Still Voodoo After All These Years – an interview with Task Force Voodoo’s Rob C
A while back I’d mentioned the fortuitous nature of social media, and that one of the truly positive sides is connecting like minded people.
With a shared love of Heavy Music, Spaced (TV Show) and naturally ‘Rough Ramblers‘ (laughs) I met Rob (virtually) over a variety of shared threads.
Of course, I knew of him, and his Team, Voodoo as they have a considerable presence on both the UK Airsoft and MilSim scene …
Naturally, the time has come to sit down and show case what they’ve been up to …
GM75: Hey Rob, thanks for taking the time out to talk with us – how’ve you been ?
RC: My pleasure, as you know I read (and talk to you about) your interviews with a genuine interest so it’s a little strange to be on the pointy end of one! All is well with me just polishing my dancing shoes for the Christmas Voodoo do next weekend and looking forward to some tactical goodness from Santa of course.
GM75: So, let go back to the start, how did you get involved in Plastic Deth (Airsoft) and how did that grow into Task Force Voodoo, what was behind the teams inception ?
RC: I stumbled into Airsoft sometime ago when I saw some pistols in my local model shop some 20+ odd years ago, naturally I was intrigued and pestered my dad enough (wow that really dates it) till he bought me my first ever pistol the biggest shiniest Automag 45. springer. Around about the same time a good friend of mine bought a much more manageable PPK and natural progression kicked in from plinking targets (and each other) in our back gardens to buying bigger more capable RIF’s, drooling over the TM catalogue to attending skirmish days.
I skirmished for a good few years at various sites and made some great friends, many of which are members of TFV (Task Force Voodoo) to this day, but realized I wasn’t enjoying it as much as others perhaps were. It wasn’t the shooting everyone in sight element for me, it was the chance to out think and out maneuver players that I was being drawn towards more.
I got invited to attend a Sniper Training event, although I’ve never really committed to the sniping philosophy, the idea of learning something new appealed so I signed up and, on what happened to be the wettest day of the century, we duly went through our 9hrs of learning and fieldcraft without firing more than 2 shots … and absolutely loved it!
At this point I was fortunate enough to be a moderator on the Manc-AS forums which, at the time (pre Facebook), was a really strong presence for airsoft in the North of England. We managed to get a number of the various teams present on the forums together and started the “Manc Open” games where we would hire a site for the day and pitch teams against each other in what would now be recognized as a MilSim style game.
I took a short break from the hobby and looked at what I’d really enjoyed doing; the tactics, training and comm’s elements and that was it, I knew that I didn’t want to skirmish anymore I wanted to milsim. I knew I had some friends who were in a similar position, all in their respective teams, who have dabbled with a bit of MilSim here and there, so I fired round a message (on the now invented Facebook) and asked if they would be interested in coordinating our efforts and forming one big team, everyone loved the idea and Task Force Voodoo was born.
That was circa 3 or 4 years ago and since we’ve grown from strength to strength by trying to be as inclusive as we can be to anyone who’s interested in giving MilSim a try as a lot of people, myself included, find it a little daunting to take that first step up into the often bigger MilSim games. Because of this I think we’re at our strongest ever with some great new players supported by a core of experienced long serving guys.
Sorry… that went on a little, though it does cover a few decades, in my defense!
GM75: Now, like me you’ve got a keen eye for kit and gear, any particular favorite pieces, or any new acquisitions you’ve recently acquired that you’ve recently put to good use – is there also something you take out in the field that you just can’t do without ?
RC: It’s no secret I’m a geardo, I do love a piece of well-designed solidly built kit, combine this with my tasks now being more admin/comms based it does lead to some interesting kit selections. There are a couple of pieces that are certainly stand out, not necessarily the most Gucci bits in my kit bag, but the most useful:
Cheap and cheerful magnetic lights: these are a few quid each and have proved to be life savers. When your holed up in a shipping container in Stanta or a farmhouse in the rolling hills of Otterburn, the ability to stick one of these little badboys up on a ceiling and light a room up can’t be over appreciated!
Snugpak Sleeka jacket: I genuinely believe this should be on the list for every milsim player. I got mine second hand many moons ago for about £25 and it’s still going strong. When you come back in from a long wet patrol, or your out on stag at silly o’clock in the AM the ability to get, and stay, warm is a wonderful thing and nothing does it better than a sleeka.
