So, for those of you who may have missed it, this weekend I went to my first Sniper Ops event, “Coyote Challenge”. This was a 24-hour game, with 3 teams of 2 Sniper Operatives and 1 Counter Sniper.
This is the first 24-hour event I’ve ever done and let me tell you, the most gruelling but rewarding experience I’ve had in Airsoft to date…..possibly even life….maybe..
Let me set the scene, it’s a scorching hot day and I’ve just rocked up to Apocalypse Airsoft after a nice 2-hour drive, immediately I’m greeted by some of the Sniper Ops gentleman looking awesome in their Leaf suits.
I had the chance to meet and chat with the great guys below:
So, after a quick meet and greet with the guys, it was straight onto having the briefing about the mission objectives.
Firstly, each team had to put up a series of nav points (5 in total, each one cost -1 if missed), these had to be collected over the course of the 24 hours.
Two targets set up by the Counter Sniper of which the location would be sent out to all the Operatives over the radio. This happened on day one and then again on day two.
An additional demolition target was communicated on day two which needed to be smoked.
Final objective was another target, which had to be hit in a specified time and then we must extract.
In addition to the above, a kill was +1 point and a death was -1.
Having clearly absorbed all that, I was ready to get geared up and go. For this event, I was running my trusty Tanaka M700 and Mk23.
Sadly, James Tanaka wasn’t playing ball, so I was responsible for the longshots….no pressure……
Straight of the mark we had to find somewhere to store out items, a “hide”. So, after checking the map, we quickly found a lovely spot to dump our gear, covering it with foliage and dirt to try and conceal it so none of the operatives discover it and set an ambush.
With our gear safely hidden, we headed to one of the locations on the map to set up our nav point for the other teams. Following this we decided on which nav points we would go for to start and with that we set off.
After an hour or so of slowly stalking our way through the woods in the blazing heat, James signals to me that he has eyes on what he thinks is a player directly in front of us, we immediately go to ground and stop all movements, waiting for the player to come in range, as soon as he gets close on our left flank, James promptly dispatches his with a few well-placed shots from his MK23. The player is hit, it’s Phil, the counter sniper.
The adrenaline is going at this point, the thrill of stalking your way to a target and silently dispatching them, the fear of not knowing whether anyone else is around, have you just given away your position? has someone already got a bead on you? These are all the things going through your head………and it’s great!
Following our encounter, we slowly stalked a bit further towards where we believe the first nav point was, watching every placement of our feet, stopping at the slightest of sounds, not a whisper shared between us, just occasional hand signals to indicate movement patterns or the direction of suspected players.
After stalking for hours, we arrived in what’s called “Squirrel Woods”. In these giant woods, there should be two nav points that we needed to find.
We spent hour’s looking through these woods before finding our first Nav point. With the nav point found, we briefly discussed how to approach it, James was going to stalk his was to the right of it and then move in, with me providing over watch. When going for the navs, we knew that there was a risk that either the other teams or the counter sniper could be lying in wait for us.
After 30 minutes James had successfully stalked his way to the Nav and we had collected the required information.
With our first nav found, we keep stalking our way through the woods in search of the second one. While moving through the woods, James who is about 100” in front of me all the sudden drops down to his left, motionless.
At this point I’m thinking he must have seen something, so I slowly crouch down, then all the sudden I hear some noise from James direction and a small group of civilians appear walking their dogs.
As you imagine, even though we’re hired the land, it’ll be a tough one to explain to civilians, while were skulking around the woods with rifles….With that in mind I literally drop down into the foetal position no more than 6” aware form the path they are using…..my heart is pounding, will all the hours I’ve spend on my leaf suit pay off? or will they spot me?…. It’s truly exhilarating lol.
As they get closer and closer, I can slowly see them appear over the foliage in front of me, until they are close enough to touch me…..but they walk past me, even looking at me as they do, my hearts going crazy, they haven’t spotted me! The hours working on my suit, all the little details added, it’s paid off…..an unbelievable sense of pride and satisfaction bubbles over inside of me……Simply put I’m rather bloody happy lol
With the civilians now out of sight, we decide against spending any more time looking in Squirrel woods for the other nav point as we’ve lost a lot of time. We slowly loop back round and make our way down to the quarry where there should be two additional nav points, our thinking is we can come back to Squirrel woods on day two for the missing nav.
Having made our way to where the quarry area begins, James and I decide that he will progress down the hill to search for the nav points, while I lay in ambush in case any other players are in the areas searching for them too. Due to the dense foliage and close ranges, I ditch the Tanaka behind a tree and set myself up in the underbrush with the Mk23.
An hour or so passes as I lay in wait, when I hear the sound of movement and sticks breaking, at this stage I don’t know whether it’s James, another team or the counter sniper. I wait until the person walks past me, they haven’t seen me yet and I can tell from their camo it’s not James, so I bring my Mk23 up to take a shot, then a second players appears behind them.
