… For Victory – an interview with Mike Templar
By being virtually stable mates in the ether I struck up an acquaintance with Mike and subsequently become very firm friends.
A solid figure within the UK scene, reliable, steady and ever present, he’s stoically produced both written content, photography and video content either reviewing or capturing plastic deth events he attends.
Intriguingly, much like another one of our luminaries Kable from Red Team, he too has a prior military background and to this day still serves within the private sector.
Despite his sizable frame and omnipotent presence, you’ll find nary a more gregarious soul who represents the very best of our communities ethos …
Let’s find out more …
S23: Mike, thanks for taking time out to come aboard and sit down with us, appreciate your every busy with work, home and plastic deth. First question I’ve gotta ask, is how did you get involved in the game, I know the story, but it’s an interesting one to say the least ?
MT: (laughs) thanks for having me. Yeah, I didn’t want to get involved in Airsoft at all initially! Basically, a really good friend of mine, who has no military or law enforcement experience, was really keen on trying out this game called Airsoft. Initially I had no idea what it was until he explained it was like Paintball, but with BB guns. At that point I knew exactly what it was as I’d seen it in some magazines, and my immediate reaction wassomething along the lines of “f**k no. I’m not doing that. It’s full of wannabe’s”. Embarrassingly now, as a soldier (I was just going through the signing off process), I had the opinion that anyone who played Airsoft was trying to trick the world into thinking they were Special Forces. I was quite adamant that I wasn’t doing it because it would be embarrassing and cringe worthy, but he actually knew an Airsoft player so was trying to convince me it wasn’t as bad as that.
Eventually I agreed to go play and the site we chose to play at was Ambush Adventures in Chobham. A group of us went in the end and while waiting in the car park chatting, myself and my buddy who I actually joined the Army with, were joking about how these kids had more gear than we had when we deploying to Iraq. Later in the day too, I remember chatting to one lad who ran me through the cost of all his gear and it cost more than my entire initial kit issue when I joined the Army, (laughs).
But, as soon as I played the first game, I fell in love with it instantly. For me, it’s all the fun of being on exercise and in combat, but without the bull s**t and death, and eventually I got chatting to some of the lads and realized that in fact, it’s not a bunch of wannabes, it’s just a load of guys of all ages having fun, mimicking the military, and that’s all it is.
S23: Now, as readers can check out at the end of this interview. Aside from prolifically attending either large events or even regular skirmishes, you produce an incredible wealth of online content. What’s the ambition behind all this, just fun and documenting your journey or a passion to represent the very best of UK Airsoft ?
MT: Well initially I set up the website just as a bit of fun. I do a bit of website and graphic design as a hobby/sideline to my main line of work, and through that I run a couple of security related websites. They’re very serious, business focused sites, and are very much there to earn money and although I have a passion for security and what I do, it can be very mundane and matter of fact. When I got into Airsoft I set up Templar Airsoft as a bit of a fun project to just enjoy and see what happens with no real goals in mind at all. Now it’s grown into this thing where I have people I don’t know at events saying hello because they follow my content and people reading what I write, or watching my videos and taking time out of their day to leave a comment: it’s all very humbling and quite strange to me to be honest as I’m not really a people person.
