Appreciate its a little late in writing but still weighing on my mind so I’ll put my thoughts onto paper. I went to Dirty Dog Airsoft to test out my leaf/grass hybrid suit and take part in “milsim” style game, which they’ll be running monthly, to see how it got on and also to get a full day play with my newly upgraded VSR courtesy of the Sniper Mechanic. Needless to say, I had high hopes…
First off, the rifle. In the last few months of 2017 I had started to notice a decrease in performance on the VSR. Range was dropping to around 50m with some serious left curve and to be honest, I wanted an excuse to send it to Dan, the Sniper Mechanic (www.snipermechanics.com), to have a proper look over. As it turns out, my ageing AirsoftPro trigger set, which I’ve carried over from several previous builds, was a wreck. The barrel, an Action Army 6.03mm, was bent and was seriously affecting the performance. In their places came a springer custom s-trigger and Maple Leaf Crazy Jet barrel courtesy of Skirmshop.co.uk, along with a Maple Leaf Autobot bucking. That resolved a few issues but I couldn’t resist asking for Dan’s new product, the W.A.S.P piston set. This is a very high quality 90 degree piston with an airbrake, which I’ve wanted for a long time to reduce noise, and one special feature. Weights. Although mine didn’t require them, they help with joule creep when using heavier ammo and overall the set gives a flatter and straighter bb flight. Perfect.
With a few minor issues ironed out on the trigger, an early morning session on the range looked pretty impressive, reaching out and hitting dead on, so no concerns on the shooting side. I took the opportunity to go for a walk around the site with Head Marshal Richie, who was introducing some of the new players to Dirty Dog before the first game, to see how the rifle looked in local vegetation. From previous site photos, I had decided to lighten the overall colour on the gun using lots of tan Krylon paint to mimic the vast swathes of dead grass that dominate the terrain, then added a netting to attach a few bits of raffia and other materials on. Early impressions were not good.
Down the years I’ve taken a lot of pride in my custom paint jobs, and they generally work well, but this one was too light. And for the first time with the light catching it at this angle, I noticed how shiny it was. From the top at least. Although I spend a lot of time creating shapes and stencils, and generally do well breaking up the rifle’s outline, I began to question the whole idea of painting. I think the next move will be to tape the rifle, giving it a softer edge and no shine. Tapes won’t have as much thought put into patterns, but it will take away that plastic look which exists despite using MATT FINISH CAMO PAINT. Which I’ll now use for adding touch-ups on other stuff. The artificial vegetation was also proving problematic too. In my determination to move away from leaf suits, because they’re simply wrong in this kind of environment, I’d added raffia grass and organza ribbon, which looked fine in the safe zone. But with a light breeze, I was having serious issues looking down the scope; there was simply too much material floating up into view and I couldn’t see past it. This was to have a bigger impact later in the day…
And so onto the big afternoon “Milsim” style game. Firstly, it wasn’t particularly Milsim (military simulation – basically the full combat experience played in a more serious manner and requiring teamwork, communication and thought, as opposed to the easier and more accessible “skirmish” style short games). This was an attempt by the site to introduce the idea of an objective driven, longer game to players used to shorter, run and gun style games. It drew a large crowd and this surprised me; I expected the opposite, and now hope this regular monthly event will develop. The teams were split into three. Two large, evenly matched teams of around 50 players would fight to control certain areas of the site at certain times to score points, and a team made up of organised, experienced players, the Bad Lads, who would hold an area of the site which contained canisters that were worth bonus points. There were only a dozen players on the Bad Lads, playing as a minority faction in the game, and on that team were two snipers. Myself, and Aiden “Bubba” Elliot.