I decide to take out the trailing player first (Terry) and let of two shots, the players hit, but the first player (Paul) has heard the shots and begins to run for cover. Now here is where I made the mistake which cost me a point, I let of to many rounds at the escaping player (forgetting momentarily that we had strict ammo limits) which gave away my position. I lost sight of the player behind cover and then before I could react I saw a brief sign of movement, followed by the dull thud of an Mk23 being fired and I’d taken a round to the elbow……..
Having been taken out I identified myself and stood up, waiting for the 15 minutes down time. While I’m stood waiting I can keep some voices followed by an exchange of shots. It turns out that James had come back to find me, but had stumbled across Paul Smith (the player who just shot me) instead and believed it to be me, this resulted in him getting hit out. Another mistake was made here, we needed to find a way to identify each other in a subtle way to avoid the situation again.
After having a brief sit down and catch up, we discovered that Paul and Terry had also not been able to find this second nav point in the Squirrel woods. So, with this in mind we thought we could go back again and look, safe that the only threat should be the counter sniper.
Having left the area as per the rules, James and I decided to go back into Squirrel woods to try and find this second nav point. After stalking the woods for hours and with the light slowly going, we decided to find a spot to eat, rehydrate and work out where we were.
Unfortunately, we had forgotten a compass and our phones had no signal, which meant we had been walking in the wrong direction for hours. This was not great and we were certain we had fallen behind the other teams.
Over the radio we heard the Counter Sniper had released the location of the first target that we had to hit.
Unfortunately, we were out of range of the radio and were unable to hear the location of the target. We had to move location until James had signal on his phone, we then checked the sniper Ops chat room and requested the location via the app due to radio issues.
By this point we were both demotivated, having not got all the navs we needed and spent a lot of time looking for them. However, we decided we’d go to the target, we only had a limited time left to get to the target and hit it, it was our last chance to get some much-needed points.
After stalking our way to the target, we managed to locate it in the distance, knowing that the Counter Sniper was likely in the area, we dropped to our bellies and proceeded to crawl about 60m through the underbrush to get into position, due to the location of the target which was roughly another 60m from where we were and the limited cover and low light conditions, I had to take a very awkward shot with my rifle canted between cover, I let of the first shot which just clipped the target, I quickly followed up with another shot which hit dead centre, which meant we’d managed to claw another point back.
Still believing the Counter Sniper was in the area, we extracted the area on our bellies and then when we thought we were far enough away we made our way back to the hide.
Having made our way back to the hide, we decided to set up camp, eat some hot food and debrief on the day’s events. Looking back at the encounter with Paul and Terry, we realised they had no reason to have been in the area, as the navs located there where the ones they had put up and there were no other objectives in the area, so we concluded that they must have set up hide in the area. James suggested that we get up early 2am and set up an ambush for them, I was onboard with this, so after some chit chat we both tried to get some sleep.
Having not really had much sleep, I hear James whispering to me to get up and that he’s made coffee, this is roughly 2:30am. He explains that he really wants to win and that we should get up now and set up an ambush in the area where we encountered Terry. I’m totally onboard with this as I want to win just as badly.
We have our coffee, discuss tactics, repack all our gear and fill up on food and water then head out into the darkness.
Now I’m not sure if it was the lack of sleep, the fact is was about 3am or whether the dehydration was setting in again. But walking through the forest at night, you mind begins to play tricks on you, literally making you make faces and shapes out of things that aren’t there, it’s a truly surreal atmosphere to be in.
Having made our way to the location where we would set the ambush, James and I lay down in a patch of ferns, covering ourselves in natural foliage to help conceal us. Once we’re set in position, we just lay in wait for hours.
After having been in position for quite some time, I hear James let of a few shots with his MK23. It turns out he saw a player (Terry) in a tree and managed to hit him. That’s another crucial point for our team and made the late-night stalk and early awakening worth it.
With our mood improving now we’ve managed to claw a point back, we decide to tackle the nav points with renewed vigour. We first went after the two navs which we’re to be located at the quarry.
We stalked our way across the quarry which was slightly dangerous due to no natural cover, however it was a calculated risk based on where we anticipated the other players were. We quickly crossed the quarry into the forest on the other side and managed to locate one of the Navs. While scouting the area we located some foot prints and a path of disturbed foliage, this gave us a good indication of where the second nav point might be.
Crossing back over the quarry in the direction of the tracks, we stop to quickly rehydrate and take a few pictures. At this point all the gear I’m carrying is starting to feel a lot heavier, my rifle feels like concrete and I’m losing water quickly due to the heat and pace of which we were stalking, having little to no sleep has started to catch up with me. But sheer determination to win keeps us going.
Moving over the ridge back into the woods, I spot the Nav just hanging in the tree. With that we’re now only behind on one Nav. But we’re doing ok on points, but we don’t think we’re in the lead just yet.
We find a spot to briefly rest and discuss next steps, while we’re hear we hear a bang over of which tells us that one of the teams has managed to take out the demolition target, after laying down and waiting for out time to move on the demo target ourselves, we hear another pyro go off and then in the distance I can see two players running away back into the woods.
