Airsoft Tactics : Covering Fire
I see it all the time. One guy yells ‘Cover me!’ and then takes off running. The other guy pops out of cover and begins shooting as fast as he can.
Covering fire is more than one person yelling ‘cover me!’ and the other person opening up full auto on the enemy. What usually happens in a situation like this is the person being covered gets halfway to his objective at about the same time his coverman runs out of ammo. This leaves running man kind of exposed and in a lurch, a very lucrative target for the enemy who’s trigger finger is starting to itch and is wondering why autofire boy has stopped.
Reloading does NOT intimidate the enemy or discourage him from shooting your partner in the giblets (or anywhere else he desires). Improper use of ‘covering fire’ can lead to excessive use of death rags. So how do you do it right?
Consider. In order to shoot the enemy you need three things:
1. You must know where the enemy is. Seems pretty basic, but in reality it is kind of pointless to suppress a building that is no longer sheltering the enemy.
2. You must have a target to shoot at, like an arm, hand, foot, head, etc. If the enemy is not going to expose something to shoot at then you can’t really hit and eliminate him can you?
3. You must have time to aim the barrel of your weapon in the general direction of the target.
If you deny the enemy any of these three things, OR he denies YOU any of those things then they (or YOU) are combat ineffective. Prey waiting for the predator. Lunch about to be served, chewed up and spit out.
The purpose of covering fire is to deny the enemy the ability to effectively shoot. Simple in theory, more difficult in practice since you do not have unlimited range, ammo and you might not know where all the enemy is at, or if you do, might not be able to supress their fire.
Covering fire has four primary uses
1. Suppress the enemy. This means discourage the enemy from firing accurately. It takes time to acquire a target and aim and if bb’s are hitting near him, he might not be willing to take that time. Accurate fire is what wins a fight, that is why Marines, Rangers, and other elite units consider marksmanship so important.
2. Prevent the enemy from firing. This is the ultimate goal of covering fire. If the enemy is so intimidated by your fire then you can move about with relative safety. You an stroll up and toss a grenade in his hole if he is so intimidated.
3. Force the enemy to move in a certain way. Shooting under a car is going to encourage the enemy to move to better cover where his feet won’t get shot off. By forcing your enemy to move to a different piece of cover you might get in a lucky shot and down your foe or you might force him to retreat to a position that is more exposed. If you keep bouncing rounds into a window he will look for another window to shoot out of and your sniper might be ready for him.
4. Confuse or distract the enemy from your activities and movement. If the enemy is too busy cowering from your volley of fire he is not likely to notice your friend(s) moving off to the side where he can get a better shot. Distracting the enemy with covering fire may give you more time to aim or get closer.
Here is where a calm, educated and thinking approach comes in. Regardless of what your overall goal is you want to keep the enemy from at the very least firing accurately while you or your buddies do their thing, REGARDLESS of what it is. Fire and Maneuver, Echelon assault, Close Quarters Assault, whatever, if you can’t immediately eliminate the enemy at the very least you can make him cower while you get into a position to do so.
This does NOT require an automatic weapon! It is all about intimidation. When someone yells ‘cover me’ or something similar, this should be the process :
1. Inform your buddies you are reloading if possible (or make sure your mag is full) then tell tell your buddies you are ready.
2. Begin the suppressing fire FIRST and then tell your buddy to “Go!” when the target is suppressed. Do not start shooting and then yell go because your buddy might run into a hail of enemy fire from an unsuppressed enemy who has just decided to try and suppress YOU. The shooter determines when it is safe and he has the target suppressed.
3. If you are running make sure you have selected your cover FIRST. Do not zig zag, it just slows you down and doesn’t work except at long ranges. Sprint to your next spot at max speed, do not admire the scenery or try to fire.
4. If you are shooting, suppress with the lowest rate of fire you can. Only increase the rate of fire if the enemy is not cowering obediently. This saves ammo, meaning you are more likely to have it when you need it.
5. Shoot into windows and doorways, especially when the BB’s will bounce around inside. There are three reasons for this, but be ready for the target to change windows.
a. You might catch someone as they peek out (try to avoid face shots if you can!)
b. BB’s bouncing around inside a room can be very intimidating and distracting, especially for amateurs.
c. Most people prefer not to stick their face into a high velocity BB or into a window that is attracting high velocity BBs.
6. Shoot something near the target that is noisy. This can be very intimidating. This is a reminder to the enemy that you can hit them if they appear. The loud smack of the BB is almost as important as the accuracy of it. Sometimes more so because they don’t know if you are being effective or not.
7. Shoot lower rather than higher. Ricochets can encourage someone to call themselves out and people will be more intimidated if they see rounds hitting in front of them than if they go overhead. The only exception to this is when you are out of range, then it is just amusing for the target and as luck will have it you are not always outside THEIR range.
8. Call out the location of the target very loudly. It tends to be very helpful for your friends and discouraging for the target because they will realize more people are closing in on them. They already know where they are at. The target will realize that more people are aiming in on his location and is more likely to fire or move. This can also cause the target to do something else which may be a mistake for him. On a side note this also advertises your position so be wary of enemy flankers or return fire.
9. Call out what your target is doing. Helpful for friends and distracting and discouraging for the target. This can cause the target to change what they are doing. Sometimes this is more of a benefit to the attacker because the defender is not sure if their new plan of action will work.
10. Movement draws fire. Unless you have plenty of ammo, don’t waste ammo by sending constant bursts into your target’s cover unless you have an ulterior motive (like extreme intimidation). Otherwise you will have to reload when it is most inconvenient. Only fire when the enemy does something you don’t like, like looking, should you shoot. Harrassing fire can also be used, random shots designed to try and catch the enemy looking.
Remember that covering fire is an Art and there are many ways to practice it. If you know what you are doing your buddies will really appreciate it. If you don’t know what you are doing then make very sure you haven’t lost your red rag because you and your buddies will be needing them.
It is easy to suppress amateurs but professionals will make it hard because they know what you are doing. Now you do as well. Good luck!
For more information, tactics and techniques see The Airsoft Bible: Book of Tactics http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1466449098/warcatslair
Bill Frisbee Aka Warcat
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The Airsoft Bible: Book of Comm : http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B005LG16NI/warcatslair