This was our zone. The Village. It covers about a quarter of the site and sits inside what looks like an athletics track, complete with banked sides creating an arena. The canisters were located inside, and our team had to defend it. The ten AEG players had two clear entrances into the village, which are tracks that cut through a fairly heavy wood/shrub perimeter. Always assume players will take the easy option and follow paths. They would dig into the buildings, which offer a lot of cover and with the expertise of these players, I had confidence that we could concentrate on our area without looking over a shoulder. Myself and Bubba took a position to the right hand side of the photo, high up near the boundary, and from an elevated position use a radio to provide information to the defenders, as well as being able to cover the open ground at this end of the village, which included one of the easy access points. The other option for the attacker is to rush down the hill from where the photo is taken.
So I got my leaf suit on. It’s a very dark shade of brown and ideally suited to woodland, but even with a quantity of raffia attached, provides a very dark silhouette due to the underlying colour, which I had noticed in some of the morning games. Bubba was dusting off some of his kit to try an old Webtex concealment cape, which is a traditional sniper cloak, although a dark, jade green and had attached a few strands of discoloured jute. We were both pretty far off having any level of concealment and on our short walk to our chosen positions, found the just and my leaf suit snagging on a lot of brambles and making it very difficult to move cleanly without disturbing vegetation. For all the merits of perfect, total concealment championed by the players in the Sniper Ops facebook community with their impressive leaf suit inventions, I thought to myself that in this environment the leaf trousers in particular were very detrimental to my stealth and movement which was having a negative impact on my overall game performance. It would be a trade-off and moving forward, some levels of concealment will have to be lost to allow me to be able to sneak and stalk the enemy. Being able to manoeuvre effectively is very important and something I’ll look at on the next build, although on this afternoon all we were asked to do was sit tight and hold the fort, as it were. It’s the first time in a few years I’ve been tasked with defending one position like this, usually going on the attack or quietly moving into and around flanks to engage.
And defend our area we did. Laying up with the boundary to our backs, village to the right and a copse of trees covering our position to the left (between us and the enemy) meant concealment wasn’t an issue. We made use of natural cover and the terrain to hide ourselves instead and almost went the whole afternoon there unseen but with a killing ground opening up to our front, it was easy pickings. Both Bubba’s TM VSR Pro and my CYMA CM701 were working superbly and we managed to keep both teams at bay on this side of the village for the whole afternoon.
Except for one guy. While on the radio about how easy it was, and with the rifle down while filling a mag, I spotted a runner sprinting down the hill, unsupported, and he crashed into the side of the first steel container thinking he had made it past the perimeter and into the village. From an elevated position about 60m from target, I dropped what I was doing and got on the gun. There was a breeze from right to left kicking up organza ribbon into the scope but I could just about make out the player and aimed to the right to compensate for wind, and pulled the trigger. “TING” rang out as the shot hit the steel sheet. I’d missed by a fraction but remarkably the player stayed still as he looked around for his objectives, giving me the opportunity to adjust, still barely able to see thanks to my rifle decorating skills. Second shot was more positive. “THWACK”. That glorious sound of hitting a small plate carrier dead on. Now, I could hear that from the distance I was at very clearly. I put the rifle down to signal to Bubba that I’d taken the guy out. Unfortunately this guy must have decided he’d only been wounded. He grabbed a canister and ran off to his teammates to secure the bonus points. Disappointingly, this was the only canister we lost all afternoon, and I decided it was my fault for not getting another shot on target to make sure. Thankfully the rest of the team fared better and successfully locked down their perimeter with a mix of teamwork, communication and a will to support each other.
I moved down into the village area after that after targets dried up from where we were, eager to get more bb’s through this newly fitted bucking which resulted in many more kills, but at the expense of a few deaths which normally I’d be unhappy with, especially pushing a bad position. But this was more an opportunity to get rounds through a new bucking, and a test of experimental kit, which I need to get right and quickly. I learned a lot about being effective in the terrain, and that a leaf suit isn’t always the answer. It was different being on the radio and coordinating with a team (I normally just disappear off into the bushes) and playing a team role rather than the lone wolf style sniper. I’ll be trying to put together a kit in the next few weeks that is lighter on concealment but better to game in, using materials that don’t snag as much so I can move freely into those unexpected positions that reap more kills, and be able to get back out again if I need to.