemy, but in the heat of the moment, you accidentally fire into the opposite tree line. How many of your squad mates did you just eliminate? Sure, a valley ambush where the opposite sides are shooting directly down would be fine, but in most cases, it's best to stagger the ambush to avoid any accidents.
Okay, let's talk about how this ambush is meant to work. The first team allows the enemy to pass on by. This will, of course, take a lot of discipline to not open up on them at that very moment because there will most certainly be plenty of target opportunities. The enemy will then walk into the field of fire of the second ambushing squad further down the road. As the second squad opens fire, the enemy will likely fall back as they fire at the ambushing squad.
When the enemy falls into the sights of the first squad, you can seal the deal by ambushing the enemy once more. They'll likely be too shocked to counterattack at that point, and that should be the end of that.
Let's say that you don't completely wipe out the enemy with your initial ambush. The enemy falls back from the main ambushing party only to hit the second ambush party. Now the main party that initiated the ambush can "swing the door shut" by swinging around and turning the "Dual-Linear" ambush into an "L-shaped" ambush. Now you can advance and fire, effectively eliminating the enemy.
There can be complications with this tactic. What happens if the enemy doesn't fall back and stands their ground? They may have more manpower, more firepower or both and take the fight to the initial ambushing force. It's the responsibility of the secondary force to swing around and turn the ambush into an "L shape" thus forcing the enemy to either win through fire superiority or break contact.
Let's say that the enemy does retreat, but directly across from the ambushing party and not back the way they came like you planned. Things can still go your way because the enemy fell back to the same side of the road of the secondary ambushing force. Remember, the primary and secondary ambush forces sit on opposite sides of the road. Now the secondary force can once again initiate an "L shaped" ambush and hit the enemy from the side as the primary ambush force hits them from the front.
Counter-Ambush to the "Dual-Linear" Ambush
Truly, the best way to make it out of a "Dual-Linear" ambush without being eliminated is to get aggressive. This ambush primarily relies upon the fact that the enemy will retreat into the line of fire of the secondary ambush force. But if you think about it, if you're only being ambushed by a single squad that means that each ambushing force is only half the fighting strength of a full-strength squad. Of course, there's no way to know this. There could very well be two separate full strength squads ambushing you, but for the sake of this tactics guide, we'll say that each ambushing party is only half strength.
With this thought in mind, you should stand your ground and fire back. You should have fire superiority on the enemy, so there's a good chance you could win that engagement. At the very least you could beat a retreat forward rather than backward which will effectively free you from the ambush.
So let's say you take down the primary ambush force or even fall back and somehow beat the secondary ambush force. Even though you're victorious, you still have to deal with enemies who may try to ambush you again. Keep that in mind as you continue towards your objective.
Photo Credit Wikimedia
Tips for Clearing a room
If you want to be a serious airsoft player learning how to clear a room will be one of your greatest strengths. Sometimes going in like Rambo may be appropriate, but there are certain nuances to room clearing that separates the pros from the amateurs.
The main purpose of clearing a room is neutralizing the threat that may be on the other side of that door.
If you're going to take on a room full of possible combatants you need to have a plan before kicking in the door. If you're playing with a team, they should be covering you as you stack on the door and prepare for entry. Prepare yourself, then storm into the room ready for anything. If your team is going in with you, you need to work out who's going which direction (i.e., one guy goes left, the other goes right, the other charges straightforward or whatever strategy you work out before breaching).
Weapon choice is also important when clearing a room. You should choose a weapon that has a wide kill radius, such as the M203 grenade launcher. The M203 is the perfect room clearing weapon because it blasts out BBs in a wide spray. The M203 can be mounted onto most M16, and M4 airsoft rifles and it can put out as many as 18 to 168 BBs with a single trigger pull.
As you can very well imagine, anyone and everyone within the blast radius will be eliminated. Imagine as many as 168 BBs bouncing around in a confined space. Unless the room is very big, you're not likely to survive the encounter.
Keep in mind that the grenade itself is not launched into the room. The BBs are simply propelled from the gas-powered shell attached to the underside of your gun. It might help to think of it as a giant room clearing shotgun.
Speaking of grenades, airsoft grenades are a great way of clearing out a room. There are all sorts of grenades out there that perform a variety of functions. Some emit a loud bang, others pop smoke, while others shoot out a spray of BBs. The most straightforward airsoft grenades are the ones made of rubber or plastic. You simply toss them into the room, and the players within have to abide by the honor system and call themselves out. Whatever the case, tossing in a grenade into an open door or window is a surefire way to kill anyone waiting to take you out in the immediate room.
Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force Photo/Tech. Sgt. Scott T. Sturko
Playing as an airsoft sniper isn't the most glorious role on the airsoft field. You often have to sit in the same place for what feels like hours as you wait for enemies to enter into your crosshairs. You have to crawl around in camouflaged gear and sit still as the sun beats down on your head.
