Thursday, December 22, 2011

StressVest adds realism to force-on-force training

Force-on-force training is a critical part of any law enforcement officer’s basic and in-service education. Basic skills learned by shooting holes in a paper target or striking a pad or training dummy don’t translate well to a world where the targets move on their own, hide behind things, and shoot or hit back. There is no substitute for introducing a live opponent into the fight.

Those live opponents come with their own set of complexities. Using paintball, Airsoft, or Simunition weapons means protecting the participants from injury, and that involves wearing goggles, face masks and possibly heavy gloves that detract from the realism of the scenario. The best simulation training duplicates the real world as closely as possible.

That’s what the makers of the StressVest system are going for with their “stress inoculation training” system.

All in the Family
The StressVest is an offshoot of and uses the same technology as the ShocKnife, made by the same company. The problem the ShocKnife tries to address is the same — realistic simulation training. Most edged-weapon defense training has to be done with dull or rubber knives for obvious reasons — it won’t do to have trainees finish up the course with gaping, open wounds. Yet, there’s no negative reinforcement to being “cut” with a rubber knife. The ShocKnife uses a harmless but painful high voltage, low amperage jolt of electricity to zap anyone who comes in contact with the blade. The reinforcement is realistic and immediate.

The StressVest extrapolates the concept to the entire upper body and even extremities with a vest worn over the trainee’s shirt. When the laser-sensitive panels on the front and back are struck with the beam from a laser emitter in an opponent’s firearm, the wearer gets a very brief but painful shock. The vest can be set up for varying intensities of shock, and can even be set to require multiple laser hits before delivering the shock. Accessory panels for the arms can extend the sensation to the extremities.

The basic model of the StressVest is manually activated by a trainer before a scenario begins. An “RF” (radio frequency) model uses a car key-type wireless fob to activate or deactivate the vest(s) at the instructor’s command. The vests themselves are powered by a standard 9V battery.

Tremendous Training Value
The triggering laser beams come from bullet-size emitters that drop into regular sidearms or shotguns equipped with a retrofit kit, or from special dedicated simulation firearms that will fit in regular duty holsters but are incapable of firing projectile ammunition. Which are best suited is largely dependent on the type of firearms in use by your trainees. Sidearms that fire double-action without manual recocking will work with the drop-in hardware, but weapons like the Glock — which requires racking of the slide to reset the trigger — aren’t suited for that type of adapter.

Used effectively, the value of this kind of reinforcement is tremendous. Early simulation training would end when a bad guy got the drop on the police trainee, firing a blank cartridge followed by a grim, “you’re dead.” Eventually trainers got the idea they were conditioning cops to stop fighting and die if they got shot, and the mantra of “never give up while there’s still a breath left in you” became the watchword. Still, trainees didn’t have to fight through anything except physical resistance from the simulated bad guys until paintballs, Airsoft and Simunitions came into play, and it hurt to get popped with one of those projectiles. The StressVest maintains that same sense of realism but eliminates the need for special protective gear and an environment tolerant of stray paintballs and similar decoration.

Introduction of gear like this requires careful supervision and policy writing. Cops are born pranksters, and any device capable of delivering a painless but harmless shock is going to be used in a practical joke faster than you can say “hostile workplace lawsuit.” Everyone with access to the equipment has to understand how it is to be used, and that penalties for willful misuse will be swift, sure and severe.

This is not inexpensive hardware. The price of a single basic model of the StressVest is $1,999.00, with discounts for multiple units purchased as a package. Their website includes several videos, testimonials, a price list, and other details.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Fighting for fun is air-gun battle station’s business

Fans of urban warfare finally have a place where they can target each other in Wichita.

All in good fun, of course.Wichita Indoor Airsoft opened this month in the Kellogg Crossing Center. Housed in a former call center, it’s a maze of about 20 rooms built of two-by-fours and plywood and containing airsoft obstacles such as oil drums and the remnants of a Halloween haunted house.Up front there’s a snack bar and counter where airsoft equipment can be rented.

The setup is conducive to simulated “CQB," or close quarters battle, as opposed to air-gun battles that take place outdoors.

“This is a lot faster paced" than outdoor battle games, said Sean Black, who manages the airsoft facility. “You’re a lot closer. You’re going to room to room and there are obstacles to go around, which is real popular.

"In the [airsoft] games, teams of up to 15 people start at either end of the 15,000-square-foot space and make their way toward each other, attempting to shoot each other with plastic 6-millimeter [airsoft] balls fired from [airsoft] guns modeled after assault weapons.

One hit and a player is eliminated from the game. A referee monitors all games to resolve disputes and make sure there’s no cheating, Black said. Among other things, players are prohibited from firing blindly around corners and shooting each other from within five feet. Violations of rules can result in [airsoft] players being banned for the day or permanently.

Goggles, long pants and long-sleeved shirts are required, although Black said the airsoft pellets don’t travel at a velocity high enough to penetrate skin. Still, being hit can sting, which is why Black also recommends that [airsoft] players wear gloves.

“It’s not real painful, but it’s enough to let you know you’ve been hit," Black said. “I’ve taken a shot in the knuckles, and that’s the last place you want to get hit."

An all-day pass costs $20 and airsoft gun rental is another $15, although players can bring their own. The airsoft facility is open to the public Friday through Sunday and available for private rental during the week.

Black said airsoft gun battle games appeal to a wide range of people, but especially those who enjoy video games simulating warfare.

“I think the biggest thing is the realism," he said. “What’s popular is the first-person shooter video games. You’re essentially doing that for real, but it’s still just a game."Black said his boss, Rick Kite, first applied for a permit to open about three years ago but was turned down by the city of Wichita, apparently because of an ordinance restricting the discharge of air-powered guns in the city. Then this fall, Kite finally got the go-ahead, Black said.

Kite also owns BB Airsoft World, a shop at 106 S. West St. that sells air-powered guns and airsoft accessories.“At the end of the day, it’s indoor entertainment," Black said of the air-gun battleground. “It’s no different than playing laser tag or indoor miniature golf."

Monday, December 19, 2011

Kids Line Up To Sit With Santa

With less than a week til Christmas, everyone is busy, finishing last minute shopping. But no one is as busy as the big man --- Santa Claus. Today, we stopped by the mall, where he was taking a break from toy making, to find out what good little girls and boys want for Christmas, and they had their lists ready!

"A big lawnmower," said Robby Kennedy, just 2 and a half years old.

Three year old Braden Skidmore said he wants a monster truck and Madison McDaniel planned to ask Santa for a trampoline.

Gift requests ranged from new sports equipment, to hunting supplies, and even a few toy trucks and dolls. But Santa says this year, the big surprise for him, is the number of little kids asking for big kid gifts.

"The one thing that's really struck me this year was a lot of electronics. Ipods, Ipads, even kindles for kids that's I would think- 'What would you do with this?'," Santa said.

And there were plenty of those requests to go around.

"I wanted an Ipad and a 3DS and a dairy queen blizzard maker," said 6 year old Brayden Marshall.

His 4 year old brother Ben planned to ask fora "toy laptop. And I got my picture made with Santa at my school."

"X-Box360 with connect and an airsoft gun," is what 7 year old Jack McDaniel hopes to find Sunday morning. And Tabitha Yoder told us she wants an X-Box, too.

And for those who give Santa their list...but don't quite believe he's the real thing....

"Of course! I'm here and I feel pretty really and if they wanna check the beard or pinch me to see if I'm real and that usually satisfies most young ones," said Santa.

And if you haven't gotten a chance to give Santa your list yet, don't worry. He tells us he'll be at the mall til it closes on Christmas Eve, when he'll head back to the North Pole and start his busy night!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Police officers help local children finish their Christmas shopping

Christian Mattson was a teenager on a mission Saturday morning in Longview, darting down aisles and filling his shopping cart with gifts for his parents and two brothers.

