Central War Gaming Blog

Central War Gaming Blog


Tuesday, April 19, 2022

How to Clean Optics

We use optics of all sorts every day. Well, most of us. Glasses, sunglasses, etc. are optics. But often we go to the range or the field, and have to use dots, scopes, lasers, night vision, and more. A lot of those we paid good money for to get the best optical clarity, and use in terrible conditions. How do you keep them clean? 

First, assume every environment is dusty like the desert. Dust is made of stuff that includes microscopic abrasives, so best to assume even your house has dangerous dust from the most desert/lakebed/wasteland. Also, it gets you used to the right procedure, so you remember the proper methods, buy the right cleaning materials, and carry a bit of stuff with you.

I was taught:

  1. Air over brush
  2. Brush over wiping
  3. Wiping always wet
Get a small blower with brush from a camera store. Like this one: 

Actually, finding this picture I just learned that the brush comes off the end. But all of these types all work assembled together, so you can blow / brush as a unit and at the same actual time.  

Keep the lens level (pointed sideways) or actually point down a bit to have gravity help (why knock stuff free to have it stay there!?), but not so much you can't see what you are doing. Blow as much off as you can. IF you must, use the very very soft brush to wipe away more, then blow that off also. Occasionally flick the brush to get the dust off it as we'll discuss more in a minute. 

If convenient (not too big a gun or optic), etc I'll often finish with the lens pointed straight down, and give it a few good squirts of the blower to have gravity take one more help to knock loose bits off the lens entirely. 

Get a bigger one for home or if you have a big optics case. I like this Giotto one because it's a rocket and is very very good:
Lots of air, deals with most issues. The rocket bit also means it stays upright as shown so doesn't get dirty etc. They make several sizes of this rocket blower. The mini is fine for most things but if you want bigger rockets, go for it as more air moves more stuff.

Do NOT use shop air (e.g. a compressor). That's too much, can damage things, and shop air has (a little) oil in it which defeats the purpose. 

For more dirty, such as when it rains (or just condensates) on your dusty lenses, you wipe. Wet. Always wet. Wiping dry is also called "sanding." Don't sand your lenses. Turn the optic lens up (and don't forget, you probably have to clean both ends, so do one, then the other), flood the area with Windex (or similar, but not like denatured alcohol, as that can dry out the rubber seals holding the lenses in, etc). Use a disposable wipe and go in a very tight spiral from the center outward.

The edges are the most dirty so you want to clean them last, and... they are also less important optically if they are dirty or even scratched. May be other stuff with optics going on, all I know is people like Zeiss above do big NO NOT THAT symbols for any pattern other than spiral. Believe them.

Don't use microfiber cloths etc, as dust is bad stuff like we mentioned. The cloth absorbs some of the bad things, so you want to toss them if at all possible (same for hand washing actually. Get rid of the bad things). Hence the cleaning the brush off periodically also. 

I like Kimwipes. They make a lens-specific one but I am unclear if it's just a different box label as I have used both, they seem identical. 

I first used these professionally, cleaning scanner beds and cameras for work I did with Hallmark, which is another type of optic and the results matter, so aside from being a nerd for scopes and night vision, I've done this cleaning where people judged my results. 

If you need to get visible ickiness out of the corners, wrap a wipe around a Q-tip, and (starting gently, plenty of liquid) go around the edge of the lens, where stuff gets trapped. The stick in the image with spirals above is doing that, but we can normally just use a slight wad of the wipe on your finger. It's fine. 

This wiping is going to end like window cleaning. Okay, we'll also not assume you know how to clean windows. You blow / brush to get all the chunks off, then wipe once to get big dirt, then spray with a bit less liquid, wipe around in circles pretty fast to get all the dirt and residues off, so it's perfectly clean. Then... it should do this visible flash drying you see when good window washing. If spots (large or pinpoints) exist as it dries: it's not clean. Do it again. If it evenly flashes from wet to dry across more or less the whole lens surface, it's clean.

For emergencies, in the field, etc. these liquid-impregnated wipes are my backup. I still try to brush or blow off first, and they are less optimal than the full procedure. But they are pretty good, and also have anti-fog properties so are good for eyepro, glasses.

I suspect all the lens cleaning wipes from legit optics makers are the same thing in different packages, but snazzy ones like Zeiss that I used to find disappear a lot. These seem consistently available.

