Things were very simple at the beginning. I was Tim from Operations and my job was to help Tazz with new products every now and again. Many things have changed since I first played at the age of 16 but jumping straight back into the Airsoft scene after being stranded on a huge island for three years was a huge relief. Airsoft isn't legal in Australia. Poor Aussies. After stepping through the doors at RedWolf for the first time, I never would have thought that I would be given the opportunity to play Airsoft with the most amazing communities around the world.
I consider myself very lucky and have been fortunate enough to be chased by ghosts at an abandoned Courthouse in Bristol, experience an earthquake for the first time while sleeping on a window ledge in Antioch, close to falling into a rattlesnake nest at Camp Shelby, deafened by tanks at a military training ground outside Moscow... You catch my drift. I've been wanting to share my experiences playing Airsoft around the world and have been putting it off for the longest time. It's time to stop being lazy.
Let's start off with my home town. Hong Kong:
If you can get over the mosquito filled, sweat inducing fields where temperatures could reach 35 degrees Celsius, surrounded by insects of all kinds and colours and no matter what you do, you'll always end up wet either from the random spurts of torrential rain or the unending heat and humid combo attacks, then you may still have fun. Oh yeah, also if you don't mind your glasses / goggles fogging up every time you breathe. Outdoor games are very popular during the winter. The air is dry, snakes are hibernating, sweat is kept to a minimum and the weather is just beautiful. The bigger games played on the largest grounds, found at Armed Forces, W28 and Gulf War, usually consist of about 30 - 100 people on a field that would normally take 5 minutes to walk from one end to the other. There are definitive routes one can take but if you're willing to swipe passed tall grass, climb through rusted police cars, and trudge through deep and muddy puddles, you'll be able to sneak around with relative ease. You won't be getting lost any time soon since you'll most likely still be able to hear the action around you.
As soon as the game starts, shots are fired immediately as folks who believe their AEGs can shoot across a pond to try to pick off their opponents, often to no avail. Games can go on for minutes or hours, depending on tactics and whether the teams are actually willing to listen to their team leader or just decide to gallivant off as a lone wolf hoping to achieve greatness. An example of what to expect would be this video right here. The great thing about these fields in HK, such as Armed Forces, is that there are about 2 other smaller CQB fields open at the same time so different groups of players can still play when others are taken. The waiting areas are large enough for many people and the small shop always offer plenty of refreshments to those in need. Mainly bottles of water and cup noodles. Getting to these places isn't a hassle since Hong Kong is relatively small. Believe it or not, HK is 90% rain-forest so don't always believe what you see in movies.
Since the Hong Kong heat is a real buzzkill for most, players often venture off into the industrial areas where several indoor CQB fields flourish. The reason behind it is because the resting area's air-conditions are blasting up a typhoon, keeping everyone chilled and relaxed after a quick 5 minute runaround.
These CQB are mazes to newcomers and those that frequent these establishments know all the great hiding spots or quickest paths which can be no fun if you're on the opposite team and have no idea where to go. Looking at these games from above is like playing a game of dimly lit Pac-Man. If you're alone running around aimlessly, you'll most likely be surrounded in seconds with no means of escape unless you surprise them first, in which case, lucky you. We can't all be Gambit. Industrial buildings are high rises and aren't that wide so each floor of gaming space is around 30 x 30 meters. Some play areas allow you to use the staircase so 2 or maybe 3 floors can be used at once. Wooden boards are put up to represent different rooms and doors. Cupboards, drawers, desks or other second hand household cabinetry as well as barrels and fake bush are scattered around the place. To get a better idea of what it's like, you can watch this video here. Since these industrial game sites have a few areas, they often have a few parties going in at once. Each area can hold up to 20 - 40 people but circulating these groups can be a bit of a pain in the you-know-what. I'd rather a 5 on 5 game, but that's just me.
Bristol, United Kingdom: This CQB site doesn't represent the UK as a whole.
Back in 2013, I was flown to the UK for the first ever Airsoft Surgeon European Championship but I had time to visit the formally known as the RedWolf UK store in Gloucestershireshireshire...
Gaz was kinda enough to kit me out with some MTP Multicam pants and shirt but with a bunch of other equipment that made me look as if I didn't know what I was doing. We then drove on over to what is apparently called 'The Ultimate Airsoft Venue' set on the site of a Victorian Prison and Bristol's Old Crown Court Building. The fact that it was an ABANDONED PRISON wasn't at all sending shivers down my spine. A group of Gaz's friends and a few pop ins decided to join us so the 20,000 square foot indoor airsoft site didn't seem so big. That's a lie I told myself so I didn't accidentally poop my pantyhose. The site as a whole was amazingly decked out and decorated to a point where the twists and turns in a random hallway had their own twists and turns.
The ambiance is utterly chilling but it really does set the mood especially when we were playing around evening time. I remember the group came up with this amazing idea for a game, expecting me to love it right of the bat, Tim versus the rest of them. Yes, me, someone who didn't know the area, running around the place expecting a door but only to be confronted by a wall, against a group of regulars who know every nook and cranny. The best thing about this type of game is that I didn't have to worry about accidentally shooting a team mate, which occurred pretty often in that court house.
Once I slaughtered them all, by luck, they decided to involve the new comers so we could have a larger 20 on 20 game which was simply amazing considering there was a whole 9000 square feet left untouched.
The owners opened up the lower floor which was the Victorian Prison Cell section and it was a truly thrilling experience. I didn't know whether to trust my senses since I saw shadows move when no one was around, felt someone tap my shoulder only to find nobody there, heard whispers in my ear forcing me to thrust my shoulder up into Gaz's face. The hallways were deadly and the lack of lights kept people on their toes. Someone thought it was a smart idea to keep the lights off, I thought it was a dim idea. The prison cell doors could be opened and closed which we opted to leave alone since the rusted gate would sound off a blaring screech that would echo throughout the hallways. All in all, a very interesting and haunting experience. Also, don't lose or drop anything. You'll have to search the hallways yourself.
Part 2, coming soon.