With the help of Castle Rock police reserve officer Chris Koehler and a $125 donated gift card, Christian scanned aisles and double checked prices, replacing items when he found a more thrifty alternative during the annual Shop with a Cop program.

"My mom's really good at bargain shopping so I'm trying to do that," the 13-year-old explained.

And only after all of his family's presents were safely in the cart did Christian look for anything for himself, finally selecting a hat and T-shirt after deciding an airsoft gun and a coat were both too expensive.

"That's the way it is with most of the kids," said Sgt. Scott Neves of the Castle Rock Police Department, who said he had to almost twist Troy Werly's arm to get the Castle Rock 12-year-old to get something for himself. "That's why I like doing this so much."

Ninety local children from Vader to Woodland received the extra help with their purchases this year thanks to the programs organized by police Chaplain Steve White and, new this year, the police departments in the southern part of the county.

The Shop with a Cop program matches children from lower income families with a police officer to shop for Christmas gifts. In addition to helping with the kids' shopping lists, organizers like to give the children exposure to police in a friendly, non-threatening setting. And the officers say they have a blast playing Santa with the kids.

"It's really fun for us," Castle Rock Police Officer Charlie Worley said. "We get to show them we're human too and that we like to have fun and joke around."

Longview and Kelso police officers shopped with elementary students from their towns — Longview at the Seventh Avenue Walmart on Friday and Kelso at Target on Saturday. Castle Rock Police Department and Cowlitz County sheriff's deputies visited the Ocean Beach Highway Walmart Saturday with middle school students from Castle Rock, Toutle and Vader. Those three shopping sprees were paid for with $12,000 in donations, including $2,000 each from the two Longview Walmarts, White said.

Further south, officers from the Woodland, Kalama and Ridgefield police departments and representatives form the sheriff's office held their first Shop with a Cop program Saturday as well.

They helped 30 children shop at the Woodland Walmart, thanks to a $3,300 donation from the Woodland Walmart, as well as donations from General Mills and the officers. Shoppers also donated money after witnessing the event, according to Woodland police. Each child had $100 to spend and organizers are already planning next year's event, Woodland Police Chief Rob Stephenson wrote in a statement.

As the children rang up their purchases in Longview on Saturday, officers said over and over again how impressed they were to see the children forgoing extra gifts for themselves in order to share with their families. The children, though, said being able to give gifts was a present in itself.

"It's fun to be able to buy something for them," Troy Werly said. "Usually I just make cards."

"I think it's going to be really fun to see the expressions on their faces when they open these up," said 12-year-old Justise Anderson of Castle Rock.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Man arrested for shooting kitten

TAVERNIER, Fla., Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Authorities in Florida said a man was charged with animal cruelty after he admitted to shooting a kitten with an airsoft rifle, killing the feline.

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office said a guest at Ocean Point Condos in Tavernier was watching a mother cat and two kittens below his balcony Monday night when he heard a "pop" and one of the kittens shook, twitched and died, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported Friday.

The guest told deputies he saw an airsoft gun barrel protruding over the edge of a nearby balcony, where investigators found Kenneth Ellis, 68, of Naples.

Ellis, who had an airsoft rifle with a scope attached inside the condo, admitted to shooting the kitten, deputies said.

Ellis was jailed on a cruelty to animals charge.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The key reason why Airsoft might Smash Paintball

Equally airsoft and paintball really are both hobbies in line with replica
guns and wargames. Will this be this unsafe? That depends more so within the
individual themselves rather than the hobby. A need for seeking an activity
that includes weaponry mainly gets detrimental if it come to extremes — which
is true of most ideas in living. Paintball and airsoft may not be morbid
hobbies in support of run chance of it being risky and damaging people.
Airsoft is really a somewhat numerous sport. The airsoft guns included in an
airsoft game tends to be both discussion pieces as well as practical sports
‘weapons’. Airsoft guns and airsoft pistols are designed for firing equally
small naff pellets and additionally paint filled pellets so it can be useful
both in the sport itself and even for outdoor property target procedure.
Airsoft guns come in a huge range of styles along with models. They can
range from a Glock handgun to a sniper rifle for a CAR15 invasion rifle.
Airsoft guns are utilized equally at home hanging in your livingroom or perhaps
at use relating to playing and participating in field. You can even go in terms
of buying the airsoft minigun. Many airsoft supporters simply get hold of the airsoft
guns without having to get involved in airsoft wargames in any way. This will
be quite similar as various sword extractors – many people display this weapons
at home but will not go playing around waving them all at people today.
Paintball itself is mostly an additional mobile or portable activity. It
requires a specifically better standard of physical health, mobility and also
skill – if you happen to play paintball then you definitely got to have the
ability to move swift. The paintball guns by themselves usually are useful
consequently as they are only created to serve the aim of the paintball sport
versus looking wonderful. Paintball rifles are created to take a true beating
concerning their utility. Paintball fans fall into the ‘extreme sport’ category
and luxuriate in the genuine adrenaline of each and every paintball match as
they are driven from the desire to win.
The significant difference stands out as the power within the guns itself.
Paintball paints are driven by big powered petrol cylinders, unlike airsoft
rifles that fire projectiles possibly through arises, electronic heating mechanisms
or perhaps with pressurized gas. The catch is that the majority of airsoft
weapons lack accuracy of the larger paintball guns simply because were never
built with long range fire at heart.
Regardless about whether that you are a paintball buff or a good airsoft
fanatic, it’s required to take correct safety precautions in using these sport
firearms. Proper eyes protection as safety goggles should always be used, and
desirable protective clothing to hide your the neck and throat and superior
torso also need to be distressed. Even though a lot of people see these sport weapons
as gadgets, they are capable of causing injury either with an accident or maybe
deliberate malice.
If ever the purpose would be to accumulated guns like a leisure process, Airsoft
benefits. Airsoft is good for collecting and playing. However being a hobby,
paintball is in fact the foremost worthwhile. Paintball is usually a sport that
can actually get evaluated, be upgraded, and. made available to the common
This is precisely why paintball will probably end up being crushed by airsoft.
This survey might be rude to a few paintballers available, yet I really believe
the actual report holds true.
The fact is that neither airsoft nor paintball is superior. They’re both a
case of exclusive preference. For everybody who is enjoys the extreme sports
form, then paintball should suit you will more. If you might be more of a
collector, then airsoft.

