On every airsoft team (or group) there are going to be players who play certain roles, whether it is the sniper/spotter combo, medic, assault, or heavy weapons. This is even more true when you play MilSim events, because you are assigned to play a certain role and you can only do certain things associated with that role. The role of support gunner, in my mind, is one of the most important roles because you are assisting your entire team in one way or another, and you can do things the rest of your team can’t.
The first main question is: how do you become a support gunner? I must say it is not as easy as buying an M60, Stoner, or M240 and going to a field and slinging BBs. To really play the support gunner role, you first must understand how you must play. The main thing to remember is that your job is not to play marksman or get kills. This is not to say you won’t get a kill, but the majority of your BBs are going to be spent shooting at walls, windows, doors, or into brush. If you are actively trying to get kills, rather than cover your team, you are going to get yelled at pretty quickly.
Playing the support role requires you to have your head on a swivel because you are supposed to be covering your teammates. When I play support with my ASG US Ordnance M60, if my team has me suppressing a certain spot, I am often looking in a completely different direction as I am shooting, for other teams/people moving in on the flanks. Last time I played an event with the M60, our first scenario was assaulting a hill and I went through an entire box magazine within the first hour because we were trying to push the hill. In the end we were successful because we actually had two support gunners on our team. When we finally got to the control point, we set up an MG nest and just kept the other team from pushing. In this instance, our other teammates didn’t really have to do much once we set up the nest.
The next main question is: do you have the ability to run a support weapon for an entire day? Carrying a support weapon is not like carrying an M4. Fully loaded with battery and BBs, my M60 weighs close to 20lbs. That is much more weight to continuously lift up and down than your standard M4. Another thing that relates to this question is the ability to supply your support gun with batteries and BBs. Last event, I went through a total of 15,000 BBs, and over time, this is going to add up to a pretty penny.
Playing the support role means playing a very specific way. Your teammates will expect you to know what you are doing, because they are going to play a certain way with you present. You need to be able to give them accurate information on when it is ok to move, and when it is not. Your job is to own the field, so get out there and own it!