OPERATION: LION CLAWS X
Good day, sirs, madames and anyone in that transitional phase between the two.
Last weekend marked the 10th Anniversary of a huge Airsoft gaming event known as Operation: Lion Claws, which has inspired the Operation: Lion Claws Military Simulation Series that includes large Airsoft events at exclusive locations across the United States. Spearheaded by John Lu, of Best of USA Marketing, the Lion Claws event alone, has consistently drawn crowds in the hundreds and featured not only high-profile retired military figures like Col. Danny McKnight (<---Tan) and SSG Matt Eversmann, of Blackhawk Down fame, U.S. Army Ranger Msg. Howard "Mad Max" Mullen (<---Woodland), Soviet Airborne Division Sgt. Igor Dobroff, but also a flock of attractive female models, known as the Angel Team.
In addition to the appeal of the VIPs, the exclusive access to unique Areas of Operation (AO) that John Lu is somehow able to procure for Airsoft events is a contributor to the success of these events. For Operation: Red Storm II, we battled it out on the grounds of a former California Youth Authority compound, which was like a small town or neighborhood within high walls topped with razor wire. See my AAR on OP: Red Storm II in the column of links to the right. As if I didn't get my fill of razor wire there, Lion Claws 10 (hence the Roman numeral "X" I've been using) took place at the old George Air Force Base in fabulous & non-crappy Victorville, CA. There were about 400 of us that battled it out in and out of the run-down and structurally unsound residential apartment buildings that are sprawled across a huge area on base. While I brought literally a truckload of stuff with me for the weekend, there were three gear items I was most thankful for. They are as follows:
King Arms IBH Helmet
Being really tall and equally oblivious when I'm running through a building, being shot at and trying to keep up with my hard-charging squad, it becomes difficult to track every hazard in my way. I clocked myself on the head on numerous occasions last weekend and on one particular incident, literally knocked a piece of the ceiling to the floor because I struck it with my head so hard. Luckily, I had that helmet take all the blunt force trauma, otherwise, I'd probably be missing a part of my skull right now. No joke. I hit that piece with a lot of momentum behind me.
ESS Profile Turbofan Goggles
They not only protect my eyes from being pierced with plastic BBs headed inbound on my grid, but because I'm like a big engine in that I operate at high temperatures whenever I'm not at a complete rest, I need the electric fan that comes on the goggles to help circulate air through them to help prevent fogging.
Wire Mesh Lower Face Mask
These are becoming all the rage these days because they allow versatility in the number of eye pro that you can use with them. For me, using a complete mask/goggle setup is a no go for the reasons I just described. I've gotta have that turbofan running to prevent fogging. Having the lower face mask allows me to run the type of goggles that I want, while protecting the bottom half of my face like cheeks, nose, and especially my teeth, but because it's mesh, it ventilates a whole heck of a lot easier, which reduces the amount of fogging in your goggles from breathing your hot stank breath into your mask, which sends that hot and foul air up into your goggles. Also, especially at events like these where they allow players to engage each other indoors at ranges of less than 10ft at an insane energy level of 420 fps. Per their rules, the event allows assault rifles to run at 376 fps maximum with a .25g BB. I did the math. That's just under 420 fps with a .20g BB. When you shoot at someone using a gun that hot, one can only expect the following results.
Notice the three items I just mentioned above all have something in common: They protect my gorgeous moneymakers (face and brain) from detriment. There were so many mind-boggling hazards at this place it made a used needle dumpster look like the ball pit at a McDonald's playground. I'm surprised we didn't have a motorcade of ambulances running in and out of the AO all weekend. What was concerning was the indifference conveyed by several game staff whom I overheard discussing how it wasn't their responsibility to mark some of the hazards in and around the campground that posed a pretty significant risk to the campers. Maybe. Maybe not. Having run a number of events of different types over the last decade or so, including writing my senior capstone thesis in college on the business of event management, generally, there is SOME responsibility and liability placed on the event production company to provide a safe environment for guests. Obviously, baby-proofing the entire AO would be impossible and unreasonable to expect because of its sheer size, but they could have done a little better around certain areas. Technically, I was aware ahead of time that this place would be pretty hazardous and by showing up and playing, the attendees did "assume the risk," but still.
Anyway. Looking back on the weekend, I can say in all honesty that the fun meter was very high. Let's not get too caught up in safety talk. How about some photos? Alright. You talked me into it. Here ya go...
