Undertow – an interview with SP18 from Task Force Spartan
The internet has made our world smaller, and this instance, with regards to Airsoft facilitated the community to connect globally.
This is something that has allowed the blog, these very interviews have an overwhelming reach, in part enabled by you. This has empowered me to develop a network to experience explore the Plastic Deth scene virtually, showcasing slowly but surely teams and players that represent the very best of what we do. We’ve a long way to go, and won’t be stopping anytime soon …
We once again take a look at Canada’s growing and flourishing scene, here Alex, perhaps better know as TF/SP18 from Task Force Spartan, sits down with us to talk all things Plastic Deth, Gear and Kit, and Blasters …
S23: Welcome aboard bro, thanks for taking time out to sit down with us. Straight under the spotlight, give us a little history, your back story behind Plastic Deth, and TF Spartan ?
SP18: Well right off the bat, let me tell you how humbled I am for having that opportunity to sit down and have this chat with you. I’ve been an avid reader since the beginning and the work you do is stellar. You’re doing something amazing by putting the pastime under a good light and giving an inside look to a growing scene in a very positive way. Let me thank you for that.
I’ve been actively playing Airsoft for what I believe, 2017 to be my fifth year. I first came into knowing the sport over a decade ago. Many factors delayed me into taking the plunge. One being that I was underage (16) at the time. Also the scene was quite small back then. There were not a lot of retailers. Groups were pretty tight knit. Outsiders were often frowned upon (especially minors). Some people here like to refer it as the dark times. As if playing Airsoft made you an outlaw. Then the bubble became a bit bigger, with more storefront opening doors and bringing Airsoft a little closer to the public.
Social media played a pretty big deal for me. Some day I sat there watching videos on Youtube, and browsing through teams on Facebook (one being Task Force Spartan, ironically enough). One week later, I had all my kit bought (very basic kit let me tell you) and was having my first skirmish. Just like most of us, I was instantly hooked. I have not looked back ever since and I’m really thankful I had the balls to break the piggy bank on that day (laughs).
As for Task Force Spartan, it was founded in 2012. Originally it was made from a mix of active duty, retired service members and a small handful of veterans hailing from the local Paintball and Airsoft MilSim scene. They’ve quickly made a name for themselves on the local scene which made the team grow significantly larger in the subsequent years and the rest is history.
This year will mark the end of my second year within the team. Two amazing years. I am blessed to be among such amazing individuals. Beyond Airsoft, the Task Force is family. We care for each other, which makes it even more unique and appealing. I couldn’t see myself not having these guys around anymore.
S23: Now, I confess – of late, what really caught my was your MARSOC inspired gears. It’s rare to see such such a large number of players, or a team with such interoperability and commonality. Is this a conscious decision inspired by dictated by fixed SOP’s, or just a shared enthusiasm for this themed load out ?
SP18: A bit of both actually. We do have a very kit specific standard operating procedures, or SOP’s if you like to call it, that we expect our members to follow. It consists of a pre-approved list of equipment that allows us to keep a certain homogeneity. Some items are mandatory. Others are up for personal purchase. Everything on that list has been, or is currently fielded by the Raiders.
From the very beginning, MARSOC was adopted as the de-facto inspiration for the team. In a time where CAG and DEVGRU impressions were very dominant on the international scene, I believe it was bringing something new and refreshing. Even more so with our fields being pre-dominantly wooded area, M81 and Woodland MARPAT proved to be the logical choice.
However, I would like to stress the fact that we are not a re-enactment team. Not 100% of our kits are accurate, as some of the keen-eyed might notice. But we take pride in what we do. Not all of us are your typical gear whore. But it is safe to assume we all share a common enthusiasm for the MARSOC look.
There’s no perfect recipe for interoperability. Like they say, Rome wasn’t built in one day. Our kits are in constant progression and we also believe that restricting an individual to a specific piece of equipment can have a major impact on the overall performance of the group. What works for someone might not for the other. It’s all about finding what’s right for you within the boundaries you are imposed.
