Saturday, July 08, 2006

Airsofters play a life-size strategy game

KINGS VALLEY — In the forest I stalk my prey. It is cunning, dangerous and nearly invisible to the naked eye. One wrong move, and that’s the end for you.

Unlike most animals, this one is capable of turning the hunter into the hunted. It is not incredibly fast nor does it possess great physical strength or stamina, yet it is still dangerous.

It walks hunched over and moves slowly yet strikes faster than a snake. I see one!

The beast detects my presence, but it doesn’t know where I am. I close in to get a better shot.

For several meters I crawl on my stomach to get to a suitable vantage point. Once there, I prepare for the kill. The iron sights line up on my victim.

Right before I shoot, I hear a sound from behind. I forgot that they often run in packs. Its shriek goes through me.

“Safety kill.”

Mere words took me down in the place of a pellet.

I am an airsofter, and I love this game — except for the long walk back to respawn.

What is airsoft? It is a real-life battle simulation that uses strategy, teamwork and (at times) insanity.

The ammo is actually 6 mm BBs that weigh about .2 grams. These are fired from replicas of real weapons that are battery-powered. The term for one of these BB-shooting machines is Airsoft Electric Gun. There are also gas-powered guns that operate on “red” or “green” gas.

Then people take their nice shiny weapons out into the forest and shoot each other.

Of course, if you are close to a person who hasn’t seen you, the command “Safety kill” works just as well as any BB and destroys a guy’s pride.

Respawn is the place where you walk to when you die. Once there you can play in the game again.

This is a life-size strategy game. There are many variations of it, but the underlying message is to make your friends beg for mercy. It’s a bonding experience — kinda.

What do you need to play? The basic equipment needed to be on the field is goggles and a gun, but a nice pair of boots are handy to have as well. Camouflage clothing is also essential.

Without it, all I can say is I hope you have on some thick padding.

Contrary to popular belief, many people think that it is just for military practice and all the crazy war-types to share stories. Though partially true, there are also many average guys with regular lives who love the smell of dirt and the feel of a fully automatic replica.

It’s nice to live in Kings Valley because men running around in battle dress uniforms aren’t too uncommon. (By the way, event hosts will give the authorities proper notice before playing a game, so the area is secured for airsoft only.) Of course, airsoft isn’t for everyone. You should have steel nerves and must know how to handle stressful situations with clarity, have a basic understanding of strategy, and not worry about getting a little muddy … or a lot muddy.

If you are a clean person who dislikes stressful situations, this probably isn’t your bag, baby. Airsoft is a fast, fun, exciting thrill. On the field, your best friends are your worst enemies, and after the game, the blood-thirsty soldiers become smiling faces telling jokes and showing off their welts.

Should any of this interest you, there are a myriad of Internet sites and army surplus stores that can suit you up for any potential confrontation. If you are up for the challenge, then I will see you in my sights.

Kyle Taylor is a recent Philomath High School graduate and airsofter waiting for the next target in the woods of Kings Valley.

(For full article, please click on above link)

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