Monday, November 14, 2011

'Free-range kids' benefit from safe streets

Six children armed with Airsoft guns rush through a stand of poplars
as they advance on an unseen enemy, yelling, laughing and waving their
airsoft weapons in the air.
A 10-year-old boy falls to the ground dramatically, as if he's been mortally wounded. Then his friend, also 10, collapses nearby. They try to remain still, but giggles convulse
their supposedly maimed bodies.
It's a beautiful fall afternoon in Inglewood, where the group of five boys and one girl has gathered to play Airsoft, complete with airsoft guns, eye protection and airsoft biodegradable
pellets. On any given day after school, a number of neighbourhood
children get together to do battle, or play pick-up football or hockey.
Summer days bring them down to the south bank of the Bow River, where
they swing from a rope into a deep pool on the river's edge.
What's striking about the group is they're on their own. No adults are supervising. No parents are imposing limits on the fun.
"I like going out on my own because there's not as much supervision, so
you can be a kid," says 11-yearold Josh Leacock. Some of his earliest
memories are of being outside with friends playing street hockey and gun
wars (a game with wooden guns that don't shoot) when he was four or
five years old.
He is one of Inglewood's "free-range kids," children who are living a version of childhood similar to what their parents experienced, but one that is becoming rare. In today's
safety obsessed world, it seems a generation of kids is being encouraged
to play indoors or in fenced-in backyards.
Many Inglewood parents, however, are bucking the new parenting order in favour of fresh air, exercise and independence.
So what is it about this Inglewood group of families that are rejecting
mainstream ideas about childhood safety? Is Inglewood built differently? Do these parents have different skills? Do the kids know something the rest of us don't?
Experts say the answers to those questions are both yes and no, and they contain insight into safety in all neighbourhoods. While Inglewood is unique, the lives of these families
highlight many of the factors that experts say go into building safe, engaging neighbourhoods for children and their families all over the city.
"The most visceral fear, the one that taps deepest into our evolutionary hard drive, is the fear that our children are in physical danger," writes author Carl Honore in Under Pressure: Putting the Child Back in Childhood. The 2008 book, his follow-up to the acclaimed In Praise of Slow, advocates "slow" childhoods instead of those in which kids are micro-managed and overprotected.
Modern parents, he writes, fear everything from open toilets to sharp coffee table corners,
"hazards" that can be kept in check by vigilant baby-proofing. Outside the home the multitude of perils are out of parents' control: speeding cars, high playground equipment, even fast snowballs.
"The upshot is that the 21st-century child is raised in captivity, cooped up indoors and ferried between appointments in the backseat of a car," Honore continues.
Keeping children under lock and key all but eliminates risk, and prevents the most-feared threat from materializing: being grabbed off the street by a predator.
"Creepy people," "weirdos" and "scary dudes" are what give Josh and his friend Bowen Tompkins pause as they discuss the pitfalls of freedom on this fall afternoon. Even Bowen's mom Liz Tompkins and her friend Rebecca O'Brien worry that a story on child-safe neighbourhoods could attract oddballs to the community.
This line of thinking is what Lenore Skenazy calls "worst first" - thinking of the most terrible thing that could happen instead of considering the positive effects; that it could convince parents in other neighbourhoods to let their kids be footloose too.
"Predators aren't reading the newspaper to find out where the kids are," says the writer and mother of two who coined the term "freerange kids" with her 2009 book of the same name.
"You have to come to grips with the fact that even though things feel scarier than when we were growing up, they're actually safer," she says by phone from her home in New York City. She rattles off some stats: Since the 1980s, child abductions have gone down and the number of children hit by cars has decreased.
Even having a child die from cancer is less of a risk than it was 25 years ago. But parents are more terrified than ever.
We're scared, says Skenazy, because every time something happens to a child, the story goes viral through media channels and gives parents another reason to lock their kids indoors. She refers to the recent story of three-year-old Keinan Hebert, abducted from his home in Sparwood, B.C.
and returned, unharmed, four days later.
The Hebert's saga sucked in media watchers from across Canada and the United States because it
epitomized every parent's worst nightmare."It's sort of like a carnival ride. It's thrilling and terrifying at the same time," says Skenazy.
It also aligns with the popular culture messages we consume through television shows like CSI, Dexter and Law & Order. Namely, lurking in every alley is a predator that might target your child.
"On TV, there's always a child murderer. In real life murder by stranger is extremely rare . . . . In real life, the vast majority of crimes against kids are committed by people they know," says Skenazy, who was called "America's worst mom" for letting her nine-year-old son ride the New
York City subway alone (he was, and still is, doing just fine).
"There's also a risk if you keep your kids inside. There's a price to be paid that no one thinks about."
She lists off the hidden costs of a sedentary lifestyle: increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and depression, lack of socialization. Skenazy says seeing children outside, playing or walking to school, is a sign of a healthy neighbourhood.
By her measure Inglewood is healthy, in large part because many neighbourhood parents aren't buying in to the new norm. They gladly kick their kids outdoors to play, secure in the knowledge that the environment they're setting them loose in is safe.
"It all adds up to a sense of safety in our community," says long-time Inglewood resident Tompkins, whose two sons, Hollis, 15, and Bowen, 10, have been playing outdoors unsupervised for years.
"What I think it boils down to is everyone seems to know everyone in Inglewood. I feel we're in
a small town with a twist," says Julie deBoer, whose sons Adam, 11, and Luke, 8, are part of the neighbourhood posse.
Daughter Joy, 6, doesn't yet run free - unless she's with her big brothers."It's just a tight web of parents that know each other and trust each other," she adds.
Parents meet through the community school, which many children attend and walk
to. They also meet by volunteering on school council or with the Inglewood Community Association.
Both Tompkins and deBoer have setout clear boundaries for their boys, so the kids know which parts of the neighbourhood they're allowed to venture to, and which parts are offlimits. The boys let their moms know where they're going, and what time they'll be back.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, these children are street smart - they watch out for cars and creeps, and they almost always travel in a posse.
"Street smart means being able to cross the street safely," adds Rebecca O'Brien, whose
10-year-old son Freddy is part of the Airsoft patrol.
Indeed, for most Inglewood moms, their biggest isn't the fear of abduction that rattles their kids, it's the risk they'll fall into the Bow River or get hit by a car.
Community involvement, neighbourliness and parental lessons on strangers, open water and cars help keep kids out of harm's way. What else makes a community safe for children?"
There's not something as simple as a formula, but there are lots of things that come together for safety," says Byron Miller, an urban political geographer and associate professor of geography at the University of Calgary. He mentions density, walkability and ample park space as crucial
"Part of what goes hand in hand with (those) is making the streets safe for kids to play in," he says, adding that if he has to choose one culprit limiting kids' ability to own their
neighbourhoods, it would be the automobile."The single biggest danger to children is traffic," says Miller.
He points to Vauban, a suburb of Freiburg, Germany, as a child-dense and kid-friendly utopia that was designed to minimize car use. Multi-family buildings do not have garages (cars must be parked on the outskirts of town in community parkades). All housing features windows that enable parents to keep an eye out on their kids who are playing outside in the surrounding parks.
"Once people are out walking, they see each other. They know who belongs and who doesn't. It forms a stronger community," says Miller.
It makes for more "eyes on the street," a concept made famous by AmericanCanadian urban planner Jane Jacobs, and one that's acknowledged by Inglewood moms who feel their kids are safe because there are so many trustworthy adults watching the community goings-on as a form of natural surveillance.
While Inglewood is quite a bit different from Vauban - cars zip up and down busy Ninth Avenue, and many residents own cars and park them in back alley garages - the community is very pedestrian-friendly, ranking 19th on the Project Calgary's list of walkable communities.
It's also unique in that more than 40 per cent of businesses are owned by Inglewood residents who have an interest in the community. What's more, many of the neighbourhood children grow into teenagers who get jobs at the local franchises and businesses.
"I don't think it's the norm," says Inglewood BRZ chair Brian Imeson, who owns Circa vintage art glass on Ninth Avenue and walks to work. "It still maintains a really small-town community feel here."
Miller lives in West Hillhurst and practices free-range parenting when he shoos his son out to the local park. But Miller knows there are few risks: his son doesn't have to cross a street
and he's there with friends.
"When you say to your kid, 'Go be free-range,' you have to consider the environment you're turning them loose in.""Know your neighbourhood," says Julie Freedman Smith, co-owner of Parenting Power, a Calgary business that counsels parents on everyday challenges.
She says residents are best equipped to identify community threats facing the youngest members."It's not doing it without thought. It's taking the time to teach," she says.
"If we wait for our kids to be 15 or 17 before we let them out (alone), they're going to make big mistakes."Inglewood mom Liz Tompkins admits her boys have occasionally darted in front of traffic, or forgotten to tell her where they were going to be, but she believes letting her boys play outdoors on their own has done more good than harm, she says. Expanding their boundaries in increments, as they proved responsible, has taught them independence and helped them develop good judgment.
Conversely, parents who keep kids under their thumb are "doing a grave disservice to them. Not only are they not learning independence, they're not learning how to make good decisions on their own," says Tompkins.
Safe in their community and street smart from years of walking and biking to school and negotiating the back alleys after school, this group of Inglewood children love their freedom and
think their 'hood is unique in Calgary.
"All the kids are either home or out with kids . . . you can find them really easily," says Bowen Tompkins.His friend, Josh Leacock, contemplates his freedom more philosophically, with wisdom beyond his 11 years.
"I think that if your parents don't let you go out and experience life, then you're stuck inside all day playing video games or watching TV.

