With the weekend already on the very near horizon, there are some pretty big Airsoft OPs going on around the country and I thought it might be prudent to provide some of my suggestions on what to bring with you to a major event where you'll be camping out all weekend. 

Some of the obvious choices would be your guns, of course.  That's the most exciting stuff to pack.  But it's important to take more than just your guns.  There's nothing worse than paying a bunch of money to travel out of town for an Airsoft event, pay the large registration fee (if you're attending a Lion Claws event) only to get there and realize you've forgotten something very important and nobody else has the item you're in need of.

So first and foremost, I ALWAYS recommend writing out a checklist, or typing one out on your computer, phone or tablet device.  Whatever works for you.  Just make a checklist and make it thorough.  Don't check things off the list until you've actually packed them in a bag and loaded them into the vehicle.

Some of the things I would personally include on my own checklist, might include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:

Guns & Accessories
- 1 Primary Rifle (Usually it's a Designated Marksman Rifle (DMR) or machine gun for me).

- Back-up primary.

- Optic - appropriate for whatever platform I'm running.  Leapers scope for DMR or Elcan Optic for support weapon.

- Plenty of magazines for DMR/Assault, or Box mag for support weapons.

- Tac Light/Laser, if applicable

- BBs for Primary (<5,000 for DMR, 20,000-30,000 for machine gun).  I know that sounds like a lot, but the more bad guys on the other side, the more BBs you'll need to hose them down all weekend.  It is especially important to bring the best BBs you can get with you to big games because you've got a lot invested into the weekend and therefore you'll want to maximize the amount of fun you have.  Using poor quality BBs can lead to a lot of missed targets, which is lame.  I prefer the new line of Elite Force BBs.  Now that they've got the .32g MilSim Max Bio BBs, they've pretty much got options for just about any platform out there.  I know that there's a small niche of guys that run heavier BBs than that for their sniper rifles and PolarStar guns, but they're a select few.  Pyramyd Air does carry several options in weights heavier than .32g which will do just fine, so you're not completely SOL if you fit into this niche.  

- Battery Packs (PLURAL) and Charger.  Since there is not usually a power source provided at most outdoor fields, I usually bring a 400w Power Inverter that plugs into my car's cigarette lighter, which gives me two outlets, a usb port (for charging cell phones & tablets), plus all the power I need to run all three if necessary.  The higher quality chargers will often come with a set of connectors to run your charger directly off of your car's battery, but you really need to know what you're doing to avoid serious injury, damage to your stuff and the potentional to be stranded out in the middle of nowhere with a dead car battery afterwards.  For this reason, if you're going to do this, I recommend a set up jumper cables, which you should carry in your car at all times anyway.  

- Sidearm, plus 2-3 extra mags.

- Compatible holster for sidearm

- Can of green gas or propane for sidearm or any GBBRs that you may have brought with you.  I'd recommend at least two cans of gas if you run a GBBR and plan to play with it all weekend.  

- Gun case for primaries (always transport your Airsoft guns in a case)

- Gun case for sidearms


Tactical Gear/Kit/Loadout/Uniform/Whatever/You/Want/To/Call/It:

- First thing on this list should be your Eye Protection and/or Facemask


You can get by without any fancy tactical gear and such, but you won't be able to play without your Eye Pro, so don't leave home without it.  Never a bad idea to always keep a backup set stored in your gear bag in case you take your primary set out for some reason and then forget to put it back in the bag when you go out to your next event. 
- For big weekend OPs, I try to stay as lightweight as possible these days to preserve precious energy.  I can't say I've been able to stay as active as I'd like, so going out and hard-charging at full speed for the entire weekend with a ton of gear on just isn't realistic.  So I like the high-speed plate carriers or chest rigs out there that are smaller and lighter weight than a traditional, full-size CIRAS-style plate carrier.  Voodoo Tactical has several new lightweight options in both the plate carrier and chest rig department that are a new balance between high quality and affordability. 

- Some of my buddies have even moved to just running a battle belt rig, no vest at all.  This is even better for lightening your load, but depending on how long you have to be out in the field and the type of weapon setup you have, this might not be enough for you.

Ask yourself this question when deciding to add that extra pouch or item to put in that pouch:

"What is the probability that I am going to need this item while I'm out on the field?"

If it's a low probability, keep it with your stuff in the parking lot or staging area. 