Due to the distance, I opted against taking a shot, as ammo was very limited and it wasn’t a 100% it would land.
While we were sat waiting, James decided to go live on Instagram and at that moment I see the counter sniper walking through the woods, I bring my rifle up and take a shot and it hits…..Only problem, he was already hit. I was a bit gutted that there were no points to gain, but a satisfying shot none the less lol
Now rested, we stalk our way to the demo target and promptly dispatch it.
With some points gained and all the current objectives completed, we decided that we’d go back to Squirrel woods and get the final Nav that’s been eluding us, as without it we’d lose a point.
While stalking back to Squirrel woods, I spot a player in the distance and decide to let of a shot, it flies straight and true then at the last second it gets deflected off some foliage which is enough for it to just skim past the player. He hears the shot and drops down into cover and I lose sight of him. I drop down into cover myself while James tried to stalk round from the right.
After the encounter James meets back up with and believe the other players to have retreated we go back to hunting for this Nav point.
After another hour of stalking through the woods we finally obtain the last nav point, it was hidden between two trees’ and was difficult to spot, but we got there in the end.
Now we have only two things left to do, take out the final target and then extract. The target is worth one point and we get one point each for a successful extraction.
Here’s comes the next challenge of this event, we’re now on day two which is Sunday……There are normal skirmishes around playing the standard Sunday games. They have no idea we’re here and will likely shoot us on sight if spotted, so we had to work even harder to avoid the groups of skirmishers, while stalking our way to the target location.
This target was very far away as the final nav point was on the opposite side of the map. It took us hours to get there and we took a different route to try and avoid as many of the skirmishers as possible. Luckily with our stalking skills and camo on point, we were all but invisible to them.
Having made it through the skirmishers, we had made it to the final target location.
Rather than immediately go for the target, we decided to hide ourselves near some felled trees and see if we can use this opportunity to gain additional hits on other players coming for the target.
After sitting in wait for about 45 minutes, James signals that he can see what he believes to be an enemy player, once we were sure it was a player, James let of a shot from his MK23 which floats its way out and tags the player.
Believing the area to be clear, we take the opportunity the to go for the target. I line up the trusty Tanaka at the target which is roughly 70m away behind some foliage, I let of a shot and hit it, which scores us another point.
Having been in this area for some time, we decided on staying here to see if we could get any additional kills as we still weren’t sure where we were on the leader board.
After another 40 minutes or so James gently nudges me and signal to what he believes is a target up the hill from us. I slowly bring my rifle up, roll over onto the log next to James to anchor myself, looking up at the target I can’t quite see them, occasionally I get short windows where I can see movement between the pieces of cover.
I hold steady, biding my time, waiting for the right moment to present itself…..and my god does it……keeping my eyes trained on the target I see them raise their head ever so slightly above the cover which gives me the split second needed to get a shot of, which hit’s perfectly on the players eye pro (the only thing visible) making an incredibly satisfying pop.
Following this, the mood is elevated, confidence is booming and we carelessly do what can only be described as a brisk jog mixed with intermittent spouts of stalking……
Sadly this over confidence got both James and I tagged by Phil (the Counter Sniper), he was hidden perfectly by the side of a path and managed to get some insanely quick and accurate shots of against us both.
Due to the time left in the game and the fact that the Counter Sniper was unable to come after us on the same route, we agreed that after the down time we’d have been able to get to extraction anyway so we lost 2 points for getting tagged, but got 2 for extracting leaving us where we were before the encounter.
Following this it was over, we had finished, it was time to get back to our hide to collect our gear and head to the safe zone.
My final thoughts:
With all the players safety back in the safe zone, we chat amongst ourselves, congratulate each other on a great 24-hour event.
We take a picture in which we all look utterly exhausted, but very satisfied.
After a quick tally of the points, by a sheer 1 point difference James and I had won the event and got ourselves the ASG Ashbury prize, which was provided by Action Sport Games.
With the game out of the way and the adrenaline leaving, it quickly sets in what we had been through and achieved:
24 hours under constant thread of being hit
The weight of carrying our gear
Constant high levels of concentration
The sheer distances we had traversed
Lack of sleep
The highs and lows as your adrenaline and endorphins peak and drop
After all this I was left with one utterly overwhelming emotion……………Satisfaction, the satisfaction of overcoming all of the above. It’s incredibly rewarding, even though this event was one of the most gruelling things I’ve done both mentally and physically, I was proud that I managed to compete and ultimately win.
I felt I had been part of something very different from the usual Airsoft scenarios, alongside having just one other person with you it makes for an incredible experience and I certainly cannot wait to do another.
While some of you might read this and think it’s an exaggeration, or think it’s not that tough, or think it’s boring, I can assure you it will be one of the most challenging yet rewarding things you’ll ever do.
I highly recommend the event to anyone who wants to do something different and test themselves.
You can read about Sniper Ops here and most of the main members are on Instagram and FaceBook.