On Sunday 23rd July 2017, I took a drive into The Black Country to visit a brand spanking new airsoft site ran by West Midlands Airsoft called High Command. From where I’m based in the East Midlands, High Command is around a 50 minute drive up the motorway depending on the traffic. The site is situated within an industrial estate that’s tucked into a small suburban housing estate in the heart of Rowley Regis. Despite its unlikely location the industrial estate and the site itself is clearly signposted from the road to make it easier to find.

As you follow the signs into the estate and drive into the car park to the site there is around 20 car parking spaces so it’s good to get there early to bag yourself a space. The safe zone is a short walk up a flight of stairs and is a central corridor with rooms branching off that are full of tables and chairs for players to organise their kit, as there are stairs leading to the safe zone you may want to pack lightly but the safe zone is a spacious room even if you do fancy bringing the kitchen sink! The first room houses the official onsite shop which is run by West Midlands Airsoft and supported by Staffordshire Militaria that sells a variety of RIFs, ammo, pyro, scopes, sites and plenty of accessories that you could need on the day!

The site also has 2 other retailers’ onsite supporting their game day shenanigans, which we’ll talk a little bit about now: the first supporting company is SIXMIL.com who are an independent airsoft hire company that are based in Staffordshire that offer a huge range of not only rental weapons but rental loadouts too! From their Recon and ‘Ghost’ to Assault and ‘Tank’ predesigned loadouts SIXMIL offer new/beginner players the chance to facilitate a variety of play styles and looks without the hassle of getting all the gear themselves! I love this concept as it helps new players feel more involved in the game! The second supporting company is a retailer called Targetszone! Targetszone are a retailer based in Birmingham that specialise in field sports equipment from major brands including Armex, Anglo Arms and more but also have a large selection of military surplus and airsoft gear.

The day starts with a comprehensive safety brief from the owner Paul and his team of marshals. The site runs a limit of 350 FPS max, semi auto only (except in the odd game that are agreed by all players before starting), and with a pyro limit of a 12 gauge magflash round however due to the amount of wood in the building strike-able pyro is not allowed.

The site itself is a 13,000 sq ft warehouse space that is set on the second floor of the building. It is a mixture of bright long, open areas, dark corridors and even darker kill house style rooms. It is exceptionally close CQB and with no minimum engagement distance you can bet it is intense. The staff are constantly working to improve the site so it changes from week to week with new rooms being added, new doors and more permanent structures being built. 

What about gameplay? The games are capped at 30 players – 15 a side and that is a perfect amount for the sites total playing area of 13,000 sq ft. The game modes played are varied to include death matches and objective based game modes that keep the day fresh. We started the day off with a collapse and defend game to balance the teams which was then switched around. Other games during the day included an objective game where teams fought to dominate the killhouse to activate the target system and eliminate as many targets as possible in 30 seconds. At the end of the day, we also played a super fun VIP evacuation game where the VIP is given a force of 6 bodyguards to enable them to move through the site and reach the evacuation point but there was a catch, the VIP got to use the new Classic Army Mini Gun on a two second burst for suppressive fire (of course all players agreed before game on and the mini gun was used by an experienced, trusted player) Everyone had a great day and the feedback from the games was excellent.

I have always said that one aspect of a site that is really important to me personally is the staff – this can sometimes make or break a site! The hospitality that I was shown from Paul, Kelly, Rob, Joe and the rest of the staff onsite was second to none. They were all super friendly and chatted enthusiastically with all of their customers throughout the day. The marshals had a great sense of humour during gameplay and this added to the atmosphere. One thing that impressed me during the day was that Paul was consistently checking with his customers whether they were having a good day and asking if there was anything that could be improved – this shows me that he is not only passionate about his site but that the customers experience is paramount!

So what’s the walk on fee? The walk on fee for members is £25.00 and for none-members is £30.00 each including a hot lunch (which is a rarity at sites nowadays!) Hires are available from SIXMIL starting at £25 so it is in line with game day fees at other sites.

Are there any issues with the site? There are only a couple of issues that I noticed whist on site and they are issues that are isolated to other tenants of the building. The site has 26 allocated car parking spaces however a few of them are taken up by abandoned cars – whilst it doesn’t cause a massive problem, it is a little bit of an annoyance. The other issue lies with the men’s toilets - other tenants in the building unfortunately do not look after the facilities so West Midlands Airsoft has combatted this however by opening up the women’s toilet that has a lock on it, players and attendees of the day can ask at reception for the key to enjoy a pleasant, clean bathroom. Props to West Mids for taking such positive action regarding this!

Overall I had an absolutely fantastic day at West Midlands Airsoft High Command, the site itself although not the biggest site is well laid out and the gameplay flowed well. The games that were played were varied and balanced. The players, marshals and staff were fun and enthusiastic to be around and made everyone feel welcome! I’ll definitely be back!

Hardwick, K. (2017). West Midlands Airsoft: High Command. Airsoft Action. 79 (October), 42-43.

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