Why Do I OPFOR?
By: Arien Lee
Everyone has an activity they find enjoyable. Mine happens to be a living, breathing, aggressive, reactive meat target for a local training facility known as Direct Action Resource Center (DARC). When people find eventually find out what I do, the common question “Why? Doesn’t that hurt?” shows up.
There’s a dividing line when it comes to being OPFOR (Opposition Forces). In my experience there’s two extremes after your first run through the shoot house. You either hate it, or you love it and can’t get enough. I take some pride in being a difficult target for the heroes and making them work to earn every part of the house. Realizing anyone would much rather be shot by simunitions instead of live rounds this training is invaluable for the heroes to practice tactics that could potentially save the lives of others. It is nice to hear at the end of a long week the appreciation from fellow humans you’ve been trading hits with knowing they’re as beat up or more then we are. Because they truly do appreciate it and they know the value of experience.
There are practical applications as well to being OPFOR. At 2:30AM someone breaks into your house will you have a team of six to help you hold your home, or will you be alone? As a lone OPFOR holding a shoot house against trained teams it gives us a chance to mimic a home invasion. I’ve learned if there’s an escape route and multiple attackers hell yes get out of the building. There is no material item worth dying for in my home. In some cases escape may not be an option. Experience learned from DARC shoot house has me looking at different angles in my own house. Learning the geometry of the fight in hopes of having the highest chance of survival. My home has a long hallway with all of the bedrooms at the end? Perfect. From one bedroom door I can see down the hall, across the living room, through the kitchen, and into the laundry room. Would a home invader know to look deep for me? Probably not. If you take the opportunity and pay attention you absolutely will learn things. Sometimes even without realizing it.
Additionally, it’s an excellent way to test gear and equipment to see what works and what doesn’t. For years I ran a very cheap LED rifle mounted light putting out about 200 lumens. Did it break? Nope, it still works. It was useful for navigating and trying to PID targets. Being alone in the dark drives home the need for every weapon to have some sort of light. However after getting to run a Surefire X300U it’s night and day in the difference. When you can clearly see a threat, and possibly conceal yourself behind that much illumination you learn the importance of higher quality gear. There is a balance to this as well though. Not having a department budget to help with funding and still provide for a family alternatives are looked at. Would I like to have lightweight ceramic plates? Yes. Will steel plates stop a majority of threats I’m likely to be presented with if I had time to put them on? Yes. There is no better proving ground then using your equipment with someone shooting back at you.
Finally the physical aspect of a gun fight. Good gear helps but mindset and physical conditioning trump all. I fight in a promask with restricted breathing, running, and evading. Give it a try and run a hundred yards. You’ll quickly see the need to maintain yourself to be ready. Could you pull the trigger on another person in defense of yourself or a loved one? I hope to never have to answer that question but there is mental conditioning that goes along with OPFOR.
So why do I OPFOR? Because it affords me opportunities to improve myself that I wouldn’t have otherwise and to help others.