Picture this… it’s 3 am, pitch black and you are currently deep in army training facilities specifically built to mould some of the best warriors on this planet. All day long you’ve been taking objectives, defending VIPs from enemy advances and emptying magazine after magazine into your enemies. You’ve finally got back to the regen zone to catch a few hours of sleep only to continue the assault in the morning. You are tired, most likely hungry and depending on the weather circumstances, probably a little cold. You’re just about to nod off when in the dead of silence you hear the familiar rustle of feet and gear rattling together, rapidly advancing towards your building’s front door. “3….2….1… Go, go, go!” The silence is shattered by blank firing grenades and the sound of BBs cracking off the surrounding walls whilst you scramble out of your sleeping bag to grab your rifle and return fire. Sounds like fun? You’re goddamn right. This. is. Milsim!
In this article, you will find everything you need to know about attending a milsim operation. So let’s start with a little bit about what “milsim” actually is. The word “milsim” has been abbreviated from “Military Simulator” which in full is quite self explanatory – a simulation of military experience. Depending on who is running the event it can become very intense and/or regimented. Therefore, my first advice to anyone looking to participate in an operation is to shop around and have a look at what events are planned in your country and who is in charge of them. Most events provide a “Storyline” of sort in the booking section so have a read through and make sure you choose the one that interests you and whoever you might be going with. A couple of great organisations I can suggest in UK are ‘Stirling Airsoft‘, ‘Brit Tac Events‘ and ‘Contact Front‘.
Usually there are between two and three factions in milsim operations -home army, opposing forces and resistance group. Sometimes even more teams face each other. Usually each team is asked to wear specific military clothing for example a specific type of camo, i.e. multicam, tan only etc. Bare this in mind when you are booking an event and make sure you have to correct gear, if you don’t wear the correct gear on the day some organisations will turn you away or not let you play. The resistance group, in my experience, usually consists of a variety of camos and is specifically distinguished by wearing a coloured shemagh. What you need to wear will be specified in the rules section on the event’s website.
So why milsim?
Milsim is a totally different atmosphere and has a regimented structure in comparison to your more traditional skirmish; often can be a lot more intense with less breaks and pauses. It’s a lot more task and team orientated and isn’t for the faint hearted to say the least. It is more suited for experienced players that want a bit more realism and structure to the game we love and play.
Attending your first milsim can be quite a daunting thought if you have no previous military or much airsoft experience, it can feel like a minefield of the unknown with all the things you need to think about that you wouldn’t usually on a Sunday skirmish. I’ve seen people over pack as if they are going away for months and seen the opposite where people take next to nothing with them and they are left in a bit of a pickle over the weekend.
The best thing to do is write down a list the necessities – I will leave my list at the bottom of this article, starting with the less obvious things like toilet roll and toothpaste. If I have learned anything over the years of doing milsim, it’s this – TAKE BABY WIPES! They are a godsend when showers are unavailable. In terms of food, I personally take ration packs with me. I’m not going to sugar coat this – they don’t taste of much however they are high in calories which is great for energy levels. Plus they are fairly easy to get hold of at most army surplus stores. Most stores will supply the 24hr packs alongside the mini stoves that are needed to heat them up, bundled together at a fair price. Click here to find see a selection of ration packs. There might however be food on site which is always good for warm drinks and food – do check ahead of the event to know what to expect.
If you are playing throughout the winter months or in case the weather takes a turn for the worse, I always recommend you pack a set of waterproofs. No matter what season, do it just in case. There is nothing that can bring the mood down quite like being drenched to the skin. Though if you don’t have any waterproofs, at least take another set of clothes with you to make sure you are covered, you can change into these at base. On the opposite side of the spectrum, warm weather may make a game more enjoyable on the whole but being prepared for a hot day is equally as important. Make sure you stay hydrated regardless of the temperature to ensure your weekend isn’t ruined by dehydrating yourself into a raisin. This can be as simple as taking a water bottle with you, but if you want a slightly more elegant solution I would recommend a water bladder. These will easily slide into your backpack and will come with a short pipe that makes staying hydrated that much easier and accessible without having to take your backpack off. Check out the selection of water bladders amazon has to offer.
What will you need to take?
The next most important thing you’ll need of course is your gear, everyone as you’ll probably already know has different setups for the way they like to run, however your everyday skirmish loadout may not make the cut for milsim. For example if you go with two magazines and a speed loader you will see yourself back at regen quite a few times throughout the day which is not where you want to be. Where you want to be is right in the middle of the firefight taking objectives with the rest of the team. With that in mind, my advice would be to try get yourself a plate carrier or a backpack of your choice where you can add a few pouches or carry more equipment than usual so you can spend hours outside your forward operating base (FOB) taking the fight to the enemy.
My advice would be to carry at the very least five magazines and a 400 round speed loader with you or the equivalent of around 1000 rounds on you at all times. I would even suggest a full BB bag in a pouch or your backpack at any one time to keep you going throughout the day. It’s worth being mindful of the rules the organisation has in place as they may not let you run hi-cap magazines and instead only mid-caps because you are supposed to be simulating military conditions. So once again, remember to pay attention to the the rules and regulations before entering and attending a milsim event and pack accordingly.
