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08/22/2005 Archived Entry: "Tactical Hand Signals"

TACTICAL HAND SIGNALS - do you know them? If you see a commando making hand motions, will you be able to tell if he's saying something or just scratching his butt? Fortunately, a kind person has collected all the common signals together for our edification. Take a look! (note: 500kB file)

Okay, so those are just a joke, which some of you have certainly seen before. However, it is a good idea to work out a system of hand signals with your shooting buddy (buddies). They don't have to be complex or extensive, but should cover the basic stuff, like movement, location of targets, and attack plans. If you spot a Bad Guy hiding nearby, you should be able to convey that info to your partner and make a plan to deal with the situation (and that's not as complicated as it looks typed out). For example, the following signals would do just that:

Target sighted
Direction of target
You attack from left
I will attack straight ahead
Confirmation from other person

I wouldn't worry about using "official" or standardized signals, but instead pick ones that make sense to you and your partner(s). Here are a couple resources to get you started:

Army field manual FM 21-60, Visual Signals (covers signals for infantry, armor, aircraft, convoys, and others)
British Royal Army hand signals adapted for airsoft (these look pretty darn good to me)

I know I say this about everything shooting-related, but it is particularly critical to practice hand communications if you intend to use them at all. Confusing your partner with hand signals would likely create a worse situation than if you didn't try to communicate at all. So pick out a dozen or so signals, memorize them, and practice with them regularly. It might save your life some day (they've helped me significantly in a couple Airsoft skirmishes)...and at the very least, you'll look like a pretty badass team to anyone watching.

Posted by Ian @ 05:29 PM CST

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