This site report was first published in Airsoft International Volume 8 Issue 9. This magazine is available digitally here.
I’d drawn the short straw, or more accurately failed to call “shotgun” in time and as such, I was squeezed into the back of the car with a rifle bag on my lap and a large Multicam backpack doing its level best to make me aquatinted with the door. When we had loaded into the vehicle at around 5:45am on a cool, damp Sunday morning it had been pitch black and I hadn’t really noticed it gradually getting lighter as we travelled. My head and attentions had been buried in my newly purchased digital version of “No Easy Day”, the engrossing story of the successful Kill or Capture mission against Osama Bin Laden on my phone. I’d tuned out of the conversation going on between the guys in the front but the change of pace and centrifugal force of coming off the motor way and rounding a roundabout made me look up, snapping me out of the Black Hawk helicopter the book had immersed me in. Like the SEALs I was reading about, we were closing in on our destination. Hopefully though, our destination would be a little more welcoming.
As we swung round a couple more back to back roundabouts and passed the familiar chain stores that sit in the industrial areas of most modern cities, we were starting to wonder just how accurately our Sat. Nav. was until all doubt was cast from our minds and the giant “CQB Tactical Airsoft” signage came into view. At only a few months old, CQB Tactical is a fledgling site, but it is situated in a disused industrial unit amongst several glass-fronted office type buildings, all with rather meaningless “dynamic” sounding business names. Before we drove past looking for somewhere to park we were expertly marshaled into a parking area on the opposite side of the road to the actual site. Friendly faces greeted us and pleasantries were exchanged before we headed to park up and get our kit sorted. At this point it’s certainly worth noting that you DO need to cross a public road with your equipment so it’s vital that all guns and sensitive equipment need to be properly bagged up and out of public view.
After hauling our kit into the reception building of the site we temporarily dropped our kit to read and sign the mandatory insurance waiver, check in and pay or £30 walk-on fee. A swift and painless exercise thanks to polite and organised staff. Since we arrived a little later than many, we didn’t hang around and swiftly headed upstairs to the designated ready room and safe zone. CQB Tactical’s ready room and safe zone is great. It’s fully undercover with plenty of makeshift seating and table space to get your kit readied up and even electricity outlets to charge batteries. Tea and coffee is available for free and there’s an onsite shop and range to test and chrono your guns, which every player must go through. Instead of the interrogated feeling that you get from some chrono tests, the CQB Tactical staff made the process easy and although both of the guns I used were well within the 350fps limit, I felt that should a gun come up hot they would deal with it tactfully.
After hastily getting kitted up and topping off magazines, all players were called to assemble at one end of the ready room where a concise, to-the-point safety brief was given. The onus was on common sense but also covered some points unique to the site, such as blind firing and shooting over the partitions set up inside the gaming area. We’ve sat through some briefs and safety talks that are simply too long, meaning even with the best will and intentions, players drift off and attention starts to wander. It’s easy to see that the proprietors of CQB Tactical have a solid background in customer service because their brief was tight and simple to understand. In a matter of minutes everyone was clued up and ready to hit the ground. We donned eye-pro, descended the stairs and mags were inserted as we entered the play area.
The main arena of CQB tactical is within a building to the rear of the check-in and safe zone building and it’s a disused industrial block that is in a state or dereliction. Large winds and doors are missing meaning that much of the facility is undercover, but still “outdoors” in a sense. The wind can certainly blow through enough to clear a smoke grenade from the building quite quickly, meaning there are no restrictions on their use. This large main room has a central “kill house” made from prefabricated office space dividers which means a couple of completely blind corners to check. Scattered around are movable tire-walls and low barricades, mostly made from abandoned furniture and dividers. As a novelty, two abandoned cars are also free to be used as cover or objectives.
