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Airsoft-Ed

Review: Free Fire Zone

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First of all I'm going to start by saying that this was my worst day of play in over a year, I got 3 or 4 hits in the entire day, fired less than 150 shots and got killed about 80 bajillion times.

It was like being the US during Vietnam, I didn't know the site, the regulars were more used to the terrain, my gear's weight and ammo limitations were far more of a handicap than usual. I didn't enjoy myself much at all and I was knackered after just the first game.

However, that doesn't mean I can't stay objective about the site.

The things I liked about the site:

The site itself. If you want to go to a woodland site, you're not going to get anything more 'woodland' than FFZ. It's 70 acres in size, all the games allow you to use the entire site for gigantic flanking manoeuvres and the level of shrubbery and trees make camo and concealment a key factor in play.

The style of the games, objective based games in the morning, with one full afternoon game after lunch.

The afternoon game involved all players being given a map of the site (which I could've really done with in the morning) and a list of objectives on the reverse side, with times in which to complete them by. Fantastic plan and players were left to fend for themselves and approach the objectives in the way they saw fit.

There was a proper burger van for lunch.

The things I didn't like all that much about the site:

It's not very easy to get stuck in on your first visit. The woodland is immensely dense, I've never played in a woodland as dense before in my time airsofting. This makes it very hard to navigate without getting lost and maps weren't provided until the afternoon.

Game briefs were done separately for each team, in separate locations. Which is fine if you've been before, but for the morning games the objectives all revolved around finding your way to the enemy base with an objective item, in a capture the flag style scenario. Great game idea, but because the teams were split for the brief, I didn't know where the enemy team's base was, to take the objective to it. I could have never won. I knew the direction, but that was it.

The rules, they're weird. Blind firing is allowed, but BFGs and pyros bought externally are not, because there're "too loud". So they're safety conscious about people's ears, but not the risk of being full auto'd from 3 inches away because someone blind fires without realising there's a person there? Pretty backwards safety policies imo. There is no bang/surrender/courtesy kill rule either, they encouraged you to shoot people "twice" in the leg even from point blank range, instead of simply asking them to surrender. Bit stupid in my eyes, especially highlighting you do it twice, when it takes one shot to take someone out, what was up with that?

There were no breaks whatsoever, meaning no allotted time to rearm. From the end of the brief we were out gaming solid until lunch. Lunch was the only break to sort kit out. Then we were back in it from lunch until the end of the day. Again, getting lost happened fairly often and I didn't want to not be able to find anyone again, so I was left stuck in the field, scared of opening up on anyone for fear of running out of ammo and being stuck out with nothing to shoot anyone with.

The safezone - We were working out of our car, which isn't that bad, but it's nice to have tables and chairs, and certainly shelter, I accept not all sites can afford it, but isn't FFZ owned and run by FireSupport? One of the 5 biggest airsoft shops in the UK.
Working out of cars removes a lot of the social aspect you get from games as well, which I enjoy just as much as the shooting. This lack of social interaction with other players not part of your own group was only compounded by there being no breaks, giving even less time to banter with the enemy.

They have a dead rag system in play, where everyone gets given a yellow ribbon which they're supposed to show when they're dead.
I fail to see the point in this, no other site I know of has a similar rule and a massive number of people didn't use them anyway. To me it just seemed to give the regulars an excuse for lighting you up when you were obviously dead, 'cos they could just moan at the marshal saying you didn't have your sock out.
Similarly, if you got lit up and moaned to a marshal, they'd say you should have had your sock out.
To me, this whole yellow sock system seemed to just be a way for the marshals to not have to bother policing overkill, it was made out that overkill was the fault of the victim, when actually it was the fault of the shooter, doing the overkilling, as it always is. I saw the rag rule as the site's "get out of jail free" card, for when it came to complaints of overkill.

Rags? They're just not needed. It's pointless hassle.

The site is massive and they only operate regen rules. No medics. If you have a lot of kit you'll be knackered after you've died the first time because you have to walk 500m to regen and back, every time you die. Medic rules would've made the day considerably better.

