Operation Life, or Marcin Szczygieł about his airsoft passion
Few people know his name, because most airsofters know him as Włóczykij. He actively participated in competitions for 7 years, today he professionally deals with hardware setup. Every day he is an e-commerce manager in one of the largest Polish companies with electronic equipment. Airsoft is a sport for him, which primarily teaches team work and strategic thinking. Between work, battlefield and replica modification, he found a moment to talk to us. He has also prepared some airsoft tips for you!
Joanna Rassmus: Maybe we'll start trivially, but who instilled a passion for military in you?
Marcin Szczygieł: The passion for military equipment resulted from interest in computer games. In the late 1980s, game graphics ended with a few pixels connected to each other in not very good quality, so you had to have a lot of imagination to play. In the meantime, running in the woods and spending holidays in the countryside helped. And definitely Miami Vice and old police series. And probably everything together helped me build ideas about how shooters, wars etc. could have looked like. Later I tried to bring these ideas to life and that's how it stayed. Around 2000 I visited the air show in Bydgoszcz. In Poland it was just the beginning of such shows, so it was really cool. I noticed a stand there with models of trucks, ships, aircraft and simple replicas of weapons. I remember I wanted to buy at least one replica, but I had no money. I promised myself that if I earn my first salary and I don't have to spend that money on repairs, I would fulfill my dream. And so I waited seven years.
JR: And what were your beginnings with ASG?
MS: At the moment when I started going to the forest to do something more outdoor, and interestingly, playing Warhammer - such a figurative battle game. After some time, I joined my first ASG group, the 4th BEAR Company. It was a real group of enthusiasts, I got whips, died quickly, then half an hour to the next round and over and over again. I was down, determination showed up, I stopped climbing first, or went down as one of the last.
JR: From the beginning you knew in which direction of airsoft you want to go?
MS: There are various areas of ASG - sports, recreation, MilSim, reconstructions (collecting equipment of a given military formation). I have never tried to go to mapping. I have always been thinking about having fun, but not in a way devoid of tactics, experience and basic principles. I focused on being the best "killer" to cause as many losses as possible to my opponent's team. There is no one "right" way to play, it's nice that everyone finds something for themselves. Unfortunately, the worst thing is when everyone comes to one party and everyone has different requirements, but this can be discussed later.
JR: I heard that there is also city airsoft ...
MS: You heard right, but there are very few safe areas. Most often the games are held in deserts, where nobody disturbs, there are no walkers. Unfortunately, in Bydgoszcz more and more current venues are being prepared for new constructions, but there are still a lot of areas that no one will take us.
JR: However, if an outsider appears in the field, what are you doing?
MS: First of all, we don't scare them;). We always try to stay away from walkers or Sunday cyclists. We know, sometimes someone will stop because they want to look. However, then we interrupt the game or go to other places. When playing, we must take care not only of our safety, but also of the rest of people.
JR: You also participated in reconstructions. Certainly it is a project that requires a lot of commitment and attention to detail. What happens if something goes wrong during implementation?
MS: You have to improvise. Everyone has a familiarity. Whether play or historical reconstruction the procedure is quite similar. If during the show the main replica fails, there is a rule that goes further. You can't say "stop over". I used to have this situation - I hung the weapon on my back, shouted a failure and continued to use the side weapon. In this way, bystanders see the rest of the show. While walking and shooting in the woods can be learned, improvisation on the battlefield is no longer. The action plan always works only until the first meeting with the opponent. I remember that during one of the editions of the Historical Odyssey in Kutno, the tank was destroyed by the reenactors, then there was real improvisation. It's important to remember that the show is for people, not for yourself and you need to keep playing.
JR: And how did your family or girlfriend react when you came back tired, battered, but satisfied?
MS: As a rule, the whole family responded well, a tired peasant is happy. Some run, go to the bicycle, swimming pool, and I went to the forest to kill myself. Unload emotions from the week, drop the steam. When you work a lot and have a lot of duties on your mind, it's good to just go to the forest, take a gun and unload aggression on your friends << laughs. It's cool, because although airsoft competition is sometimes a hard general development sport, because you crawl and run with your gear, contrary to appearances, a man is resting: D.