Speaking of field use, I am not a big fan of LensPens. They are too good at trapping dirt. I do keep on on my LBE when I need to brush off bad things, to avoid using my fingers just that once. I use it only when I absolutely have to, and first I flick it a few times once deployed so any schmutz it accumulated from previous cleaning or just being in the bag I have given a good chance of knocking off. 

Then use it pretty gently. More velocity than pressure, and the same spiral motion, center outward. Don't use the flat pad on the other end, at all. Ever. If yours comes off (some do) take it off and throw it away. 

Last, think holistically. If you have scope caps (removable or flip open), clean them out also, as they can accumulate dust and dirt which will then transfer to the optic when closed. If lenses are set back far into the housing (or you have a sunshade) clean the accumulated dirt, including that which moves from the lens to there during the above. Usually, the same cleaning fluid on a Q-tip will do; these insets usually have fine spiral grooves to cut down on light so go around instead of in and out to clean more thoroughly and not shred the cleaning pad. 

Same for other optical accessories; for protective sacrificial lenses/filters or demist shields, periodically remove them and clean both sides, as well as the lens underneath. 

For killflashes (honeycombs), dust them off gently when not attached to the optic. If you manage to accumulate more dirt than that on a killflash, they are usually aluminum (some are 3D printed now) so can simply be soaked, then gently dried and blown off. Watch also for damage to the aluminum ones; if dented they generally need to simply be replaced, as re-straightening them is nearly impossible. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

We Supply Airsoft Pellets for Swift Fox 22

Yup, that's one of those questions we get a lot, so here's the details. You don't bring pellets, we do. Why? Two basic reasons: 

  • Logistics. CWG events are very concerned with operations, not just tactics. Ardean and Kitoy ammo is marked per side, and doesn't work in each other's guns per the rules. Each side's ammo is provided in labeled ammo cans that are stored on field and have to be moved around in the cans to simulate the real world logistics. 
  • Aiming. We don't use bright colored pellets (at least for rifles) so you cannot easily see and walk them on target. We want to simulate real weapons fire, so you must use your sights then either get an effect on target, or fire again. Issuing dark ammo solves this for us without you having to get specific stuff, and us checking on that. 
  • Teamwork. Everyone on your side (or at least a lot of them) uses the same ammo so again to the operations side, has to work together to handle ammo supply. 

Note that we aren't like most paintball games, and just provide the ammo. We don't sell it, but enough for the entire event is provided as part of the game fee. Some is not in convenient places, but it's all out there on the field. 

For those that really care, like who want to zero their guns and stuff, what are they? Well, it depends: 

  • Ardean rifles use the heaviest pellets, 0.30 for their .30-caliber 7.62 NATO rifles. 
  • Kitoy rifles use slightly lighter 0.25 pellets for their .223 caliber (it's close!) 5.56 NATO rifles. 
  • Machine guns are totally different, and use a mix of white and glow in the dark pellets, at a 4:1 ratio. Sadly a ratio, so there will be random bursts of each color due to the way feeders work. Unlike rifles, this simulates tracer, day (white) and night (GITD, since you DO have a tracer unit on your MG as required, don't you???) 

The pellet weights do even sometimes matter, so at extreme ranges the Ardean rifles will go a bit further. It's not a perfect simulation of the two cartridges, but every bit helps. We also issue twice as much ammo to the Kitoy for their lighter rifles and more magazines on the body. Remember, the unit of issue for Ardea is 4 mags on the body, 1 in the gun, 6 and 1 for Kitoy. 

The Initial Issue ammo is what we provide as a big pile to you at the Assembly Area to load mags after chrono (chrono is performed with white 0.2 g pellets we provide also). Unload the chrono pellets and load up your battle ammo. Ardeans get 300 rounds per player, Kitoy gets 600 each. Remember that spare ammo has to take up the space it is would in reality, so if you end up with half a bag of Initial Issue ammo because you use realcaps, do not stuff the little baggies in your pocket, but put them back in an ammo can for transport. You can also just leave them with your Ready Bag, as long as you use the ammo only for reloads there, such as when recovering from wounds at the Aid Station, and don't carry it around. 

Specially trained personnel with high tech equipment load your initial issue boxes, and place them into marked ammo cans.

What about the GDL? For now, we're doing that with minimal changes so they are using the same pellets.  That works as: 

  • No change to machine guns. If it simulates a belt-fed MG, then use the MG ammo.
  • 5.56 and less powerful (SMGs mostly) then use the 5.56 0.25 ammo. 
  • 7.62 M43 (7.62x39) or larger uses the 7.62x51 ammo. 

