Back row, from left: Lachlan Alloushe, Tom Wright, Andrew
Tajsic and Deane Campbell, with front row (crouching), from
left: Simon Cox and Jason Bird, plus John Plaister (lying),
take on the challenge of the Airsoft military Simulation on
Saturday. All but Mr Campbell, of Oamaru, are Australian.
Photo by Andrew Ashton.
Coalpit Hill near Oamaru became a war zone over the
weekend as about 100 people took part in New Zealand's largest
amateur military simulation event.
"Operation Bearclaw" which took place on Saturday and
yesterday, was part of an annual gathering of Airsoft
enthusiasts, and although organiser and former soldier Deane
Campbell said players used BB guns that fired soft
projectiles, the event was intended to be as realistic as
Mr Campbell said this year players were helicoptered into the
"war zone" by Heliventures in Weston, and a 25-pound (11.4kg)
cannon would fire blank rounds to add realism.
"After 16 years with the army I'm trying to give the players
the best available military experience without the hard
"So they get orders and no sleep for 24 hours, plus long
walks, heaps of shooting and some real surprises such as
having to stretcher a 'wounded' guy 2km in forestry and open
land while being tracked by the enemy," Mr Campbell said.
He said the event was the biggest of its kind in the country
and had attracted 98 competitors, many of whom were former
members of the armed services.
"We have players from as far afield as Australia," he said.
Heliventures pilot Craig McMillan said he had dropped off 30
people by helicopter and had been directed with smoke flares
where to land with.
"It was very intense. The guys all had heaps of equipment. It
was very impressive, and a lot of fun."