Airsoft and My Cold Steel Leatherneck, by M.A.

A LITTLE WORD ABOUT AIRSOFT IN THE WORLD

Airsoft is some kind of joke for any serious military or firearms enthusiast, and for many good reasons. Airsoft ‘guns’ – even the most expensive ones – are nothing more than toys for kids, or movie props at best: unreliable, lightweight replicas, very cool to grab and shoot, but without any value for any serious shooting-range enthusiast. Airsoft ammunitions also lacks any marking system, so airsoft skirmishing should never be considered a real sport, but a game for ‘old aged kids’ trying to feel ‘inside movies’ or – in the worst ‘human cases’ – inside computer games.

THE ITALIAN AIRSOFT CHAMPIONSHIP

Despite that sad basic truths, Italy got crazy for airsoft and in a few years we found ‘our’ way to transform it in something REALLY serious. The most doesn’t know but here in Italy there is a well established (around 20 years) italian airsoft championship that solved the problem of the marking system using only one very smart rule.  Teams DON’T play against each other (as in football, soccer, Formula One, etc) but fight against arbitrators. In simple words, arbitrators act as the ‘bad guys’ and set up the very same mission for every playing team, and the one that accomplish this very same mission better than any other, is the final winner of that event.

Each championship run is made by five events in two years and I personally play my region’s championship from more years than I want to admit to myself (fifteen…. Yep).
In the nineties – when the championship was still ‘young’ – the events were short and simple, they weren’t physical demanding and didn’t required any land navigation skill.
But year after year, the championship always got harder and harder, to the point that nowadays the average difficulty sounds crazy to the most.
The hardest events usually require players to march up to 60 kilometers in 30 hours, without any real pause to sleep and under ANY weather (rain, snow, etc).
No matter how tired, cold, wet, sleepy you are… You have to never give up with both mind and body, because when you are too tired/wet/cold/sleep, fighting well is much more difficult.
My team’s best result ever, was 28th on 260 teams from all Italy in 2009.

THE BLADEOPS STORY

Cold Steel Tanto Leatherneck
Cold Steel Tanto Leatherneck

What I am going to tell you didn’t happen during one of those hardcore championship events, but during a ‘movie inspired’ non-sporting event, mostly made to entertain people and without any final classification at all. Anyway, most players were coming from the local championship, and I finally had the pleasure to have the italian champions right on my side during a couple of missions (the ‘Blackhawks’ of Pastrengo, really funny guys I am a friend of from a long time).

Most of the fun of the event came from the fact that every player had his own fictional character and had to act accordingly, so to create a fictional, movie-like world.. So, here’s what happened.

My four men patrol was radio-ordered from headquarter to go on certain coordinates on the field, to check some ‘unknown movements’.

It was night, and when we reached the place, we found two relaxed, armed guardsmen talking aloud, as if they had nothing to do. Thinking they weren’t enemies and dangerous neither, we didn’t opened up fire and approached them peacefully, saying we were army regulars. They told us that they were guards of a nearby bank and that we kindly had to ‘back off’, which we did. We then hide back in the woods and radioed our headquarter who the guys were, and what they were doing.

“Stay in place, team 7” was the reply.
“We are going to give you a mission”

After a couple of minutes the orders arrived: we had to conquer the bank with ‘extreme prejudice’, but first we had to try to convince the two guards to simply go away.
Then I had an idea, so I offered myself to my team to talk again with the guards.

I pulled out my Cold Steel ‘leatherneck’ training (hard rubber) knife from its sheath, then I reverse gripped it, covering it with my wrist and forearm.  Since the pockets of my woodland-BDU pants are very large, I also put half of it inside my pocket.
From the front point of view, it was invisible. My plan was to put my rifle on the ground and go to talk with the guards, but with the hidden knife at the ready. Then, I realized I was making a bad mistake.

My rifle has a three points sling and I was wearing it around my neck, so there was no way I could put my rifle down on the ground using one hand only. And using two, I would have surely exposed the knife in the pocket. So I took the sling out from my neck and hold the rifle with one hand only. When I was ready, my team mates hide themselves in the woods while I stayed in plain sight, waiting for the guards to return.

A couple of minutes later, they were back in place. This time they were silent and their rifle were at the ready. Anyway, seeing me on the open and right in front of them with the rifle pointed muzzle down, they thought I had no bad intentions.

“Can I talk with you again?” I said but they didn’t reply.
So I added: “I put my rifle down on the ground. You see? I leave it here and come to you”
“Okay then. Come here”

Seeing I left the rifle far away, the two guards relaxed a lot, and lowered their weapons from at-the-ready to down on their slings. I walked to them than I started to talk:

“The army told me to stay on guard in this sector but they didn’t talk me about any bank”
“Anyway, here there’s a bank for sure, and it’s our duty to watch it. Regular army or not, you can’t stay here”
“It probably is just a map misunderstanding, but we have a job to do. Can you please simply get away?”
“Of course we can’t. That’s a problem of yours, not ours”
“I don’t know how to say that to you guys. So I will put it plain and simple: you should really get the XXX away from here”
“We are not going anyway you stupid –

With a single movement, I slid my rubber knife under both the necks in front of me.
Cold Steel’s training rubber is quite hard, so for safety reasons I slid it a little lower than the real throats were and before the talking guard could end his phrase, everything was already over. A little while of silence followed up.

“I just slit both of your throats” I said.
“You did it for sure” said one guard.
“I don’t know if rubber knives are covered in our rules” said the other.
“As you wish – I said – but my team is hidden right behind you. You see? And they are ready to fire”

The guards turned themselves and saw the rest of my team coming out from the darkness of the nearby trees.

“It doesn’t matter – said one guard to the other -, I liked the way he did it and his acting too. Go on with your mission right now, guys. Time is clicking”

IN THE PHOTO:
Me just a few minutes before the events told here.
I wear a woodland BDU with an english ARKTIS ‘long range’ chest.
My airsoft weapons weapons were:
+ a PANTHER ARMS short barrel version of the M4
+ a WILSON COMBAT CQB (1911 clone in the inner holster of the ARKTIS, not visible)
+ a Cold Steel Leatherneck training knife (near the neck, barely visible)
+ an ATN NVM-14 night vision monocular

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