Bite The Bullet
Don't Mess With Texas (2002-12-17)That's a quote I hear often but embarrassingly enough, I had never been to Texas myself so the term always seemed a cliché for me. Operation Reindeer Games held on December 6 - 7th in Maypearl, Texas, presented an opportunity I could not refuse to see first hand how airsoft is played in the Lone Star state. The flight from Hong Kong totaled a mere 19 hours, including transfer in San Francisco. I had always figured that given how far south Texas was, the weather would be pleasantly warm for optimal playing conditions. I was dead wrong - and dead I nearly was had I not brought along extra clothing for my next stop in my home town - New York City.
Arriving at Dallas Fort
Worth International Airport (DFW) on Thursday, December 5th, we were greeted by
Rick Thurman of the Gaziger Scouts - a team that I had read about in the
second issue of FPS magazine. Maypearl
is actually located about an hour's drive away from DFW and during the drive,
it struck me how wide and flat Texas was - being able to see where the sky met
the land was quite a pleasant change from the vertical and cramped skyscrapers
of Hong Kong. Needless to say, the
air was also amazingly fresh.
With over 140 players
registered, the event promised to be an exciting one. The organizers had taken great pains to prepare sufficiently
for the event, and had arranged for several surprises (more on that later) that
would make Operation Reindeer Games more of a mil-sim operation that just a
The event was hosted on
private property with rolling meadows and a wide low-slung tree line.
Bushes and scrubs were ample to provide cover, as were the occasional
mountains of haystacks. There were also quite a few large fields where if you were
caught in the middle of it, very little cover was afforded within running
distance. The best strategy in this
case would be to simply drop down flat and hope for the best.
The playing area covered several adjoining fields separated by trees in
most cases. Several wooden
structures and bodies of water were also scattered throughout to add diversity.
Even before the game
started did drama ensue. One of the
game organizers was taken into custody the night we had arrived for questioning
by the FBI. Apparently, the clerk
at the local photocopy store were alarmed by the request to make copies of Op
instructions, which included touched up photos of event organizers and vendors
in middle-eastern attire and scruffy facial hair.
Suspecting a major international incident was about occur, the
clerk called the Feds and landed our man in the interrogation room for
several hours. The misunderstanding
was cleared up shortly and all that followed were jokes and chuckles. I was later told the FBI was very professional and very polite about the whole matter, despite their towering 6' 6" profiles.
The theme of the event
pitted 2 teams against each other: OpFor in desert camouflage and middle-eastern
garb versus BlueFor in woodland camouflage.
Three games were scheduled for the main day of the event - a morning,
afternoon, ending with a night game. Many
props were available to make the event more realistic, and many thanks goes to
Duckman for making an authentic nuclear suitcase complete with booby trap and
countdown timer, a infrared missile launcher, and various smoke grenade devices.
Duckman even built a model M134 Vulcan from common household
materials. The resulting model was
so realistic that from 5 feet away, it looked like the real thing!
I felt the nuclear suitcase was the most exciting - with its LED
readouts and numerous wires, opposing teams had to deactivate it during one of
the games. The count-down LED also
added an aspect of terror to anyone who saw this device.
Connected to some gunpowder in a large plastic bin, this "nuke" would
set off a huge sonic blast if tampered with.
Little did the poor players know that defusing would be a huge challenge,
requiring shorting two wires to bypass the booby trap before access to the main
circuitry is gained - and then cutting another 2 wires out of 10 identical
looking black wires, ending with holding down a button for 45 minutes.
This was one serious bomb.
contraption was the infrared missile launcher with built-in infrared device that
you aimed at a receptacle unit armed with a strobe light.
To set off the receptacle unit (the bomb), you needed to shoulder and aim
the launcher, press a button to fire. If
the strobe went off, that meant you nailed it.
I tried it and it proved to be a precision product - even a one inch
deviance meant the difference between a hit or miss. Very creative indeed
Many sponsoring vendors
were on hand to show their support for the game.
As in previous US operations, RedWolf Airsoft was on location with our
partner, The Q Project (based in California) to support the players.
Free baseball caps were once again available for all who attended.
FPS magazine was also on location to report on the event and to premiere
their third edition, which sports some interesting articles, more great
pictures, and improved layout.
The most exciting part of
the event was undoubtedly the kickoff, which required the OpFor and BlueFor
teams to man their respective starting points.
Courtesy of organizer Greg Spangle, a L39ZA fighter jet was arranged to
fly over the players to officially kick off the game.