Here's a word of warning before we proceed into this section. If you're the type of player that likes to get close and personal with the enemy then sniping isn't for you. If you're the type of person who enjoys clearing rooms and jumping into trenches, ambushing unsuspecting combatants, and all of that "Rambo" stuff then you definitely don't want to play the role of the sniper. With that being said let's continue.
There are advantages to running a sniper loadout. The increased range of an airsoft sniper rifle gives you a range advantage over most of your opponents. You can pick off enemy officers and throw squads into disarray. If you're especially good at what you do you can probably pick off half of a squad before they even realize where you're shooting from. You can even relay enemy positions to your unit commander via radio due to the advanced optics on your scope.
Everyone claims that they want to be a sniper, but most probably can't handle the full responsibility of the role. A sniper that does their job properly will never receive gratitude because no one will ever know that they were there (unless you record the whole thing and post it on YouTube).
The sniper has a singular mission: provide precision fire from a long distance while delivering reconnaissance for their squad. Quite frankly, the role of a sniper is vastly dominated by observation while only a small portion of their time is occupied with pulling the trigger. That's how it is in real life anyways. Airsoft snipers tend to see more action due to the nature of the game, but you can still expect less action than the frontline guys.
Snipers have a select number of specialized skill sets that they need to master to be effective in their role: surveillance, marksmanship, and camouflage. For the purposes of this article, we'll focus specifically on camouflage.
Photo Credit: Sgt. 1st Class Allan Baros
Let's face it. If you're a sniper and you're spotted you're probably as good as dead, especially if the guy who spotted you alerts his entire squad. You may be an excellent long-range fighter, but there's not much you can do when the enemy closes the distance and assaults your position with automatic weapons.
The purpose of a sniper's camouflage is to keep him alive while he gathers intelligence and picks off enemy combatants. How the sniper decides to camouflage himself is solely left to his discretion. Each environment may call for a different type of camouflage and tactical gear.
For example, if you're fighting in a wooded environment then you should camouflage yourself with sticks and leaves. If you're fighting in a snowy environment, then an all-white Ghillie suit will be your best friend.
When camouflaging yourself, you have to cover not only your entire body but also your weapon and equipment as well. The whole point is to remain undetected from the moment the mission begins until the mission ends and it's time for extraction.
Target indicators help snipers to camouflage themselves more effectively. These are actions (or lack of action) that help to communicate whether a friend or foe has been detected in the area. Sniper teams must master target indicators to be able to operate in conditions where they must remain hidden for long periods of time. The following are the most critical target indicators:
A sniper team should work on identifying different types of sounds, especially during a night op. Snipers have to know the difference between natural movement (a squirrel running along the leaves on the ground) vs. unnatural movement (an enemy trying to sneak around, but not being entirely successful at it).
Identifying movement can save a sniper's life. This will require that the sniper has plenty of lighting. Quick actions, such as someone running or jerking down into cover if something startles them (like finding a sniper laying in a bush in a ghillie suit) is easier to identify as opposed slow movements, such as a unit on patrol. No matter the case a sniper must be able to identify both.
I'm sure we've all played enough Call of Duty to know what a sudden reflection in the distance means. The old "sun hitting the scope of a sniper rifle and giving away his position" thing is as cliché as cliché gets. Whether this happens in real life or not, snipers must be able to identify camouflaged foes. They should look for outlines, unnatural shapes, and yes, even reflections in the distance. Snipers should keep these things in mind as they keep themselves properly concealed.
Disturbance of your surroundings and wildlife
Here's yet another cliché that's grossly overused in today's games and movies. Birds suddenly taking off or any other disturbance to the surrounding wildlife will alert an enemy to the presence of a sniper. Of course, if someone is sneaking up on you the same concept applies.
Proper camouflage is an art form. A sniper who is properly camouflaged will practically be invisible. There are three basic methods of camouflaging yourself properly:
- Blending - the sniper does everything in their power to avoid being visually detected. In a sense, they become "one" with their surroundings.
- Hiding - very similar to blending. A sniper sets up in a position where it would be difficult to identify their location.
- Deceiving - this occurs when the sniper tricks an enemy into investigating the wrong area. Once again we can look to video games for an example. Think of a stealth game where you throw a rock to your left or right. The enemy goes to investigate. As they scratch their head in confusion that's when you either make your grand escape or sneak up behind them with your knife at the ready.
Types of camouflage
There are really only two types of effective camouflage options for a sniper - natural or artificial. Natural camouflage involves the sniper using the vegetation around them to blend in with their environment completely. You can use sticks, grass, leaves and anything else you can get your hands on to blend in more effectively.
