Go to desktop

How to Airsoft: Movement in open environments

Just like closed quarters battle or CQB has its principles, and its methodology, regardless of how much it varies according to the unit or the country in question, in open spaces or natural areas combat, there are also some guidelines to be taken into account to gain as much advantage as possible in case of falling in combat, or to take advantage tactically of the terrain through which the unit is moving.

There is something I read a while ago about the British SAS and its famous 5 "S" Rule: Shape, Shine, Shadow, Silhouette and Space. It talked about how operators have to move to take advantage of the terrain in their favour and stay hidden from the enemy.

5‭ ‬“S”‭ ‬Rule

Always move using the environment to avoid attracting too much attention. Always flow with the vegetation that surrounds you, if you cross through it don’t make any noise, don’t walk through a plain, always have a broad forest on one flank.

Avoid wearing anything shine since it will give you away from a long distance.

Use shaded areas to move whenever you can; colours are muted in the shade and blend better with those of the environment.

Prevent your silhouette from giving you away. Don’t walk through a mountain range letting your human silhouette stand out, move along its slopes so that you cannot be detected.

Oddly enough, it is very hard to detect any movement in long distances. And if this movement is carried out by different elements that are separated from each other, it is even harder. 

The space between operators is very important in terms of movement and combat in the open field, because it is what will allow you to increase or reduce the size of the formation.

You should always have visual contact with the team or at least with the operators who are closest to you in the formation. This way you can always receive or communicate any hand signal and you will know that those behind you will see it too. 

But sometimes visual contact is reduced or limited: for example, in rough terrain or at night time. When eye contact is limited, you can try to establish audio or radio contact. While this can create problems, since sometimes you do not want to be detected and cannot afford to make any kind of noise. In these cases in which eye contact fails, it is best to use physical contact. If you cannot see the team mate in front of you, you have to get closer to him until you can almost touch him or feel him in front of you. And your other team mates behind you must do the same.

There are different formations for the different types of terrain.

In those areas without any type of cover, it is best to adopt very open formations, leaving a lot of space between operators, provided that nothing will hinder the visibility between them. And in terms of tactical formations, options such as arrowhead , line of shooters or wedge would be the best, given than a larger area is swept, the 360º are still covered, and all operators are at the same height so that in case there is contact they can move in the same direction. In these tactical formations the VIP roles are at the centre of the formation.

Arrowhead y Wedge:

On the contrary, in forested areas or areas with many slopes, a wedge or arrowhead formation would only break visual contact among operators. Therefore, you would adopt a more closed formation, such as a trail or single column formation. The man leading the way chooses the best path to take and the rest just have to follow in his footsteps. This is also positive in terms of noise, if the leader steps on something that makes a noise or loosens a rock, the others can avoid it.

Trail & Single Column:

Finally, in the case of tracks and crossing areas between the two previous types of terrain; there are multiple formations available, among which the double column formation is an excellent option. Just like in CQB, where you should never go through the centre of the rooms, the same rule applies for tracks, it is always better to advance along the side of the road. Because, in case of contact, with a simple jump you can get out of the way and move to cover. You could also opt for a single column formation, but then you would be prioritising one side over the other, and one sector would be less protected. The double column is also used when you move behind a vehicle.

Double column:

Finally, when you must stop moving, regardless of the terrain, the diamond formation is adopted. In this way the 360º are completely covered while the TL is located at the centre of the unit with whom he needs to solve the problem (radio operator, navigator, doctor, etc.).

When you move in open spaces, it is important that all operators secure their sector while completely trusting that someone else will cover what they cannot see. This way, you prevent everyone from looking everywhere, and make sure they focus on their own sector. 

Diamond formation:


When there is contact in open spaces, you must take advantage of the environment to fight the enemy. Try to take advantage of anything you can, since the enemy already has the initiative and their goal is to take us out.

To this end, the first thing to do when there is contact in open areas is:


Especially in that order. The first thing is to fire back, as we already explained in the first "How to Airsoft” article, suppress the enemy and prevent him from continuing to shoot us. And right after look for some area to take cover in. In the open field, covers are often scarce, so a good option is to reduce the silhouette to the maximum by lying on the ground.


Once everyone has taken cover, knowing the origin of the enemy fire and suppressing it, you will move on to damage control. If someone is wounded and can be saved, take him to safety so a doctor can treat him. But above all, make sure everyone is aware of the current positions of all team members, to avoid friendly fire and to know which sectors are secured.


The Team Leader has to assess the situation of the team, especially taking the terrain into account. Sometimes it is not a bad idea to fall back and look for alternatives. Ambushes often take place in "funnel" areas (where the land makes you move through narrow areas so that the distance between operators is reduced and you can take out more operators in less time) and fighting in them is usually difficult. Therefore, it is the TL’s responsibility to decide what to do, whether to fall back, fight, flank, ask for reinforcements, etc.


In any case, the basic tactics that are usually used both to combat and to fall back are the following:

It is about advancing under allied cover and suppression. While an operator or a pair of operators runs to the next position, the rest of the operators suppress the enemy so that they cannot be seen moving, nor can the runner be shot down.

The Team Leader may order that a small number of operators simulate a retreat so that, once they are out of the enemy’s sight, they can initiate an approach to the enemy position by one of their flanks. Meanwhile the rest of the unit has remained in the initial position, fighting the enemy to prevent him from abandoning or changing position.

It is the same operation as "JUMPS" but instead of moving forward, you move backwards. Each time you keep getting a little further away from the enemy until you are out of their sight and can then rethink the route to follow.

Just like with tactics in general, we could also use many more combat techniques in open spaces. But at a basic level, these are the ones that should be clear because they are the ones that you can use in most cases and in all types of terrain. But you should also take into account that these are the ones the enemy can carry out in all battles. As you already know, in this sport, as in war: cunning is everything. And it is actually the most cunning and not the bravest who win.