Scum Dog’s of the Universe and Pirate Raccoons – an Interview with Jon A
I met Jon through work, and in the subsequent 2 1/2 years we’ve become firm friends, brothers even and much to my surprise he was, until his recent return, a solid contributor to both ‘Plastic Deth‘ and MilSim scenes.
Taking a considerable hiatus to focus on both his career and endeavors representing Britain nationally with LaCrosse he joined me for his first game at EAG Epsom (Elite Action Games) to wish it one last farewell before it closed its doors.
Here we’ll sit down and get this inside story on why he left the game and subsequently decided to kit up and take up arms once again …
S23: Thanks for taking time out to sit down with us bro, so how did you get involved with, or rather start out with Plastic Deth?
JA: Not problem buddy, always a pleasure. Well it all started a long time ago when I was at school and a good friend showed me his M4 AEG at his house, one of those cheap ones that he picked from a market (long before UKARA). It then started from there with me getting one too and us shooting cans in each other’s gardens. I eventually got bored of that and bought my first AEG, a plastic bodies Tokyo Marui M4 and with one Hi Cap mag and full face mask I went to my first Airsoft skirmish in Central London. After that first night I was hooked!
S23: I was blown away, to discover, you played a very particular and established site, and furthermore part of a very notoriously renowned team, how’d that come about ?
JA: Yeah, I played for a long time at the now sadly shut down Electrowerkz in Central London. It was one of the most fast paced brutal CQB sites I have ever played at! I often came home with welts all up my arms and even loosing my front tooth. I really cut my teeth at Electrowerkz (no pun intended ) and managed to get a invited to join the home team at the site called The Dark Angels, now known as Team Delta Alpha. The team was known for its aggressive style of CQB play and I learnt a lot from them. Over time the team got more involved with Milsim and I ended up traveling up and down the county to different sites and that’s where I fell in love with the Milsim side of the game.
S23: Quite simply, why’d you quit Plastic Deth?
JA: Big question. There’s a few reasons why I quit. As you have written already, I really focused on my career (where we met!) and playing sports. The sports was taking me all over the world and it took priority over everything else. When I was playing Airsoft I got really involved in the gear side and never really spent time taking care of my AEG. This used to frustrate me when playing at events where I would look ‘tacticool’ but my rifle was as useful as a paperweight, but that was my own fault.
Another large influence is my opinion (as you know) on people’s poor attitudes to the game and other players. I would see people hating on the geardos for being ‘elitist’ and the geardos hating on the guys who turn up with a two tone gun but still had grit and kicked down doors. I found Airsoft to be a game that combines both elements of a hobby and sports. People always take a hobby to perfection, everyone wants to build the gun they like or do the loadout they love and I admire anyone who takes the time to painstakingly find the parts or bits of kit to make their prefect rifle or the perfectly historical or screen accurate loadout.
As a sport people want to play to the best of their ability and win. I have all the respect in the world for anyone who turns up and puts 110% in, it doesn’t matter if they’re dressed as a Navy SEAL or rocking a pair of their fathers old combats. Not so long ago I heard a guy at an Airsoft site mock the gear guys saying “you’re a Navy SEAL at the weekends but you still work in data entry in the week” so what? Dressing up like a Navy SEAL makes that guy happy so why rain on his parade? But the guy who said it still plays Airsoft himself! For me it took the fun out of the game, we are all ultimately there for the same reason so why hate on each other?
S23: You recently got back involved, what was the motivation for that, what’s different from when you left it all behind?
JA: (laughs) well I think the reason I got back involved is because I ‘accidentally’ told you that I used to play Airsoft during a conversation at work and you nagged me all day every day to start playing again! I also think having a fresh start is a good idea, I sold all my kit and made a considerable amount of money from it all. This gave me the opportunity to get back into the game how I wanted to. As for differences the game has gone into turbo mode since I left! When I originally played PTWs had just arrived on scene and everyone was still going crazy for the Crye stuff they saw on Transformers! I also think the ‘impression’ has seemed to have died a death. There’s lots of guys doing loosely based on loadouts now. I used to enjoy seeing the guys who spent their time getting black buckles or pinky tan and seeing the hundreds of different customised MICH helmets, now everyone has a Op’s Core helmet that looks the same (including me).
S23: You’ve jumped back onboard with a PTW, a Mk 12 Mod ‘0’ SPR, aside from a few initial teething problems how’s it all going so far with your ‘new’ blaster?
JA: … as I said before I never really had a good rifle and when the opportunity came up to get a Systema PTW in the MK 12 Mod 0 configuration I jumped at the chance. I got it off an old team mate and good friend of mine. Like most people with SPR’s it has a scope that can see far beyond its range but this has come in handy at the last MilSim to spot enemy movements. As for AEGs as a whole they have really stepped up a gear since I left and there’s now so many platforms that are really looking good!
S23: Aside from a furious night of CQB, and a pre event workout at UCAP’s The Sandpit, we both recently marked your return official with Op Darkwater, The Bolshevik’s 36 Hr MilSim. Immersive, demanding and exhilarating – but, what was your take on it all?
