Operation Zero Hour – France21 min read

Introduction

So, for those of you who follow the Sniper Ops group, you’ll know that we were recently invited to a mil-sim event over in France. 

This was a weekend event in a region called Nancy, to be held at an old World War 1 fort in a place called “The Bears Head”. 

6 of us took the journey from the UK:

Myself – @Snipermechanic

Mark Hutchings – @hutchy454

Paul Smith – @Smithyairsoftsniper

James Bailey – @Kickingmustang

Kenny Alison – @Sneakyblinder

Terrance – @airsoft_sniperopstj

It was a long old drive to get over to the event, we opted to go through the Euro Tunnel as it seemed the easiest way for us to get our gear there and we all thought the road trip itself would be a laugh.

Let me tell you, you get 6 overexcited blokes in a small van for an extended period of time you certainly get some banter thrown your way, alongside the constant fear of wondering would happen if you fell asleep…..as Kenny and James found out, you’ll understand if you saw the Instagram stories from the weekend.

The drive for me was made brilliant by the company, all of the Sniper Ops guys are an absolute pleasure to game with and some of the most genuine people I’ve come across. Shout out to Paul and Terry for being absolute stars with the driving……Despite Paul almost mounting the curb to mow down some members of general public of France 😛

We did have some technical issues with the vehicle which made the journey slower than it should of been, sadly an engine fault meant the van kept losing power in the engine and limiting our speed.

Day 1 – Arrival

Upon making our way up the mountain, yes it is up a small mountain! We were immediately greeted by Barry (www.Skirmshop.nl) and Mikael (Cleanshot ), the latter kindly offered me a beer straight away, which after a long drive I was certainly not going to say no to!

After having a quick round of introductions, with some of the other players that had already arrived, we were shown our rooms which were specifically set up for us by the site owner, Manu. Manu was an incredibly happy and helpful man, he could not do enough for us to ensure we were comfortable and had everything we needed. 

 

 

 

 

Once we had settled in and unpacked all of our gear, it was back outside to meet some more people and have a tour of the site. Among a few of the people I met, was a gentleman called Sascha who also hosts vents at this particular site, his ones being called Operation Oblivion.

Having walked around the outskirts of the site, it was truly beautiful an scenic location, I remember the excitement bubbling up at the thought of getting to sneak around it tomorrow.

After our brief site walk, we opted to head into town and grab some supplies for the weekend, this mainly consisted of beer and BBQ food of course.

Once we had got back and the sun had gone down, it was time to cook up some grub, grab a beer and getting to the more social side of the weekend.

Day 2 – The Mist Of War

Upon waking up the weather was terrible, it was absolutely belting it down with rain and a dense mist covered everything, completely disrupting sight past 20 meters.

Despite this, we all woke up excited for the game ahead, of course the first point of call was coffee though. Luckily OneShot Coffee Co had kindly provided us with some coffee for the trip, which was greatly appreciated!

With coffee in hand and Kenny kindly making breakfast, it’s time to gear up. Due to the laws in France all our gear was transported unloaded and ungassed, so we had to quickly get everything ready ahead of the briefing. Additionally, in France only Bio ammo can be used, thankfully Longbow BB provided us with a huge care package full of bio BB’s!!

Once everything was ready, we headed down into the site for the morning briefing. Due to most players being German, the briefing was in German, however people were more than happy to translate for us and highlight the key objectives. Obviously, there was also the mandatory event picture.

The summary of the briefing was that there were some LARP elements to the game, involving the collection of points by making our way into the fort and completing mini games (pistol shooting, roulette and axe throwing), alongside using fake money to purchase suppliers to build and stock our base.

In addition to this there were additional objectives/collectable items that we had to collect throughout the site and return to our base and defend.

Now knowing what the objectives are we decide on a plan, split our sniper ops squad into two, with additional regular players, then send each team towards the rear of the enemy base to cause havoc and distract, while allowing allow our main forces to enter guarded fortress.

The squad that I was in took to top of the moat, the second squad lead by Kicking Mustang, went into the moat itself in order to go under the enemy without detection.

At this point the rain is really coming down and the mist is thick, making it difficult to see into the distance. Our squad is slowly sneaking forward, of the main track next to a steep drop down the side of the mountain, careful footing and patience was required to navigate this safely.

