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Gunman Airsoft - 'The Badlands' - Rochdale, Greater Manchester

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Hello all,


This is my first review of pretty much anything airsoft related as far as I can remember, so if you think I missed something out or could change it to make my reviews better in future, please let me know.


Alright, so yesterday (Saturday 21st July, 2012) was the opening day for a brand new site operated by Gunman Airsoft (GMA), a company that runs sites at various locations in England: Norwich, Eversley, and Tuddenham. This new site is called The Badlands, and is situated in a quarry in the small town of Whitworth, near Rochdale, on the north eastern outskirts of Greater Manchester.


At this juncture, I should probably make it known that I am a marshal and player with First and Only Airsoft, and that I have no previous experience of GMA. Yesterday, myself and a few of the guys from the team that plays at F&O Bolton, the Djinn, were due to be playing at our 'local' (if you call 50 miles away local, that is) CQB site, F&O Anzio, in Staffordshire. However, earlier this week I happened across the news that there was an airsoft game to be held in a quarry, a mere 15 miles from where we live. Sensing a chance to enjoy a change of scenery (let's face it, those who have played Anzio will know how good it is, but we could go there any time, and this site might not be around long), I asked the guys who might be interested in an opportunity to play airsoft in a quarry. I got a few enthusiastic replies, and sure enough, yesterday morning myself and 4 other lads from the team found ourselves at the gates of The Badlands.


We pulled up in the car park, and upon leaving our cars were greeted with the unmistakeable screech and rasp of dirt bikes. Yes, this site is primarily a dirt bike arena, run by a local company. Hard not to see why really, plenty of great tracks and cliffs for the bikers to try and kill themselves on. We would see bikers performing frankly ridiculous stunts on their sections of the quarry around us for the rest of the day.


Anyway, it transpired that the owners had allowed GMA to use a section of the quarry for airsoft on a trial basis, and dependent on how things went, it could become a more permanent fixture. The site itself is purported to be over 1500 acres in size, but for yesterday's test day, we would only be using a small section, around 100 acres at a rough guess. This was more than enough, as we would eventually find out.


The guy in charge of the site was a very pleasant and enthusiastic chap from GMA called Tony, who was keen to stress that the opening day was a tester to see how certain types of games could work in the challenging terrain (of which there was lots, my arms and calves are in agony today as a testament to this).


We signed in, paid up (£20 was the introductory fee for the day, this may rise in future), and filled out the disclaimers. We got our gear ready, and all the players - around 16 in total, perhaps on the small side at first glance, but it worked out fantastically in the end - gathered round for the safety brief.


The safety brief occurred just before the scheduled 'game on' time of 10am. Tony was the man to deliver it, and the brief was.. well, brief. Perhaps too brief.


I say this because although every one of the players there was a seasoned veteran of airsoft, it's never a bad thing to go over the safety brief in a clear and professional manner. That way, everyone is on the same wavelength and understands what the rules and regulations are. Other sites may do things differently to F&O, so it's helpful to be clear on the safety aspects. I had no doubt that we all understood the do's and do not's, but there could have been brand new players there who might have needed a bit more clarification. Even if all the players are experienced, it would instil some confidence in me if I was listening to a marshal delivering a correct safety brief, with all the necessary details included rather than skimmed over, with him saying, 'yeah, you all understand this, you don't need me to go over that'. It's the little things that make or break it for me.


We then moved out to the gaming area. Our team (the 5 of us, a young lad, and guy assigned to us because he wore multicam like we did) were taken out on the site owner's flatbed truck, that had a scaffold on the back for us to hang on to for the duration of the journey. No doubt that this stopped us from falling out of the truck, as the road was as treacherous as you would expect one running through a quarry to be. I remain convinced that we were one unstable section of road away from our deaths. And we loved every second of it. The mounted MG42 (which later saw plenty of use against us in the morning) was definitely a highlight as well.


NB: on a serious note, as fun as the ride was, a section or two of scaffolding did come loose at one point, which actually scared me a bit. This is definitely something that needs rectifying before the next game. Customer and staff safety should be a top priority for any site operator.