Doors lead off from the main arena, leading to smaller interconnecting rooms that sit between the two halves of the lower of the site. Once you transition into them the loss of light is noticeable and it’s dark enough to require the use of a torch almost constantly. Another large open area contains lots of barricades and walkways built from tires and pallets, but also hanging polythene sheeting and hessian. A number of stairwells lead from the downstairs areas and up to the second floor which is another large, open room furnished with makeshift barriers. Unassuming doorways on the second floor lead to a couple of discreet “sniper hides” that give fantastic firing positions over the main arena and give players the opportunity to use rifles that would otherwise be unsuitable for use elsewhere.
Finally two stairwells at either end of the main building lead downstairs into a basement area that is filled with disused machinery and industrial piping. The Basement is very dark and only lit by a few lamps and lights making it ideal for close contact, sneaky gameplay. Immediately I was aware that the perimeter of the site was not far from the main arena in some areas and a simple mesh fence or barred metal gate was all that separated players from the outside world. In actual fact it is possible to see into and out of the site and despite the assurances from the site owners, it took a little getting used to being able to see passing traffic was holding my airsoft gun.
The first game we played was one known as “Virus” which pitched a smaller team against a larger force, each time one of the larger forces was hit, they would don red tape on the arms and switch sides. This kind of game is great for getting people into the action without standing around too much and gave us all a good chance to see as much of the site as we liked to. Initially the game started rather slowly, with the large group of players ambling around a little unsure of which direction to head in, or where the enemy might come from, but it wasn’t long until the familiar “pop” of AEG fire broke out and lines of contact were established. Because of the likelihood of extremely close contact all areas with the exception of the main arena are restricted to semi-automatic fire only and this makes for some exciting and dynamic gaming with movement being a key principle. As the sides began to even up as more and more players got hit and donned red tape the first, and probably only major issue started to rear its head and that was numbers. The day we visited CQB Tactical was December 30th, the first Sunday after Christmas and the day before New Years Eve. We expect a combination of people wanting to try out their latest gifts and not really having to go to work the next day caused a spike in the number of players, an extremely healthy and record-breaking attendance of 102.
This high density of players meant movement became a little stunted as each corner was generally occupied by a host of team mates facing off against a similar density of enemies. The second and third games before lunch were rolling room clearance games with evened up teams. The problems with numbers were exasperated as players were funneled into natural bottlenecks. The CQB Tactical staff did their best to keep some flow going but it was clear that different scenarios would be needed after lunch.
After clearing our guns and removing magazines we filed back up to the safe zone for a lunch of hotdogs, drinks and a chocolate bar all provided courtesy of the house, it’s a nice touch and lessens the necessity to go off-site during the break, meaning things can get going faster. Whilst scoffing down the chow, the general consensus amongst players was that the numbers were perhaps a little high. The marshalls and organisers duly noted this and immediately a change of plans and a modification of the games set aside for the afternoon was carried out. The afternoon was split into 2 longer games that encompassed the entire site and reduced the density of players in any one area at any one time, it made a fantastic difference and allowed for much more tactical movement and sneaky attacks.
During the afternoon I was able to make great use of all the arenas of gameplay, sneaking between shadowy areas attempting to surprise the enemy. As mentioned before, contact IS very close and a full face mask is very much recommended, although the semi-auto rule does ensure that things stay sensible. Thanks to the darkness and the limited rate of fire, stealth, aggression and tactical thinking are far more effective than high ammo capacities, long range or high rates of fire so it gives player a brilliant opportunity to field the weird and wonderful guns from their collections. At several points in time, nimble springer shotgun wielders were able to blast their way across the site racking up impressive killstreaks and moscart launchers can be used to devastating effect.
Unfortunately a couple of negatives emerged throughout the day, mostly centered on the hanging hessian and polythene sheeting used as dividers. To prevent injuries, it is prohibited to shoot under or over them, or through the gaps that exist between them and the pillars they are connected to. This led to some frustrating stand-offs where players could stand physically back-to-back, but neither could make a move to take the other out. It would be an improvement to see more substantial, solid barriers in place to curb this issue.
