Wednesday, March 28, 2007

It's Best To Be Prepared

Imagine....

Some intelligent people have realised that New Zealand is a possible platform for the takeover of Australia. (It might happen, no one scorned John Marsden for his 'Tomorrow' series!). In order to take over the country, terrorists have infiltrated the Beehive (Parliament Buildings) and are holding hostages. The SAS are busy saving the rest of the world, the armed defenders are at a sports tournament in Christchurch and the rest of New Zealand's answer to counter terrorism has come down with a malicious case of dystentry.
But all is not lost.

All over the country there are groups of civilians who are ready to step up to the mark, people who have practiced their tactical assult methods and are ready to move in as a cohesive group to save the day...

Okay, so I'm taking the piss, but be warned - this post is about die-hard fans of tactical war games. Incidentally some of them are my friends and I was given the oportunity to see for myself what they get up to 'of an evening.' I was asked by one of these friends to come along to a particular night in order to take photos as a 'non combatant.' (perhaps, a foreign correspondant - a war journalist?)
My friend's boss and workmates had shown a lot of interest in this RAM (Random Action Marker) and he had offered to take them through their paces for a night. They dutifully turned up to learn how to handle the weapons and go through some basic tactics. I arrived a while later after having hitched a ride with the rest of the group (also good mates of mine), who were to comprise the 'enemy party.'

To explain what I'm talking about here;
Think of paint ball. You know what paint ball is? A whole lot of work colleagues go to a field or forest, get dressed in overalls, pick up ungainly looking pneumatic plastic shooter thingys with a huge canister (hopper?) attached at the top for some big looking balls of paint. Then they run around the paddock trying to steal flags screaming things like "You go, I'll cover you!" And generally feeling very militant and something like the guys from Platoon.

To translate this to RAM. Take away the paintball guns and replace them with replicas, realistic replicas, of military weapons, replace the big balls of paint with small and speedy little rounds of paint encircled with a ring of metal for loading into a magazine (Which also go 'tink tink tink' as they are ejected out and fall to the floor - rather like spent brass rounds...). Take away the overalls and replace them with DPM - destructive pattern material (Camo) - sets of clothes, webbing and holsters. Take away the rectangular field designed to race from one end to another and replace it with an empty, two storey building late at night. Lastly, remove the 'capture the flag' scenario and put in place an 'enemy party' complete with hostage trying to hold their position while the good guys have to find them, eliminate them, rescure the hostage and get him/her back to HQ safely. Oh! And gung-ho shouts of martyrdom are left at the wayside. Genuine calls of "contact front!" "This room clear!" and "HIT!" are the order of the night. Please see an example of a typical player of RAM, detailed below.



The scenario was fairly simple. The team had to enter the building and find the terrorists, 'kill' them all without shooting the hostage and extract the hostage back to their HQ (the room they started in) without letting him get shot. In order to do this they had to make their way through some corridors, up the stairs, through more corridors with rooms to the side which might hold the enemy, to more rooms and back again.

Please bear in mind - it was eight o'clock at night, coming into winter - it was DARK in there! People had to switch on torches attached to the ends of the barrels of their weapons just to clear the nooks and crannies. I couldn't aim the camera - the digital screen at the back was blank, and the strength of the flash was not only amazing, but destroys any idea of how hard it was to see. I was stumbling up the stairs!


In the picture above, the team has made it up the stairs and through the maze of rooms to this large area. They know the terrorists are in the next room. If someone gets 'hit' they must walk five metres behind the last person in the group and come back before they may re-enter the game. Because these folk are new to the game they have been given this option of 'respawn' to help them out. In the next game which was played by the sportsmen themselves, there were no respawns, and some where 'out' after only five minutes in the game!

I like the next three photos a lot, because they are almost as good as the video would have been. It was really hard for me to get these shots. As I mentioned I couldn't aim the camera, not with the view finder, and not with the digital screen. Both only showed me shadow. The hostage is in the white shirt. As I stand at the top of the stairs, the team makes their way down, taking the hostage with them when MORE terrorists (who have snuck into the building behind them) open fire - directly up the stairs!