After slowly stalking our way around to the other side of the fort, we decide to split up, with Sascha moving ahead of Paul and myself. After a few moments of patiently waiting we can see some silhouettes of people in the distance, at the range we were at and the limited vision due to the mist, we are unable to take any clear shots and slowly proceed forward.

Over the radio we here that there has been contact in front, so we quickly move into the closest foliage and wait, it all goes silent and we see 2 of our team walk back towards us. We slowly began to stalk forward, conscious that there are enemies close. 

At this point I have been split up from the rest of the squad and am overlooking the main bridge leading into the fort, just to the rear of the enemy base. I can see one player in the distance, I raise my VSR and take the shot, it hits home exactly in centre mass. I slowly back down into the foliage, as I see the enemies begin to look around at where the shot came from, these players are smart, they know where I must be based on where the player was hit. I see them slow group up and come towards the mound I’m on.

As I’m slowly retreating down what I thought was a bramble covered bank, I soon realise it’s not a bank at all, but a 4 foot drop into……..more brambles. I lose my footing and topple into this bramble pit, I try and slowly work my way out, but I can hear the enemies talking and moving towards my position, before I know it a 2-man team pop around the corner and place to rounds into my shoulder. At this point I’m more frustrated with myself more than anything else, I forgot the golden rule…..always have an escape route. On this occasion, my over eagerness and failure to plan had cost me.

After heading back to the re spawn, I make my way back up to the main crossroads, where I’ve heard there has been some contact over the radio. This is the point where Kenny had spanked a load of players on a bank before being hit out.

You can see Kenny’s video below:

Once I reach the crossroads, I can see some of my team mates, including Paul and Terry. We decide to group up and the three of us slowly move around the outskirts of an abandoned building in order to get a decent vantage point over one of the main roads leading out of the enemy base. 

As soon as we are in position behind the building and overlooking the ridge, we see some enemies moving up the road and we begin taking shots. Due to the poor weather conditions, we’ve all reverted to using pistols, unfortunately my ASG MK23 could not cope and I was using my upgraded WE gen4 G17. After a brief exchange of shots, we were victorious and had taken out the small enemy squad.

All the sudden a hail of BB’s starts hitting the plants and trees near me and Terry, we both dive back into cover. At this point the enemy doesn’t know exactly where we are but have been radioed a rough location.

I can see terry to my left slowly working his way round to flank the enemy from over the other side of the bank. From where I’m located I can see a few enemies directly in front of me trying to locate us, while letting off rounds in our direction, I hear some rustling on my right as an enemy pops his head around the corner of the building, he hasn’t seen me yet, but begins to walk around, scouting the area, the second he takes his eyes away from my position, I let of one round in his back and then drop down the slope and move around to where Terry is.

Shortly after I hear an exchange of shots and spot that some of our team mates have come up the crossroads and taken the enemy squad by surprise. With the area now appearing clear, I pop out from cover and move over to the squad to find out what’s happening, all the sudden I hear a round wizz past my head and drop into cover, I hear a few more rounds fly overhead and then one hits me on the top of the head. It was an absolutely brilliant shot from someone up on the hill on the other side of the abandoned building. He had clearly been sat there waiting for us to come out of cover and decided not to shoot our team mates to draw us out, to whoever that play was, well done. Following my hit, the player and his team mate also proceed to take out Terry.

After re spawning again I paired up with Kenny (Sneak Blinder) and we began to stalk to the long way back to the fort going through the moat, which at this point was a wet slippery death trap of small holes, massive puddles and fallen trees. 

Following a long stalk around the moat, we find ourselves nearing on the main bridge into the fort, with enemy players walking back and forth. We decide to hold far and relocate to the other side as it is shrouded in mist and has great cover, we slowly make our way over a large pool of water, having had to mantle over various fallen trees and debris, every few steps stopping all movement to avoid enemies spotting us.

Having made our way right under the enemies noses and now on the other side of the bridge below the enemies main path, the slaughter commences……Both Kenny and I begin picking off enemies as they walk around oblivious to where the shots are coming, they take cover behind a wall thinking we are down the main road, 3 enemies later, they realise they are still losing players, they try to cross the bridge and get taken out, a few more try to climb up a small hill and get taken out, by this point Kenny had eliminated 9 players and I had eliminated 7.

With the main enemy forced cleared out, we decided to make our way into the fortress to take part in some of the more obscure money based mini games.