Here's a few killers
I spy a Right Hook Fabrication Mantis, which is an extremely upgraded KJW M700-based Airsoft sniper rifle, Echo1 M240 Bravo Airsoft Machine Gun with 4x32 Elcan-style scope, VFC M4 with Madbull PWS Diablo front end kit plus PWS Compensator and a very nice M4 (appearance and performance) tricked out with a bunch of Chris Costa's Magpul goodies. Not only do I know about those guns, but I know the players holding them. Let me tell you this: If you were TANFOR, you probably got shot by at least one of these guys. Don't get upset. They're just good players. It's what they do. But enough about me & my squad (minus Dave because somebody had to document us looking good). Thanks, Dave.
Being a self-declared expert on being ridiculous, unnecessary, and over-the-top, why is this guy running two assault rifles?
I can understand if one is a sniper rifle and one is assault, or if he carries a rocket launcher and an assault rifle, but I'm not quite sure I follow the two assault rifle thing. Maybe it's something super high speed that I don't even know about, which is totally possible because high-speed and I don't get along very well. Just ask the CHP officer who pulled me over a few months ago doing 90+mph in a 65 zone. Whoops. Anyway, regardless of the practicality, I think ol' Mr. Two Guns there looks pretty cool, so I give him points for that.
Here comes trouble...
This vehicle was not only owned by the Roughnecks Airsoft Detachment (RAD), but it allowed them to own a number of GREENFOR, including myself once or twice. Ok, maybe more than that, but don't tell anyone. I'm trying to look cool here on the blog.
I've never, ever believed in guys operating in and out of vehicles because normally they're just fish in a barrel, waiting to get blown up by some 6mm dynamite. However, I have to hand it to these RAD guys. While they did catch their fair share of BBs riding in this thing all weekend long (especially the squad gunner up in the turret), they were flirting with force-multiplier status in my book. That suburban was everywhere!
I knew they'd done their job well that weekend when there were a group of GREENFOR bunched up along the side of a building near one of the roads who all start yelling/screaming "TECHNICAL!!! TECHNICAL!!! EVERYBODY RUN FOR COVER!!!" at the rumbling sound of the Roughneck suburban (AKA The Burb) approaching in the distance. Props to RAD, but major FAIL points to those green guys who were scattering like cockroaches under a bright light. I was ashamed to be on their team at that point in time, but not the whole weekend.
That's pretty majestic, right there with the flag waving. Not going to lie, I like those assault packs. I want to be friends with them. I love tactical backpacks and other handy bags. Just sayin'.
Knowledge time for the uninformed:
"Technical" is the term used to described a vehicle modified to handle offensive tactics through the use of a mounted weapon, usually a machine gun of some sort, and has the ability to carry multiple armed personnel from A to B.
Did I know what a "technical" was, as it relates to military operations before ten minutes ago when I Googled the keywords, "'technical' vehicle"? Absolutely...not. Neither here nor there at this point. Now, I know. And everyone knows that knowing is at least half the battle, per GI JOE. It's science.
So that pretty much wraps it up for me at the moment. This blog was not without incident, in that I fell slight asleep/unconscious while writing the final sentence or two at around 2 A.M. this morning, leaving at least one hand on the keyboard and I somehow reverted the freakin' thing back to a previously saved version which was pretty much completely different from how I wanted it to be. I was so mad that I might have actually slapped myself in the face once or twice and then smashed a few items of personal value that I'll regret later, namely an unopened box of Red Rageous Mike & Ike chewy fruit candies (my favorites). I'll not admit it one way or the other, but it could have happened.
Anyway, there are plenty more photos of Lion Claws X and stories to go with them, so I'll post those as soon as I can. In the mean time, while you're waiting for me to get my act together, hop on over to Pyramyd Air and check out their sweet Father's Day Sale items right now. They have several deals going right now, specifically for their Airsoft stuff, so check that out here: Pyramyd Air Father's Day Airsoft Sale
Oh by the way, Airsoft is still under attack. Just because it's been all quiet on the western front, doesn't mean that this SB 798 mess is just going to clean itself up and go away. The bill will be going up for vote in the Assembly soon and word on the street is that California politicians have heard little opposition from their constituents about this bill thus far, so that means we've had little to no effect on target to date. Get on it, guys! Pyramyd Air has a petition and a pre-written letter that you can use to just sign your name and send in to the Assemblymen offices. Get on it or start thinking about how you're going to sell all your gear to out of state players and then take up another hobby, like eating Ben & Jerry's ice cream in the darkest corner of your closest, with all the lights off.
Airsoft won't prevail if you're lazy.
A very special thanks goes out to Dave Bakholdin of Bakholdin Photography for not only helping me run the Pyramyd Air booth in the vendor area, but for also taking photos of the event so that I could plaster them here on the Pyramyd Airsoft Blog. If it weren't for Dave, you'd all be writing a photoless blog consisting of even MORE words because I would no doubt feel the need to fill the space where a photo would normally go with alphabetic permutations. Even I think that would be pretty freakin' boring.