It's like my dad would say: 'It rots your brain.' "Instead, he spends his free time outdoors."There's no wasting a day."

Man points toy gun at deputies, begs to be shot

KANNAPOLIS — A Kannapolis man pointed an Airsoft pistol at a Rowan
County deputy Sunday afternoon and threatened to shoot the officer if he
did not kill him.

According to the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, 56-year-old Michael
Harrison was arrested in his 1303 Stone Ave. yard after deputies
negotiated with him to place the believed-to-be pistol on the ground.
Airsoft guns look like real weapons, but shoot airsoft pellets or airsoft BBs.

Harrison and his wife, 47-year-old Sarah Harrison, got into a domestic
argument earlier that day, the report said, and Michael Harrison choked
her and threw her across the living room couch.

The report said their 16-year-old son intervened in the fight and
Michael Harrison left the property in one of the family’s vehicles.
As Deputy M.L. Shrewsbury took statements from Sarah Harrison and her
son at the house about 1:25 p.m., Michael Harrison returned to the home
with an Airsoft handgun and pointed it at the officer.

The deputy took cover behind his patrol car with his weapon drawn and asked the man to lower his weapon.

The man begged the officer to shoot him and, at times, put the Airsoft gun to his head.
Deputies took the man in to custody after negotiating with him to drop his (airsoft) weapon in the yard.

As Michael Harrison was being cuffed, Shrewsbury found a small razor in his possession and a cut mark along his right wrist.

Michael Harrison was transported to the Magistrate’s Office and charged
with assault by strangulation and assault on a law enforcement officer
with a firearm.

While being processed at the office, Michael Harrison withdrew a “broken
crack pipe,” the report said, and began trying to cut his left wrist
with a fragment of the smoking device.

EMS was called and the man was treated at the scene and taken to the Rowan County Detention Center.

“Officer Shrewsbury acted very professionally and used a lot of
restraint especially with having the weapon pointed at him,” Rowan
County Sheriff’s Office spokesman John Sifford said. “Had Officer
Shrewsbury not exhibited that restraint, it could have been very

Michael Harrison was in jail on Monday with no bond.

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Lady Holds a Resident Evil Pistol. Capcom Copyrights a Cake.

It's Halloween. What better day to talk about overpriced Resident Evil food? So, let's do that! Then, let's talk about a[n] [airsoft] gun.
To promote Resident Evil's fifteenth anniversary, Capcom is teaming up with a Japanese restaurant company to roll out Resident Evil food. There are T-virus drinks that change colors and themed dishes.
Capcom even created a Resident Evil premium cake, which has a
copyright logo on it. Meaning, Capcom actually put a copyright mark on a
cake because it has the anniversary logo on it, because some lawyer
probably told Capcom people might see the cake and then decide it was
okay to copy the logo. In my time, I've seen lots of game cakes, but
never one with a copyright mark on it—probably because that's totally insane.
RE goods were also shown off. In the above photo, model
Reiko Mirashi does a fine job of showing off the Samurai Edge airsoft
pistol and doing so without apparently threatening. There's a right way
to show off an airsoft pistol. This is it.
There's also a right way to make a game cake. This ain't.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Battlefield 3 - Wellington Launch Party

EB Games hosted a midnight launch party for the hotly anticipated Battlefield 3 in Lower Hutt last night, and we were there. Expecting great things - after attending previous launches run by the team - we were not disappointed.

Sure, it was wet and windy, but if anything that only added to the drama. After all, the EB guys had gone all-out for this one, partnering once again with Army-surplus suppliers Comrades, and the airsoft guys from Capital Team Airsoft (CTA) were there - complete with combat fatigues - to add an air of authenticity to proceedings.

Take a look at what went down...

The EB guys, dressed in Army fatigues, kill some of the time leading up to the midnight release, while gamers mill about in preparation for the main event

One of the airsoft CTA guys, resplendent in his (rather serious-looking) kit. We're 99.99% sure that [airsoft] gun's not real but, dangerous or not, we don't want that guy pointing at us.

This guy, on the other hand, looks a little out of his depth...

... just kidding! D:

If not for the shelves of games in the background, you'd swear you were looking at a couple of fresh recruits! Maybe not, but it's a damn good effort, anyway.

How good is this guy? If it wasn't so cold and wet, I'd totally think I had been transported into the middle of desert storm.

The gear you need! But are they referring to the [airsoft] guns or the games in the background?

Clearly an amateur, this one; hiding behind a barrel? My jacketed parabellum's are going to cut through that like a hot knife through butter!

Everyone gathers up for a briefing - operation Release Battlefield 3 At Midnight is about to kick off

Mike, nearly lost in the crowd, gives the mission briefing. We'd tell you what he said, but then we'd have to kill you.

Ok, ok, what he said was "go outside" - so they did, as evidenced by this photo.

Oh Wellington! Is Wonderful! We've got the wind, the rain, and the Phoenix (that chap there in the center)!

Uh oh... looks like some of the "talent" have gone rogue... the chap in the middle started making threatening gestures and mumbled stuff that, while in Russian, sounded like bad news...

The GIs, true to form, looked non-plussed. "We can take you", they suggested by body language alone

The first to buy the game enter the shop but what's this?! The insurgents are blocking their passage! It's war, in Lower Hutt!

Out of nowhere, the good guys turn up and rescue the shoppers from what can only be described as certain doom. Or a well staged stunt. Either way, it was awesome.

One of the first to buy the game escapes into the night, clutching his hard-won copy in his hands.

Did you go along to a midnight release? Have you picked up the game this morning? Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Gamers dress in military garb for release of 'Battlefield 3'

BRANDON --"Battlefield 3" has been called one of the most anticipated
first-person shooter video games of 2011. And looking at all the folks
lined up at the GameStop on East Brandon Boulevard for its midnight
release Tuesday, it's easy to believe that's no exaggeration.

While this particular store had several hundred pre-sales of the
game, the worldwide pre-sale of EA's "Battlefield 3" reportedly hit 2
million a week ago while another 12 million people took advantage of a
limited "beta" or test version of the game earlier this month.
At GameStop in Brandon, some of the people waiting in line looked as
if they had walked straight out of the online warfare game that, offers
breathtaking visuals and hair-raising audio where you can hear every
bullet whizzing by your head and feel buildings crumbling around you.
The game's big rival, Activision's "Call of Duty 3," will be released
in two weeks. But the hardcore gamers in the midnight crowd – ones who
dressed in military garb and carrying Airsoft (BB gun) replica weapons
so incredibly real-looking they made sure to have clearance to carry
them from the local authorities – say "Battlefield 3" is superior in
nearly all aspects of gaming.
" 'Battlefield 3' is team-based tactics with so many different types
of vehicles involved in the game play with these massive maps (battle
areas) and destructible worlds," said Matt Farmer, owner of Battlegrounds, an indoor Airsoft arena in Tampa. "To me, 'Call of Duty'
is more of an individual, fast-paced, tournament-based game where score
matters. But in 'Battlefield,' there's multi-player objectives where you
have to work with other players as a team to achieve them. I just think
that's a lot more entertaining and challenging."
By the time GameStop began selling the game for $60 at midnight, more
than 100 buyers were lined up down the sidewalk waiting for their copy.
To contrast Farmer and his friends decked out in military garb, two
unarmed waitresses from the new Wing House in Brandon, Allison Bowsher
and Allison Gates, served up samples of their wings to those waiting in
Apart from the Wing House women, everyone in line wanted a copy of
"Battlefield 3," either on Xbox, PlayStation 3 or PC. The big advantage
of the PC version is the ability to have as many as 64 players in a
single online campaign, as opposed to a maximum of 24 on the other
No matter how they planned to play it, most of the people who bought
the "M" (mature rating) game Tuesday night say they were planning to go
home and play it throughout the night. And many of those were teenagers
and even pre-teens.
So if you don't see someone at work or school today, there's a chance they're at home right now playing "Battlefield 3."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hackettstown brings in several new businesses

HACKETTSTOWN – In the last month,
Hackettstown has experienced a surge of new businesses coming into town.

