MILSIM, or Military Simulation, is a word widely used nowadays in hobbies such as paintball and Airsoft. I am one of those MILSIM players who draw some much needed adrenaline out of it. I was WIA in Afghanistan and the only way I can find similar adrenaline rushes is by getting shot at with 6mm plastic BBs that fly at around 400-450 FPS.
While most soldiers in here will call me a “wannabe” because I love playing Airsoft, I am confident it sparks the interest of many to sign up and serve their country. Let’s take a few minutes here and remember when we were kids playing with plastic guns and running around the block pretending to be soldiers killing bad guys. It was cool, wasn’t it? Well, Airsoft is amongst one of the new generation’s way to play the same game.
Of course, Airsoft is restricted to players who are 18 years old and over, thus making it a bit hard to compare the old ways to the new, but let me tell you something – a lot of time and effort is dedicated by true MILSIM players to replicate the current and past world’s SOF teams.
For example, I run a team called Task Force Spartan that is based on a MARSOC impression. Most of our pictures are pixelated because of OPSEC issues for the soldiers and some LE officers. We don’t want to look “cool” by doing it but more like protecting the identity of our boys. Some of our pictures have been found on sketchy websites quite a few times, and we wish to not have our faces showed in there.
We have 15 guys in the team ranging from 19 to 40 years old. Out of 15, half the team is currently or has served in the Canadian Forces, and a few others work with law enforcement or SAR capabilities. I guess our full-time jobs don’t offer us enough trigger time.
As I said, true MILSIM players will spend countless hours doing research over the internet to make sure their gear is as accurate as possible. I am not even talking about the financial side of MILSIM, as there are players who own more than $15,000 of issued gear and equipment.
There are communities all around the world dedicated to different styles. While most of the more serious MILSIM team are focused on US SOF, some of these communities are coming from Sweden, Slovakia, Hungary, Germany, France, etc.
There is one I would like to point out – Development Team 6. These guys have teams all over the world and work tirelessly to replicate, as accurately as possible, the real DEVGRU operators. (This is where soldiers are throwing their beer at their computer screen, shouting at me…) Some will argue that these guys should serve their country instead of “playing” war, but most of the guys have professional jobs such as architects, engineers, lawyers and even doctors. It is their way to “live” their dream through a game in which they know they will have the opportunity to “respawn” and go back home once the day is over. Can we blame them for having fun? Not really, if you ask me.
I have been downrange in Afghanistan alongside the ANA and I am proud to say that I have started a kickass Airsoft team, more like a second family actually, with whom I have tons of fun while getting some “action.” Obviously, it is not the same thing at all, but it is fun! I often hear soldiers call Airsoft players “wannabes.” However, some of them are spending thousands of dollars on a gaming computer to play a SOF dude and blow some shit up sitting in front of his computer screen with a beer. While Airsoft is looked down on, at least the guys are outside and getting some PT done at the same time. Where’s the difference, honestly? Except one is keeping some sort of physical shape while the other is probably overweight and crying himself to sleep because of a serious case of LAZYNESS.
What do you think is better for the society in general between those two?
Airsoft is a great place to learn about gun safety, discipline, fieldcraft and even how to maintain your gear. It might be a game, but there are a lot of players who, after playing for a few years, decide to take the next step and enlist to serve their country.
We have a guy in our team who enlisted a few months ago and finished his basic training last week. The guy is a bit older than most of the recruits, being 28, and has more “life” experience than most of them. Nevertheless, it is Airsoft that really sparked his decision to join the Army Reserve to serve his country. All the experience he acquired by playing with serving members served him well as he finished the top candidate.
I can honestly say that Airsoft is an indirect recruiting tool and it really prepares the future recruits for the military life. I have been playing for 8 years now, and I can say that, while there was some real bad downtime in battalion, it kept me from leaving the military.
For some it’s a shame to see some Airsoft players replicating SOF teams. Can we really call this shame? I don’t think so! Most of these teams are truly “groupies” of these SOF teams and have the outmost respect for them. As I said, some of these teams will spends thousands of dollars to look like the real guys.
Let me be clear here, I am not from a SOF background, I served 14 years as a light infantryman. However, if someone who is serious enough and commits himself to be as real as possible within the Airsoft boundaries wants to replicate one of our teams, I would feel honored.
In conclusion, I have decided while writing this article that I will write a more in-depth analysis of what Airsoft can bring to the future generation of soldiers. I have seen guys who barely knew how to hold a rifle (Airsoft rifles are exact replicas of the real versions) and can now probably kick Costa’s ass, well maybe not, but you get the point! I will always support someone who decides to be a MILSIM player instead of a fat couch potato who throws his PS4 controller in his TV because he thinks it’s unfair.
I am leaving you here with a video I made from our last training, up to you to judge if Airsoft could be good or not to spark the players to do this for REAL…
(Featured Image Courtesy: Task Force Spartan Airsoft)