JR: After the 4th MIŚ Company, you joined BGO, i.e. the Bydgoszcz Operational Group - why such a change?
MS: The natural thing about ASG is that it's mainly about sport and fun. That is why the vast majority of groups are informal. As a result of years, some change jobs, have children, families, change cities and teams blur naturally. Everyone does something different, new recruitments are underway. The team diverges, we shake hands and everyone continues to do what they like. There are also people who approach the topic more seriously and professionally than the so-called Sunday shooters. I have never left myself, because it seems to me that being in the group is an honorable thing. If you're already in the team, you meet these people, play with them, you develop a sports team like a football team, you know each other. It all comes in handy during the game - the moment you let someone trap you just smile or wink and the team knows what's going on.
JR: Did you make all the weapon modifications yourself or did you use the services of various types of factories / workshops?
MS: I gave my "weapon" to foreign hands only once. I later stated that it couldn't be that difficult. And yes, I have been servicing my equipment for 6 years. This job requires more skill than special knowledge. It should be remembered that these mechanisms were made by our colleagues from the Far East, with little hands, so it's easy to forget about some spring. If someone doesn't have this sense of dexterity, it may be more difficult for him, but if he focuses it is a chance. I used to be able to service a whole evening, now it takes me half an hour. I think that modifications are the other side of ASG, a bit of a modeling character - I don't shoot, but I buy a rifle to have it and work on it.
JR: You participated in sports ASG for 7 years, quite a good result, but you gave up active participation in ASG.
MS: I've been working in Warsaw for a year, so equipment is in both cities and it's difficult to connect people. As long as I worked in Bydgoszcz, I spent every weekend, or -30ºC or + 30ºC, in the forest. You know, after leaving the forest, this sport does not end, you buy rifles, parts, build new equipment. Airsoft is not only a hobby for me, but also a way of life. Especially if you command a team of a dozen or so people and you are required to be able to negotiate quickly, assess the situation and react. As a manager, I can say that in crisis situations these years spent in games have helped me to make decisions quickly under stress.
JR: Probably among many shows and maneuvers, one game must have remained in your memory the most. Tell me which one do you remember best?
MS: From the maneuvers, it's probably Poznań Defcon. In 8 people we defended the hills. Honestly and in the presence of judges, we have knocked about 150 opponents from this hill. We were just good and harmonious. And the coolest moment, but not the maneuvering one, is the show we gave in Nowa Wieś Wielka. We paraded with the equipment, we made a shooting range for kids. A man came up to me and said that he was in Iraq. He got injured there and sent him back to Poland, his unit stayed; he said that if he only got a rifle, he would go back to them immediately. After a while, he added that even a rifle would not be needed and that the most important thing is what you want and have - the Polish flag at heart is important. Then he cried and left. Until then, ASG was mainly sport and fun for me, there are no such phenomena as humans. It could have been disposed of, but I thought about this event and it changed a lot in my head.
JR: Do you sometimes miss this active action?
MS: Sure, yes. As I recall Defcon, renting a bus for 10-15 people, charging equipment at 6am, singing military songs and the reactions of people who thought that commandos were going to war. Later on, blasting your opponent with boom grenades. It was fun. But as I said, in ASG, everything changes and blurs naturally. Now, if time permits, I go straight to the forest. And every day for about 6 years he has been dealing with hardware setup.
JR: Setup equipment?
MS: It's the whole part of ASG that doesn't happen in the forest; one can say that setup is such a model making . Carbines and replicas can be dismantled - the battery, engine, etc. are all exchangeable parts. You can have a black stock instead of an olive one. You cannot group only some external elements, e.g. the internal parts of the collimator. One thing is important in the hardware setup - this operation requires mechanical skills and must be done with great accuracy. Folding and unfolding in the correct order is very important. For example, with the main spring, which is improperly mounted, can result in the rest of the part exploding all over the room.
JR: So you can order a replica for modification or do you just have your equipment you are working on?
MS: We can say that I have a small "armory", built of Ikea wardrobes, but there is always something ready to play - assault rifles, sniper rifles, pistols. If someone asks me for help, I think I won't refuse.
