Something different this time. With my sniper buddy Aiden Elliot today, got stuck in a situation that went wrong and I’m looking for the sniper community’s opinions on perhaps what we should have done. Let’s set the scene…
Dirty Dog Airsoft in Durham, UK. 70+ players and the mission is to locate a downed pilot, and move him to a set location. Myself and Aiden “Bubba” Elliot deploy as snipers. We decide we don’t have the firepower to capture and escort, so we pick a position to press the enemy team and do our best to harass and slow them down.
Here’s a map of the area. The enemy base, “The Village”, is a built up urban area to the north and contains the respawn. Our position is marked with the blue “X”. The tree line has a ten foot high embankment on the north side of it which means a sniper has elevation and cover to open fire onto the village. This should allow for plenty of kills and a chance to peg the enemy back from the start while our team conducts a search for the pilot. For this game, we both ghillie up despite some extremely hot and humid weather. Both of us look to run light loadouts, and have no radios to link up with the team. Bubba selects his SR-25 DMR, and takes an ASG MK1 pistol as a sidearm. With my mk23 suffering a leak, I have no choice but to run just a VSR and chance not needing to engage at under 20 metres MED (minimum engagement distance for high powered rifles). Bubba’s SR-25 is also subject to an MED restriction meaning we’re pretty much knackered if we get closed down.
Taken earlier in the year, the path. Our position was in the trees and bushes to the left of the picture.
To the south, a dirt path, which snakes around the site providing quick and easy travel for players. Our base is further south of the map. We quickly run east on the path with teammates following and dive into the undergrowth at X, where there is an opening in the bushes, to start getting set up. Bubba pops a mag into his SR-25 and I start climbing the ridge to scan the area and set the rifle up but immediately hit a problem. The vegetation has grown thick and high in this spot in the last few weeks and from where we are, we can’t see through, let alone shoot. I slide down the embankment to pass on the bad news. While we discuss relocating however we hear a group of six or seven players making their way along the path from the same place our team started from, but quickly realise it’s the enemy, who have moved out of respawn in an unexpected direction.
Another one from the Dirty Dog archives, used with permission. View our from the village area towards the ridge at the back of the picture. The elevated position provides the sniper with hard cover for most of the body, and a good view across the urban Village area.
We sit motionless, although not behind cover, and allow them to pass. Few players at this site leave the pathways during games and it’s easy to hide off the path as long as you’re not moving or making noise. Bubba has one hand on his pistol ready, although realistically with only one pistol between us, we’d have stood little chance. Despite a couple of players looking into the bushes directly at us at a distance of only a few feet, our ghillies do their job and we manage to escape attention.
Our teammates at this point are further along the path but are soon dispatched by the enemy who move up behind them. From where Bubba and I are sat, they get caught between enemy fire teams in front and behind and are swiftly dispatched in a flurry of automatic fire.
Although still and quiet, we now face a nightmare situation of being totally surrounded, without support or communications to radio for help, in a tight space where two of our three weapons can’t be used. There are firefights continuing along the path meaning we have enemy players moving back and forth from respawn, limiting our opportunity to come back out of the bushes and onto the road before relocating. More players pass and scan the undergrowth but we remain hidden, but frustratingly are stuck in a position where we’re not able to engage or contribute anything to the team efforts.
Full line of site down the path too means that until the firefight moves elsewhere, stepping out would result in two deaths and having to start again from respawn. Not knowing how far away the enemy are due to heavy vegetation, I can’t guarantee being able to bring my rifle onto targets, and said heavy vegetation prevents us shuffling east or west along the ridge to a better position, without creating too much noise. Of course, we could just sacrifice ourselves and start fresh, but a sniper needs to be able to think his way out of situations like this and we like a challenge.
How did it end? While we were busy trying to avoid detection from the path, one of the enemy team had hopped over the ridge ten yards from us with a pistol and took aim.
“Oh shit, I’m out of gas haha”. We get lucky as this player encounters a technical problem. Bubba raises his Mk1 and points it at him.
(For those who are familiar with the SAS story Bravo Two Zero, this is the goat herder moment…)
Bubba is one of the most sporting players you will ever come across and with the enemy player struggling to drop his pistol mag out, offers the bang rule solution and kindly asks if he would like to call the hit and save being shot. Usually you’d expect a hand raised and the guy to head back to respawn but instead he decides to sprint off. With so much vegetation, Bubba isn’t able to aim and fire after realising the enemy has no intention of sportingly taking the hit.
So we’ve been rumbled, hesitated on the shit but it didn’t matter either way because this guy is speeding back to base, and knows where we are. All we can do is jump out onto the path now and hope to run for cover on the other side without being seen. The path is teeming with enemy and I take three shots to the back before I can even shoulder the rifle. Bubba follows.
The rest of the afternoon I’m thinking about it. Should we have relocated earlier? Should Bubba have shot first? Could we have dug in better and sat there until the end of the game having done nothing, but remained unseen (I love hearing “couldn’t find you anywhere in that game” from players of both sides afterwards. It keeps the enemy wondering where you are).
Being surrounded, or pushing right behind enemy lines, is a common situation for snipers. Deciding whether to engage or not in situations where less disciplined players panic and switch to full auto. I’d love to hear anyone’s thoughts on what perhaps we could have done. Otherwise, there’s a short story for you from today’s game.