Three new businesses have opened on Main Street, said
Hackettstown Business Improvement Director Jim Sheldon. Another business has opened
on Route 57 and a fifth business recently moved from Main Street to Valentine

The new businesses are: Hackettstown Mitsubishi located on
100 Main Street, Stryker Airsoft located on 13 Route 57, Hackettstown Health
Foods located on 199 Main Street and Treasure Trove, a vintage items store,
located next-door to the Hackettstown Health Foods at 201 Main Street. Heart
and Sohl Photography is now located on 126 Valentine Street.

Sheldon was optimistic about some of the town’s vacancies
being filled. “It just really shows that people are starting to find
Hackettstown as a good place to do business. I think they see that Hackettstown
is invested in its streetscape and they see that as a very positive sign. There
is tremendous potential in town,” Sheldon said.
Uzma Kazmi, the manager at Hackettstown Health Foods, also
saw the potential in town. “People are more health-oriented and progressive in
Hackettstown,” she said.
Kazmi said the store is offering 20% off the marked price on
all items – ranging from organic frozen food, body care products – in the store
and 30% off on all body building items, like muscle milk. Kabeer Abro, owner of
Hackettstown Health, also owns a health food store in Washington.
Stryker Airsoft is an indoor Airsoft facility. Airsoft is
like paintball, but without the paint. It is a recreational game played with
replica Airsoft firearms that shoot very small plastic Airsoft pellets.
Owner Connie Smetana says that what separates Stryker
Airsoft from other Airsoft facilities is the arena itself, which has been
described by Airsoft players as an “urban battlefield” and a “mini close
quarter battle city.” “We wanted to make something that was very exciting for
people to look at,” she said.

Treasure Trove is a vintage item store and its hours are
Wednesday through Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Owner Judy Walker has
owned several other antique stores in Hackettstown. “I thought I would try it
again,” she said. The store sells antiques, collectibles, dolls, furniture,
china, linens, jewelry and vintage items, Walker said.
Drew Picon, owner of Hackettstown Hyundai, opened
Hackettstown Mitsubishi on Oct. 1. “We love the area and love the people,” he

Sheldon also commented on the new dealership. “The
Hackettstown Mitsubishi is the perfect location for someone to come in and sign
a lease – it’s a continuing use car dealership,” Shelton said of the new
dealership. “It’s just a home run.”

Heart and Sohl Photoraphy, owned by Sean and Jessi Sohl,
moved from Main Street to a larger space on 126 Valentine Street. “We kept
getting bigger, this is absolutely perfect,” Jessi said of the 1,000 square
foot studio space. She said that the larger space gives them more flexibility
when shooting family portraits and professional headshots, the studio’s

Weapons testing facility to close next year

Companies make and sell hundreds of less lethal weapons for law enforcement agencies that are meant to stop a criminal, not kill the criminal. Those weapons are tested at the Weapons and Equipment Research Institute at FGCU, but the institute will close because its funding is about to dry up.

Charlie Mesloh's passion comes from his experience on duty.

"I was a law enforcement officer back in a time when we had a night stick and a radio and that was pretty much it," said Mesloh, the Director of the Weapons and Equipment Research Institute at Florida Gulf Coast University.

He and his staff members use grant money to buy less-lethal weapons like tasers, airsoft guns and batons – and test them for their reliability and safety.

"We try to determine where you can stand and deploy a weapon and accurately hit the person and yet not kill them," said Mesloh.

Tuesday, Mesloh's team recorded how well a new long-range taser performs.
It's a one of a kind facility that uses less than $100,000 a year to support law enforcement.

Officers and deputies come to the research institute to learn how to safely use new weapons, like the Taser x2. They practice their shooting at this facility.
After April 30, that free training comes to an end.

"I'm concerned, I'm concerned. I want my tax dollars to be spent properly," said Mesloh.

Without funding to continue research, agencies may make bad purchases on unsafe weapons and his students will miss out.

"Anybody can pick up a book and read but nobody can pick up a taser and test it, and that's what they're taking away," said student assistant Jo Ann Werbalis.

"That experience is going to be lost. We're not going to be a pipeline like we have been for these high levels of federal law enforcement," said Mesloh.

Mesloh's team hopes to finish two more weapons projects before their money runs out next year.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Firearms training: Supplementing live-fire drills

Patrol officers
may not be the most “tactical” members of a department, but they should
absolutely be the most formidable pistol fighters

