The role of the sniper on the airsoft battlefield is perhaps the one with the highest ‘cool factor’. This is in part due to the increased publicity and media focus on the people that inhabit the role as their daily lives, working for the military and other armed forces. Film heroes like Bob Lee Swagger in Shooter and Chris Kyle in American Sniper, along with the Call Of Duty and Battlefield video game franchises have captured imaginations worldwide and allowed everyone to think that they could be the next best marksman. This could not be further from the truth. The harsh reality is that the role of the sniper is one of dedication, training and years of hard work, and this is similarly true for the airsoft world. In this article, we’ll explore some of the ways to improve your current sharp shooting abilities and what it takes to become a master sniper.
It is essential to have equipment that you feel confident using, regardless of price. If you’re on the battlefield slaying everyone with your £100 second-hand rifle, there’s likely not much point in spending £500 to get a brand-new system, only to feel uncomfortable using it. We’d recommend doing your research first to find out what kind of system will suit the sort of sniping you want to do. There are thousands of variations, models and optional extras so you need to know what will work for you, and not just buy one because it looks cool.
Take care of your rifle and your rifle will take care of you; an old military expression that stands true with real steel and airsoft alike. Cleaning the weapon and its components after a day out with your buddies will help keep your gear in tip-top condition. While your friends are grabbing some post-match beers, you’ll be at home cleaning your barrel (literally), as any debris in the weapon can seriously affect the accuracy.
Similar to equipment, making the right upgrades is more important than just upgrading everything! One of the first things on the shopping list should be a great hop rubber. However, depending on the particular rifle, some of the time you’ll buy a gun with the intention to strip out all of the internals and spend more than the cost of the gun itself on the upgrades. Or you may just want to get a spring to achieve the power where you need it. Don’t get dragged into the barrel tightness race, we’d recommend choosing quality over bore squeeze, tighter isn’t always better!
Sniper rifles tend to be very powerful, they have to be in order to achieve the range and FPS in order to hit targets at distance. This also means that they will have a minimum engagement distance (MED), typically somewhere between 20 – 30 metres (depending on the arena) meaning that anything closer won’t be yours to shoot unless you have a backup gun. Normally backups are pistols or SMGs, ideally something with a very low or zero MED. Make sure you’re kitted out with the best backup gear, check out our range of Airsoft Pistols and take down the enemies! We’d also recommend checking the minimum engagement distance with each arena/field before playing to make sure you’re complying with their health and safety rules. Also, make sure you and your team able to identify what the MED distance looks like in real time. Thinking an enemy is 30 metres away when they are only 10 can cause serious injury and potentially being kicked off the site – puts a crimp on your day!
Similar to real world combat, camouflage is vital. Opponents and enemies can’t shoot at you if they can’t see you and this is especially true for snipers. Ghillie suits will provide you with the ability to hide in plain sight, blending in with your surroundings and rendering yourself invisible to the rest of the players. You’ll need to make sure that you can still perform at your best with your suit on though, so why not get down and dirty? Practise movement and shooting with your equipment before heading out into battle.
When you’re getting your setup ready for battle, there are a few things that you need to take into consideration. First of all, wind and foliage will have a huge impact. A stray leaf or a slight gust of wind on the path of the BB will knock it off course entirely. Remember you are shooting BB pellets, not actual metal bullets, the impact of the environment will affect the trajectory a lot more. Consider training with targets at various ranges, making sure you know the distance between you and the target will help get a sense of what your weapon is capable of.
Snipers are similar to goalkeepers, in that they can remain untroubled all game, but are when the moment comes, they have to perform. There are moments during an airsoft round when a single decision can change the tide of battle and it’s important you make the right one. This might be choosing how and where to setup your rifle, when to take shots, or when you need to get moving again. Sometimes you’ll have a half chance to take a shot, and you’ll need to decide whether or not to wait for a better opportunity, this kind of decision can only be learned through practise and experience.
Before taking on the role of a sniper, you need to make sure you the role is for you. If you like running and gunning at the enemy, sniping more than likely won’t be a suitable fit. Patience is the key, as you may find yourself waiting all game for the right shot, only for that not to happen. Be prepared to stay in position without movement, especially if you’re close to the enemy; or to be stepped on by a marshal. But when you eventually get into position and are able to drop a BB onto a high value target, that’s priceless.
Think you’re the airsoft Chris Kyle? Let us know what your setup is and how you play the prestigious role of the sniper. Get in touch on Facebook and Twitter.