 

After our visit to the fort the game was done for the day and we went back to enjoy another social evening, this started with an offer of beer to have a look at someone’s VSR, of course I was more than happy to oblige:

After some minor tech work, it was time it for heavy metal music and drinking beers/whiskey within the fort interiors.

Day 3 -The Tumble

Waking up on day 3, the weather was warm, but still raining, though there were signs it was going to clear. As I was hopeful the weather was going to improve, I opted to run my Tanaka today.

Once we had the morning briefing, our objectives were clear, collect 3 items from the fort, enemies include the enemy team from yesterday and a group of PMC’s. The PMC’s are defending the fort and the bomb building materials inside that we require. In order to win the game, we must collect all 3 items, then use them to build a bomb which must be planted and set off at the enemy HQ. There are only 3 items in play, so it was going to be an ongoing battle to collect and keep the items.

We decided that we would split from the main group attacking the fort and go through the moat to the rappel point round the other side. This would give us a way into the top rear of the fort and put us in an advantageous position to get in and out with the items amongst the chaos.

After climbing down into the moat, we slowly crept along the long path, keeping close to the way in order to avoid the players above up. We soon reached a choke point right by where the rappel points were. We had enemies who had hidden themselves in the tunnel systems, which put them in a perfect position to pin us down.

Cleanshot went back up the ladder and provided us with overwatch from the top of the path which goes alongside the moat.

They had yet to see us, but we could hear them engaging our team, James was on point at this stage, slowly working his way up to the rappel point, he and Paul took out a few enemies, before releasing a smoke grenade which gave us the cover we needed to move.

There was a scramble to get up the rappel, Paul and James were first up the lines, followed by Cleanshot, halfway up the rappel, shots are fired, Cleanshot and James are taken out, Paul in cover and I’m left holding on hugging the wall. I slowly make my way up the rappel, get close enough to medic Cleanshot before I’m quickly dispatched. The enemy was in a great position and had a respawn very close which meant we were not getting up this way, so we made our way back through the fort to our respawn.

Seeing as the rappel route hadn’t worked it, we opted to go back into the moat, but this time we would use the small tunnel systems in order to make our way back up the mountain.

Having made our way through the moat we came to one of the tiny and I mean tiny entrances into the tunnel system. Once we got in, light was limited and we had to carefully navigate our way through. Once we had got into the main intersection, James and Kenny proceeded up the ladder, before we began taking fire, I was halfway up the ladder and had to drop back down to engage what we believed were enemies, sadly it turned out we had been taking friendly fire. 

After we resolved the friendly fire incident, it was back up the ladder which was a tough task, it was absolutely tiny and trying to get up with my gear on was hard word, also halfway up you had to do a 180 degree turn onto another ladder. Thanks to Cleanshot for catching my Glock mag!

Once we had gotten up to ladders and further up the mountain, we were directly overlooking the top of the fort. We all went in different directions and began to scout out the location. Within a few minutes I saw my first target, one lone enemy casually strolling along one of the ledges, I lined up my shot as he was walking away from me and let one round off, which hit its target perfectly. I immediately then began to relocate to another position, after speaking on the radio, we all took up over watch positions around the fort.

Shortly after we had set up positions, an enemy squad emerged from of the opening along the top of the fort and we began to engage them, I believe nearly every one of the sniper ops group alongside Cleanshot managed to take a few off the enemies out.

I was stalking around the other side of the base to try and get a clearer view into the fort, I hear the rest of the guys taking hits, I can see one enemy player has taken Kenny out, I take a shot at him and he relocates, I assume he didn’t feel the hit, I let of a second round and he relocates again….He definitely felt that one, at this point he’s still shooting into the bushes where Kenny is, despite having shouted he was hit. I decide that I’m going to get up close and personal with this guy….

I put my rifle down, draw my pistol and quickly sprint from tree to tree, out of sight of the enemy players shooting at the rest of my squad. As I get closer, I can see the same player hiding behind a tree, just a few meters in front of me, I take him out with a double tap from my pistol and then sprint back to where I had left my rifle.

I radio to see who’s been kit out, can’t get a clear signal, but it all goes quiet. I lay down and assume I’m the only one left, I patiently wait to see where the enemies are.

After about 15 minutes of laying in silence, I try the radio again and get informed everyone else has been hit and are heading to respawn.

