Are you serious about milsim? Then you should constantly be learning and preparing yourself for the next game.
Disclaimer: this article does not actually list 295 things!
For many, fitness seems like a lofty goal that is impossible to attain. The bottom line is this, if you do not participate in activities where you use your body to the level that you do in milsim, your body will not be prepared when you do need it. Fitness is a question of discipline. Do you have the discipline to stay active and not overeat?
Another misnomer is that you have to do a certain regimen to lose or maintain your weight. For those who cannot fit such a regimen into their lives, just do as much as you can. Long hours on the treadmill aren’t necessary here, a simple hike with a decent weight backpack can get your heart rate up enough to prepare you for a game.
Be Proficient With Your Weapons
All branches of the military cover weapon manipulation in their basic training courses. All require the recruits to be able to field strip their weapon, clean it and put it back together in order to keep in the fight. You need to know how to do the same. If doing so requires tools, you need to carry those tools in battle or at least keep them at your respawn point. Now I am not saying you need to open up your gearbox mid game but if a bb gets stuck in the barrel you should be able to quickly free the clog and get back in the fight. Remember, your team is counting on you.
Returning to marksmanship, fire your airsoft guns at normal engagement distances. Practice shooting while hiding behind obstacles and from various positions. Try shooting at a target while moving. Learn your limits, and improve on them.
Also become familiar with thrown weapons (mostly grenades). Know which ones cause bb strikes (kills) and which are just distraction devices. Learn how, when and when not to use smoke grenades. This is another reason it is important to know the rules of each game you attend.
Know Where You Are; All the Time
There is no point knowing how to fight if you can’t find the fight. You must master basic navigational skills. Learn the names for terrain features and how to use a map and compass. Keep both on you in game so you can find your exact position at all times even if you have never played at that field before. Yes, a GPS may speed up your ability to find your position but navigational skills you gain while learning how to use a map and compass will enable you to learn an area much quicker and get lost less and less.
Learn Basic First Aid
You don’t need any fancy skills or equipment (my first aid kit is very basic) but do learn how to deal with common outdoor ailments. Cuts, fractures, sprains, poisonous plants, snakes, insects, hypothermia, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are generally the most common. Learn how to diagnose them and stabilize an injured party. Your knowledge and ability to communicate the situation clearly to admins and medical personnel could save someone’s life one day.
Learn How to Stay Quiet
The most recognizable noise in nature is the sound of another human voice. You have no business speaking out loud unless the enemy has already pinpointed your position. Hand signals are sufficient for 90% of what needs to be said. If further information needs to be passed, use your radio or call your unit into a quick huddle and whisper it to them.
Other noises that are easy to pick out are those of bbs rattling, velcro ripping, zippers zipping, plastic creaking and metal clinking on things. Keep this in mind when you are putting your kit together. This is one reason why you should always wear your kit before using it. Jump up and down and roll on the ground. If you hear any noises, remove or modify the offending item.
Learn When Not to Use a Light
At night games it seems like every player straps 5 flashlights and 2 lasers to themselves. They then walk down a trail with one or both on and get angry when they get lit up by other parties waiting in the dark. Yes, I do carry a light or lights when playing at night. No, you will never see me use them in the field unless I am dead or in a safe zone. Most nights I am perfectly happy to navigate by the light of the moon and let other units have their lights. That said, there are times that a light is great to have (most of them occur in CQC environments). Learn when a light will benefit you and when it only makes you a target.
Learn How to Communicate
You need to be able to communicate with your teammates. Yes, talking is a great way to communicate but it is impractical in many parts of a game as it often breaks noise discipline. Because of this, we use hand signals and radios to communicate. Now, you should always be within eyesight of your unit. Learn some basic hand signals and get used to glancing at your teammates on a regular basis so they can talk to you with hand signals if need be. The radio is another great way to communicate. That said, it is NOT necessary for more than one person within a unit to have a radio because of the above rule (you should always be able to see the rest of your unit). The radio is used for speaking with people that you cannot see. It also requires more training than hand signals to use. This is because it requires you to speak and think differently. It also requires you to have a good handle on your compass directions. One must always use compass directions on radio.
Practice Personal Movement
This is a vague topic because it covers a broad spectrum. In a game, you need to be aware of how your body moves and how it looks to someone else. First of all, the human eye is attracted to movement. Just about every time I spot an “enemy” it is because they moved. Even slight movements like looking over at your buddy or wiping sweat off your face can give your position away.
Second, you need to know how to shoot from a concealed position. Practice this with a friend. Take up a concealed firing position and have your friend stand where the enemy would be and take a photo of you. You might be surprised how much of your body you are exposing to the enemy.
Finally, know how to move under fire. This includes running for very short distances, high crawling (hands and knees) and low crawling (elbows).
Learn How to Move as a Team Member
Master how to move as part of a unit. Learn what a sector of fire is and which sector everyone needs to take while on a patrol. Learn basic formations and patrolling techniques along with squad movements (such as bound and overwatch). Learn how to set up a solid defense, how to attack with an assault and support element and what to do if you get ambushed (these are called Battle Drills). Practice fighting in and around buildings as they demand a whole new layer of skills.
Notice that I say practice. Knowing what to do in a situation is great. Practicing that situation over and over until you simply react when that situation presents itself is what will keep you alive. Some time ago my team got together and practiced hitting the ground upon enemy contact. We set up ambushes and walked into them over and over in order to drill this practice into our heads. This instinct alone has saved me from a terrible plastic death on numerous occasions.
Learn Your Position
Play your position. If you are a designated marksman, don’t get up on the front line. If you are a support gunner, don’t try to blow up a tank! I have a couple guides on positions here on TMP with plans for a few more. These are good starting points.
Last but not least, continuously evaluate your performance. Did you really need every bit of kit that you carried? Should you have reacted a different way that time your unit got attacked? Turning each time you play into a learning experience will keep you in the growing mindset that you need to continuously get better.
Thanks to KDog Action Photography for the use of her photos.