On average, at least one law enforcement officer is murdered
every week in this nation. Most of these officers are assigned to patrol
and are attacked without warning while handling “routine” calls or
self-initiated enforcement contacts. No clearer example of this can be found than the first two of the four officers murdered in Oakland,
California in March, 2009. These officers were conducting a traffic
enforcement stop and had no prior warning of the assault that would end
their lives and change their family’s lives forever. As in so many
cases, neither officer was able to return the fight to the suspect
before being murdered. Patrol officers are more likely than
others — including SWAT officers — to be involved in a sudden and
unexpected close-quarters attack. Because of this fact, patrol officers
should be given consistent training specific for the types of assaults
they most often encounter. In addition to being mentally prepared for
such an assault, patrol officers must master the skills necessary to
quickly and effectively fire hits into a suspect suddenly attempting to
murder them. Having served on a SWAT Team for 13 years, I
absolutely understand the need for tactical operators to train as
frequently as possible. However, statistics show that very few SWAT
operators are murdered each year. There are a number of reasons for this
statistic, but the most obvious reason to me is deterrence. Very few
suspects are willing to attack a team of eight to ten operators knocking
down their door sporting balaclavas and AR-platform firearms. Even
violent suspects faced with this situation will usually choose to live
and fight (perhaps one of us at a time) some other day. Patrol is
the law enforcement assignment in which the officer is tasked with
seeking out or responding to the worst and most unpredictable in society
on a daily basis. They usually do this work on their own, or certainly
without the built-in deterrence of a tactical team as their cover.
Therefore, patrol officers must receive the most effective firearms
training available, particularly firearms training with their handgun.
Patrol officers may not be the most “tactical” members of a department,
but they should absolutely be the most formidable pistol fighters. My
philosophy is great in theory, but when I make these points to classes
around the country, I frequently hear the same replies. Instructors want
to offer better training and patrol officers wish to train more often.
However, cuts to the training budget have made it impossible to offer or
obtain additional training. Certainly, the current economic
environment required budget cuts and perhaps even future cuts for many
agencies. But as the recent 30 percent increase in law enforcement
assaults and homicides makes clear, there has been no matching reduction
in assailants willing to murder police officers. Reducing already
inadequate or infrequent firearms training is a gamble that no agency
should take. Rather than argue that point any further in this
article, I will instead suggest that effective firearms training — at
least training aimed at the development of skills necessary to prevail
against a sudden close-quarter attack — can be affordable and effective.
Effective and Inexpensive Dry-Fire Practice Boxers
spend a majority of training time outside of the sparing ring — their
version of live-fire training. Skills are developed with the use of a
heavy bag, speed bag, or at times, open space for conditioning, foot
work, and perhaps shadow boxing. Law enforcement firearms training can
and should develop a similar training model, one in which a great deal
of training is provided away from live-fire training. Off-range
training should be a part of every training program and should include
work on the draw stroke, the flash front-sight focus, and even trigger
control. The following suggestions are not intended to replace live-fire
training. Rather, they are simple and cost-effective methods to
supplement live-fire drills. 1.) Training on the draw stroke —
With regard to the close distance of most gunfights, an officer’s
ability to draw quickly and shoot effectively, while moving laterally at
the same time, can be far more important than their shooting skills.
But the speed and skill needed for an incredibly fast and effective
response can only be developed with frequent practice on the draw
stroke. Every officer should have a mastery of the four -or five-step
pistol presentation. They should then drill on this technique often
enough so that if suddenly in a gunfight, they are never more than a
week or two from their last practice session. Every police officer
should train often enough so that their firearm is pointing at the chest
of the suspect in around one second. A time under a second is even
better. There are countless examples of officers murdered while
struggling to get their weapon into a gunfight. Situational awareness is
crucial, but a fast and effective draw stroke is equally important.
Inert duty firearms or plastic replica firearms are perfect for these
drills — Plastic weapons can be purchased for less than $40 per unit. 2.) Simunition Firearms —
Simunition and Airsoft “firearms” can take presentation training
one-step further. Valuable both in scenario based and tactical”
training, these airsoft “firearms” are also excellent for speed to target
training. Officers can practice their draw stroke, flash front-sight
focus, and even their combat shooting skills, without the use of a
firearms training facility. Simunition systems can be expensive for some
agencies, but you can purchase a great deal of Airsoft equipment for a
few hundred dollars.3.) Shooting Simulators —
Shooting simulators are another excellent (albeit more expensive,
training tool. These systems are primarily used by agencies to provide
use-of-force and decision-making training. However, these simulators are
also excellent for developing an officer’s reaction to a sudden assault
through speed to target drills. A number of companies now offer
portable simulators that are reasonably priced and that can be set up
just about anywhere in your department. If Not Now, When? It
will be years before law enforcement agencies will be back to enjoying
surplus budgets. Perhaps those days are gone forever. In the meantime,
the recent rise in law-enforcement homicides tells us that we don’t have
the time to wait for more money, more support from agency leaders, or
even more live-fire training. Fortunately, agencies can help an officer
to greatly improve their ability to prevail in an armed assault through a
supplemental program of dry-fire practice.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pistol Drill Skills

I started an article about the need for actual live-fire
firearms training versus just shooting the agency qual course over and over,
but it started to turn into a rant and I am in a good mood. Instead, I am going
to post some challenging [airsoft] pistol skill drills that you can use on your own to
improve your shooting.

First of all, standard disclaimer. Know the Four Universal Firearms Safety Rules and follow them every time. Also knowand follow the regulations on the range where you are shooting. Know your own skill level and stay in your lane. You are accountable for every round that you
fire, and if you ever get into a real world shooting, every round you have ever
fired will end up in the same place – in court. Like any physical skill,
only perfect practice makes perfect, so when you begin to get tired and sloppy
or fool around, it is time to be done for the day. Finally, the best way to
practice these drills is with a partner who can keep time, call the course and
critique your form and hits. For live fire, a shot timer works better than a
stopwatch and whistle, but use what you have.

Some tools for pistol skill drills; snap caps, Airsoft
pistol, CO2s.

Dry fire is the best training you can get, and it is almost
free. Some additional safety rules apply when conducting dry fire. All live
ammo must be secured in another part of the building. Training partners should
then check each other for live ammo. No “I trust you, Dude” – actually check to
make sure no live ammunition is present. When conducting dry fire, have a
backstop capable of stopping whatever round your weapons fire. Remember that
sheetrock and 2x4s stop almost nothing. Old body armor, hung behind the dry
fire targets, is ideal. You want to do 70-80% of your training dry, and 20-30%
live fire. Focus on the fundamentals – Solid grip, aggressive forward stance,
and a smooth trigger press while maintaining sight alignment/sight picture.
Start off slow and concentrate on good form. Smooth is fast.
I am a huge believer in Airsoft as a training tool. My
preferred training progression for these drills is Dry Fire – Airsoft – Live
Fire. Another advantage is that Airsoft allows you to shoot these drills if you
are prevented from shooting them live by range configuration, lack of access to
live ammo or weapons, the cost of ammo, or cranky old guy Armory Staff.
Remember to ALWAYS wear eye pro when shooting Airsoft. Don’t be that kid from
“A Christmas Story”.
My all-time favorite [airsoft] target is the plastic lid
from a Folger’s coffee can. They can be stapled or taped up almost anywhere,
take up next to no space in your range bag, will take a bunch of [airsoft] hits from live
rounds before they fall apart, and can also be used with a sharpie to make a
reasonable “A” zone on a TRANSTAR target. The coffee can lid is about 8″ in
diameter, perfectly sized for practicing [airsoft] center mass chest hits, and they make
a satisfying SMACK when you ding them with Airsoft – almost like shooting steel
reactive targets with live fire. The best part is that I have yet to see an
agency that doesn’t have those red Folger’s cans in abundance. If it’s free,
its for me!
Now for the drills;
Hackathorn Standards ([airsoft] Pistol)
Course Designer: Ken Hackathorn (Contract SFOD-D and FBI-HRT Firearms
Source: Larry Vickers (former SFOD-D Lead Firearms Instructor)
300 Points 60 Rounds No Make Up Shots
IPSC Target (or sub an 8″ round target for the “A” zone/head):
A = 5 C = 3 D = 2 Entire Head = 5
All stages start holstered unless otherwise noted.
250+ Expert
200-249 Acceptable
Below 200 Needs Improvement
Overtime shots do not count for score
Targets: 3 IPSC, 1m spacing, staggered medium-high-low
#1–5 yards–1 rd on each head from draw freestyle–3 sec
#2–5 yards–1 rd on each head strong hand–4 sec
#3–5 yards–1 rd on each body strong hand–3 sec
#4–5 yards–1 rd on each body strong hand–3 sec
#5–8 yards–2 rds on left target freestyle–2 sec
#6–8 yards–2 rds on center target freestyle–2 sec
#7–8 yards–2 rds on right target freestyle–2 sec
#8–10 yards–El Presidente; start facing uprange w/6 rds in gun, turn and draw,
2 rds each target, slide lock reload, 2 rds on each target–10 seconds
#9–10 yards–weak hand pickup; gun on ground, butt to strong side, start
standing, strong hand in small of back, retrieve handgun, 1 rd on each target–5
#10–12 to 8 yards–2 rds each target while moving forward from 12 yds–5 sec
#11–15 yards–transition drill; start with hands at shoulder level as if holding
rifle (Holding an empty rifle or Blue Gun is better), 1 rd on each target–4 sec
#12–20 yards–start standing; drop to prone, 2 rds on each target–10 sec
#13–25 yards–start behind barricade; 2 rds on each target standing, perform
tactical reload under cover(retain/stow partial mag), 2 rds on each target
kneeling–24 sec