JA: Op Darkwater was my first MilSim since my return to the game and I can honestly say it was the best MilSim I’ve ever played.
You’re right on the money by calling it immersive and demanding. Most MilSim’s you all get together for a safety brief and you get a chance to see the enemy visually, size in numbers, weapons and experience. But I really enjoyed the split briefings we had and the fact we didn’t really know who or how many we were up against! The first time I actually saw the enemy was when we almost got spotted in a bush and they walked past us. Hats off to the Bolshevik guys for all their Russian loadouts, the only time it came back to real life was with their English accents (laughs).
S23: … and, hunting at night with NOD’s?
JA: … as you wrote in you’re review of the event 95% of our guys were running night vision… And oh man was it fun! I hadn’t used NOD’s for a few years but to see the whole team rocking them was amazing. This really did make it immersive as we staged a distraction assault on their main base while the other team destroyed an objective. It was surely some Solid Snake stuff as we were sneaking around their base. Definitely something worth investing in for the serious players.
S23: Whilst I favor a somewhat more expansive and complex approach to load outs, you prefer a more minimalist approach, but nonetheless highly effective. During the 36 Hr Op I was continuously amazed at what you had squirreled away in pockets and pouches, paracord, spare mags, torches … what is your approach and ethos to setting up gear?
JA: Well, like others, I used to love filling my plate carriers and belts full of pouches. But my new take on the game has made me more disciplined on my choice of kit. I would often find I had too many pouches or they were in hard to reach places and Molle belts would get weighed down and then become uncomfortable. I think the more stuff you have the more likely it will go wrong. I now like to make all my kit accessible and go with the Motto “pocket before pouch”. This is why I chose to use a Mayflower chest rig as it has no Molle loops to attach pouches so you really start to think about what you are taking for the event you’re attending and start saying to yourself ‘do I really need that?’ Gear has come a long way since I left the scene and it’s almost become a fashion now. It’s cool to have the latest amazing plate carrier and they look awesome but is it what I need? Probably not.
S23: So, with that in mind, particularly off of learning points from the last 36 Hr Op, what do plan to acquire to improve and solidify your pragmatic all purpose approach to gears?
JA: … well, other than being very jealous of your ‘Woobie‘ (laughs). I think the piece of kit I really liked during that event was Rob from Task Force Voodoo’s spotting scope. It really helped with observations of the enemy and made it a tad more immersive. Definitely something I might pick up later along the line.
S23: I’ve a pretty unique approach to how I do things, with an almost impossibly unwavering vision. What was it like working together for a 36 Hr MilSim ?
JA: … I have worked with you almost every day for the past two years so I have some experience with your acquired taste in decision making (laughs). But in all honestly I enjoyed working as a team and I feel the biggest thing with working in teams in Airsoft is trust. If you don’t trust your team mates you will always be worried they will let you down. As you wrote in you’re event review we took a path that I didn’t agree on but I trusted you. And when it all went wrong you trusted me to get us out of trouble! (laughs)
S23: Whilst recently sold on to fund your new blaster, you quite possibly, had one of the most extensive collections of kit and gears, rivaling my own, most missed item?
JA: Well I do still have a fair bit of kit laying around that I need to shift but I did get rid of a lot of bits that I do miss now. First one being my Camelbak HAWG in DCU. This bag was indestructible and accompanied me on many MilSim’s. It’s the perfect size for a day pack and I once managed to store enough stuff in it for a 36 hour event.
The second bit of kit would be my Triple Aught Design battle hoodie in Multicam. Although it wasn’t waterproof it really was warm and just looked super cool. But for now my cheap Craghoppers jacket is doing just fine.
S23: great stuff, really appreciate you taking the time out to talk, obligatory last question I always like to ask (kind of a trademark), I’m a fan of 30 Rounds per mag, what’s your thoughts on this – could you see this perhaps bringing something new and fresh to game play if embraced by the masses ?
JA: No problems Lloyd! (laughs)
Well this is the big question … I myself run between 50-60 rounds per mag. This is due to the fact it’s not going to be as accurate as a real gun and players don’t always feel the hit. I try and stay very disciplined with my shot taking and will try and make 400-450 rounds last an entire event. If you force yourself to do it you really start to think about your shots. I only really shoot when I know I can hit someone. I think one place 30 rounds would work would be in a CQB environment. You don’t have to worry about range and for the most part don’t have to worry about guys feeling the hit. It would make CQB far more tactical and make you think more about your movements rather than hosing BB’s at the door while everyone tries to run through.
But all this is besides the point really. People don’t spend lots of hard earned money and take all that time building their favourite gun just to not shoot it. Everyone plays for the same reason … To run around and shoot as many people as possible! No one likes walking away from an event without getting a few ‘kills’ under their belt, it sucks! Maybe one day someone will take the plunge and run a real capacity event, I’ll be interested in the results.