Undoubtedly the single strongest link in the CQB Tactical chain is the willingness and open-mindedness of the organisers. All feedback is taken on and immediately digested and actioned upon, the answer is never “we’ll try that next time”. At CQB Tactical you can be sure that you get value for your money and never feel left out of the game. Since our visit, the maximum limit for players on site has been capped at a reasonable 80, which we think is a fantastic idea and a shining testament to the dedication of the organisers. Throughout the day there was always a marshall nearby, present but not invasive and at all times they were polite and mature, despite many being younger guys. As always, with a new site with lots of people, I found myself a little disoriented and it was tough to stay “on task” without getting caught up chasing targets so if objective based gameplay is your forte, it might be tough to find that.
By the time we left CQB Tactical at around 5pm, we were well deserving of a post skirmish burger and chips and certainly, amongst the group I visited with, we had lots of positives to talk about. We did have some criticisms as outlined above but bearing in mind that the site is still in its infancy at just 3 months old, CQB Tactical has a lot of potential. The doors are open and the staff welcome the suggestions that players have so if you are at all local we strongly suggest visiting and becoming part of what we believe will become a strong and unique site in the West Midlands.
Cheney Manor Industrial Estate
Terrain: Urban/Disused Industrial Unit
Times: 10am – 5pm
Hire guns: Yes
FPS Limits: Auto 350fps/semi 350fps/single 400fps
Other restrictions: MED and specific sniper positions, Semi only in most areas.
Shop: Full Shop facilities available on site.
More information available at: www.cqbtactical.co.uk
Whilst we make every effort to check our information is correct, please check with the site prior to visiting, in case rules have changed etc.
Not content with bringing you just one guys opinion of a day at CQB Tactical, here’s a few alternative points of view from fellow players that also attended on the same day:
CQB Tactical is a newly established site run by a group of experienced Airsofters who want to bring the sport to a larger audience, they are friendly and willing to listen. The site is 9600 sq meters of gaming area mostly indoors with three levels of game play. The initial safety brief was concise and understandable, it laid down the rules. The games at the site tended to be more paintball type scenarios than a Mil-Sim type game, a shame as I definitely prefer Milsim. The engagements were at close quarters, which is the reason it’s called CQB Tactical. FPS limit of 350 is fine but all games should be single shot, this will limit over kill but not eliminate it as some have very good trigger control and response. Blind firing could be really problematic but was not evident on the day we visited. There is no using of pyro up or down stairwells, which I can understand as it could be unfortunate to have a burning mark 5 land on your shoulder. There was no firing into or out of the buildings, this hampered movement and created bottle necks but may have been in place to stop BB’s leaving the site and hitting members of the public and property.
The site itself was brilliant, really tight environment. I enjoyed the cover, like the tyre walls, pallet walls and the cars. However I feel they need minor improvements, people were shooting through them, and being shot through them.
The marshals were excellent, took on all comments, good and bad, and then resolved any issues being had. Games were well thought out, just not executed very well; several times I thought to myself I have no idea of the objective, or where it is, the marshals helped out on that though.
Spawn areas were a bit weird and off, in a few games, there were both team’s spawns next to each other, and miscommunication led to people coming out of spawn, and getting lit up by enemies as they left the spawn.
Smoke grenades inside isn’t really a great thing in my mind, several times I couldn’t see or breathe inside.
Number of players, it was a one off having 100 people there, but the number should be capped around the 60 to 70 mark, otherwise it gets too crowded.
The immediately noticeable thing about CQB Tactical is the almost boundless enthusiasm of the staff. Paul in particular takes a large hand in driving the day, always looking for ways to improve player experience. Player suggestions are welcomed; and where applicable, acted on with remarkable swiftness. Everyone is made to feel welcome and encouraged to take part in the community. The site itself has fantastic potential, and already the management are utilising it in more intuitive ways. The action is up close and personal, and with continued investment CQB Tactical could become one of the premier indoor sites in the country.