If you have a topic for a guest post related to the subject matter of this blog that you would like to submit, by all means send me a message. I'm always open to guest posts, but especially so now, when I don't have a lot of time to write here due to the work I have to do to finish my latest book project.
The following is a guest post by John Durfee, who wrote to ask if I thought my readers might be interested in an article about simulated training with Airsoft weapons. After reading the article, I thought sure, why not? If nothing else, this kind of training gets you out into the environment and can add fun and excitement to what would otherwise be just routine camping and wilderness skills training. I think training for evasion and escape with other like-minded individuals could serve you well in preparing for a real-life bug out situation. Using Airsoft weapons to raise the stakes will make the bug out training more realistic and intense. So if you can find some friends that are up for it, give it a try. Here's John's engaging description of what such a simulation could be like:
Real Life Survival Training: The Airsoft Milsim Experience
You've been giving them the slip for the third day. You're the last of your group, and the hunting party has been after you relentlessly. It doesn't matter you're just one man, they're out for blood. Most of them are former military, sticking together when things went sour with civilization. You're jagged from the adrenaline and little sleep. The cold seeps into your bones at night. You've been living off the land sticking close to streams and leaving little to no trail of yourself behind.
Your bag - your bugout bag - has proved invaluable to you. Your machete has helped you strip the bark off trees to eat, cut brush to make a shelter. You've had some luck with your line and hook and caught a fish, which you cooked and dried quickly for storage (You're thankful the hunting party doesn't have dogs). The last part of your kit, the one that's always been ready at a moments notice, your carbine rifle, rests on a sling around your shoulder. Today you're walking making your way slowly across a field of high brush a mile across, it's the only way to the base of the canyons and to safety. You're almost to the edge of the canyon when you stumble across one of the hunting party. You surprise him as much as he surprises you. They must have sent him ahead to block the way. It's a hundred yards to the border when he lets off a volley of shots wildly from a pistol, the adrenaline getting the better of him. You drop to the ground and hear him curse, he must be reloading. You pop up your head and see him reaching around for his radio. The shots would have alerted the rest, but a radio call would pinpoint his location, and yours. It's now or never, you didn't want to do this but there's no choice. You drop to a knee, simultaneously swinging your carbine in front. You line up the shot and…CRACK, CRACK, CRACK. You get him before he can radio in. You run past him as you make it towards the end goal and safety. “That was some good shooting” he says, “I was so close to calling you in”. You shake his hand as you cross the line. As you cross the line he stands up and radios your victory “He's made it to a safe zone, game over.”All in a good day's fun.
What I've described isn't an end of a world scenario, though it may have well could have been. It's the sport of airsoft, and while fun, gives people realistic scenarios to train for escape and evasion.
Airsoft is different from air rifles and pellet guns in that they use standardized airsoft 6mm plastic bb's that weigh far less than metal pellets or sabots, and are perfectly safe in a controlled play environment.
There are an increasing number of airsoft clubs and organizations establishing multiple day airsoft events that can be attended for a set fee. They're run on weekends, usually centered around military scenarios, and the core skills practiced are valuable to real world preparedness. There are varying degrees of immersion, ranging from "play and go back to the car for a snack" to full airsoft milsim, where one acts, functions, and performs like a real military force for the entire duration. These latter are great for putting survival skills to the test. Players have to make camp and spend one or two nights in the wilderness. Sleeping areas are usually made using local materials and a tarp. You will also have to bring your own food and water and manage it. If possible, research on local flora to gather and prepare it while immersed in the event is an excellent way to supplement your supply. These games are full immersion, so even at night, you have to be alert for surprises coming at a moment's notice. If there's local sources of water, like a stream, water filtration devices can also be tested for their true reliability.
On a recent excursion, we arranged night watch shifts; it is quite exhilarating to be the only one awake scouting for moving shadows – potentially the enemy. During the day you'll work with your group or squad and practice maneuvers such as stalking, advancing, assault, and defense.
Another invaluable skill reinforced is familiarizing yourself with firearms and learning to use them for self-defense in a quick thinking situation. Airsoft teaches proper weapon usage, maintenance, and safety precautions. Most airsoft guns in the mid-range price look, feel, and function as close to the real steel guns as possible. Some gas airsoft pistols even disassemble the same way as the real thing! Real firearms training is a great means to become accustomed to the physical feel of shooting a gun, and airsoft simulation events teach valuable self-defense tactics in actual firefights against other people.
Another often overlooked benefit is the physical fitness component. Running around all day with limited resources, a full pack, and adrenaline is fantastic exercise. Just make sure to stay hydrated! You'll be sweating a lot more than you think. It also trains your body to react well under stress and fight or flight situations.
The most important skill learned at these events is mindset. You can put all your survival gear through real world paces and determine what works, and lose what doesn't. You learn to distinguish between friend and foe. You'll hone your aiming and marksmanship skills on real targets who will react and move. All uses of a firearm should be defensive, not predatory, so you'll train yourself how to respond - rather than react – to surprises and potential threats. And if you're "killed" you can learn from your mistakes, so you survive next time!
If you are ready to get out there and try it Airsplat has a comprehensive listing of US airsoft fields.
John Durfee is a Gulf War veteran and the marketing manager for Airsplat, the nation’s largest retailer of Airsoft Guns and Apparel.
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