But now it’s grown into what it is, I do have some goals, haha. Mainly though I want to keep improving on my content and keep trying to push the sport forward. I love the filming, photography and editing aspect of Templar Airsoft, so constant improvements and education for myself on those subjects is a priority, especially with the photography side of things as I’m pretty useless at taking pictures on game days: I always have my camera with me, but never take a picture with it, (laughs). I’m quite an emotive guy when it comes to film and music as well, so I like to try and tell a story with my game videos, rather than, bar the odd occasion, just put loads of random action clips together. I want to produce a higher quality of video and would love to one day film a short action movie. I also want to get out there more and get to big events like the IWA, Shot Show, and other events all around the UK, and just do some more reporting type stuff as over the past year in particular I have really come to enjoy that aspect. Education is also a big thing for me as well and I enjoy both learning, and teaching, so more of that, and finishing off my Tactics Series that I started but has been delayed almost a year for episode two, due to work commitments and filming constraints, and me having my thumb up my arse, (laughs), but yeah next year will be an interesting year to say the least…
S23: Switching gears, quite literally, whilst no less visually stunning, your gears scream functionality – a holdover from your prior service days, or rather in the truest traditions of British Soldiering, if it doesn’t work …
MT: Yeah I’m very much a function over form kind of guy, which does stem from the army and my civilian work. I suppose as well I have the added benefit of twelve years of experience so I know what works for me and what doesn’t, and even when trying something new, I can figure out pretty quickly whether I’ll be able to adapt to it or not. The old adage of ‘ounces equal pounds, and pounds equal pain’ is very accurate when on deployment, so if you don’t need it, you don’t take it and that is engrained in you in the military from day one so that definitely plays a part. Obviously there are exceptions to that rule though as well, but if you’re out in a deep, forward position, like my last deployment to Afghanistan where we were way beyond friendly support, you don’t want to be taking anything that you can live without, cos it gets heavy real quick, (laughs). Where that influences my loadout I suppose is that, at the end of the day, in the back of my mind I know we’re only a few minutes away from our cars and a short ride home. We, as Airsoft players don’t need to sustain ourselves for very long at all, so for me, I don’t need anything more than ammo and water really, and maybe a bit of food. That being said though, as someone who enjoys training, both physically and mentally, I am now looking to add in realistic loads to my kit, so real or training plates and soft armour, along with a full fighting order will all be slowly added in the new year as I want to start building some realistic kits that are based around long term sustainment in a combat environment, rather than being based around a day in the woods 5 minutes from my car, with the idea being to push myself and make my game days harder going.
S23: … remaining on the subject of gears, trends come and go, but what particular common mistakes do you often observe amongst peoples load outs, and what would best advise to move forward towards a more functional aesthetic ?
MT: Hmmm. Good question. Probably the biggest mistake I see is guys putting kit where it’s not functional for them, because they’ve seen someone else do it, and probably the best example of that, that I have seen, is I know a guy who had all his magazine pouches on his carrier sitting toward his right side. He’d basically copied the loadout of a left handed shooter he’d seen a picture of, and hadn’t realized that with him being a right handed shooter, all of his gear was in the wrong place. But I think that all boils down to a lack of contextual understanding of the gear we use. Obviously in the real world, you get your gear and you set it up so that it works for combat. You train in it and change anything that doesn’t work. You train again and keep testing because you know you’re going to rely on that gear to save your life, and that testing process is very much needed, and warranted. With Airsoft, obviously that threat to life factor isn’t there at all, and the training isn’t there for most players as well, for the simple fact that it just feels a little bit weird putting your gear on in your bedroom or at home and having a play around with it, (laughs).
For advice moving forward though, I would recommend just that. Get your gear on, get your gun up and start running through some drills, even without firing. Bring your weapon up to bear, check the sighting of your butt stock on your shoulder with your gear on, run through mag changes, play with the volume control on your radio, get your chocolate bars out of your utility pouch, get your grenades out, transition to your sidearm, practice slinging your weapon to throw a grenade, run through all the things that you may have to do on a game day and see how the pouch set up works for you. Also try out different firing positions like lying down and kneeling, sitting, etc, etc as you may find that in some positions a pouch gets in the way, and it may be easy to fix the problem by moving the pouch. A real world example of that actually is on my last deployment to Afghanistan we were issued the, then new, Osprey plate carriers and they came with these double magpouches. We’d never used the system before and it was recommended at the time to put the mag pouches on the front of our rigs, so we all did, but then when going prone they were far too bulky for us to get into a good firing position so that was quickly changed out. For me, I had some custom single mag pouches made up so I could still run my mags across my front, and then used a drop leg system for the rest. Others just shifted all their mags to their sides and everyone spent an entire day playing with the kit to make sure we were all good to go. But the basics are, if something doesn’t work for you, or something can be improved upon, change it. And if there are things you can’t reach, such as rear pouches, that’s okay too, just understand that you’ll need your oppo to access gear for you in those pouches. And don’t be afraid to change your kit every week after trying something new if it doesn’t work. Eventually you will figure out what works for you and you’ll get used to making adjustments as and when needed.