Final gripe, and it's a very very minor one. Team colours. Red and Blue. Marked with thin electrical tape.
Blue is very hard to see through shadow and there were a lot of friendly fire incidents. Some thicker tape and maybe using yellow as the colour instead would cause a lot less problems. But then, yellow is the colour of the pointless rag sock things, isn't it? <_<

Additional points:


I still can't decide what I thought about the marshalling. I think they were quite hasty to tell people to shut up, which I would generally accept, but I read the delivery of quite a few instructions as being quite rude. You are marshals, you're not our teacher for the day. Yes we pay to be there, but we aren't dogs.

I didn't see much marshalling take place on the field, I just tended to see them muttering at each other through radios from opposite ends of the site. Though there was a spot check with the chrono which I thought was nice. Concerns for cheating like that are appreciated by me.

Aside from that, the site is pretty much what you make of it. I admittedly, didn't make much of it because I was too tired to properly enjoy myself, which is no one's fault but mine.

I think the site would be perfect for milsim events, especially around Autumn once the woodland clears a bit and all the bloody nettles piss off. The site has a very Vietnam feel to it I thought. So maybe a Vietnam or WWII weekend event would be sweet too.

That's all I can think to say for now guys, if you've been then feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments below.


All in all, I think the £15 walk on fee is fitting for what you get, based on my experience. I imagine if you're used to, or become accustomed to woodland of that density, you could probably pull off some pretty freakin' epic guerrilla style tactical shit, especially considering the freedom to use the whole site.

On a personal level though, I don't think I'll be making a return trip. I like my clear lines of sight too much. Not for me, sorry.

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I'd have to agree about not being all that informative (even I was slightly lost at one point)

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Nice review, sums it up pretty accurately actually, that's how I felt my first time there was. But, as it's one of my local sites, I know it well enough to know the good spots and roughly what's where and what's going on.

 

About there being only one break, at lunch, I prefer that, because you'd spend at least 10-15 minutes walking to the safe zone and back again between each game.

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Nice review, sums it up pretty accurately actually, that's how I felt my first time there was. But, as it's one of my local sites, I know it well enough to know the good spots and roughly what's where and what's going on.

 

About there being only one break, at lunch, I prefer that, because you'd spend at least 10-15 minutes walking to the safe zone and back again between each game.

 

Do they ever run medic rules though? 'Cos I think with medics saving you the walk back to regen, you could play more or less the same amount of time anyway. I felt like I got less out of the day than I usually do, and I'm fully used to breaks between games. Often sites will ask people if they need to rearm and go from there, not just carry on regardless of half the team having no ammo...

 

It's just a very odd way of doing it. I've never been anywhere that's run games with no breaks for the entire game before. At least not without giving you prior warning. It's like they just expected everyone to know everything about the site before they arrived. It's alright in the afternoon when it's a full scenario game because that's more milsim-ish. But I think the site would play better with medics, ammo restrictions and better marshalling. The lack of medics and the afternoon "work it out for yourself" scenario all just struck me as ways for the marshals to slack off. I even found them all at the compound towards the end of the last game, just sat there having a chat.

 

John strikes me as a gigantic tosser as well, very blunt and rude and his voice just grinds on me.

Plus, if he's the same guy who techs for Firesupport, then he must think everyone is thick, because he tried to suggest me using Blasters instead of Excels is what was accounting for the 200fps drop I was seeing in one of my site's L86s...

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Not on normal game days they don't, not sure about MilSim events though, never been. They do Vietnam era ones and regular MilSims at the site, would be good, but I've never been.

 

They usually do mention it, I've never been to a site that has breaks between games, so I expect to have to make my ammo etc. last half a day wherever I go.

I didn't see as many gun rentals as usual, so I think they kinda assumed everyone knew what was going on.

 

I have no idea who you would have spoke to at FireSupport, might have been John.

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completely agree with your review Ed, I hate going to FFZ now, I much prefer MAW and UA (for urban) trying out 'The Embassy' in Sept

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I just go because I can get free games by helping clean up UA

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My local site. Has rules yoy might enjoy ed. They do play an afternoon and morning game but thats clearly stated. They have the medic rule but if you cant be then you have to walk back like 30m wait a min or two or if a marshal is near he will tell you when to go back in. I have never run out of ammo and i take 6 mids out with me.

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Where's that? Shadow Opz? Location?

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no where near you mate, yer its shadow Opz. in dover in kent. the site would be awesome but for the lack of players player facilities at the safe zone. by lack i mean there basically isnt anything lol

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