“Why did you start writing your blog?” I was asked last week, before a rapid fire Q&A that I felt wasn’t answered properly. Simple question. But one I realised I’d never answered before and I’d never really introduced myself either. Not properly anyway. While I’m waiting to get back to playing, because the UK is taking ages to get back to normal because we really made a mess of this coronavirus situation, I guess I have time to.
I’ve been playing for ten years now and sniping for most of it. It’s my main hobby/sport/interest however you want to look at it and I have a house full of kit, books, photos, ghillie materials etc. I spend most of my time trying to learn as much as possible from as many places as possible which frankly has been a hell of a lot of reading and a great deal of trial and error in the field. My father served, so I’ve grown up with military stuff and come from a very rural area where hunting and gamekeeping were popular, so I guess the sniper role really appealed because it felt more familiar; I am pretty crap at cqb.
The blog originally started with a request from a couple of friends who wanted to learn how to play as a sniper. I don’t see them very often sadly so I had the idea to write things down for them, and one suggested making it public in case it interested anyone else. I wasn’t too keen at first because I didn’t think it would take off. Airsoft sniping is quite a niche subject and I didn’t want to get stuck in a cycle of having to produce articles at a certain rate because then they’re just written for the sake of writing rather than because I want to address a certain subject or whatever. It’s still quite niche but it’s growing I get around 5,000 visitors a month at the moment which is great if they’re finding it useful. Do I care about numbers? No not really. If it helps only one person, it was worth writing. Nothing I do is linked to or relies on numbers or followers so it’s pretty irrelevant. I still do just write for the same two guys really and whether I get two viewers per article or 2000 that will never change, unless I get asked to cover something specifically.
That’s another driving force behind it. Questions and answers. On a lot of social media now there seems to be a great reluctance to share information and people seem less inclined to sit and talk to newer players. When I first started out, there was no animosity towards each other and I’m very thankful to those in the past who took the time to explain things or show them to me. I want to be able to continue that to return the favour, which is why I’m always happy to reply to messages and stuff. I don’t think there should be a charge to pass this knowledge on either; I know some groups ask for a membership fee to “learn their secrets” and some high profile players who want you to pay to download files. It’s just people out to try and find ways to make money out of their fellow players. Everyone has something to bring to the table and nobody knows it all, so the more we help each other the better we become. It’s probably more important now that we regularly go up against high rate of fire HPA guns with 3,000 round box mags that magically have as much range as our sniper rifles.
Experience is the best weapon in a snipers arsenal, although it’s not something you can buy and takes a long time to acquire. It can be shared though and that can save countless hours and lots of money for new players.
“Do you make money off it?”
No, quite the opposite. This blog costs a bit annually to run to be honest. If I wanted to just make money, I’d be churning out headshot videos on Youtube with shitty clickbait titles, but I hate the people who portray airsoft sniping as cheap entertainment for gamer kids. Personally I don’t see the attraction of watching hit markers appear on people. There’s just nothing to learn. Very few people make money out of airsoft and they’re mainly shop or site owners, manufacturers or event promoters.
The amazon links in some of the articles are an affiliate programme that bring in a few dollars each year but only cover about 10% of the running costs, and rest assured that any products I do link are things I’ve either bought and used and thought worthwhile, or items from friends that I’ve had my hands on and seen in use – it’s not just a random item link. And yes I know I could run the site for less but I like it and it’s an easy platform to work with. I’m a big fan of cheap solutions to things and cheap surplus gear on the whole. I think a lot of airsoft kit now is getting very expensive and only appeals to the few who can afford it (I was going to use the word elite but of course, money can’t buy you ability), and I love being able to beat those players using a much more basic kit.
Money isn’t everything and to be honest I could die tomorrow, and be happy that I’ve got some stuff down on (virtual) paper that is worth something to somebody. I don’t care if I made money off it; I have a day job for that.
“Why don’t you have a YouTube channel?”
Partly because I hate that it’s being badly used at the moment. There used to be some really good channels with really good information out there but a lot now is gone and replaced with videos that are purely designed to get clicks, comments and reactions to generate income from average players with good editing skills, with some nice graphics and a computer game soundtrack. I don’t want to be a part of that culture so I stick to the more traditional written word. I think there are people who flirt with sniping just as an excuse to make a YouTube channel, and there are those players who really want to take the time to master the role and I’m definitely with the latter.
As a plus, it’s easier to read and absorb than to watch and listen and you can take it at whatever pace you want without pausing and rewinding. I always try to take photos while I’m doing stuff and I think static photos are much easier to see than a paused video. It’s probably reflective of society at the moment – shiny images but with very little substance behind them.
Trying to reverse this attention-seeking culture I think is important for the whole airsoft community, to go back to supporting each other and promoting airsoft in a more positive light.
“Are you sponsored?”
Not officially, no. However I do get sent things now and then from a few different people to try out and I’m really grateful to all of them, in particular Skirmshop and Longbow who I love loads anyway. Both do a great job and deliver excellent service and support, as well as all the creative types with 3D printers and machinery who are making stuff independently. I think it’s really important to support Sniper specific companies like these because we need them to supply us with kit as much as they need us as customers. Generic airsoft shops will always survive from regular players but if our sniper shops close, the generic ones supply only a handful of items and won’t be working with manufacturers to bring us more new products. Please, if you need stuff support the right retailers!