A really important thing that often gets missed is a good pair of boots. Although these are sometimes overlooked as important, take my word, a quality pair of boots will keep your feet from having a soggy day, or weekend for that matter whilst protecting your ankles from any breaks or sprains. Keep in mind you will most likely be running on uneven terrain throughout the weekend, therefore it’s a good idea to decrease the risk involved as much as possible – the more prepared you are, the better.
Subsequently, you are going to do a lot of running at varied paces and often you might have to rapidly change direction or dive for cover. You have to remember that the ground is never going to be perfect, there are lots of opportunities to roll your ankle. So it is absolutely vital that you get boots with good ankle support, and I recommend you also ensure they are waterproof as they will leave your feet nice and dry throughout. If you can afford it, I would recommend getting yourself a pair of Lowa Mountain GTX, they are on the expensive side mind you, but they are built to last, with reviews stating people have had them for 10 years with constant use and still going strong.
From experience, what I always make sure to pack is a mesh face mask. I know they aren’t everybody’s thing and I’m aware milsim airsoft sites can be very open at times but you will most likely find that objectives or points will all be won and lost by holding or taking buildings. This puts players in situations where the most pivotal fights often include hard close up fighting. I don’t know about you, but I would rather keep my teeth intact in exchange for a little discomfort. Another idea that has become more popular recently has been using mouth guards so players can keep their “look” while being protected. Mouth guards can be found in most sports shops nowadays, and are used in other sports such as boxing.
A common misconception about milsims I have found throughout speaking to other airsoft players is that they are led to believe Night Vision Goggles (NVGs) are a must for night time play. Although this can be a great asset to have during night time raids and sneaking while remaining undetected, don’t feel for a second you need to go out and spend £3000 on night vision goggles. Especially when you can spend £30 on a good torch with a pressure pad and pop it onto your rifle and subsequently still be an effective asset to your team. Most sites require a torch for night time play, for me and a lot of milsim players I know a torch is a necessity either way whereas night vision goggles are more of a desire. You will struggle to put up a good fight during night time if you don’t at least have a torch, I fully recommend investing in one if you’re thinking about attending a milsim event.
What weapons are best suited?
Now we have covered the basics that will guide you through a milsim, let’s talk about your rifle. If you can take a back up replica, take one. Too many times I have seen people just bring the one rifle to an event and for some reason it has malfunctioned and they were left with nothing. Fortunately, most of the time somebody around will have a spare one to lend to you, but on the off chance that no one does, you’re stuck in the middle of a weekend game with no weapon. So unless you fancy running around throwing BBs at people all day, I suggest also take some tools and replacement batteries just in case you need to do some work on the fly. I’m aware not all people are comfortable with taking their rifles apart, therefore another preventive measure would be to book it in for a service/check-up before the milsim event with a certified technician to make sure your rifle is in tip top condition. I’m also aware this will not cover you for accidental damages such as breakages and so on, which is why it’s always important to be mindful of your AEG. Also jumping through windows seems like a great idea at the time, let me speak from experience, it’s not.
Like the rest of us, you will probably want to make the most of your weekend by bringing a silly amount of pyro to use, and by all means do so, it’s great fun and also makes the experience more exciting for other players around you. However, be aware different milsim organisations running events might have various stipulations on what pyro and gauges of blanks you can use on the site. I’ve found over the years, specifically more recently, the organisations that are running these events are wanting participants to buy their pyro from their sites. It’s always best to ask before hand to save you the heartbreak when you get there. As for your ammunition, it’s hard to gauge on how much to take in total but it’s always better to take more than you think you need so you’re not left without BBs. Sometimes there may be a stall on site with bits and pieces you will need throughout the weekend, but again this may or may not be the case so it’s better to be on the safe side and get what you can before you head to the event itself.
What I have found over the years throughout playing airsoft and my military experience is that the fitter you are the easier and more enjoyable the weekend will become. Although fitness is an important aspect of airsoft, it’s widely disregarded within the airsoft community, however, it does make your life a lot easier come game weekend.
What I recommend doing in a few months leading up to the event is to engage in cardiovascular exercises such as jogging, cycling, swimming or even a brisk walk if your current fitness level isn’t up to scratch. If you want a couple of other exercise suggestions made with airsoft in mind, click here to read the section about getting in shape in our other article. With that said, giving your absolute 100% is imperative to having a great weekend. During my first experience of a milsim operation, I remember holding back due to the unfamiliar environment we were playing in. It was only when I got home after the event I was left wishing I had given more for the team, so to leave you with a quote: “The only things you regret are the things you don’t do.” Go all out!
Above all, go out, play hard, make friends, and have some immense fun and I will hopefully see you on the field somewhere!
- Relevant camo
- 2x rifles
- Combat kit (plate carrier, radio etc)
- Pyro and BBs
- Tool kit
- Eye protection and face protection
- Food and water (24hrs worth)
- Toothpaste / toothbrush / baby wipes / toilet roll
- Sleeping bag
- Extra cash (just in case)
- 100% effort, a good attitude, and a will to win
Written by Mark Ramage
Edited by Garlen Saldanha and Kamil Turecki