The Green Mountain Rangers, an American airsoft team, inspire a range of reactions. (Airsoft is a game that replicates the conditions and atmosphere of armed combat employing military issue uniforms and equipment, and replica guns that shoot pellets instead of bullets.) Some find the Green Mountain Rangers fascinating and worthy of respect. Others are appalled that they are playing “war” in a time of war. Still others think that they should just enlist. In fact, two of them have. One team member is in Iraq right now, serving his second tour, and another is due to return to the Middle East in 2008. The rest of the team members are honest about their reasons for not signing up: They like their lives. They don’t want to get killed. Airsoft, then, becomes a way of accessing the thrill of combat with none of the consequences.

Exploding in popularity across the world, airsoft’s main centers of activity are in the U.K., U.S. and Asia. The Berget 5 game, which was played on the island of Hemsö off the coast of Sweden in June of 2007 and in which the Green Mountain Rangers took part, was the largest airsoft meeting in Europe to date. During the event, 2,000 players formed four separate teams; over the course of three days, they played out an imaginary military scenario from 1992 in which Swedish, Finnish and Allied forces held out against an attack by the Soviet Union.

This work is part of a larger project that documents the men of the Green Mountain Rangers over the period of a year. The images here focus on both the fantastical and serious elements of the Berget 5 event.

Lucas Thorpe received a BFA in studio art from the University of New Mexico in 2006 and is currently an MFA Photography, Video and Experimental Media degree candidate at the School of Visual Arts. He has work in a number of Tiny Vices projects curated by Tim Barber and at the Jen Bekman Gallery in New York. He is currently a staff member in the BFA Photography department at the School of Visual Arts.

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