Ultimately, we’re not just here to look and act like potted plants. We still want to shoot people, and there’s a lot more to it than just pointing the gun and pulling the trigger. I’ve always advised players to build their rifles up from scratch so they get a better understanding of how it works and how it shoots. The world of rifle upgrading is vast, and there’s a lot of information out there on the subject which is continually changing.
Spending time practising shooting on a range will help you understand and get a better feel for your own rifle. Make sure your optic is in line with the gun too. Check YouTube for videos on setting your scope, the best advice I’ve seen though is to at least ensure that the vertical crosshair is set correctly, because shot height changes with distance. As mentioned earlier, getting it hitting a man sized target at 70m is the aim.
Because the rifle is your primary weapon, learn it, love it, and above all, clean it. Spring rifles in particular are very simple mechanical devices and there really isn’t a lot to go wrong.
Test, test, test. It’s extremely valuable.
The range of your rifle is much less of a concern, despite the clamour for longer shots. Lets talk basic physics – the further away your target is, the longer it will take your bb to get there. If we were shooting static targets, not a problem. You can pull the trigger, sit back with a cup of tea and wait for the impact. In a game, the reality is that even at 70m it will take a couple of seconds to reach the target. Very few airsoft players will stay still for that long, so the longer the range you want to hit at, the less your chances are of hitting them. Trying to shoot from 80m+ off from the target will mean you miss a lot more shots than you hit, and every miss will alert someone to your presence, because if it hits something hard like a tree or hard cover, that sound will be a lot louder than hitting clothing. The simple solution here is to move in closer, although remember that you will likely not be able to use your primary weapon at less than 20m, or whatever the sites rules are regarding minimum engagement distances. Ideally 30-60m off the target should give you a perfect chance of hitting before the target has time to move.
But that’s not to say you should be shooting at every player you can see. You only have one shot at a time, so trying to take on a full squad is impossible, because if they all have automatic weapons and they see your shot, you’ll be dead before you can load a second shot.
Shot visibility is the key. Although there have been experiments with dark coloured bb’s, you as the shooter need to see the bb clearly enough to know where it went, so we still generally use white bb’s. Obviously the flip side here is that the enemy can see it coming too. Let’s imagine we’re looking at a team of 5 players at 50m who, as is often the case, are stood around chatting amongst themselves assuming they’re safe from harm. The five things to check when selecting a good target are;
- Who can we hit with the first shot? We need a clear line of sight and it needs the best chance possible to hit without missing and alerting anyone.
- Are they stationary enough? If they’re running, chances of scoring a kill are very low.
- Are they important? Medics should always be the first target, because that prevents the group from maintaining strength. Secondly, any player with a weapon that can cause you a problem, like another sniper or a support gunner. Taking a “commander” out does NOT prevent the team from operating, contrary to belief. They’ll still shoot at you.
- Are they looking away from us? We don’t want them to see it coming and have a chance to move and quickly avoid it.
- Can we take them out without anyone else seeing where the shot came from? Ideally someone who is apart from the others, unless they are engaging targets and are preoccupied.
- Are they the nearest target? – If you and a friend were standing side by side in an open area, and your friend was shot, you’d assume the shooter was on their side. And also be very sad because they were a good friend and didn’t deserve to die. Shooting the nearest target can give the other players a rough idea of where to start looking for you. This will depend on whether you have a choice or not. Something I read elsewhere was to engage the nearest target because they were most likely to hear the shot. Silence your rifle and at 30m+ that won’t happen. Silent VSR Guide.