After surviving the journey, we were dropped at what would be our regen point for the day, at the top end of the site. The basic layout of the site was moderately flat, open and with sparse cover at the bottom end (which became known as the village due to the small wooden structures dotted around the area), and hilly, arduous and with lots of rocky cover towards the top end. Plenty of spots to sneak, crawl and get your stealth on. Perfect for those who like a physical challenge rather than just an easy day of blasting rounds at each other in the woods.


Game On was a little late, beginning at 10.30 rather than 10.00. Our side assumed the role of ISAF in Afghanistan, starting from the hilly top end, and the other players were the Taliban, holding fort in the village.


Our first game was a basic assault on the village, using the central hill as an overwatch point from which to conduct our attacks. The objectives were to recover two laptops from the opfor and return them to our base, and to find and destroy their stash of drugs to disrupt their supply chain. A couple of us got up to the hilltop to get a good vantage point on the village, directing our team mates over our radios. This worked massively in our favour, and we would have the upper hand for much of the day as a result, but the opfor certainly didn't make it easy for us. They consistently took us out with deadly accurate pistol shots (case in point: the top half of my head was the only part of my body that was visible above a ridge, and I took a shot right between the eyes on my eyeshields, absolutely quality shooting), appearing out of nowhere and seriously hampering our efforts at several points throughout the day.


The whistle for lunch was blown at about 11.50, and although it was planned as a 45 minute break, we didn't get back into the field until 1.15. It was quite a hot day, I'd say around 22-25 degrees, so the chance to take an extended breather after a strenuous mornings' play was a welcome one. The forum advertised 'on site catering available' - we only found out when we arrived that this was in the form of a burger van in the bikers' arena. No bad thing, the cheeseburgers were so good that I had two.


The lunch break also gave us a chance to chat to the bikers, who were a very friendly bunch - they asked us what we were doing, what the game involves, what type of weapons we use, what types of games we play etc. Considering we were effectively playing on their turf, they were very amicable about it all. It was also our job to paint a good picture of ourselves too, because they could quite easily not allow GMA to return and hold future games.


We cracked back on at 1.15. In this game, we had to defend an area near a power pylon that was about 50 metres away from our regen point. There was a small issue when the opfor managed to overrun our regen (bearing in mind that regen points were scheduled to be in play for the entire game), because they assaulted from one side which took them to their objective via our regen, rather than the other way, which would have taken them straight to their objective. So a marshal decided to move our regen to right next to the objective. Some of our guys made their way to the regen when they were out, only to be denied the chance to get back in the game by the opfor - what?


It turned out to be a communication error between the marshals, and led some of our guys being left standing around at our revised regen point, unable to do anything but watch as the opfor managed to achieve their objective. It didn't ruin the day, but we did have a word with Tony afterwards and he apologised, admitting that the fault was that of the marshals.


It was in the game that, whilst stood waiting to be medic'ed, Tony, who was on our team, appeared behind me and let out a terrifying burst of full auto from his blank firing Grease Gun. I damn near *suitcase* myself when I heard it. I had never seen anything like it before, and every player on the field had a massive grin on their face when they saw it. Tony even let me have a quick go, and I swear to god that my life from that point on will all be downhill. Having never shot a real firearm, having a go on the Grease Gun was just incredible. Turns out he likes to add a bit of realism into his games - if this is what he means, I am definitely returning to this site!


At the end of this game, we suggested playing a rolling defence game, where we had to push forward and clear the opfor from a succession of bases. This was excellent, and allowed us to stretch further down into the village than we had gone in the morning.


The final endex was scheduled for 5pm, but at about 4.30, the other team had had enough, and returned to the safe zone to pack up. Wanting to get as much play in as we could manage, our team and Tony rounded the afternoon's play off with a quick 4-on-4 firefight in the village. Nothing too strenuous, just enough to satisfy our appetite.


At the end of the day, we thanked Tony for running such a great day, went back to our cars, packed up and promptly decamped to the pub for a much needed and well deserved pint.


Unfortunately, due to his commitments to other GMA sites, Tony couldn't give us a solid date for the next game at The Badlands, but whenever it is, we are there. He did suggest there might be some scope for night games, which sounds immense, but perhaps a little on the dangerous side given the lay of the land. Time will tell on this one.


