In airsoft, you will often find yourself in situations that require you to perform actions in rapid order. A CQB engagement, a rush into an enemy building, or a fast command decision while under enemy fire. We block out the rest of the battle when the situations present themselves so we can focus. This focus is not an issue. It gives you the ability to think quickly and look at a situation so you can come to a good, fast decision. The problem arises when you let this focus fuel your actions after that part of the mission is over. You get what is known as “tunnel vision”. Your focus is solely on doing the “next thing” and not taking in information about your surroundings. This can result in a lot of issues on the field. How do we regain our battlefield awareness? That is what I hope to show you in this post.
Step 1: Think
The first step to regaining awareness is to think about it. Remember that you need to be aware. You’ll notice in my battle videos that I often look around after I get to a position or after making a kill. This allows me to make sure that my surroundings are clear of enemy players and that I am not being out flanked. Often my process works like this:
1. Look for friendly and enemy players (in front of me, on my flanks, even behind me).
2. Shoot enemy players if they are with in range. If there are none, go to step 4.
3. Confirm kill (to insure that the enemy will not be firing back at me with out my knowledge).
4. Move into cover to prevent dying (move to a different position if needed).
5. Go back to step 1
You’ll notice that in step 1 I am taking in information about my surroundings. This is when I am most aware. I recon the field and use that information to make my next move.
In step 2 and 3, I am very focused. I have a much more limited awareness of what is going on. This is when I am most vulnerable to attack or being out flanked.
Step 4 is my opportunity to regain my awareness. I am able to find new cover and come back to my surroundings.
Step 5 is where my mental discipline needs to kick in. After the adrenaline surge of fighting the enemy, I want to react with “instinct” to make my next move. This can result in an untimely elimination. If you think about awareness at this step, you will have taken a big leap towards having better tactical gameplay. When you do it automatically, you will have reached the battlefield awareness goal!
Step 2: Be an Observer
One of the ways I hone my battlefield awareness is by being an observer. I often call out the position of enemy players or the direction they are heading. This allows me to practice my awareness and communication skills while helping my team. By being an observer you can help your teammates be prepared for enemy players and also have better battlefield awareness.
Step 3: Play in 3D
Airsoft is not a linear, 2D game. It has a multitude of options, positions, and players. Tunnel vision causes players to have a 2D approach. They believe there are only 2 options: either the enemy dies or I do. This black-and-white approach is not reality in an airsoft game. Airsofters who have battlefield awareness will look at the field in 3 dimensions. They will see that they can move away from an attack, switch to different cover, have more teammates come to their aid, etc. They will use their resources to fight back in creative and effective ways. They will remember that not every enemy player attacks from the front (and smart enemies almost never do).
Having this 3 dimensional mindset will also help you to recognize that threats can come from any direction and allow you to combat them effectively.
Battlefield awareness is a skill that takes a great deal of practice to become proficient at. Use the guidelines in this post to help you implement new steps to keep yourself mentally and physically aware and involved while at a game.