 - A good set of boots or high-quality hiking shoes are advisable when dealing with any sort of rugged terrain.  The longer you're going to be on your feet, the more important it is to have good foot support to protect not only against sprained/broken ankles, but from slipping on slippery surfaces and also to prevent fatigue on your knees, hips, feet, back, etc. that would otherwise occur from having poor foot support.  You would be surprised how much damage you can do to yourself from wearing bad shoes for a prolonged period of time.  5.11 Tactical makes a great line of tactical footwear and is what I've been wearing for years now.   

-  I always like to have a pair of gloves.  Whether they're the ultra-trendy Oakley hard-knuckle gloves or just a second skin set, it's nice to have gloves.

- If you're going to be playing at some sort of abandoned structural facility, I generally advise wearing a tactical helmet.  Not only do you look much more tactical hot, but it will actually provide cranial protection should the situation arise where you're not paying attention where you're going for whatever reason and happen to run into a low-hanging board with a rusty nail sticking out or with a sharp edge.  I've hit my head numerous times while clearing rooms of run-down buildings, but never once got injured because I was wearing that helmet.  I recommend helmets to anyone, regardless of height, not just for tall guys.

Well, that's not all I would take with me, but for the purposes to cutting myself off before this thing gets any more long-winded, I will leave it at that for now.  I'll pick up where I left off in another blog this week with some more tips in other areas (food & water.  I didn't forget, that's just a whole other topic) that I think are either crucial to a successful Airsoft weekend, or will improve your quality of life drastically.

If you've found this post to be helpful in any way, please share a link to it with your homies on your favorite forum or social network.

Please feel free to add your suggestions on good guns & gear to bring on an all-weekend Airsoft trip in the comments below. 
 
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Wow.  What a weekend.  Tons of people, tons of pictures, tons of fun.  I met a lot of great people, at a lot of great food and heard a lot of funny things.  Here is just a small photo gallery from the event that just barely touches on the good times and ridiculous antics of the people that attended.







Check out the rest of the photos after the jump...


Back in December, I traveled up north to Central California for an all-weekend Airsoft MilSim event. During the evening portion of the event, there was an IPSC-style Airsoft pistol competition to see how could hit a set of targets the fastest. The x-factor here was that it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 30-40 degrees Fahrenheit. Suffice to say, it was frickin' cold and I wasn't sure how we were going to be able to do the competition, since most everyone had green gas Airsoft pistols, rather than CO2, which is supposed to perform better than green gas in colder temperatures. But the competition went ahead anyway and I was actually surprised with the results. There were quite a few guys who had great success using their green gas Airsoft guns. However, there were also quite a few who couldn't finish because of equipment failure. Here are some shots I took. All are green gas pistols except for the Desert Eagle Airsoft pistol, which was CO2 and naturally, had some of the snappiest recoil of the entire group despite the FREEZING cold conditions.

Here are some shots of some of the participants who braved the freezing temperatures to try their hand at winning some awesome prizes (which included several hundred dollars worth of 5.11 Tactical gear).

Operation: Route 66 - Rock-A-Hoola Waterpark
Airsoft HDR Photo by Tom Harris for the Pyramyd Airsoft Blog
Check out the whole photo gallery and the DIRTY details of the Operation: Route 66 after the jump...

I didn't quite have all the stars in alignment for me on Saturday so that I could update the blog during the ACA Expo, but here are some shots of the event for your viewing pleasure.

Mike from KWA giving my brother, Todd, the low-down on the new KWA guns like the HK45 Gas Blowback Pistol I recently featured on the Pyramyd Airsoft Blog. For those of you that are wondering, Todd is, in fact, wearing a set of TDU Ripstop Pants with custom embroidery from 5.11 Tactical Series and a Voodoo Tactical Assault Shirt. And even though he knows he looks good, he doesn't mind when other people tell him so.
The local Police Explorer Program had a booth set up.
Chronic Tacos provided some "Scrumtralescent" carne asada tacos with lime, and Hooters was also out serving up their famous chicken wings as part of the free lunch.
The Airsoft League is a tactical skills-based target-shooting competition.
There was a shooting range available for attendees to test out some of the new guns from vendors like KWA and Elite Force.
Speaking of Elite Force, Cliff and Andy took a tiny little road trip from Umarex/Elite Force headquarters in Arkansas to show off their latest and greatest Airsoft AEGs at the event.
Two of their shining stars among the new Elite Force Competition Series are the M4 CQB and M4 Carbine from ARES.
Did you know that the Elite Force M4 CQB features an integrated RIS and comes with the stubby foregrip? Oh you didn't!!?? Well, you do now.
Just a little close-up of the new logo of the Elite Foce trades on the receiver.
Elite Force also has a new, standard-length carbine rifle as well for more of that classic look.
Here's something exciting for the G36 fans out there: two new G36 options from Elite Force and Ares in tan and black.