I decided to slowly stalk my way back to base and regroup, as I stand up I see an enemy in the distance and take a shot at him with the Tanaka and it lands. I slide down a bank to my rear and begin my exit. A few minutes later I hear someone talking on a radio, so I gently move under a fallen tree and slowly bring my pistol up, an enemy player walks past on his own and I take him out, then immediately I hear an AEG start spraying the area where I’m located, a round hits me on the hand, it may have been a ricochet but I took it anyway, as I was heading back to spawn.

On my way back to spawn I decided the quickest way back would be to go back down the rappel. No more than 30 seconds after beginning my descent, my sling stud on my rifle broke and my Tanaka took a tumble down the cliff before landing in some branches, in my effort to grab the rifle, I lost my footing and had a small slip down before managing to grab the rope.

With my life having flashed before my eyes, I steady myself and make my way down the rappel, collecting my rifle from the branches on the way down. Having inspected the rifle there seemed to be no external damage.

After hitting the respawn and regrouping with Paul, we begin our long stalk round the fort exterior. After about 35 minutes we have made our way up behind the main enemy spawn, our mission is to take as many of them out as we can to give out team a chance to get past them and into the fort to collect the remaining explosives.

Having managed to get up onto a ridge overlooking a group of enemies, we turn to each other count down from 3, then pop over the ridge and unleash hell upon the unsuspecting team. No less than 10 enemies players must have been taken out before one managed to land a hit on me, followed by two returning players moving round to flank and take out Paul.

Having been hit out, we had returned to spawn and then made our way back to the crossroads in order to meet up with the rest of the team. Back at the crossroads, mark, Cleanshot and myself had tucked ourselves into a ridge alongside the main road leading from the enemy spawn to our base. After a few minutes wait we could hear a vehicle coming down the road, we let it get close then we all popped up and rained down a white cloud of BB death on the unsuspecting foes.

Smithy Video TBC

With the vehicle taken out, we were tucked back into cover waiting on another enemy patrol to come past, when Cleanshot spots one of the PMC’s carrying one of the explosives we need. He quickly dispatches him and we quickly run back to the base. In my eagerness to get back to base I didn’t watch my footing and managed to essentially swan dive into a bed of brambles (I can see a theme here lol)

Back at base I pair up with Cleanshot, thanks to the efforts of the rest of the team we now only had the one item left to collect before being able to attack and set the bomb at the enemy base.

Over the radio we here that there is a large enemy team trying to flank the enemy base, we scramble up the hills covering our base and we all take positions in order to take the enemies out. With the mist having settled this was as easy as shooting fish in a barrel, many players racked up kills here, before another enemy team began to flank us and we were engaged from both sides.

Cleanshot and I hear over the radio that there is an enemy group just down from our base and they may have the final item that we need. We decide the get down the hill as quick as possible and began sliding and dashing down, occasionally stopping to pick off targets.

At one point, I can see an enemy has the bead on Cleanshot as he’s moving to cover, I call him over the radio and warn him to take cover, seconds later I land a headshot on his would-be attacker (you can here this at 6.50s of the video above). We continue to progress down the hill until we come to an enemy FOB, where we take out the remaining enemies with the help of some friendly players we had bumped into.

We managed to claim to final explosive needed and sprint back up the hill to regroup, we collected the other two items, grabbed Terry and began our dash to the enemy HQ.

As we had already been towards this area, there were very few enemies which allowed us to get to the enemy HQ very quickly. Upon reaching the enemy HQ we were instructed to plant and set off the 3 explosives (Fireworks). With these now set we sat back and watched as they go off, the loud bangs echoing around the mountain…With that our weekend victory was secured.

With the game now won, we head back to the barracks and have a quick catch-up with the other players. Once the other players began to return to the barracks, we had our final chats and said our goodbyes as we began to pack our stuff away.

We decided the grab a picture of our main Squad for the weekend.

I was sad to leave this place, it was such a momentous event and the people were truly awesome. We were all tired and physically exhausted after battling the terrain for two days, but I’d happily do it every weekend it was so good.

Final Thoughts

For me personally this was not only an outstanding event, it was an amazing experience and I was luckily enough to meet, game and drink with some of the nicest people I’ve ever come across.

The event wasn’t just well organised, it wasn’t just an incredible site, it was an awesome group of people who were all there to have a wonderful time, meet some new friends and have a highly competitive game.

I would highly recommend this event to anyone who wants to try something different, something you certainly won’t get here in the UK. The site alone is a historical masterpiece and a challenging terrain that requires a constant awareness of your surroundings as I found out!

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