White airsoft for greenhorns - and what about a winter?
This text is not an ultimate knowledge. It is not basing upon scientific studies, veteran memories or tactical magicians trainings. It's just a gathering of my own experiences and opinions, shaped entirely in my head. During creating this text I was basing on my 9 years experience in airsoft, while I participated in almost 100 skirmishes during snowy winters.
You are not going to find out here how to become a perfect, winter airsoft player. If you didn't have any previous contact with a snow in a field you probably may find here some precious advices or guidelines. This article was written by usual player for other usual players.
When it gets white outside
The first snow is a time for a lot of players to give up. Days are short, dropping temperature encourages to stay anywhere but outside and even all the equipment seems to look better on a shelf. But simply imagine - what could happen, if despite all odds you decide to gear up?
Then another unforgettable adventure awaits. It demands attitude absolutely different from the one known from games organized under summer sun and autumn rains. Just be brave and do not focus on close quarter combat in abbandoned facilities to avoid freeze and snow.
Winter airsoft - how to do it?
Conditions during winter skirmishes vary significantly from these known from other seasons. Adjustments for winter games must be started from the most essential things, which are clothes. I am not a specialist regarding clothing layers. Maybe you are able to propose any tested solution? Mentioning the fact, my nineth airsoft winter is just about to come, I feel obliged to share with you, how I was dealing with it so far.
Thermoactive clothes and fleeces are crucial. It sounds obvious, but it's truth. While selecting your layers, you should consider not only temperature and current weather conditions, but also type of a game and it's duration. During classic skirmishes, where your activity is relatively high, you may decide for lighter clothes, than you should usually wear. More intensive mobility provides thermal comfort, as long as you are not lying steady in one spot.
On the other hand, when game type involves occupying one position for a longer period of time or lasts for more than a couple of hours (including night), it is desired to get some warmer layers, which provides thermal comfort while standing still. Cold is a problem. Frequently it is connected with humidity stuck under your upper layer with no possibility of getting rid off it (that's why you need thermoactive clothes). When I tried to remind, when I was particulary freezing, it usually wasn't a fault of too light clothes, but too thick ones.
After long and intensive effort (you must remember winter skirmishes are more exhausting), break is really demanded. My lack of experience in appropriate layers selection casued me getting sweaty, when the lack of move made me feel cold, what resulted in nasty feeling of being covered with icy water. Good thermoactive clothes prevents it and even when you choose to thin or inappropriate clothes, you are still able to boost up your morale with some warming up effort.
As we get to the morale point, nothing decreases it more than wet boots, gloves or head exposed to cold, wind and snow. Although you can survive to the end of even the longest scenario in cold boots (water inside gets a bit warmer anyway), water resistant boots with air circulation encourages to soldier on boldly.
I am unable to compare my beginnings in old Polish combat boots, with recent experiences in membrane boots from well-known company. The techonolgical gap is simply too vast. Walking in a deep snow is like walking in warm sleepers on soft carpet. Good boots are worth good money. You must simply remember that even the best boots covered with gaitors can't protect you from all the water. But even when your boots are soaked, it is easier to bear and get dry than in cheap, standard issue "combats".
The selection of appropriate gloves may be harder than it may look before. Thin, tacticool gloves may become a real pain in the neck after they got soaked after first contact with melting snow. At first it gets a bit chilly, but the real torture starts in open, windy fields. Thick, warm gloves solve the problem only partially, as it is impossible to effectively use replica or electronic deviced with them. I still have not found a good model for me, which would offer an acceptable compromise between precision and thermal comfort. I have learnt one thing though - if there is no thing completly compliant with your needs, it is good to have a pair of spare winter gloves. During the scenario, exchanging wet, icy gloves for dry and warm ones is a wonderful thing.
The headcover selection is easy. What is warm is good, but no exaggeration. It must be adjusted to the ambient temperature. Too warm cap increases eyeshield fogging. In includes especially balaclavas, buffs and other items covering both mouth and nose.Yet, if you decide for your favourite tactical cap - you may suffer a lot. It is good to have a jacket with a hood, but remember it may partially disable your hearing while worn.
Both during a winter and summer (and actually any season) the most important thing is to spot the opponent before he or she sees you. My experience gained during all these years indicates the majority of skirmishes is won by side, which identifies the threat first. The selection of a camouflage for a winter is extremely vital, but also rather easy. Defeinitely you should bet on white color with some touch of brown, grey, optionally green. Everything what is darker than white will be too eye-catching. People wearing classic woodland camouflages are spotted quickly. Players weating desert colors, UCP and similar patterns - well... too. Even between these rather light camouflages and snow there is too much contrast to blend in. Very few people remember that even while wearing white clothes it is good idea to hide in brown, green and grey bush. If snow is everywhere around you, the opponent will firstly spot bushes and you will be classified as a background.
If the amount of snow is low and the terrain of your game is flat, you may try wearing only white bottom part. Nonetheless, you must be aware that during hiding in a snow, you will be standing out from a background pretty much.