Hackathorn 3-second Head Shot Standards ([airsoft] Pistol)
Range: 5 yd
Target: 3 IDPA or IPSC Targets, shoulder height, two foot
Rounds: 9Par Time: 3 Sec All Strings
1. Fire one (and only one) shot at the head of each target,
2. Fire one (and only one) shot at the head of each target,
3. Fire one (and only one) shot at the head of each target,
middle target then outside targets in any order.
Hits after Par count as misses. Minimum 7 hits to
CSAT Pistol Instructor Standards
Course Designer/Source: Paul Howe, SFOD-D Veteran of
Mogadishu, Owner/Lead Instructor of CSAT
All shot at 7 yards except for string 10.
1. Ready, 1 shot, 1 target- 1 SEC
2. Holster, 1 shot, 1 target – 1.7 SEC
3. Ready, 2 shots, 1 target – 1.5 SEC
4. Ready, 5 shots body, 1 shot head, 1 target – 3 SEC
5. Ready, 2 shots x 2 targets – 3 SEC
6. Ready, 2 shot weak/2 shots strong, 1 target – 5 SEC
7. Ready, 1 shot malfunction drill, 1 target – 3 SEC
8. Ready, 2 shots, reload, 2 shots, 1 target – 5 SEC
9. Rifle Up, Dry fire/transition 1 shot, 1 target – 3.25 SEC
10. Holster, 1 shot kneeling, 1 target, 25 yards – 3.25 SEC
Total: 25 Rounds
Must Pass 8 of 10 standards to receive a “go”

Too easy? Try them again low-light with your
Like anything else worth doing, challenging ourselves to reach the next level of proficiency with a pistol is hard work. It takes a commitment to putting in the reps and pushing beyond
“minimum standards” both from a personal and agency perspective. Bad guys will
not pro-rate the effort that they put into killing you based on your CDI
factor. Can you imagine? “These guys are only patrol, they aren’t SWAT- I am only
going to try 50% to kill them.” A gunfight is a gunfight, and your worst has to
be better than the bad guy’s best. Train for it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Airsoft outdoor war game provides exercise and excitement

Alright. We might be in the autumn woods, but mushroom picking this is not. Instead, we are picking enemies off one by one with airsoft bullets whistling through the air.
Near the Lahnus shooting range in Espoo, a group of 73 men and two women has gathered to be divided into two teams by the airsoft game leader.
The aim of the game is to raise the team’s flag at a strategically important location - and to liquidate as many members of the opposing team as possible in the process.

The recreational activity in question, for which a substantial outdoor space is needed, is called airsoft.
In airsoft, non-metallic airsoft pellets are fired using realistic-looking replica guns.
In the capital area there are only a couple of locations in which playing airsoft is permitted.
These locations are in Helsinki’s Paloheinä district and in Lahnus and Korpilampi in Espoo.
In Helsinki’s Mustavuori (out east in the suburb of Vuosaari) there used to be an official airsoft area, but it now lacks a valid permit from the Public Works Department.

Pekka Gröhn from Espoo has brought his 15-year-old twin sons Juho and Henri to take part in the airsoft fighting, but the father, too, rather enjoys spending the afternoon dressed in a green camouflage outfit.
“I am probably the one who is most excited about [airsoft]. At first my wife was averse to the idea, but nowadays she may ask me if the boys are not going to go and improve their fitness in the woods.”

The relative shortage of legitimate airsoft battlegrounds tempts people to play the game also in residential and outdoor areas and even in playgrounds.
The airsoft sport’s image has been tarnished somewhat by mostly underage players who have flouted the rules.
“The wild groups of [airsoft] players running around with [airsoft] guns have caused fright among outsiders, resulting in several police alerts. Lately there have been fewer such incidents but each breach of the rules harms us and the discipline”, says airsoft enthusiast Tero Salmela.
The Pääkaupunkiseudun airsoft-yhdistys (”Greater Helsinki Airsoft Association”) that Salmela administers tries to get the youngsters to practice the airsoft activity within organised settings.
”We engage in cooperation with stores selling airsoft guns and equipment, but more responsibility could be put on the shoulders of the parents who purchase the [airsoft] guns. The airsoft guns cannot be sold to persons under the age of 18”, emphasises Ville Hietikko, a board member of the association.

The youngest members of the airsoft group gathered in Lahnus are 12 years of age. The oldest ones are in their 50s.
The area’s rolling landscape, with lots of bushes and scrub to provide cover, is to everybody’s liking.
“The out-of-way location is an advantage. It allows the [airsoft] players to immerse themselves fully in the activity without having to worry about giving an outsider a heart attack in the process. The Espoo airsoft playing areas, however, are not easily reachable”, Salmela explains.
The situation is worst in the city of Vantaa, which has not allocated any playing areas for airsoft enthusiasts.

In Lahnus, the airsoft game leader announces the end of the day’s first game.
Antti Puskala, 19, of Espoo, emerges onto the dirt road from the bushes.
He wipes sweat from his forehead. Some of the black war-paint on his face sticks to his hand.
How did it go?
“My friends and I decided from the start to go round behind the enemy. For us the main thing was not the flag, but to get to shoot as many of the enemy fighters as possible. I managed to take out quite few of them.”
In the next airsoft game, Puskala took a hit and was among the fallen.

Airsoft originates from Japan. In the game, plastic or biodegradable airsoft pellets are fired. The bio airsoft pellets decompose in 1 to 3 months.
The game can be based on imaginary or actual historic fight situations.
An unprotected airsoft player may sustain minor injuries.
Protective eyewear and a mouth guard or a mask are a must.
In the capital area there are only a few places where airsoft can be played.
According to the Public Order Act, the airsoft guns, which bear a striking likeness to real firearms, must not be displayed in public places.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

"War Games": Airsoft Growing in Popularity

David Higgins II stood authoritatively, clipboard in hand, one foot resting on a bench, and shouted out a list of rules to the large group gathered around him — many in camouflage, most bumping up against either side of puberty, all but one male.

"Call your hits… no grenades of any kind, this is all [airsoft] guns… if you use auto, you get one warning, then your team dies."

Shifting their airsoft firearms and their feet, energy drinks surging through their bodies, the youths nodded, eager to start the airsoft OPS Team Shootout. It was 4:15 p.m. and a long night of airsoft was about to begin.

In the last 10 years, airsoft — a recreational activity that involves shooting plastic airsoft pellets from battery or gas-powered replica firearms — has built a steady following in Connecticut (many airsoft fans are young and male, but it's neither exclusively young nor male). A cousin to paintball, airsoft games are structured around team objectives like taking a village, rescuing a hostage or locating and diffusing a fake bomb, achieved with basic military techniques like flanking and diversion. Although many of airsoft's early fans were culled from the ranks of paintball, airsoft is now flourishing in its own right.

"There were about 1,400 people on the Airsoft CT site [the major online forum for Connecticut players] about 1 year ago. Now it's up to 1,600." said Higgins, a 32-year-old stay-at-home dad who started playing airsoft after reading about it online and kept on playing because he fell in love with the airsoft community.

"The older [airsoft] players help younger players," he said. "It's built off the honor system [as opposed to paintball, where hits are obvious]. The people that you're playing [airsoft] with, you have to trust them."

"I just liked the idea of going out and trying to outsmart other people trying to do the same thing," said Jason DeConti, who has run the Airsoft CT site since 2005. "Like being able to make a plan to protect what we have, then get it back without losing."

The number of indoor airsoft facilities, outdoor fields and stores is increasing around Connecticut — the East Windsor Airsoft Academy, an airsoft store with plans for a future playing field, opened this summer, joining, among other airsoft venues, Ground Zero in Wolcott, Strategy Plus in East Hampton, and Cromwell CQB, where Higgins led the airsoft OPS Team Shootout this September. Now, low-end airsoft guns can even be purchased at Dick's and Walmart (prices can range anywhere from $20 to over $1,000).

Many airsoft players belong to teams — groups that prefer similar styles of play and meet for practice on a regular basis, including one at the University of Connecticut that plays other college teams around the country. Airsoft games can last anywhere from a few hours to more than 20.