Where all the madness went down on Saturday: Insight Interactive Airsoft CQB Arena.
Watch out for flying shirts. Tons of raffle prizes were giving out from Pyramyd Air, 5.11 Tactical Series, Elite Force, Voodoo Tactical, KWA and many more.



There was a full video production crew on hand with some high end gear recording all the action of the intense ACA games.



Lumix Camera on a big ol' jib provided some sweet arial footage of the action.




Canon 7D


Canon 5D MkII

Here are a few shots of Insight Interactive's field layout specially designed for the ACA tournament.









The day ended with a raffle and many Airsoft players going home happy with some sweet prizes, like $100 Gift Card to Pyramyd Air


Here's our winner, coming up to collect his prize.


Smiling cuz he knows he's 'bout to score some sweet Airsoft loot from Pyramyd Air.



If I were this dude, I'd be pretty stoked to win a Multicam RUSH 12 backpack from 5.11 Tactical as well.

While the competition portion of day had its rough patches, most of that can be chalked up to this being the first event of its kind on such a large-scale production level, so I think many of those issues can be smoothed out for future events. Overall, I was highly impressed with what the event organizers had in mind and after some fine-tuning of things, I wouldn't hesitate to participate in this event again. The event organizers are more than welcome to contact me at their leisure to receive a more detailed level of constructive feedback, should they so desire it.

Highlights from the tournament included Team 5.11 Tactical taking 3rd Place in the tournament despite yours truly going down in the first game of the day with a pretty awesome case of heat exhaustion. Temperatures reached 107 degrees Fahrenheit in our area and I haven't been exactly living an active lifestyle over the last few weeks because of a few major life transitions taking up my exercise time to prepare for those things. In short, I'm kind of a fatty right now. Anyway, there were lots of vendors showing off tons of cool new Airsoft guns and gear and I got to spend some time chatting with Cliff and Andy from Elite Force, who gave me the scoop on exciting new things coming up from them, PLUS there was free game play open to the public throughout the event, so I got to see and meet a lot of new faces who love to play Airsoft as well. All-in-all, it was a good day and an exciting glimpse of what may be in store for the the future of competitive Airsoft. I give tremendously mad props to David Karstens (ACA Director) and Jonathon Nicastro (Owner of Insight Interactive) for all their hard work in putting the event together and I hope they realize that their efforts did not go unnoticed by this lil' ol' Airsoft blogger.

Till next time, I will leave you with this parting word, said in a whisper voice...

Airsoft

I'm getting my wrecking tools ready to...well...wreck at tomorrow's Association of Competitive Airsoft Expo at the Insight Interactive Airsoft CQB Facility, located in Rancho Cucamonga, CA (Southern California Airsoft CQB Facility).

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Image copyright: Tom Harris Media
Pictured from left to right, you see there my ELITE FORCE HK416 CQB Custom AEG (VFC OEM), ELITE FORCE M4CR Custom AEG  (VFC OEM), and a Classic Army M15A4 Carbine 2009 Edition (Custom tuned, of course).


CLICK TO GET ALL THE DETAILS OF THE ACA EXPO AT INSIGHT INTERACTIVE

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Gearing up for a big Airsoft weekend

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So if you're anything like me, your sole purpose in life is simply to survive the filthy work week so that you can then get to the Airsoft game(s) on the weekend.  A couple weekends ago, my team and I hit up the Jericho Camp Pendleton Airsoft facility (Saturday) and then the Jericho Lake Elsinore facility (Sunday).  It was a stellar weekend of Airsoft, no doubt.  However,  things could have gone "south" (metaphorically speaking) for me real quickly if I didn't have all my gear prepped and ready to handle two days of action ahead of time.

So, what I do to minimize the risk of FAIL, is to create a checklist of everything that I need to do in order to be ready for the weekend.  It sounds lame, but I literally write out a list of every little thing that I can think of that needs to be squared away in order to be able to chalk the weekend up in the Win column.  Then I go get my stuff from my War Locker, seen on the left, and I do what I need to do to be a winner.