Arrgh!

Contact! Contact front!
Back up! Back up! Protect the hostage!

The team covers the hostage while their 'coach' opens fire (guns blazing?) on the hostiles


Finally there was a lull in gunfire and the team has a little time to collect their thoughts and their men as their coach encourages them and coaches them through their next moves. Fortunately a couple of more experienced members of the team snuck down the opposing stairwell and took out a couple of the terrorists. Now the workmates regroup. These two below are about to follow the hostage and the rest of the escort down the bottom of the stairs. They're a little more alert now!


Grrr!


A lurker (my term) at the bottom of the stairs

Finally, after a little more stress and shots fired, the team managed to get the hostage back to their own room. Their coach would not let up on them though - they had to clear that room too in case their were more enemies camped out there! The hostage had been hit - orange paint on his white shirt told the truth - but in the spirit of good fun and a fair go for first timers, it was declared a mere flesh wound.

In victory did they celebrate with the letting off of many rounds and the emptying of magazines into the walls and floors so that no others may come to harm from their weapons of local destruction.



I wish I had pictures of some of the bruises. Not from this game, which was relatively calm and controlled. I saw some terrible results from the next game. The work-friends had gone home satisfied, and my friends the regulars took on a team from a different club. These folk ran off different rules, and I understand they had bored out some of their weapons to make them go faster. I don't know how that works so don't ask. There were blood blisters and some very angry spots of grazed and broken skin, ringed by deep purple and angry red. I'm glad I don't play the game - I am happy enough with hockey.

It was certainly interesting and though I give my mates a bit of stick for their odd choice of recreation you have to give them credit - they work very hard at doing things properly, and have a pretty rigid concept of honour when it comes to calling out that they've been hit. So that was my introduction to RAM. I just have to resist the temptation of trying to join in!








Incidentally, has anyone noticed that it's been many years now since the Chernobyl Disaster and there are still no superheroes?

15 comments:

Maalie said...

Wow! Sounds like you had quite a night!

TCA said...

I hope they wiped their feet on the front door rug before they entered that house! otherwise they could have made an awful mess.

Ju's little sister said...

There are strict rules about what you can and cannot bring into the house.

Maalie said...

How's Plumpy?

simon said...

looks like a bit of fun...!!

Ju's little sister said...

Yeah, the boys seem to love it!

simon said...

hey did you hear how long David Hicks has got??? 9 months!!!
can you believe.... he pleaded guilty and they gave him 9 months....what a joke!

Ju's Mum said...

Oh my gosh - how do we know this was a game ?? It maybe the "real" training ground ? I would never have been able to envisage what was ahead for my beautiful "pink and white" baby all those years ago !! Bet Plumpy doesn't know. Best David Hicks doesna't find out ....

Ju's little sister said...

that's 'justice' for you.

Mum it's not as though I was taking part - I was just helping out by taking some photos for them. It would be like taking photos of a rugby game. In fact I would say the sport is safer than rugby.

simon said...

perhaps hicks was a spy? ooohhh! theres a thought!

Maalie said...

We want Plumpy! We want plumpy! We want Plumpy!

Plumpy said...

I'm sleeping!

simon said...

yes where IS all the blogging Ju's??

Ju's little sister said...

Team, I'm really sorry - I have been on a course these last few weeks and I only want to come home and sleep at the end of the day. For the first time - ever, I think - I have spent all the working day for four weeks straight in front of a computer screen. This is very anomolous for me and when I get home I haven't been too keen to get in front of ANOTHER screen!

Full credit to people who work in an office!

Plumpy has been quiet as his life had been rather mundane, and I have been battling to find the inspiration. Rest assured there is a bomb shell on the horizon which Plumpy is waiting to tell you about. Until then please be patient with me, and please forgive me. The dry spell won't last forever.

simon said...

ok! I don't blame you. I do not blog if i spend all day on the computer..rather walk or ride...

but looking forward to another post! :o)

oh! I have another blog called Bits.n bobs.....about walks, poisoning myself with insect spary, bikes etc...

:o)