I’m never out in the field without my multitool (an old battered Gerber Legend) and my notepad/pens, again perhaps not the most exciting items on a loadout, but by far my most used and abused!
As for new acquisitions, well the team have just decided to take a step forward in making ourselves look a little more like a team. As we don’t impersonate a real world unit, rather just roll it what works, we perhaps don’t look as ally as a lot of the other guys out there (who, all credit to them put a lot of effort in!) so we’ve just invested in some very nice Multicam Tropic Smocks. Absolutely love this camo for the UK, so we had some smocks made up to our own design so they’ll be functional for our style of play and really looking forward to getting this out in the field.
GM75: What’s your take on the UK’s Skirmish and MilSim scene, we’ve seen both grow exponentially over the last few years – whilst it has both its positive and negatives, for example is the term MilSim generously over used ?
RC: It’s certainly a growing scene as you say it appeared to grow significantly recently, but for me last year particularly was a bit of a strange one. It’s almost as if it expanded too quickly and imploded a little, last year seemed to be a particularly slow year in my eyes.
I’m not sure if the term “MilSim” is over used or not, but I am certain that people’s interpretation of it is certainly wide and varied. It seems to catch all from objective based skirmishing right up to the multi day hard routine events. I think there’s a certain responsibility on event organizers to make it clear what level of MilSim their events will be so as to attract the right person. Then the players themselves have to be honest and aware enough to decide whether that level of event is for them. It’s not an elite or exclusivity thing, more the fact that the varying levels, and there is a significant difference, will require different kit, different play styles and, frankly, different people.
There is nothing more soul destroying than having put your all into an event only to find out X number have decided to go home because it’s too cold, too wet, not enough shooting etc etc … it can really turn a whole event.
That being said, I genuinely believe the UK has one of the strongest MilSim scenes that Airsoft has to offer with a great combination of event organizers willing to push the boundaries, well organized, motivated and capable teams and some excellent facilities to let us loose on.
GM75: Now, I’ve observed several reports, all of which have been great reads, regarding several events you’ve attended – any standout moments ?
RC: I cut my MilSim teeth with Tier 1 and they have a special place in my Airsoft memories, their events saw me go from new guy to section leader to force command elements so I experienced and learned a hell of a lot from the events and the guys there.
I will never, as long as I play, forget the first time I was leading a patrol around the outskirts of Stanta In the wee small hours just as the sun was creeping up, and the call to prayer rang out. At that moment I was the most submersed in an event I have ever been. I wasn’t expecting it and when I stopped to look around all I could see was this Middle Eastern setting of Stanta and for a good few seconds I genuinely lost myself and didn’t know what to do. The old brown adrenaline kicked in as soon as we got engaged by enemy forces and that promptly snapped me too. But what an experience!
Our last event was another first for me actually with CAG (Combat Airsoft Group) up at Otterburn, it was the first time we, as a team, rolled out as Opfor. This was a completely different game, I found I spent most of my time trying to keep the guys heads in the character as Opfor instead of going good guy hunting and that in itself was a massive challenge. There was a lot more role play and a different kind of immersion involved when you have to carry out tasks like collecting and cutting firewood for camp, assembling and laying simulated IED’s. We all thoroughly enjoyed it, it turned out to be a real team building event for us I think.
GM75: The spectre of doubt has yet again been thrown over the game and industry yet again, for the most part it’s a positive past time, which people positively engage in – what’s your thoughts on this – could we for example legitimize it in some shape or way to ensure its future …
RC: I’m a firm believer in accountability, I think it’s for us as the Airsoft community to take charge of this (as best we can) and implement a solution. We’re particularly bad at this as there seems to be some kind of power struggle as soon as any kind of organizational group is put forward. Why we can’t all sit round a table (and I mean ALL interested parties) and thrash out something that will protect players, retailers and site owners is absolutely beyond me, this is by no means an insurmountable task if people would just put egos aside and commit to a solution.
I think it’s not a case of where we should legitimize our hobby, more we have to. I know a lot of people like the idea of it being almost some clandestine group of players in this secretive hobby. Well I don’t think that’s going to do anything for the future of the hobby at all. We should be open, honest and inclusive and educate people rather than hide from them.