For example, here was my list for the weekend past's Airsoft extravaganza :

- AEGs:
M14 DMR
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HK416
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Classic Army M15A4 Carbine (M4)
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- GBB Pistols:
WE 7" Dragon
WE HiCapa 5.1
WE Baby HiCapa 3.8

- BB Containers (.20s, .25s, .27s & .28s+)
- Magazine Container
- LiPo & NiMH Battery Chargers
- 5.11 TDUs in OD Green & Multicam
- Pack 5.11 Loadout bag with:
    - LBE Vest
    - LBE Belt
    - Eye Pro Goggles
    - Gloves
    - ICOM Two-way Radio & Headset
- Food from Grocery Store for Lunch & Snacks each day, which included a massive 1.5 foot pre-made sub sandwich, Backyard BBQ-flavored Kettle Chip brand kettle chips, Gatorade (for the electrolytes), 2 gallons of Crystal Geyser water jugs (on sale for $.99 per jug, can't beat that!)
- Sunscreen (just in case)
- EZ-Up Collapsible Shelter - Perhaps one of the best $80 investments you can make for attending games. Rain or shine, these things are pretty crucial.
- Folding Chair
- Folding table for prepping gear in parking lot
- ANSI-rated, full-seal goggles for protecting my "somewhat-spherical aiming devices."
- Tool box with assorted tools, just in case.
- Propane tank for filling gas pistol mags.


Truth be told, my actual list was even more detailed than that, because there were certain issues with a few guns that needed to be worked out, but I don't want to bore you anymore than I may have already. I just wanted to give you an idea of the kind of prep list I'm talking about here, in the event that it might help you forget less things and therefore become better prepared to have a successful weekend of "Shoot 'em up."

Airsoft

Yes. I went. Yes. It was hot as hell. And YES, I had a great time.

The field was very cool. If you didn't watch the vids I posted in the last post, check em out for a little visual stimulation.

Here's a shot of an area of the field called Babylon at the Jericho Airsoft Field in Lake Elsinore, CA.

Photo from www.JerichoAirsoft.com

So here's a basic rundown of my day at the event last Saturday...

I load my car in the morning, plug in the field address into my Droid's Google Maps Navigation App, and floor it out to Lake Elsinore, CA. Normally my navigation is spot on, but today of ALL DAYS it decided not to show up for work. My navigation tells me that I've reached my destination and that it is directly to my left. Well, as I'm driving past where Google is telling me my destination is, all I can see is trees, and no entrance to any kind of field or other establishment. So I'm already a bit late, and now I'm pissed. So I called the number on Jericho's website and who answers, but Mr. Jericho himself, Rick Lowe, who I found to be a pretty cool dude. He was more than happy to give me directions. Turns out, the field was down the road another two to three hundred yards or so. Sweet. So I find a park and get geared up. Registration was quick and easy, allowing me just enough time to get back to my car, grab my guns and join ranks with the Desert Fox side, who were designated the OD Green team. Jericho's side was the TANFOR. Truth be told, I was still getting ready during the briefing, so I did not get the memo on what our objectives were. HOWEVER, I didn't care what they were because MY only objective was to shoot as many bad guys I could. If I knew what the objectives were, and I had my team with me, usually I'll play along and grab some objectives, but when I'm rolling solo, I just put fools on blast. And that's it. So, for a bit, I did just that. The problem I ran into eventually was that it was blistering hot already. This was only about 9:30/10ish in the morning. Turns out, Southern California was having a record heat wave. Los Angeles experienced its hottest day EVER at 113 degrees Farenheit. I think I mentioned this in the last blog, but I heard it was about 105 in Lake Elsinore that day. So, with that in mind, my M14 DMR that I was running didn't do too well because I have the Guarder IFTU motor pulling back a 150 spring, which creates some decent heat on the motor, then add to the fact that the gun was baking in the sun, and what do you get? A Cheetah MOSFET giving me the Overheating alert and shutting down the rifle. Airsoft Guns, VFC, Vega Force Company,HK416 CQB Elite,Airsoft AEG, Assault Rifle,HK416 CQB, AEG, H&Kpyramyd air, airsoft obsessed So, I switched to pistols for a bit, but with the field as spread out as it was, I preferred to have a rifle. You could manage pistols, but you've really gotta be able to move very quickly and often, which just wasn't going to happen for me in that heat. So I went back to the car real quick and grabbed my faithful VFC HK146 CQB that I spent some time on the blog telling you all about.  See that here. This was an excellent decision. She shot beautifully and sent many a TANFOR back to their respawn point. So the games went on for the duration of the morning and around noonish, they had the various event-sponsor competitions. I competed in two of about 4 competitions or so. The first event that I entered was the WE 1911 GBB pistol takedown competition. Basically, you had to strip a 1911 MEU GBB pistol down to eight pieces, with everything laying on the table, you have to take your hands off and say, "done" to the ref. He then immediately signals the OK, at which point you have to put it all back together. I knew about the competition ahead of time, but was foolish in thinking that I didn't need to practice under competition conditions with a timer. The other element is it was a head-to-head competition, and therefore you had to beat the guy next to you. If you were able to beat your opponent, you won a hat. If you had the fastest overall time, you won an actual WE/SOCOM Gear 1911 GBB Pistol. While I did pummel my opponent with a time of 46 seconds, I believe the overall winning time was around 30 seconds or so. I did not have a flawless run-through. Practicing under similar conditions ahead of time would definitely have helped, for sure. Anyway, still got some hardware, so I was satisfied.