You must remember about appropriate camouflage of your replica. White sprawy paints and white cloths may be useful. The same as white self-adhesive or insulation tape.
Night changes nothing
The common mistakte, not only during a winter, but also during a summer is inappropriate uniform and equipment color for night skirmishes. If anyone of you is still convinced, darker or black colors are suitable for a night, it is high time to forget it. Trees keep the same color, the same as snow. So, why the player should change it? The darkness involves anything in a forest. Including you. If your camouflage was good in a daytime it will be perfect during a night as well.
There is no reason to keep yourself from wearing white clothes in a winter night. Two case studies from my experience:
1) We have been tracking opponents down (that night a heavy snow started, what made it possible to follow fresh footprints). Finally we have spotted few dark shapes lying on a path. The opposing forces tried to ambush us, which failed completly, as woodland camouflage in a snowy night occured to be completly ineffective.
2) During another scenario, roles got switched. This time we were trying to ambush someone, who surprised us and attacked us from behind, as white camouflage blended perfectly into snowy forest.
As wrongly selected camouflage may perform quite good during a summer night, it is a lot harder to do the same in a wintertime. Frequently winter nights are brighter than summer ones and a range of naked eye is a lot longer, hence the camouflage is a lot more vital.
As we are done with clothes, it is high time to realize low temperatures force players to introduce aignificantly more changes. The most important ones regard our toys.
Higher FPS ratio is useful in a wintertime. I am not afraid of stating it, as there are two reasons for it.
The first one are players wearing thicker clothes. It may happen, when you got someone in an effective range and he or she does not admit being hit. You may also be accused of cheating. In spite of bad will (as apart from the feel, being hit is often hearable), such situation may take place. However controvecial it sounds, higher nozzle velocity give you higher chance for a confirmed "frag".
There is a latter reason I have mentioned. During a winter forest seems to be less thick. It applies to leaf forests in particular. Being given a longer eye range, players more frequently decide for taking a shot at a border of the effective range or even from even greater distance. If you want to deal with situation of opponents present out of range, take a stronger replica (more FPS and better working Hop-Up system).
When selecting a more powerful replica, you must bear in mind charms of lower temperatures. Physical properties of composites cause, replicas' inner parts are made of are prone to damages when cold or freezing. Owners of GB V2 types (M4/M16, the majority of MP5s, etc.) must be particulary careful. They are less resistant for strains in lower temperatures and during intensive "firefight" (especially when replica was tuned for high torque) gearbox shell may break.
Some years ago, before LiPo batreries became popular, the majority of players was using NiCD or NiMH batteries. In case of bad treatment (inappropriate charging, poor quality charger or even adaptor), these batteries were not sufficient to empower a replica during colder days. There was practically no player, who never experienced sudden discharge.
Nowadays, LiPo batteries are more resistant for freeze. However, NiMH batteries are still added to some cheaper replicas. If you got this one, remember to prepare it properly before skirmish. According to popular formula you must divide the capacity of a battery (mAh) by a charging current of a charger (mA) and multiply the outcome by 1,4. Then you got a time of charging given in hours. To avoid such a calculations, use microprocesor charger.
Generally, it is high time to get rid off NiMh and finally make it to the future.
The next popular problem at winter skirmishes is shorter total range of a replica. Stock Hop-Up bickings are not good buddies with low temperatures. Sometimes they may got so frozen it is impossible to shoot. Usually they simply spin pellet less effectively, what shortens a range. It is easy to spot, as during shooting few bursts last BBs fly further. Yet, after a minute situation gets back to pathetic reality. These can be preventet or limited to acceptable level. It is recommended to exchange a Hop-Up bucking for a softer one. The most popular products are transparent Guarder one, green G&G's or black Systema's.
You got an awesome cool GBB sidearm? Great! Leave it home till summer. Take your the ugliest and cheapest NBB replica. In the best situation you got Beretta M9 from STTI as they do the job even at -15 or -20 Celcius degrees. The majority of GBB replicas simply don't work in such conditions and it's ultimate. CO2 replicas are a bit better then Green Gas toys. For example Walther P99 DAO from Umarex thanks to it not standard blow back system. Keep in mind CO2 replicas are frequently to strong for CQC though.
Fortunately winter got some advantages regarding gear issues. For instance spectacles, goggles or masks tend to fog less and... Well, I think it's all I know.
Now, when you know some basics how to prepare to winter skirmishes... Or! Maybe you have longly known it at got no new knowledge here and/or found something you disagree with? Nevermid what your option is - the important thing is winter is coming and we will see each other in sights with a bit different background!
Finish reading, go out of a blanket, take out from your wardrobe or order via Internet some winter camouflage set and go to the field. If you doubt in yourself, take some hot tea to the game. It will be useful during respawn. Go and act, as winter lasts for just a few months and it gets green again.
When you are back home from your winter afventure, regardless how much it lasted, get some more hot tea, sit and think about your new experiences. If it helps, realize, a lot of your friends spent this time watching TV. Again.
Thanks to Flynn (RQS Airsoft) for assistance with making photos.
Uniforms - Department at the forum devoted for different types of uniforms.