Welcome back fellow airsofters to another edition to the Going Commando series! Today we are talking coms, signals, radios. Radio communication in airsoft is not as necessary as most would like to think. It falls more under the category of accessory; However given the opportunity to use a radio device, if used properly it can be a potent tool for extended communication and updated battlefield space awareness.
“Go beyond merely communicating to ‘connecting’ with people” – Jerry Bruckner
Radio communication is often over-underutilized or used in an unproductive manner in airsoft. Too frequently do we use it to call out arbitrary enemy positions with little effect or relaying useless information. The primary concept of the radio is long-range communication or “out of the line of sight”. The idea of using a radio boils down to constantly being in direct connection with others. If used effectively it can greatly enhance a team’s capacity to perform complex tasks and extended communication seamlessly keeping friendlies up to date.
Types of Radios
In the world of airsoft, we have a plethora of options for radios. The most common being simple Motorolla walkie talkies or Walmart radios, however, the preferred radio seems to be the baofeng UV5R programmable radio. The baofeng UV5R offers a lot of accessories for customization from longer batteries, extended antennas, headset options, but also the ability to program channels at the fraction of the cost of military-grade combat communication equipment – and a fraction of the weight. The baofeng is also ironically one of the better civilian radios you can use for airsoft. I use two and have owned them for years, they are fantastic quality radios for BBwarZ. Given if you can own them in your country- some countries have deemed programmable radios illegal, or legal with a license. That being said you should respect the airwaves and use CIVILIAN legal channels and avoid making your own, this can land you into some serious trouble.
The use of antennas can be a great advantage if you need to extend your range for transmitting or receiving. However for the use of airsoft, it’s very debatable for events such as MSW, American milsim, Crossfire, it can be a very helpful assist when dealing with long distances. Depending on the needs you may only need a simple short antenna or a simple while style. I use two varying lengths of Bladed whip style antennas. For convenience, they fold down and can be extended at any time. These are particularly useful when in the thick brush of down a deep valley.
Exchanging messages over the radio sounds easier said than done, but let’s break it down in some basic military standards for the purpose of airsoft- aka Larping. Let’s start with radio phraseology used for the purpose of radio transmissions along with some military procedures to follow. These basics will help you and your team transmit messages more effectively and better protect your transmissions from opposing forces in the AO. It’s a safe assumption to assume someone NOT friendly is potentially tunning into your chatter.
When you want to start the radio exchange, first you must call out the friendly contact you wish to communicate with. To notify the friendly contact of your incoming message call them twice, using their call sign.
Example: Noir, Noir…
Then give your call sign.
Example: this is Schoolboy, OVER.
When you expect a reply, finish your portion of the message with the word “OVER”, like in the example above to indicate you are awaiting a reply.
If they do not respond to your hail call again but with a repeat in the message.
Example: Noir Noir… This is Schoolboy, I repeat, OVER.
If there is traffic on the air, use “BREAK, BREAK” to cut into the network. Only in case of an urgent or emergency message! Otherwise, wait until the line is clear.
Checking the Quality of transmission
It’s important to note you should check your gear accordingly beforehand, but weather and unknown factors may damage your radio equipment in the AO. If this is the case or if you discover interference during transmission just to confirm how your message was received you need to ask about the reception. In this case, you use “HOW DO YOU COPY?” or “HOW COPY?” for short. To ask about the general quality of the reception you can ask “HOW DO YOU READ?” beforehand fallowed by “OVER”. Use this in the case if your radio or a friendly contact’s radio is on the fritz.
There are two ways of responding accordingly. You may simply answer “COPY LOUD AND CLEAR” or (”LIMA CHARLIE”) or give the friendly contact indication of the signal quality by giving the rating from 1 to 5.
The ratings of numbers used in assessment over the radio:
1 = Bad (unreadable)
2 = Poor (readable now and then)
3 = Fair (readable but with difficulty)
4 = Good (readable)
5 = Excellent (perfectly readable)
Example: “COPY 4 by 5, OVER”
Repeating a message
In the Unlikely chance, you may be distracted by a secret squirrel or experience interference you will probably have to let your friendly contact know the need to repeat their message, by using “SAY AGAIN.” You can also use this when repeating vital information to reinforce the urgency without it being misinterpreted.
Likewise, when you want to stress the importance of the message or simply make sure that important information gets through, you can use “I SAY AGAIN” and repeat the message accordingly.
Example: Objective secure, I SAY AGAIN, Objective secure.
When communicating over the radio it is common to use single numbers for clear communication. For instance, you say “CHARLIE TWO-THREE” instead of “CHARLIE TWENTY THREE.” Additionally, to avoid misunderstandings two particular numerals are pronounced differently. This ensures your friendly contact can write down the numbers or clearly pick up each individual number to avoid confusion and misinterpretation.
Using Phonetic Code (NATO Style)
In the case of you needing to spell out a word of code over the net use a phonetic code preferably the NATO standard as it is the most commonly used code in Western countries and is one of the easiest to decipher via using the first letter of each word.
Overall when it comes to airsoft and all related matters of communication your best bet is to go with simple verbal calls, However radio communication can prove to be a potent system if used correctly and can greatly enhance your combative capabilities. Afterall communication is half the battle and creates good cohesion allowing any OP-force the capability of overthrowing another. Communication is the bases of your fighting tools and goes hand in hand with teamwork.
– Schoolboy out