I see the positives from our hobby all the time, it why our team is so open with new players because seeing what they get out of it, and put back in, they become a massive credit to the hobby. We should foster this and not avoid it by retreating into our cliques and dismissing everyone who’s not dripping in Gucci kit.
Personally, and I know this isn’t particularly popular, I think the hobby needs to look at becoming a sport. That isn’t to say turn it into Paintball with inflatables and MotoCross looking kit, but more about getting ourselves organized, represented and protected legally. If this means having to register clubs, RIF owners then why is this such a bad thing if it ensures the hobby moves forward.
GM75: Now, like me you’ve been up until recently a proponent of the PTW, particularly a rather stunning custom take on the ‘War Sport’ variant – now, I’m a huge fan of their accuracy, durability and reliability – what’s your take on these divisive blasters ?
RC: I’ve taken much stick for being a PTW owner, as I’m sure you have, but let me put this straight now. I’ve had my particular PTW for over 5 years now, it’s been out in all weathers (and I do mean all weather) and it has never skipped a beat, it’s only earlier this year that I finally got it serviced, after finally realizing it was long overdue.
I won’t say it’s better than this or that, that’s personal preference, but if you’re serious about wanting top performance from your RIF as a tool then you have to consider the PTW as top of its game, and make no mistake it’s just that, It’s a tool to do a job, it’s not a panacea. Owning a PTW will not make you the best shot ever, but neither does owning one make you an elitist snob.
GM75: What advice would you give to a new player starting out, any particular essentials such a reliable well made blaster, good boots etc …
RC: Biggest thing I can say to any new player is DON’T rush out and buy all your kit straight away, you will inevitably make a ton of expensive mistakes and have to replace half of what you bought within 6 months. Play and enjoy the game first. Find out what aspects you like, what works for you then let your kit enable those parts.
I’m a big proponent of buy quality, this isn’t always the most expensive, but it’s certainly not the cheapest. Buy the best kit you can afford and it will last you and it will save you money in the long run. Not only that but you know you can rely on it and not spend half your time trying to bodgethings together that have failed in the field.
For players new to MilSim particularly, please don’t overlook how important the personal admin side of things is, have a good sleeping bag, bivvi bag, sleep mat. Do not compromise your ability to sleep, eat and get warm or you will have a very hard time!
And, of course, boots.. yes good boots are probably the single most important thing to any player. Not only for comfort but for injury prevention too. I’ve used Lowa boots for the longest time (I got married in a pair) and love them to death. Lately I’ve switched to AKU’s as I’d heard so much positive about them, and being a geardo I wanted an excuse to try something new, they’re good but I don’t think they’re taking over my Lowa fan boy status just yet.. I must try some of the much praised Salomon’s next..perhaps if Mr S Clause is reading this.. “nudge nudge” (laughs)
GM75: So, 2016 is almost upon us, what plans have you laid out for the coming year ?
RC: I’m looking forward to the new year, it won’t surprise anyone who knows me that I’ve got plans in place for Voodoo already. We’re kicking off the year with a training weekend to get everyone, new and old alike, on the same page and build more on the team coherency and have a chat about SOPs, kit etc.. always a good way to start the year.
We’re looking at trying some new elements this year by including some more general outdoor and survival training, it’s always good to get the lads together outside and learning new things and who knows we might get the chance to put it into use in game!
Then it’s on to milsim events as per usual for us, we’re already looking forward to CAG’s Op Eagle Fury in April and perhaps a venture abroad to one of the big European games!
GM75: Last but not least, this is a trademark question, real steel ammo counts – something I’m a fan of but has really struggled to take off due to Airsoft’s limited range and accuracy – is there a place for this or do you think it’s not feasible ?
RC:I knew this question was coming, and have given it some serious thought.. probably a bit too much to be honest. It is feasible yes, but I think it detracts from the game given the limitation of our equipment, as you point out accuracy and range being the major ones. Without doubt we need to factor ammo in if we want to play as real as we can, but to do this without acknowledging the limitation is shortsighted and could be detrimental. That being said it’s very rare I use more than 30 rounds in a magazine so perhaps you’re on to something!
For me, recently at least, the use of Blank Firing Grenades is becoming more of an interesting point. With the influx of multiuse bfg’s now people can carry the equivalent to a whole arsenal of grenades in just a few pouches taking us slowly away from the realism we all say we strive to achieve.
Task Force Voodoo can be found here
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