S23: We spoke recently, and whilst you’ve always had a steady hand in large events, but you recently ran in conjunction with Ambush Adventures your own event, how’d did that go and do you have plans to move the series forward ?
MT: The event went pretty well and feedback so far has been good. The good thing for me was I learned so much about running events and have pages of notes now on where I can and need to improve. I have a clear vision and end goal on howI would like to run an event, which has been with me since I first started Airsoft four years ago. At the time I didn’t realize there were things such as Milsim’s, and while chatting to a still serving military buddy of mine, I discussed my vision for an event, which is pretty intense and more on par with a military run exercise. With that in mind, the initial plan was to run a full on simulation event with Ambush, but due to their regular customer base, and a lot of guys never having done anything more than a skirmish before, we decided the better option was to start off really soft, and if the event was well received, gradually over time, ramp up the immersion. The good thing was that all of the guys that came were really keen to give it a go and get immersed. What we ended up with was basically an intro to MilSim split into two parts. The plan is to now move the story forward and ramp up the immersion. Get things a little more serious, and more organized and give guys coming a good experience, so watch this space!
S23: … with a decline in large events, closure of skirmish sites, yet an ever growing number of the populace taking up the past time, what do think the future holds for plastic deth ?
MT: I think the future is looking pretty good at the moment. For the time being the hobby seems to be safe from government restriction, which is good, and the community is, as you say, ever growing. What may trip up that growth though is the seemingly inherent laziness of some site owners and their bare minimum attitude towards the field they run. There are so many sites out there with so much potential, but the owners put zero investment into them and when you compare that to Paintball sites, and Airsoft sites in other countries it is a little bit disappointing to see at times. Don’t get me wrong though, there are some site owners who clearly go out of their way to invest in their product, but you can probably count them on two hands, and I think there are too many sites out there that just rely on repeat customers and nothing else. For me, I think sites need to push the whole experience forward, not just the play time, but the whole experience, and if all site owners followed the lead of those who do, the potential is massive.
S23: … we’ve not asked this one for a while, but usually everyone has good tale to tell, any particular in game stories of derring do ?
MT: Hmmm. I think probably one of the most fun and intense battles I’ve had was at the Sandpit with a buddy of mine Sam, (T02) for those that may remember him. We got hemmed into our spawn area so said f**k it and went up this steep slope on the edge of a deep quarry pit. We were battling through some light bushes and trees on the side this steep slope, which then dropped off into the quarry pit. A slip down the slope and off the edge and you’d have probably died (laughs), and although it was highly unlikely to happen, you could still visually see the drop through the bushes, so was there in the back of your mind. Was extremely fun fighting through there though and we managed to get ourselves on the flank of the enemy so worked really well.
S23: … now rain or shine, we’ll both get in the thick of the action, but I’ve noticed a growing trend of fair weather players. Some of the most immersive and rewardingly challenging games, both regular skirmishes or large events has been set against the worst weather the British Isles has to offer, aside from gale force winds, are they missing out ?
MT: Oh hell yeah. One of the best games I’ve ever played was during torrential rain. I think it creates an atmosphere that just doesn’t exist when it’s a nice sunny day. Your senses are all shot because visibility drops, you can’t hear anything other than rain and it makes the whole thing more challenging and immersive. You need to rely on team work more and the tension rises. It’s great playing in adverse weather. Except high wind of course, haha.
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 ?
MT: It’s been my honour buddy! Been a long time fan of the blog so chuffed to even be asked!
As for the 30 rounds per mag thing, I think it definitely has its place, and would love to see it adopted by the masses more often. Unfortunately though, I can’t see it ever happening, at least not any time soon, given the lack of accuracy and range we have with the guns. I think once, or if, technology advances to a stage where we can have a real separation of performance between platforms, so sniper rifles having super long range, support guns out ranging rifles, and rifles as they are, then realistic ammunition scales would really change the game up, especially as you could then use those platforms in their respective roles, and use them efficiently. As it stands at this point in time though, I think its best kept to more intimate events where the players base is a lot more committed and willing to immerse themselves in that aspect.
You can also pick up the brand new Templar Airsoft patch here: http://www.templarairsoft.com/product/templar-airsoft-pvc-patch/