Keep in mind that a sniper that has been out in the field for an extended period can be detected if their "natural camouflage" dies and changes colors. In most cases, this is more of a real-world sniper issue as opposed to an airsoft sniper problem, but it would still be smart to keep that little fact in mind.
Now onto artificial camouflage. This is the kind of stuff you can buy before coming out onto the airsoft field. Artificial camouflage includes veils, face paint, nets and so on. The point is to still blend in with the environment. Therefore, you should cover every aspect of your body with camouflage.
No matter how well your unit is organized, or how great of a marksman you are, improvising on the field of battle is often inevitable. What do you do if you're separated from the rest of your men? What happens if you don't have a stable firing position as a sniper? What do you do if you run out of ammo during a fierce gunfight? You don't really plan for any of these things to happen, but they can happen at any time and you have to know what to do to increase your odds of surviving the engagement.
U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Angelique Perez
Using your friend as support
It's always good to rely on your friends on the battlefield, especially when the ground is too uneven for you to set up your tripod for a steady shot. This particular tactic is very popular with two-man sniper teams when the terrain isn't sufficient to set up a proper shot.
Let's use an example to demonstrate how this tactic works. Let's say you have a two-man sniper team. You've sighted the enemy, but you're sitting on a hill that slopes downwards, so lying prone and setting up the shot isn't an option. Your security will kneel down and crouch in front of the sniper. The sniper will then crouch and rest the barrel of his gun onto the shoulder of his friend to gain extra support. Now you can fire from a secure position.
This unorthodox tactic can be used by any two-man team that requires stability to fire accurately. Ideally, the person acting as the support should have the lighter gun, whereas the shooter should have the heavier weapon. For example, the support player may be running a standard M4 rifle whereas his buddy is running a SAW. Now the SAW player can mount the weapon on his friend's shoulder and go to town on the enemy.
There are also adaptations to this tactic. Let's go back to the sniper and his security. In most cases, the security will have a smaller gun that can shot at a higher rate of fire. So as the sniper is hitting targets that are far away, the security can lay down fire on enemies that get too close for comfort. This works best if the support player is resting against a wall or another type of defensive position. This is a good tactic to adopt if you're spotted by the enemy.
This tactic also works great when you're ambushing the enemy. The shooter and the support player can pick out their targets. Preferably the one with the bigger more powerful gun will pick a target that's further away whereas the support player will pick out a closer target. When the squad leader issues the command to initiate the ambush, you'll be able to take out two opposing players simultaneously.
The primary weakness of this tactic is that if the enemy puts accurate fire on your position, you'll likely get taken out together. All it takes is one burst of automatic fire or one well-placed grenade, and it's game over for you and your buddy.
U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Terra C. Gatti
Working as a gun crew
This tactic isn't used often in the world of airsoft, but you've likely seen it plenty of times in the movies. One guy will be laying down punishing volleys of fire on the enemy while his partner continuously feeds ammunition into the gun. The most ideal situation for this type of set up is a defensive position where the enemy is advancing forward.
Let's look at another scenario where a two-man sniper team has been detected by the enemy. The sniper has essentially become useless at such close range, so it has fallen upon his security to fight the enemy off with his semi or fully automatic weapon.
As the security player is firing at the enemy, the sniper will fill his partner's empty mags with BBs, physically reload for him when he his magazine runs dry, and perform other duties that you'd expect from the crewman of a machine gun team. If you work like a well-oiled machine you'll be able to cut at least two or more seconds off of the reload time, which is absolutely crucial during a gunfight.
This tactic can work in any number of situations. Let's say that your buddy is down to just his pistol or maybe his gun is malfunctioning. This will allow you both to stay in the game a little bit longer as you work together to hold the enemy back.
U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Joshua Gree
Keeping your head up during a firefight
This tactic is going to require that you go against your natural instincts during a gunfight. This is how most airsoft battles tend to go: I fire and you duck. Then you fire and I duck. We rinse and repeat until either someone is eliminated or someone breaks contact. That's how 99% of the game is played.
However, try switching up your natural need to duck for cover and keep your head out as you sight down the barrel. Stop firing, which will hopefully trick the enemy into thinking that you ducked down for cover.
When they pop back up to take another potshot at you, you'll be waiting to place a well-aimed burst of fire into their head. This tactic works great for this type of "tit for tat" firefight where neither side holds an advantage over the other. The fact that you took the time to aim for an extra couple of seconds should give you an edge over your opponent.
Bluffing out the enemy
Sometimes you're going to have to bluff the enemy, especially if your ammo situation is pretty abysmal. Bluffing is an art form that needs to be done correctly, or the enemy will catch on and likely disrupt any plans you had for them.