I think it’s good to mention, while we believe that real steel is king, we are very blessed with the tremendous increase in quality replica gear we’ve seen in the last couple years. People like Kevin from ToySoldier, or the guys over at Semapo Gear (while more focused on DEVGRU-specific equipment), have been putting out some amazing products as of late. Enabling people to get quality gear at a much reasonable price.
S23: Following on from this, how does this translate into attended events, does it allow for team members interoperability, or do you have specific dedicated roles, such as breacher, corpsman, communications etc ?
SP18: We have no dedicated roles per se.
Aside from the command element (which consists of a 1IC, 2IC and the 3IC acting as communication officer) we like to keep our operational structure flexible. The team’s roster is currently sitting at fourteen men strong and is expected to grow over the course of this season.
When you factor in that that many members and real life that intertwines in the grand scheme of things, we like to remain as flexible on the field as possible.
Thus we chose not to set specific roles to our members as we believe it could possibly hurt the operability of the team in the event where said member could not attend at the last minute for whatever reason.
It all comes down to what is needed really.
Usually, one month ahead of the event, a specific ORBAT will be dressed for the day, outlining the needs and what is expected from the team for the specific task ahead. It ranges from roles that needs filled, to what we expect our members to bring along for the day (specific kit, sustainment gear, etc.). We adapt accordingly with the numbers we have.
On the other hand, this also allows us to easily integrate exterior elements to fill in the holes, enabling us to work with other teams without compromising our own structure and SOPs on the field. The best of both worlds.
S23: You run a very streamlined, but no less stunning Mk 18 blaster, how does this translate on the field. I know you regularly train as team, pushing your CQB skills and polishing teamwork – natural evolution or directly best suited to frequented AO’s ?
SP18: We found, other than being an absolutely sexy platform, the MK18 to be the best compromise (in Airsoft) for short and long range engagements. This platform allows us to easily transition from an indoor to open environment with little to no impact on our ability to perform and engage the opponent. It allows us flexibility under any circumstance.
Training is very important to us. A team where the most fundamental aspects are neglected, is a team that will fail on the field. Maneuvers and communications are key. These are the foundations upon which we build our team’s skillset. The rest is just natural evolution.
While 70% of the games we play are greenside operations and our trainings reflect that reality, CQB plays a pretty big role too. While being less common, we can’t let a CQB game negatively impact our ability to perform as a team.
S23: Canada has a healthy cross of regular Skirmishers, Speed Soft and in general all round Airsoft enthusiasts, what’s the state of play with the more immersive, structured MilSim scene ?
SP18: Canada is very large, 9,306 km (5,780 miles) to be more precise. With such an area, it is difficult to have the overall pulse of the Canadian MilSim scene. With such a scattered pool of players, each province has its own ecosystem so to speak. So far, we’ve only got to experience the Quebec and Ontarian scene so I can only talk about those.
Now I need to weigh my words and tread carefully. Quebec still has a long way to go before good, quality and structured MilSim events. Bluntly put, the chain is as strong as its weakest link. That weakest link needs to mature. And just like anything in life, maturity takes time. I hope someday people here start looking for more than your average weekend skirmish, expecting more from scenarios and wanting more realism with all the pros, and cons, that comes along.
On the other hand, however, the Ontarian scene is flourishing with quality events. I have great love for this scene and those who run it. Multiday operations are much more common there. The player base is also more mature, better equipped and seem to have a better understanding of what MilSim consists of. Scenarios are well put together and some of their fields are pretty amazing.
Luckily enough, Ontario is just a quick drive from where we are from. So we get to experience events that are much, much closer to what we believe Airsoft to be and we get to play with like minded individuals.
S23: Now, we both share a passion for gears and kit. You’ve got some stunning looking kits, which I’m proud to showcase here, talk us through its evolution, whilst evidently MARSOC inspired, I’ve noticed lots of little details and personal takes on perhaps the more traditional purist approach ?
