Airsoft radio - life hacks for in-game communication
Tips for using the radio in shooters
Efficient radio communication very often determines that one of the teams dominates during the airsoft game. This is a long-known truth. However, to this day I encounter situations where people take communication equipment, but do not use it or do it in a suboptimal way. It's a fact that as with everything, and with the radio, you need to practice a bit before you feel confident. But where to start? We will divide this article into two parts. In the first one, we will discuss how we can help ourselves with hardware. In the second one, we will focus on how to communicate more efficiently in the team when we are already talking to our device.
Although it is easy to succumb to the temptation of expensive equipment, my experience shows that even with a basic radio you can have fun. When looking for the right model, it is worth focusing on the fact that it should be equipped with a keyboard, which significantly facilitates the selection of the broadcasting frequency in the band. In addition, it is important to maintain a certain radio communication etiquette, which will be discussed later in the article.
Radio hardware setup
Find your kit. Unfortunately, buying a radio is not everything. Most often, we need a few other elements for efficient communication. Headphones, microphones, PTT buttons are the most common elements and they come to mind first. However, we must not forget about the pouch in which our radio will be hidden or about some way to route the wires. This complicates matters. In addition, it is difficult to propose a universal solution. Much depends on whether we use a helmet, hat, or mask. In fact, most of the equipment sold by airsoft stores fulfils its role and it really depends on our preferences what we choose.
Good to have a spare. Unfortunately, communication equipment can be unreliable. We can forget the battery for the headphones or damage the cable by weaving it through the vest. It is worth taking a spare headset for such situations. I use the kit that comes with my radio from the factory. It is always in the backpack and has helped me or my friends in a difficult situation more than once. They may not be the best quality, but they will work when there is no alternative.
Baofeng radios are sensitive to the size of the plugs. Do you know it? You bought a new PTT button and headphones. You want to plug them in and check everything before the game briefing and it turns out that you can't be heard, even though you can hear your colleagues' announcements. Or everything seems to be properly plugged in and the headphones remain mute. It is then worth checking whether our plug is plugged in deep enough. I know this from Baofeng UV-5 series products. We press the PTT plug firmly with our hand and then it works. When we let go, the problem reappears. Then it is worth shortening the plug a bit as in the photo below. This will allow for a more snug fit in the socket and should solve the problem.
Do we need all the things sticking out of the radio? Sometimes radio pouches are tight. Or we put them in the magazine pouch. In such a situation, we are often disturbed by the cover of the headphone jack. If you have a radio like the Shortie from Specna Arms described some time ago, you can unscrew this cover. I just cut it off on other radios. It is rarely needed and more often just a nuisance. In addition, a good protection against accidental switching off the radio is to remove its plastic switch and volume knob. Maniek44 showed me this trick. We hide the knob if it is needed and the protruding element of the potentiometer is so small that it will not twist by rubbing against tactical equipment. At the same time, we still have the option of adjusting it with our fingers.
It is worth having rubber bands with you. Do you know in the pictures such beige rubber bands that soldiers have attached in different places? They're called ranger bands. You can often get them in airsoft or military stores in whole packs. It is worth having something like this braided on the straps of our tactical vest or equipment belt. They help in routing the wires. We can also use them to press the PTT plug into the radio. In a situation where our headset breaks down and we don't have a spare, we can even attach the radio to the harness and use it for listening without headphones. It may not be an elegant solution, but it works. In addition, in such a situation, it is worth turning the radio with the screen facing your body, which minimizes the chance of being damaged by a BB.
Masking tape is not only useful in renovation. If you are like me, sometimes you change your hardware configurations depending on the game you are going to play. Often, when organizing wires, for example from the radio, we secure them with insulating tape. In my experience, this is not an ideal solution in this situation. When we want to change something later, it is difficult to unstick the tape, and cutting it exposes the cables. The paper masking tape can be torn, which makes it easy to get rid of it when you want to change the configuration. On the other hand, it sticks well enough that it should not damage itself.
Radio savoir vivre in airsoft
The radio needs to be tested before the game. One of the common mistakes that I notice and that I sometimes make myself is that we test the completed communication set only in the skirmish. Half the problem if we do it before check-in, for example when unpacking. Then there is still the option to take spare headphones from the backpack or borrow something from other players. Worse, if we do it after we go out into the field. This may seem inconvenient, but it's best to check that everything works before you play. I often borrowed a radio from my friends and having two I could test solutions even with household members. Nothing stands in the way of meeting airsoft friends during the week and checking how the radio works. The most convenient is, of course, to have two walkie-talkies. It's important to know that the headphones and microphone we have for the radio work before going to the game.
Use codenames. If there are three Adrians in the team, we can be surprised when we call them by name. It would seem that everyone has a nickname by which friends define him. However, I have encountered situations where I heard a name on the radio and then asked "which one" from several people. If you don't feel creative, give yourself codenames from letters of the NATO alphabet or numbers, or use school names or nicknames. It is important that communication is efficient.
First think, then press, then speak. I forget about it myself sometimes. However, often the radios have interference, are quiet, or simply the people we are talking to are exchanging fire and do not have enough divided attention to decipher the sonnet we wrote them. It's always a good idea to create a message in your head first. You have to be critical and simplify your statement as much as possible so that it is as understandable as possible. Only then do we press the PTT button and here it is also important. It is worth waiting a moment before we start speaking, which avoids interrupting the sentence. Then, after finishing the speech, we release the PTT button only after a while. Thanks to this, the radio message will not lose its ending and we have a better chance of being understood. It's hard to remember that, especially under the influence of strong emotions, when, for example, we notice an opponent, but it's important. Forming a sentence in your head before you say it is also very important. Saying "the enemy behind the tree" when everyone is in the woods is not really revealing anything. Let's consider whether it is possible to indicate landmarks. Is it worth indicating the direction using the hourly orientation? "The opponent behind the fallen birch at 13 o'clock" is a much better message.
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