How Russian Airsofters roll in the Karelian Night
Ok, so you roll in your milsim with a kit based off 1980s Spetnaz in A'Stan, or a WWII frontovik, or maybe even a modern MVD recreation right out of Chechnya. Well, for a look at what airsoft looks like in Old Russia (often termed 'strike ball' there), we give you the recent "Karelian Night" event.
What was Karelian Night?
Billed as the first international multi-day airsoft game in Russia, the name comes from the fact that the event was held in the Republic of Karelia, near the Finnish border in Northwestern Russia. The place is cold, dotted with thousands of lakes and rivers, and looks kind of like the Alaskan panhandle/U.S. Pacific Northwest, but is pockmarked by history, having witnessed more invading armies than you can document in the past millennia. The "Night" part of the title comes from the fact that it took place over a three day period during the famous 'White Nights.' Just in case you aren't sure what that is, the area is so far north that the sun just forgets to set for about three weeks in late June, and you can read a book outside at midnight without a flashlight.
It's in this historic and beautiful part of Russia, with a sun that is even too afraid to lay down, that a group of airsoft (we mean strike ball) clubs decided to converge on one of the 1600 small uninhabited islands that dot huge Lake Onega, just north of St. Petersburg.
Largely run by the "Wild Geese" of the Privatka Club, some 600-700 airsofters swarmed to the island for a non-stop three-day military simulation. This would entail an amphibious assault on a rogue corporation (Umbrella anyone?) who had developed a super weapon in their secret, and heavily guarded laboratory on the island-- far away from the control of any government.
Open to all modern-style groups (sorry, no WWI stuff here), there were milsim units set up as U.S. Army airborne infantry, Ranger, West German specops, Polish GROM, and, of course, glorious Soviet and Russian spetsnaz, naval infantry, motorized rifle, and airborne troops. After all, it would take a coalition of the willing to capture the super weapon.
Video from the Russian Privatka Club to advertise the event
The highly dynamic scenario envisioned would be for a force-on-force encounter with three opposing factions set up, each with their own objectives-- of which only one force could remain. The clubs organized "professional pyrotechnic special effects, high tech-game equipment, including GPS Trackers for coalitions, gravimetric in game objects, photo and video operators," and an armada of small boats to both shuttle participants from nearby cities and conduct amphibious raids and assaults
The event was scheduled for June 12-14 this year. Moreover, according to all accounts, was a hit.
For a great (370) photo album, you can visit official event photographer Andrey Philippov's Flickr account which fairly well covers the 3-day night.
However, if you don't, here are some images
SAS patches, along with Russian badges an an AR? Just saying. The stogie makes up for it. Photo by Andrey Philippov
These guys sure had their tech together. Photo by Andrey Philippov
Not sure what load-out this is, but the AK-74 looks badass. Photo by Andrey Philippov
I swear I ran into this guy in Texas somewhere. Magpul represents! Photo by Andrey Philippov
Great M249 and NSWG rig-- almost feel like I've seen this in a movie somewhere. On a side note, these guys have great eye-pro discipline. Photo by Andrey Philippov
The Russians sure know how to throw a party. Photo by Andrey Philippov