SP18: Even before doing Airsoft or owning any piece of equipment, I was big on cool guy gear. I’ve always had that interest in collectibles and pieces of military history. Now, I like to think Airsoft as a natural evolution to this. It fuels my need of knowing and owning. You wouldn’t believe how much time is spent lurking forums, Wikipedia or reference material. This gives me great satisfaction.
A MARSOC kit has been my focus since I’ve got into the sport. Five years later, I’m slowly working my way towards a 100% legit kit. It’s a long way, but I’ll get there eventually. That painstakingly long process makes it even more enjoyable.
Now, while being inspired, I believe that a piece of gear has value so long it has usefulness and serves purpose for the user. I like to think of my kit has an evolving entity. If something suits my need, I have no shame of getting it on there. If it serves me no purposes, or is hindering my ability to perform adequately, it goes back in the box. Legit or not.
Would I like a purist kit? Of course. Who wouldn’t? But as of right now, I’ve got bills to pay. (laughs)
S23: So, we’ve already begun a new year, what plans lay ahead for TF Spartan ?
SP18: Oh boy, 2017 is going to be a busy one.
First, the end of 2016 was marked by a change in leadership. With the team’s founder taking his retirement and handing down command to SP07. I’m absolutely confident he’ll make a great job. He’s been around since the beginning of this team and has seen it grow into what it is today. Plus, we’ve all got his back. So no worries there.
What else? Social medias are, of-course, will remain a pretty big deal to us throughout 2017. We really enjoy sharing what’s going on, coming up with new content, or just interacting with the overall community. We’ve made amazing friends through Facebook and Instagram and we are thankful for that. Maybe try to be a bit more active on YouTube with video content.
But I think 2017 will be all about training. Getting the boys together and hone those skills. You can’t have too much it. To me, games are just the reward. Only training can get you through that day. Nothing worse than the feeling of knowing you could’ve done a whole lot better if you had trained more rigorously.
Game-wise, we’ve already got a couple events locked down in both Quebec and Ontario again this season. I’m really looking forward getting back there for some plastic slinging. The Ontarian crowd is great.
That would sum up what’s in the box for us in 2017.
S23: You often endure either inclement weather, or operate in some incredibly rough terrain. What’s an essential in your kit bag to keep you warm, dry and in the fight ?
SP18: I think it all comes down to each their own preferences. There are some pieces of equipment I never leave without.
Some people believe all the Gucci stuff will keep them safe from mother nature. I believe in having the right gear for the right task. And this is something people tend to forget. So many times I’ve seen players walk off field because it was pouring with rain or temperatures got too cold and they were not prepared accordingly.
I personally love playing in harsh conditions. So what’s always in my kitbag?
A serious amount of socks (if there’s one thing I hate, its wet feet) and extra clothing. All in Ziploc bags, to keep them dry. I always bring more than a pair. Two is one. One is none. My USGI poncho liner is always in there too. For cold sustainment, a good base layer does the trick for me so I never leave without my Merino’s.
I’d like to point out that we rarely ever play during the middle of winter, as temperature just gets too cold for our guns to keep working. So we rarely get to play in extreme cold.
S23: … before we let you go, 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?
SP18: Of course it would. If anything, it makes you think twice before pulling that trigger. It also helps avoid over killing and makes the immersion much more believable.
Matter of fact, all the games hosted in Quebec are set 30 rounds per mag, or real-cap as we call it here. High capacity magazines are not allowed. The only weapon systems allowed to go over that limit, are support weapons.
We’ve attended games in Ontario where I believe there is no such restrictions. However, we never go above 30 rounds, even if we can. That is how we enjoy our game.
There is much place for debate. There seems to be little to no gray area. Either people are for or they are against. I think from a simulation perspective, 30 rounds per mag should be the norm.
There are many ways one can enjoy playing Airsoft. At the end of the day, it’s all about what brings you satisfaction. There are no good or wrong answers. Just different perceptions. We’re all enjoying the same sport, just in a different way.