Pyrotechnics

Ahh, the fun part of airsoft. Booms, bangs, smokes and improvised explosive devices. But they rarely make it into sniper loadouts. Is there a use for them? Or is it just dead weight?

Two of my favourite things…

Clearly, a sniper isn’t or certainly shouldn’t be trying to clear buildings or bunkers. We’re not equipped for it and even a whole box of grenades isn’t going to change that. Well, it might. In terms of assaulting any position with a bolt action, there’s no point even trying because you simply can’t put enough rounds down. A mk23 with 28 rounds in the mag might do a short, sharp attack on a position but still won’t have enough to survive a potentially protracted firefight. And those stupid automatic Glocks will render you defenceless and out of ammo in no time. Grenades, flashbangs etc do have other uses…

I remember years ago playing an AI500 at the Sandpit near London and chatting to a guy who had a remote detonator. Essentially a device attached to a standard grenade, to which he attached about 50m of stereo speaker cable with two exposed inner wires at the opposite end to the grenade. Onto which he attached a square 9v battery and BOOM!. Useful for ambushes, though it does require reeling that wire back in afterwards, and possibly as a defensive line assuming you know where the enemy will come from.

The other use, and for grenades in general, is as a distraction or to get attention. In a large, quiet woodland site you tend to find that (bored) players are drawn to action. Either hearing an engagement, which is impossible with a sniper rifle, or grenades going off. The best advice I’ve ever received as a sniper, which I’ve repeated several times, is “don’t play the game, play the players”, from Dirty Dog head marshal Richie. What you can do is use a grenade to make a bit of noise and pull players towards you, and potentially off an objective, by playing on their curiosity and hunger for a bit of trigger time. Obviously, you don’t want to strike and throw a grenade if people are watching you, or are nearby, because you’ll want a good throw to avoid bringing people too close, and it’s a big obvious movement to do so.

*Remember a small grenade makes a bang just like a big one. Choose something that fits your load bearing. Some mk5 thunderflash grenades do fit nicely into molle loops but only on a dry day – wet pyro is no pyro.

In the same way, you could use coloured smoke grenades too to draw attention to an area that you have covered with your rifle. A killzone, carefully selected. The sniper, as discussed in the tactical guide, is there to cause disruption and harass the enemy – this is a great way to distract players and potentially hand an advantage to your own team nearby or in other areas of the site if you can draw attention. I wouldn’t use this too often though because any trick used often is risking it not working when you need it most. Players will become wise to random activity in the woods…

The other use of smoke of course is as a last resort to escape a firefight by creating a screen, although the cheaper smokes put out such a pitiful cloud that you’d likely need to set several at once. You’ll need it handy to deploy fast, so don’t have it buried in the bottom of a crowded pouch, especially if you then forget to close the pouch in your bid to escape.

Additionally, the smokescreen will allow you to only escape in roughly one direction. Remember to zigzag, move as fast as possible to create distance and range between you and the enemy, and after about ten seconds make sure you’ve found some cover, with your rifle pointing back at any pursuers. Assess the situation and the surrounding area and if possible, escape in a different direction if cover permits.

Do be mindful that ghillie suits unfortunately are pretty flammable, so be very careful when striking. If the cap falls off, or you pull it off and decide against using it, put the striker in a different pouch. And use pouches, not pockets. Injuries are bad for your game.

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