Monday, April 24, 2006

Police find sure fire way to fund teams with Airsoft

AS police officers opened fire on each other with machine guns and pistols, a lone voice cried out "I've been hit".
But fortunately, the man had only been struck by a mock bullet as he took part in an exercise aimed at preparing officers for dangerous situations at work.

Two teams of Peterborough police officers took part in the unusual team building session at the airsoft base at former RAF Upwood, near Ramsey.

Clambering over rubble, stalking through glass strewn corridors and seeking shelter behind make-shift barricades, the 30 officers did their best to out-wit each other to win the game.

Dressed in combat gear, they fired small plastic "bullets" at each other from a range of weapons.

The outing was designed to encourage officers to work better together in potentially life-threatening situations.

Pc Lloyd Groves, who organised the event, said: "We wanted to do a team-building exercise and this was a chance to do something a bit different.

"You have to work with each other. A lot of the skills you learn here can be translated into working practices for when we are on the streets and up against difficult situations.

"It makes you really aware of each other. You're constantly aware of who's near you and exactly where they are. That is a massively helpful thing to be able to take back into jobs.

"And it's a lot of fun and a good way of getting rid of tension and stress."

Pc Lee Crane, who was taking part in Airsoft for the first time, said: "If you get into difficult or dangerous situations at work you need to be able to trust your colleagues completely.

"This kind of exercise gives us the chance to get to know each other and trust each other, and that will transfer to our work so that we're all better prepared for any situation."

Pc Rachel Schwinger added: "It's been really good and has been great for team building. We'll all trust each other much more after this."

ET reporter Sally Lowe has a go

Arriving at RAF Upwood, I was greeted by an eerie silence. The abandoned buildings at the former airforce site near Ramsey looked deserted, doors hanging off hinges and smashed panes of glass in windows.

Then the silence was broken by the sound of gun fire and the anguished cry of "I'm hit."

Team leader John Dean was soon on hand to kit me out. After making me pull on a gas-mask style face guard, he then handed over the gun, an alarmingly powerful-feeling rifle –

with the power to fire plastic bullets a distance of more than 20 feet.

I was drafted in to the red team – our aim to attack a blue-team bolt hole, "kill" the occupants and seize control of the building.

Fearing a little for my safety, I decided to stick close to John, tailing him along the side of a building before ducking in through a door, gun raised.

Scrambling down a corridor, John warned me to keep pressed up against the wall as we darted into a room.

Heart pounding, I crept over to the window and crouched beneath the sill just as a hail of bullets came streaming through the window above me. Luckily none of them hit.

Peering out through the window, I could see a red team member lurking behind a window in the opposite building. Shaking with nerves, I raised my gun above the ledge and fired, hoping for the best. I failed to hit my target, instead shattering several panels of glass, and I was greeted with a further shower of bullets for my troubles.

Scrabbling across to the next window, I could get a clearer view of my target. Took aim, and hit! Fantastic!

I only experienced a sample of what Airsoft has to offer, but it certainly got my blood pumping and gave me a taste of how it feels to be in a life-threatening situation.

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