Sounds like a lot, but in reality it becomes only a few seconds with practice. Once you have your target identified, it’s time to take aim. Headshots here are a last resort, but as far as I’m concerned, perfectly legitimate. You pay to get shot, as my local Head Marshal puts it, so you can’t complain at being shot. But it’s not an easy target. The problem is, if your shot is seen heading towards a player, the arms, legs and head can move very quickly if they need to. The body can’t – it relies on limbs moving it out of the way first. Always aim for centre mass;
Playing recon sniper at the AI500 event at the Sandpit a few years ago
Is it because I’m a caring, considerate player who doesn’t want to hurt anyone? No. Well not entirely. They would extend the same courtesy to me. More than anything, it’s because I want to make sure I hit the target. The body is the biggest thing to aim for, moves slower, and allows for deviation – the bb might rise or drop depending on conditions, so a good centre mass shot means either way, it should still be on target.
If you find that your shots are drifting left or right, it can mean either you’re not holding the rifle straight, or the hop rubber/arm isn’t straight or seated correctly.
After the shot
Whether it hit the target or not, don’t move. Resist the temptation to load the next shot – targets are aware there’s a sniper nearby and any movement at this point could be fatal. They’re looking for you, so make it difficult. This is a critical time for a sniper – don’t get over-confident and start thinking you can take the whole lot of them out (unless there were two guys and you hit the first one). While you wait, plan your next move. The player you shot may have gone back to respawn. When they get back, they’ll be able to tell the others roughly where that shot came from, so you’re on a bit of a timer. It may be that they lose interest in where the shot came from, so you can look to engage another target by starting the process again, or move back out of the area. Judge your security – are you safe and hidden where you are? If the rest of your team are also engaging, you can use this opportunity to take more targets down. If not, you might need to relocate before you get found.
Always look to shoot and move. You can’t stay in one place for too long before you get found out. Just remember that you wan’t to avoid being seen still, so make slow, considered movements back out of the area, or onto the next one. Once you’ve finished an engagement, and are in a position to do so, swap the mag you were using for a fresh one as a minimum in case the next engagement comes before you can refill any used mags.
What to do when stuff goes wrong
It happens. And when it does, you can’t just edit it out. Might have been a missed shot, or you slipped, or just made a bad decision somewhere, and the enemy team have spotted you. Don’t hesitate or attempt any heroics; you’re not going to win a medal for bravely trying to fight off the enemy despite being horrendously outgunned. They’re going to absolutely light you up. Hopefully, you’ve kept a little bit of distance while setting up to take a shot, but you need to increase that distance rapidly. At this point, stealth goes out the window – you’ve been spotted anyway.
Run. Run like hell.
You need to get out of their range as quickly as possible, because they’ve got that full auto switch and a few thousand rounds. I’ve read about zig-zagging to break contact, but if you’re within range, all they need to do is spray their gun left and right to hose you down, and the zig-zagging is slowing down how quickly you can get metres inbetween you both. Don’t try and turn back round to return fire – all you’re doing is creating the same situation you were in in the first place, which is going head to head with any number of assault rifles, and letting them catch up with you.
However, once you get out of the range of fire and hopefully out of sight, change direction left or right, to make it more difficult for them to work out where you went. Usually, a team wouldn’t set off in pursuit of one player for too long, because they’ll have other things to do. Then you reassess your situation, and start over.
Some Fries Motherf*****
There are also occasions when you surprise other players, either when they get ridiculously close without seeing you, or when you break cover and didn’t realise there were a couple of players next to you. At shorter ranges, a good pistol will get you out of trouble. When you move around the site, get into the habit of carrying your rifle in your weak hand, and your pistol in your shooting hand, so that it’s handy just in case. Taking two or three players out if you catch them off guard is easy with a pistol. Having a good holster position high up on the body allows you to slowly draw it ready if enemy players unknowingly get too close to you and you have to shoot your way out of trouble. Invest in a pistol lanyard to stop you from accidentally leaving it behind anywhere. Remember once you’ve escaped, if you escape, to reload the pistol at first opportunity.
Not a lot to cover in shot selection, just take a moment to identify who you’re shooting, think about the consequences of who you shoot, make sure you hit, and then have an escape plan ready in case it goes wrong. Know how your rifle works, and how to keep it working. I’ll do a tech section in the near future.