So, you're in a situation where your squad is low on ammo. Going Rambo is no longer an option so now you're going to have to get your ninja on and run around the field as quietly as you can. If you're detected you're dead, so you have to be especially quiet.
Flit through the trees or jump from building to building, silent as a ghost. Get as close to the enemy as you can. Ideally, you'll want to get at least 20 ft away, which is likely the closest you'll be able to approach without being detected anyways.
Have your squad spread out and then spring the trap by announcing that they're surrounded. The enemy may call your bluff and try to shoot their way out of the situation, in which case you'll likely lose due to your low ammo situation, but you may be able to get them to surrender (depending on the rules of the game). If they capitulate, take a couple of hostages and kill the rest (at about 10 feet saying "bang" "bang" will count as a kill).
Before you execute anyone, steal as much ammo as you can. Keep in mind that you can't just grab someone else's gear and start filching their ammo. That might lead to a fist fight. Instead, try any number of these tactics:
- In exchange for their lives, demand the magazines from their guns. At that point, you can steal their BBs.
- The hostage rules may require that your captive simply do as you say, in which case they have no choice but to give you ammo if you request it.
- You can negotiate captives for BBs. Of course, you'll find yourself in a gunfight as soon as everyone backs nervously into the opposite tree line, but it'll be one heck of a fun story to tell later on!
Just think of blank firing as another form of bluffing. Once again you find yourself in desperate need of ammo. However, this time around running in the forest to filch ammo isn't an option. What you can do is pop in an empty magazine and dry fire. Nothing will come out, but the enemy doesn't know that. They'll hear the clicking of your gun and assume that you're still spitting rounds at them.
Here's a major word of warning if you decide to adopt this tactic. Firing on a dry magazine can ruin an electric gun if you do it too much. So if you're using a gun that you spent a fortune on, you might as well forget about this tactic. On the other hand, if you don't mind taking the risk and bluffing out the enemy for a few seconds, "fire" away until they duck for cover. Then run for your life.
U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Chris Vadnais
Creating a diversion
A lot of people don't recognize how viable creating a diversion during an airsoft battle can be. Quite frankly, there are many cases where creating a diversion doesn't do a thing to change the flow of the battle. But there's a time and place for everything. You just have to get the timing right.
One such situation is when there are two entrances to a building that you know is being occupied by an enemy force. We've already talked about room clearing and what weapons to use to be most effective, so think of this as an add-on to what has already been discussed.
Take the majority of your team and prepare to go in through the front door. If you have grenades, use them before barging in. Now charge in with your team as you hoop and holler. Screaming may cause temporary psychological damage to the enemy, leaving them stunned for the split second you need to take them out.
Take the time to aim from the shoulder as you're clearing the room. Many airsoft players who clear rooms tend to fire from the hip, making them inaccurate and giving them the appearance of someone who has no clue what they're doing. If the enemy experiences a sudden attack from a team of screaming soldiers who look like they know what they're doing, you may cause even greater psychological damage.
Now the enemy in other parts of the same building will face towards the front door to deal with your first squad. As this is happening a second smaller team will insert through the back door as quietly as possible.
Unlike the first team whose being loud and attracting the attention of the entire building, this smaller team will hit targets from behind as quietly as possible. There's a good chance that someone will eventually catch on to what's happening and expose your deception, but if you move fast enough, you might be able to clear the entire building before anyone catches on to your flanking force.
Needless to say, the first team has to be willing to take heavy casualties. However, the secondary team is also at risk of taking heavy casualties as well. If the objective of the game is located inside of the building that you're assaulting, then the risk should be worth it.
This tactic is most certainly the most unorthodox that we'll be talking about in this guide. If your squad spots the enemy send out one guy to hide about 1,000 feet away and scream something like "wait for me!" This should get the enemy's attention, and they'll likely start to spread out to prepare for an ambush.
As the enemy moves up the rest of your team will flank around and hopefully catch them off guard. Now as the enemy turns to fight the flanking force the one man at the front (or perhaps multiple people if your team is large enough) can jump into the fight as well, effectively pinning the enemy in a deadly crossfire. Flanking to the side and creating an "L-Shaped" ambush should eliminate any fear of friendly fire.
The tactics discussed in this guide should help you gain victory on the field of battle. Don't be surprised if things go wrong the first few times that you use a new tactic. Practice makes perfect, so the more you do it, the more likely you'll be successful.
No matter what tactic you use, don't forget that airsoft is a game that was designed to be fun, so don't take it too seriously. Losing your cool when things don't go right or calling someone names for not properly performing a tactic just takes away from the overall experience. Everybody wants to win, but what's the point of playing if you can't laugh about the day's events over burgers and drinks? Keep that in mind as you drill, execute, and have fun.
Featured image Credit: Wikimedia
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