By Kevin Ward
Airsoft is a niche sport, involving rigorous physical play with spring powered or electronically powered or air powered pellet guns. Specifically they are referred to as airsoft guns to separate them from their ballistic counterparts. These are not designed to kill people, but to nonetheless fling plastic BB’s hundreds of feet per second at a target. Players divide against each other individually or in teams to then face off in a confined space, eliminating other players by shooting them once with their airsoft gun. It is more in line with simulating actual military combat than is paintball and hurts less to boot. There are dozens of venues littered across New England to experience this and hundreds more globally.
Now what makes Feel Good Farm so special? Why should you go? Last I spoke to Larry, who co-owns Feel Good Farm alongside his wife, Sharon, he summed up FGF as such, “Anyone’s imagination can be applied: they just need the plan and we’ll share the land.”
It is easy to forget that there is more than just airsoft on the near 100 acres of land. There is blueberry picking, hiking, disc golf, horse riding and even skill workshops. It is the nature of New Hampshire farms, crops having failed profit-wise in the face of globalization. The key aspects to any good airsoft field is the Terrain, Game-types, Equipment and Community.
FGF is home to a diverse set of locales. (As I define them, these are areas in which a settlement has been purposely constructed. They form the basis for gameplay within a given space and are as artificial or natural appearing according to the designer's specifications. Think of them like video game levels.)
Oil Refinery, Village and Embassy will be the most visited. Whatever is lacking in “flair,” is made up in subtle, dark narratives. The field’s designers have intended for players to be always cognizant of the nature of actual warfare. They firmly understand the advantages of airsoft over paintball; the ability to better simulate the look of military weapons and conflicts. The sleepy hut is the site of a secret arms trade. In addition, locales are designed to encourage the constant flow of player traffic and the use of “fix ‘em and flank ‘em” tactics. The multiple entries and exits prevent “Lone Wolf” or “Camping” style play, encourage teamwork, and demand situational awareness. Like it should be, settlement clearing or defending is tedious yet tense. FGF provides urban and forest locales, each designed with two or more game types in mind. A game type is a specific mode of rules for a particular session of play. (This language is borrowed extensively from the gaming industry and so its not dissimilar much from the defination one might find when talking about video games.)
Ensuring a variety of experiences, there are dirt roads that snake through the forest to these locales. Along these roads, defilades contrast the dangerously open, bridges. A player can always find cover though to weather the numerous ambushes. Elevation is liable to change at any moment however, but no vertical climbs are required. These points of incline however serve to make the gameplay much akin to the strategy of the famed general Napoleon, ‘find the best hill and put guns on it.’
A distinction has to be drawn between what is called “Run & Gun” play and events like “Canadian Conflict” and “Battle for Dyatlov Pass.” An average day at FGF is referred to as “Run & Gun.” This is because game types are up to the manager’s discretion and though open from 8am to 5pm, walk-ins are accepted at any time. FGF typically features more objective based game types, however Team Deathmatch is a staple and player favorite.
FGF’s Team Deathmatch is unique. Both teams square off and each player is given one life. The first team eliminated is victorious, but in the case of one player remaining on either team, survivors are moved into the center of Village. There they compete in a 1v1 match representing their team. It’s always a highlight to see the victorious team tackle their champion.
Days in which an Event replaces “Run & Gun” are pre-scheduled and advertised on Facebook. These events either seek to emulate a real historical conflict or a fictional conflict written by FGF staff. Whereas in “Run & Gun,” players are grouped by equipment and headcount, in Events, players are expected to emulate their assigned faction, much like an actor. Things like the correct types of camouflages or equipment are expected and are coordinated on Facebook. Players do not leave the field and instead camp on site instead of leaving for a break. In doing so they not only play the part of a soldier, but live like one as well. The event can last a full 24-48 hours. The appeal of Events attracts the most avid enthusiasts and in great numbers.
When comparing FGF to similar facilities, equipment is the weakest link in the chain. Their inventory of ten M4 Carbines and face masks will leave you outgunned in most cases. The onus is left to the player to bring their own gear, but it is $5 to rent a mask, $15 for an airsoft gun and additional $5 for the battery. Lunch is a cheeseburger, a bag of chips, and a drink for $5. It’s $25 for a day pass.
Here is where FGF shines, enough so that no matter how big or small a game, there is nothing that prevents it from being a blast. (Pun very much intended.) Larry and Sharon encourage an environment where respect and trust are earned and enjoyed by its tight knit player base. On YouTube, Facebook and Instagram it’s evident that players always maintain the facility’s rules which ensures that everyone enjoys their visit. Player’s come from a diverse background and from as far away as California. Regardless of whether another player suits up in full infantry battle dress or is merely packing the bare essentials to play, they treat everyone with honesty. Larry and Sharon’s establishment is suited best to be called “Your Home Away From Home,” or “Where Your Second Family Lives.” They engage with players to ensure that a wholesome family experience is being had by all.
Players often come from or are planning to be in the military. They are a great help in organizing individual squads, but are equally adept at maintaining professionalism. Larry and Sharon’s wise and caring fostering of these individuals serves to make FGF one of the most positive and conducive airsoft experiences. At no point will they ever disappoint in this area. When I left after a solid day’s worth of play, I knew in my bones that I wasn’t leaving just a place, but a special place I could call home.
This place is a must visit and on June 16, 2018, they will be hosting their Z-Outbreak event. I know I won’t forget to pack more ammo to fight the zombie horde. See you there.
Feel Good Farms is located in Lyndeborough, New Hampshire 03082 on 52 Johnson Corner Road. Call (603) 654-2001 or visit their Facebook Page “Feel Good Farm Airsoft” or website: feelgoodfarminc.com for more information.