The next competition I entered was the Steel Target Stress Test. Basically, the shooter starts about 15 yards from the firing position. When the ref gives the go ahead, the shooter sprints to the designated firing spot, at which point he is to unleash hell on a series of four steel targets spread out at various close-range distances. After the shooter hits the first two targets, he must complete a mag change before proceeding to the 3rd and 4th targets. Once the 4th target is hit, the timer is stopped. I clocked in at 17 seconds with flawless mag change. I didn't stick around for the results, but when I left, there was only one time faster than mine at 15 seconds. So I'm just going to tell myself and others that have no way of proving me wrong that I got 2nd place. Not that 2nd place is any good because if you're not first, you're last. Still makes me feel like a boss anyway.


Photo from www.JerichoAirsoft.com

Would I attend this event again, knowing what I know now? Absolutely. To sum up my day, I'll list out the Pros and Cons of the event as I saw them.

Cons:
- Heat (not the event managements fault)
- There was a certain section of the field that is used for paintball and therefore, I got paint on my stuff (e.g. guns, gear, ego, etc). I hate paint and I especially hate it on my beloved Airsoft goodies.

Pros:
- I really liked the field structures that were set up to look like a town you might find some insurgents in.  You can see from the video that somebody spent some serious time making that field look good.
- Plenty of room for movement and longer range engagements, while still offering the chance for close-quarter engagements as well.
- Staff was fairly professional and appeared to actually enforce the rules for everyone's safety.
- Mini competitions were a nice touch, especially since I needed some cool-down time, given the high temperatures at that time of the day. 
- Lots of cool vehicles for inserting players into the game.
- There were over 200 players in attendance, but it did not feel over-crowded on the field. 

As you can see, the pros far outweighed the cons, and therefore I will definitely be returning for more action to the Jericho Field.  Mad Airsoft props go to Rick Lowe, of the Jericho Fields, for heading up this event.  I do know that Jet, of the Desert Fox Fields (MOUT & CQB), had a cooperative hand in putting this event together as well and should not be overlooked.  Well played, fellas. 

Airsoft. 

I plan on providing a more thorough review of the big event I attended last weekend a bit later this week.  However, I've run out of time for today, so I'll leave you with a few brief clips of the field and briefing area to give you an idea of how cool this place was.  By cool, I mean the level of awesome.  The temperature was WAAAAYYY too hot for my liking on an Airsoft day, I've heard somewhere around 105 degrees.  It was so bad that the MOSFET in my M14 DMR kept shutting down the gun, because the motor was already too hot before I had even fired the gun more than 100 rounds or so.  VERY disappointing on that front, but no fault of the game staff or anything.  BUT, that is exhibit A why I always make sure to bring backups upon backups.  Anyway, I'll give the full rundown of my day well spent at the event either tomorrow night or the next.  For now, here's a clip of the breifing area right before the first game (i think)...



Here's one from the top of the big hill that our team was to defend in the 2nd game. We are just about to get the game started...


A couple things for the record:
1.  I mentioned that my M14 was shooting around 470 FPS.  Before you panic, one I am very familiar with what the 100 ft minimum engagement distance looks like and always carry two pistols with me.  One for transitioning when engaging a target within the MED, and the 2nd pistol is for letting you know that I'm a baller.  Nothing wrong with doing two guns at the same time.  It's always been a dream of mine, as I'm sure many others can say as well.
2.  I've played at fields throughout the majority of California, and have found, in my personal experience, that cheating tends to be a bit more prevalent in the Southern California region than in the Central or Northern regions.  Truth be told, however, I did not see any questionable play or behavior out on the field that day, which always makes for a better experience.  Scorching temperatures aside, this was a pretty awesome day of Airsoft.  

And the third is right after I shot the 2nd one you just saw. I decided to film a little bit more, for your viewing pleasure...



More to come...

We ride together, we die together. Airsoft for life.