“Which Way is the Frontline” – Stirling Airsoft OP: Ridgeway Review

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Before we start, it’s been a while I know and for that I apologise. We’ve had so much on at the Manx Airsoft Club recently that my other ‘outlets’ have sadly taken a back seat. For me writing has never been a primary hobby, don’t get me wrong I really enjoy it… but when you’re given the choice between writing about Airsoft and playing it the latter will always win.

I guess the title gives it away and you can see where this is going. We had the opportunity to attend an event that the MAC have never attended previously last weekend and hailing from a Ground Zero/Ai500 background we were enticed by the idea of somewhere different to our go to event. Before we delve into the details, let me give you some background info for those who have no idea what I’m chatting about:

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photo courtesy of Land Warrior Airsoft

Stirling Airsoft is founded from what we can gather by a select few ex-military enthusiasts, we say ‘gather’ because to be honest if you don’t know them personally their website gives little history away. However their reputation speaks all the volumes you need to know and 99% percent of the time you won’t hear anything other than the word “professional.”

This event was hosted on Whinny Hill FIBUA village in Catterick Garrison where the majority of our British Army Infantry, including me, was or is currently being trained. The village itself is a top notch urban training tool with a multitude of converted residential houses, burnt out armoured vehicles, trench systems, open areas sparsely filled with rubble piles and much more. To put it into context; its designed to train the most professional Army in the world and police forces so you can imagine it’s not your standard run-of-the-mill airsoft site.

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photo courtesy of Land Warrior Airsoft

Right off the bat it is heavily organised by its own staff; we rocked up in our minibus and weren’t allowed onto the site before all final payments were made and names were checked off, something you don’t normally see and to be honest a sort of resounding first impression. Once through, we were shown our accommodation; where to park and what areas we could view (obviously a little tour round the site was on the cards, for memory sake). We won’t go into the accommodation details but essentially hot and cold water, bunk beds and electricity…so better than usual at least.

After a nice night’s sleep and horrendous snoring from a team mate, the morning came around and we were ready to get started. The game brief began and it was sharp, concise, to the point and professionally delivered. The rules were explained in detail and bar a few odd one-off questions we set off to our regen points to begin gameplay around 11am. Once at the regen point Dominic and Steve introduced themselves and organised comms, maps and team split. You could tell straight away that they were friendly but yet had an air of command about them, we’d heard of the rigours the Stirling Airsoft team have to go through to hold that title and it’s by no means an easy feat. With orders in hand and objectives laid out the game start was indicated and we ventured out into the centre of the village itself.

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photo courtesy of Land Warrior Airsoft

The gameplay of the event was heavily structured; the Regen Points (numbered 1 and 2) would shift team denomination multiple times throughout the day,  meaning if you were in the wrong regen at the wrong time you may have to wait 20 minutes before continuing on. At first we thought this was a slightly odd approach to re-spawning, however when you consider solid fast paced gameplay for a total of 12 hours a forced 20 minute breather is handy asset. We did notice a few teams taking longer breaks, ourselves included for lunch, and with the time frame it’s totally understandable.

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All of the objectives were pre-determined at timed intervals, and were available to both teams, which meant that the opposing teams came face-to-face more frequently than not. With shifting Regen Points changing throughout the day you never really knew where the opposition would appear from, to me that’s an aspect I really enjoyed as it honed your ability to responsibly look for the ever-constant threat and put caution in your decision making. We understand this is their usual style of play for what they call combat missions, being from the MAC we play different rules so it’s a nice addition to try something else. It can be definitely safely said that you’re never looking for something to do; each team having to objectives every hour over a 12 hour game leaves you feeling as if you’ll never complete everything, however with good inter-team connectivity and a good whallop of effort its attainable.

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photo courtesy of Land Warrior Airsoft

The command structure was based around members of Stirling’s team, from what we could gather from brief chats on the walk to Regen with Steve and Dom, each callsign was a mix of Stirling players who on the green side (Caucasian Front) were under the comms moniker ZULU. Regular SITREP’s were requested along with intermediate takings to keep positions and objectives topped up with bodies and what really struck me throughout the game was the professionalism over the net. There wasn’t any high grade, satellite connected comms stations with code functions…just normal guys using basic but perfect radio procedure. It would be hard to describe to anyone who hasn’t served or played airsoft a LONG time to understand this but nothing is more irritating than weak drill on the net. For this point alone Stirling’s events will always be top draw…and we haven’t even touched on their ground capabilities and individual gameplay.

You never saw a marshal, that came as weird. What was even weirder was that when you did need one they were behind you or around a corner waiting to see what was occurring. I can only assume that over a separate net there was a lot of communication into exactly what was going on and points of interest. They handled themselves with a firm but fair approach and if you were being out of place they won’t pause to tell you. In my opinion, I can’t obviously speak for others, but Stirling had the best marshalling I have encountered since getting into airsoft nearly 7 years ago.

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The event wasn’t as successful in the MAC’s ambitions as we’d hoped; the Tan (Russian Alpha) side were aggressive and top notch, apart from a few instances but you could spend years trying to prove things so there’s no point dwelling on spilt chips. Although we may not have won the event, I think we took home an experience that was a lot more valuable in regards to “getting a victory” and the more the dust settles on the weekend the more things I noticed. What was appreciated more than anything is Steve and Dom (I would mention others but we didn’t get names) that personally thanked us for our efforts. We pride ourselves on being good, honest and hard-working players and to see that being noticed and commented upon was a highlight to the weekend, so much so it’s hard to find a reply… so hopefully they’ll read this at some point and realise I was too hooped to put a valid response. From all of MSOG2518 a.k.a. the MAC, we’d like to say again thanks for having us and putting on a top weekend and I’m sure we’ll touch bases again in the near future.

I’m going to say for an event, a solid option for the Manx teams. Would recommend to a few, may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I’m sure if you don’t like this sort of thing then you wouldn’t book anyway. Me however, I’ll definitely be back.

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(STICKMAN)
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