"From 2000, growth has been exponential — at least tenfold, massive growth," said Ground Zero owner Lester Bastenbeck, who started carrying airsoft equipment at his die-cast car and hobby shop about 11 years ago, after seeing the airsoft guns on a trip to Florida. Bastenbeck turned the shop into a full-time airsoft venture in 2005, opening the airsoft playing field around the same time.

Airsoft began in Japan in the 1970s, gained popularity on the U.S. West Coast in the 1980s, according to Bastenbeck, then spread slowly across the country during the 1990s.

Now Bastenbeck is trying to open an indoor airsoft facility in Waterbury and working with others to start a national association that would offer airsoft rules, regulations and maybe some additional recognition for players tired of telling the uninitiated that it's "like paintball with plastic [airsoft] pellets."

"Paintball is messy," said William Rodriguez, co-owner of the Airsoft Academy in East Windsor. "People who play airsoft spend a lot of money on their gear… they like it because it's more authentic. People like realism."

It's hard to overstate the importance of realism in airsoft, with players seeking verisimilitude in everything from games to clothing (which ranges from historical to military simulation, aka milsim) and most especially, guns. With the exception of an orange tip for safety purposes, airsoft weapons look, feel and sound like the guns after which they're modeled, with identical weights and sometimes recoils. Variety is also increasing rapidly, with players requesting new airsoft models, especially historic ones, from manufacturers — who typically license production specifications and logo from gunmakers.

At New Britain-based Stag Arms, which licenses its guns to an airsoft manufacturer called Mad Bull, president Mark Malkowski said that sales of airsoft guns have gone up about 10 percent each year, although they remain very small compared to sales of actual firearms.

"It's not a major part of our business… but we've seen an increase in sales [of airsoft items] year after year," he said. "It's a good way for younger enthusiasts to get familiar with the brand."

The Cromwell CQB is located in a quiet strip mall on Main Street, and though open every day, sees the most airsoft action on weekends, when airsoft players arrive in the late morning and stay into the night — fueling up with snack bar foods, power bars and the contents of the vending machines (sample quote: "Do I need a third candy bar?"). Cans of propane litter the tables, plastic airsoft pellets are always underfoot, and a sign hanging over the scene reads "Your mother doesn't live here. CLEAN UP!!! after yourselves."

During the airsoft OPS shootout in September, some 45 people followed Higgins' rules as they "killed" opposing teams stationed around the shooting area — a kind of makeshift village with structures, piles of debris and alleyways — during timed trials, a fake bomb retrieval and a hostage situation.

Some airsoft teams were quiet and calm, efficiently eliminating their opponents as, fittingly, the theme from Mission Impossible sounded faintly through the wall. Others were less expert — spraying airsoft pellets blindly or not at all, reluctant to leave the safety of the entrance area.

One of the airsoft teams took so long that enemy's lone surviving player finally stepped into the open and asked "Do you want to just kill me already?" He was swiftly dispatched.

Standing outside after the first round of play, 12-year-old James Mazzarella talked about the difficulty of facing the "major league [airsoft] players," in their late teens and early 20s. "It's scary when they all charge at you," he said.

"I like the thrill," said his 13-year-old airsoft teammate, Sam Lindblom.

Higgins also credited the thrill, the adrenaline rush with keeping him interested — that, the teamwork and the satisfaction of improving.

"At first, I used to go straight into firefights," said Higgins. "Now I try to find ways to sneak up on people, be very tactical. It's a big release from the everyday."

Maritza Lebron, the sole woman playing at the Cromwell airsoft game, said that stress relief is a big part of airsoft — she does clerical work for four attorneys in her real life.

"You don't think about work when you're here," she said, laughing as she hoisted up her airsoft M-4 and prepared to re-enter the war zone.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Airsoft Battle Days: A Checklist

Part of what makes airsoft guns
so popular is their authenticity and preparation for airsoft skirmishes
is just as realistic. Getting ready for an airsoft skirmish is
exciting, nerve-wracking and strategic - and we want to make sure you
don't miss a beat before heading out to the airsoft battle field. Here's a quick
checklist to double (or triple) check before each airsoft battle.
Airsoft gun(s)
It's pretty obvious, but you don't want to forget your airsoft gun on a
battle day. Many airsoft fanatics like to clean their airsoft gun the night
before or morning of, an airsoft skirmish so they can ensure its
functionality; if your airsoft gun has any kinks, you want to find out before
you're on the airsoft battlefield with limited supplies and options. If you have
[an airsoft gun], stow away your airsoft gun in an airsoft gun bag for safe and easy
transport. The airsoft bags are big enough to fit your other airsoft gear as
well as your airsoft gun, so if you pack it all in there, you only have to grab
one bag as you walk out the door to the airsoft skirmish.
Airsoft ammo
Next to your airsoft gun, bringing along ample airsoft ammo is crucial
to your ability to outlast on the airsoft battlefield. Eject your airsoft magazine and
load it up pre-skirmish with quality airsoft bbs. Make sure that you
choose quality airsoft ammo that won't jam up your airsoft gun or airsoft pistol
during game
play. Even if you don't have a high capacity airsoft magazine, as long as you
bring extra airsoft bbs you can outlast the competition. Toss a bag of extra
airsoft ammunition into your airsoft gun bag and you'll be ready to engage
without worrying about running out of airsoft bbs.
Airsoft safety goggles & face protection
Just like real the deal, in a milsim game like airsoft, safety and protective gear is vital. The small, dense airsoft bbs
are a huge safety concern; therefore, make sure you have impact
resistant airsoft goggles. Another recommendation for safety is to
protect yourself with an airsoft mesh full-face mask.
Ghillies or other camouflaged gear/attire
Talk with your airsoft team to discuss a uniform to wear on battle day.
Typically airsoft players will individually equip themselves in
camouflaged gear to match the battlefield. Be sure to think about the
area where you'll be playing airsoft: is it more green-hued like a
forest or woods or is it more neutral like open plains or a desert? Wear
airsoft gear that reflects the environment in which you'll play. If you have a
particularly competitive or intense airsoft skirmish, be sure to think about a
head-to-toe tactical ghillie suit.
Random airsoft supplies to fix guns and parts
Come prepared for your airsoft skirmish with tools to fix a simple airsoft gun error: electric tape, oil, cleaning patches, multi-head screwdriver and a rod to fix airsoft ammo jams. Don't allow
for surprises on the airsoft field and over-plan for problems you may
Airsoft skirmishes will get your heart
rate up, so avoid sugar crashes or low energy when you're playing on
the airsoft field by packing granola bars, trail mix, water bottles and
electrolyte-packed drinks. Bring more nourishment than you think you'll
need in case a fellow airsoft team member is running low.
Review strategy
What kind of airsoft role do you have in skirmishes? Review milsim
strategy with fellow airsoft enthusiasts before a big game and talk airsoft
tactics. If you know the opposing players, your airsoft team can discuss their
strengths and weakness and possible areas for domination.
Additional supplies
Depending on your airsoft gun and your type of game-play, you may need to toss a
few extra supplies into your airsoft gun bag. If you plan on battling
with an airsoft electric gun, bring an extra battery or two. If you're
playing the sniper role, think about bringing binoculars or an airsoft rifle
with a scope for a higher shooting range. You may want to bring along
some green gas if you have a gas or CO2 airsoft gun. Once again, you can never
be too prepared for an airsoft battle.

If you have a special pre-airsoft skirmish ritual, make sure to add
that to this checklist. Head out early to the battle, get a map of the
territory to learn the airsoft battlefield (if you can) and talk strategy with
your airsoft team. You are now fully equipped to dominate in an airsoft