All in all, an excellent (if exhausting) day at a huge site that offers something new for us Northern monkeys. Plenty of scope for running weekend / night / milsim events. If GMA manage to keep hold of it, this site could turn out to be something very special for airsoft in the north west.




* friendly staff from GMA, absolute willingness to accept ideas, suggestions - and crucially, criticisms - from customers.

* plenty of potential for large games when the entire site is in use.

* difficult terrain provides a meaty challenge for even the most hardened airsofters.

* lots of opportunities for setting up ambushes, works especially well when your team has comms.

* a guaranteed good night's sleep afterwards.

* the site owner's blank-firing Grease Gun - AWESOME.




* safety brief was far too short - its good to remind everyone of the rules, no matter how experienced they are.

* scaffold in the truck needs to be tightened up to make it safe for people to use.

* didn't get to use as much of the site as we would have liked.

* confusion over the moving of the ISAF regen point, better comms between marshals is essential in future.


I asked my teammates to add their thoughts on how the day went, here's what they said:




First off, I thought it was an awesome day, even though it was the first open day. I thought we all worked really well together, and no one was scared of getting up and down those hills.


The guys running the site were really friendly, and kept asking our opinions on things all day, trying see if they were getting things right or not.


The site itself is really nice, if a little tough on the legs. The area we played was only about 80 acres, but the valleys and peaks added another 20/30 acres. The terrain really lends itself to sneaking and flanking manoeuvres, and having someone on overwatch was good too.


The infils on the truck were amazing, everyone felt like a kid at a playground. Gotta say, it felt mint sat on the side of the truck with my *albartroth* stuck out in the breeze.


95% of the opfor were spot on, I think this kind of site can be ruined by *suitcase* players, simply because its so hard to tell if you have hit someone at range.


The facilities were good, the burger can selling burgers, a nice big car park and a portakabin for storing valuables and kit.


Because it was an open day, the games were a little all over the place, but that's the be expected. The site owners were constantly asking our opinions on how to improve.


Probably because its a new site, but I was thinking that the village could do with more structures. Perhaps some small hut type buildings, simple wooden board and hinge affairs that could be moved around after each game day to keep us guessing.




For an open day at a new site, I was happy because the players were all spot on. Head shots came with a 'sorry' afterwards, the players responsible even came over to see if I was alright. The marshals were happy to take advice, this is a good thing because it means they will learn and improve on what is already a great site.


Echoing what Sears said, I think more wooden huts, or even some old portakabins, would be great additions to the village.


The only problem I had was when our regen was overrun, and then moved, before being overrun again, meaning we couldn't regen. This was down to a lack of communication between the marshals, when we told Tony, he was more than happy to take our advice and fix the issue for future games.


Would I go again? Yes, no questions asked.


Link to GMA:




Link to Badlands first game booking thread on the Gunman Airsoft forum (pictures of the site included):




Hope you enjoyed the review, any comments, questions or criticisms are most welcome.



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Thanks guys for some very honest and fair comments. :)


The Cons are what i care about the most, and heres our take on the when we were clearing up at end ex.




* safety brief was far too short - its good to remind everyone of the rules, no matter how experienced they are.


Fair point. I was trying to get things rolling, and assumed everyone (being long term players) would agree, in hindsight, a bad call by me personally.

From now on, no skipping ANY aspect of the safety brief.




* scaffold in the truck needs to be tightened up to make it safe for people to use.


We agreed, Tiny the other in game marshal agreed as he saw it first hand, Its since been binned, and im in the process of having rigid, once piece, steel side rails manufactured for the truck. no more connections to vibrate loose. :busted_blue:





* didn't get to use as much of the site as we would have liked.


Full site use in the next game :D





* confusion over the moving of the ISAF regen point, better comms between marshals is essential in future.


?A very embarrassing confession , we had 6 fully charged radios ready to go. WE FORGET THEM :ranting2:

we were useing our mobiles in leau, and it wasnt good at all

Wont happen again.





apart from all that, im over the moon you guys liked it so much, and thanks for writing such a good review :D


all the best, Tony

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