The short, sharp sting of small pellets is helping soldiers from the 8th/9th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (8/9RAR), fine-tune their urban combat skills.

The battalion has fitted Airsoft conversion kits to EF88 rifles to make training closer to reality.

Platoon Sergeant, Sergeant Phillip Brown, said the Airsoft rifles boasted several advantages when conducting urban training. 

“When we shoot at another combatant, we try to induce the psychological and physiological stresses that combat places on a combatant,” Sergeant Brown said.

“It’s very hard to replicate that through dry and blank-fire training. 

“As soon as you put a combatant against another combatant where there is a known pain response, if they conduct an incorrect drill or exhibit an incorrect combat behaviour, then the stress of that pain response is what we’re looking for, for that combatant to deliver the right combat behaviour.

“It doesn’t hurt for that long. It’s a quick pain, and the soldier knows what’s happened.

“They can learn from it and then move on.”    

Private Keely Tua, of 8/9RAR, said she had enjoyed the opportunity to use the EF88 Airsoft rifles. 

“This is the first time I have actually done it. It’s awesome being able to actually physically shoot something instead of having the blanks,” Private Tua said.

“You actually have to put your sight to the test to see if you have gone through with the drills correctly, and if you get those targets down, then it’s all working.

“It’s awesome.”

Soldiers from the 8th/9th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, conduct unopposed urban warfare training using EF88 Airsoft rifles at Gallipoli Barracks, Brisbane. Photo: Private Jacob Hilton

The EF88 Airsoft rifles are part of a project from Land 125 Phase 3C.

Sergeant Brown said the Airsoft rifles complemented 8/9RAR’s urban training facility at Gallipoli Barracks, Enoggera. 

“Some units have bespoke training facilities like ours,” he said.

“We have a progression of training, starting at pairs, team, then as a section.

“We can brief them, and we can conduct dry, unopposed and opposed training all within a short space of time.

“We also have two separate training areas, so we can scale the environment.”

Private Tua said the bespoke training facility was one of the benefits of a posting to 8/9RAR. 

“In opposed, where the enemy can actually shoot you back first if they see you properly, being able to get there, get the first foot in and get the opposing force first is really rewarding,” she said.

“I couldn’t believe it when I first got here and saw it.

“They’ve done a lot to it now. 

“They can move everything around so the rooms are different, put doors up, put doors down, move furniture and walls. 

“It’s become a really good training environment.”