I for one have never seen a fighter jet this up close and as
we (the OpFor team) posed playfully with our AK47's trained on our
"hostage", the sonic boom from the jet (capable of Mach 0.95) raised our
heads in awe. Signaling the pilot
with an orange smoke grenade, the jet made several turns looking for us before
finally locking our position to perform a total of four flyovers.
Altitude was amazingly low at several hundred feet - or close enough
that you could see the decals on the planes fuselage.
Each time the jet would make several rolls upwards into the sky after a
flyby ... very cool indeed. With
guns firing into the sky, the OpFor group began the game and ran off into the
tree line. Along with my fellow vendors who were not wearing any
protective eyewear and donned in clumsy (yet authentic) middle-eastern garb, we
retired back to the staging area.
A raffle event was held
during the lunch break and RedWolf Airsoft gave away a RedWolf Custom AK Sniper
upgraded to the max to lucky winner Dustin as pictured here. Our AK Sniper was fully upgraded to 500fps with Tasco scope, bipod, and custom stocks.
Watching from afar, the
opposing teams decked it out in full force with smoke grenades and exploding
Not content to have flown
10,000 miles to not get a single shot off, I joined the OpFor in the afternoon
game. Organizer Greg Spangle tossed
several of us into the back of his pickup truck and we were off to the insertion
point. Arriving a little early at
the point of the final showdown - an old house with windows shot out and doors
hanging off their creaky hinges - we camped out behind haystacks and waited for
the opposing BlueFor to arrive. Actually
quite pleasant with warm afternoon temperatures and a light breeze, I was
actually beginning to enjoy myself.
That, as it turned out, was the quiet before the storm.
All was quiet for about half and hour before we started hearing gunfire
beyond the tree line, and then we witnessed retreating OpFor members running
towards us. We turned back to greet
them but not before one of the OpFor members shot Mike Pentrack, editor of FPS
magazine, squarely in the back. Dressed
in a blue jacket, it turned out that they had mistaken Mike for a BlueFor U.N.
member, when he was really an OpFor member.
As the BlueFor numbers grew
around us, the front line was pushed further and further back towards the shack.
With the heavily outnumbered OpFor members dropping like flies, I held
the front line down with another OpFor member as more than 40 BlueFor troopers
in woodland camo closed in on our position.
Hiding behind a skinny tree with obviously no chance of winning against
them, I heard my team mate yell that he was out of batteries and out of BBs.
At that point, I decided to make my run of death and ran out into the
middle of the field, firing non-stop. With
my trigger finger pulled and locked, I kept my left hand on the auto-winding DFW
magazine to keep feeding the BBs. Spraying left and right, I tried to cover a 180 degree field
of vision in a feeble attempt to send the BlueFor troops retreating (not going
to happen). This lasted for about
half a minute and I estimate getting about six to seven players before getting
nailed myself in the head. It was
all in good fun!
Retreating back to the
shack, the game was temporarily stopped when an angry farmer declared that we
were trespassing on his property and demanded that we leave immediately.
It turned out that the demarcation of property was not apparent and some
of the players had strolled onto his part of land unknowingly.
Quickly corrected, we continued the battle as the OpFor team bunkered
into the shack while BlueFor members attacked in full force with smoke grenades
and all. Having given up, I watched
this spectacular scene from about 100 feet way.
Guns blazing and people screaming - I thought to myself this actually
felt quite real. Unknown to myself
at the time, a wide grin had crossed my face.
Pity my poor OpFor team-mates. We
didn't stand a chance.
Ending the day was a
demonstration by Pipers Precision Products.
Some of you may already have read the report on the M134 Minigun
co-developed by PPP and The Q Project. PPP
has not been idle and has come up with a couple more interesting products -
the Venom SMG and the Straffer. The
Venom as you see here is essentially a mini-gun in a portable package.
The rotating barrels are powered by a battery, which is installed in the
stock, while compressed gas is used to fire the BBs out at amazing rates.
Staff from PPP demonstrated this weapon on an old oil can and the results
were frightening. Finished in
highly polished chrome, this gun is a real looker.
Another interesting item was the Straffer, which was demonstrated in the black of the night. Fitted with a tracer unit, the Straffer is capable of shooting well over 100 BBs per second high into the dark Texas sky. The effect was similar to fireworks and the crowd watched in awe as many of these glowing BBs came back down at us seconds later, hitting us on our heads and into our gaping mouths.
Personally I had a terrific
time at Operation Reindeer Games and I look forward to attending another event
in the Lone Star state in the not-too-distant-future. On behalf of RedWolf Airsoft, I would like to extend our
thanks to the organizers of this event for running such an outstanding show.
Special thanks to Greg Spangle and Scott Cotton for making us feel
If you attended the event and have stories to share, share them in our forums.