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Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Eliminations and the Spirit of Airsoft

Eliminations and the Spirit of Airsoft (By Rick Wyyne) Version en español: eliminaciones y esencia del airsoft

This may sound like a lecture, but if I am preaching its because its something I needed to learn most of all. 

I think I had been getting the spirit of airsoft all wrong when I first started skirmishing. While skirmishing I had been trying to hit my opponents with a BB, thereby causing their elimination.

Sometimes it seems I would see a BB strike a player and for one reason or another he did not become eliminated. I thought to myself, "Perhaps they did not feel it, perhaps they are blatantly cheating." Either way I'd get frustrated because I "knew" I hit him and he should be eliminated. Since this seemed to happen more when there is only a single BB impact, I had taken to only firing on full automatic.

But it would still happen and I'd find myself getting more and more frustrated with airsoft. People who have seen me lose my temper know it is not a pretty sight. Lately I have been trying harder than ever to get into positions where I know I have hit my opponent. I have even used a scope or positioned a marshall to prove to myself and others that I have actually made my hit. 

This is where I think I had been getting it wrong. 

Perhaps instead of trying to get where I know I have hit my opponents, I should be getting into positions where my opponent knows he has been hit. Confused? Let me explain… 

Before playing airsoft I spent time doing historical re-enactment. Back in the States I did both World War II and Medieval time periods. 

The WWII had a problem skirmishing in that we used blanks and the only way people were eliminated was by using judges to call people out, or to fire a round and call out the description of the person you were aiming at. With luck that person heard you and was willing to call themselves hit. It was an imperfect system at best and really left you feeling disappointed in skirmishing, even though the sound of machineguns and artillery was inspiring and few things beat riding on real tanks for assaults. 

Now the Medieval skirmishing was a bit different. I was a member of the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism). In the SCA, you have full contact close combat with armored opponents and low powered missile weapons (thrown weapons, bows, crossbows, catapults). To represent the fact that different types of armor protected from different types of weapons and blows, the person making the killing stroke did not make the call on whether it was a successful shot but rather the victim did. If my opponent hit me in the helmet with what I considered a glancing blow I did not take the hit. And if my opponent thought there was not enough force behind my axe when I hit him on the shoulder he would not take the hit. It was an honor system. People who did not seem to take many hits were teased to a certain degree, but as the fighting was not really about who won, "rhino-hiding" (as it was called) was not something that generally got a person banned from participating. On the other hand people losing their tempers and being a bad sport about the whole thing were shunned and often banned if it got out of control. While there was usually an audience, and a safety marshall there was never a judge or referee to make rulings on hits. It was considered very bad form for the audience to criticize players' decisions on whether they had been hit or not. It called into question the player's honor and that was one thing regarded above all others in the SCA. 

This is where we get back to airsoft.
Honor is what separates airsoft from paintball. And I don't just mean the honor of taking your hits, I mean having the honor not to call into question the motivations of another player's actions. It really is best to assume that your opponent did not feel your shot merited his elimination, rather than worry if it hit and if he felt it or not. Make your goal in the game, "convincing opponents they are eliminated" rather than hitting your opponents with BB's. It's a philosophical difference, but an important one I think. 

I guess where I am going with all this is, I have lost my temper at perceived cheating in airsoft and I regret it. Kevlar kiddies are no different from rhino-hiding knights and when we fail to eliminate a player, we should think to ourselves, "I need to try harder to convince that bloke he is out" rather than, "That cheating b*stard, I am going to rip his throat out." 

- Rick Wynne September 2003

Sunday, February 05, 2012