Don't steal ammo. Just like you don't take anything else when you ransack the enemy bases or kill them, don't take their ammo caches even if low on your own supplies. Pretend it's incompatible even if you are a GDL player using that ammo, and ignore it or "destroy" it with a note if time permits.   

Any more questions? 

Monday, April 4, 2022

What's a Ready Bag, and How Do I Use It?

Central War Gaming events lean hard into "light infantry" methods, for several reasons. "Light" is a reference to the weight and bulk of the total lifting and logistics tail required to move and support a unit. An APC is a lot heavier than the troops inside, and need ammunition, fuel, parts and repair centers; but the end result is the old joke that individual light infantry soldiers carry the heaviest packs. 

We also allow for a "ready bag," and it has been very helpful for many of us, but seems to still be a point of confusion for many participants. For many units at Swift Fox 23 this will be even more important than usual.

There is going to be a supply point, for each faction. It may be at your basecamp, or near (but not quite colocated with) the aid station, or it may be somewhere else entirely. 

It will be a pallet with your resupply ammunition, at least one 5 gallon water jug and maybe other things. 

It will also have room for you to put your ready bag. Another bag, or box, with extra stuff. 

The backpack/ruck/bergen is required for the Arden and Kitoy — and strongly suggested for the GDL. In it you should carry everything you know you will need for sure in it, and some specific required things like water, first aid, rain gear, a sleep system and shelter, food and so forth to survive.

But you don't have to carry literally everything you might need. Say, the spare uniform. If you think one is good enough, put the spare in the ready bag. If it seems nice, and dry, you can put some of your more extreme cold weather gear in the ready bag instead of the ruck. Then, if you fall in a creek and get wet, or the weather changes, you have to ask your CoC if you can hike over to the supply point and get your spare stuff. 

Or, it's airsoft, so the guns are fragile. If you want to bring a spare, you don't ruck it around, but leave it in the ready bag. You can bring all sorts of stuff into the field, have it available, but not have to carry it with you.

(Remember, there's no going back to the car for something you forgot once the game starts. If you want it, put it on the ruck or in the ready bag).

Also remember reloads. You can carry ammunition into the field, but cannot make more on your body. A 40 mm shell, or rocket, can be loaded into the launcher, but to recharge it with gas, and load a new projectile is something that can't happen. 

We pretend you are going back to the supply point to get more ammunition, but you may instead use supplies you left there to to recharge them all. 

(Yes, if your stuff leaks, you can bring spare gas into the field to top off. We're not monsters). 

The supply point and your ready bag is often near the aid station because then it's close to you when you are dead and recovering. I also have some spare snacks, a water bottle, and anything else I might want for comfort in my ready bag for these rest cycles. 

When killed, I can go rest in more comfort than I might otherwise. For example, in the aid station I'm static so a warmth layer just for this location is useful to not get cold. You may choose to even have a spare meal and the required heating and eating gear, so you can fully replenish yourself even if your ruck is far away, or just to avoid using the portable ones. 

If any of this seems a little unrealistic, remember: it is a game. Not in the sense that it doesn't matter, but that it is compressed in time and space, and that other resources are imaginary. You can't attack enemy aid stations not for game rules alone, but because they are supposed to be actual aid stations, with medics, and guards with machine guns. 

Likewise, the resupply point is not really just a pile of stuff, but there are logistics staff, and maybe even — depending on your scenario — vehicles moving in and out of there bringing you more supplies through the event. That's why you can have a rocket launcher with three reloads only, but go get three more reloads as many times as you want. 

Technically the ready bag is not required. If you want to ruck in everything, go for it. And, we say "ready bag" but if you want to put your stuff in a giant Hardigg case (as I have) that's fine also. Don't overdo it, as we all have to move it in and out of the field, and maybe for you. A bag not bigger than an A-bag (though we suggest waterproof as it'll be unattended and outside) is good because if needed you can have someone else go get it and bring it back to base for you. 

For the GDL, there's even more room to maneuver. You will have a basecamp so as far as we're concerne you can carry ONLY the ready bag of stuff, and use LBE or assault pack for what's needed in the field. 

As always, talk to your chain of command and ask what else they require of you, and plan for other team gear you may have to carry before you decide what to pack, and how. 

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