JR: Own armory? Wow, show off what you hide in these wardrobes :).
MS: I have replicas SR-25, AUG A1, SIG-550, SIG 552, MP5-SD6, and short Walther P99, HK Mark 23, two Beretta 92F, CZ-75 and a few others. I think most weapons from the airsoft world went through my hands. I had the opportunity to hold Kalashnikov, M4, G36, or L96. A little worse with the exotic, but everything is ahead of me.
JR: Do you have any favorite replica yet?
MS: Among my equipment is the SR-25, but my great love is G36.
JR: It cannot be denied that the foreign market offers many replicas that do not depart from the top shelf in appearance or action, but have a much lower price. What do you think about such replicas?
MS: When it comes to the cheapest models, it's a waste of money, just like the most expensive ones;). You know, if you can afford to cover a road replica in the sand, have fun. Everyone chooses tools for themselves. In my style of play, equipment for PLN 4,000 has no diametrical effect on the result, so a carbine for PLN 600-700 is enough. I think everything is a matter of destiny. The most expensive replicas at lower muzzle velocities offer much greater precision. And here you can see the difference at PLN 1000 invested in the replica. With a "weapon" is a bit like your favorite shoes (no one will cling to the brand?), Someday they will break down, but as long as we have them, you have to take care of them so that they last as long as possible. That is why it is worth investing, for example, in tuning. In this way, you adapt the replica to your playing style or role in the team.
JR: So what to follow?
MS: You always adapt a replica to a role. It is worth paying attention to what people have in the team. If the crew need support, you buy something with a large magazine capacity and stay Rambo. Sniper rifles have a large range and power, which is why they should be used by an experienced player - it's worth remembering that having a stronger carbine, you can't drop someone around the corner, because he'll hurt you.
JR: And what is more important to you in airsoft - group work, weapons or skills?
MS: Weapons are the least important element. You can have the cheapest equipment, but with experience and behavior you will beat the teams with better equipment. There are known cases that colleagues equipped with better carabiners and "super" uniforms did not crawl because they did not want to dirty the uniforms for PLN 1,500. Hence my respect for the middle shelf - you are not afraid to go into the biggest mud and go out smiling. I also negatively assess the so-called an infinite arms race (i.e. how to make a stronger replica using increasingly expensive parts). I think some players do not see that it does not lead to anything, that in fact the only most dangerous weapon is teamwork. Removing someone from the game from the distance of an outstretched arm (so-called silent killing) - "buddy, you're dead" - is always a great satisfaction. With a well-coordinated team, you can even go to the outpost 6-8 people on a lure in two to keep the rest of your team off the grass. And it is probably teamwork that is in this sport. The moment you stop being interested in numbers (who won the rounds, how many shots), the sporting approach turns into passion, you are there and having fun.
JR: And women at ASG? I often come across the statement that women are not taken seriously in the field of ASG and should rather act as radio officers or nurses, and not as a commander? What do you think?
MS: Women are cruel in the ASG field, I have seen with my own eyes: the male opponent is tracking the creeping woman, a second hesitation; when he was fighting his instincts (or maybe it would hurt her?), at that time a woman was loading half a magazine into it. Greetings to all girls and their natural instincts and blood rule: D.
JR: So what, gender doesn't matter, is it important to be effective?
MS: From a sports point of view, yes. I am always happy if I lose more than 1 opponent because I know I was a benefit to the team, not a burden.
JR: Going further, do you imagine a woman commander?
MS: Yes, completely. I haven't seen the woman commander yet. At the moment of maneuvers, there are several dozen people and the commander usually becomes a guy, because there are simply more of us.
JR: As an experienced airsoft player, do you have any advice for beginners?
MS: Definitely yes. The basic rule - wear goggles, always. If you notice that someone is moving in the bushes and you do not know what it is, do not shoot. It doesn't matter if you're running in a tracksuit or in a uniform, the most important thing is not to give up . In the field, the most important rule is fair play - you got it, you report it and you go down. All deception spoils the essence of this sport. Do not shoot from below 10m - do not cause excessive pain. Only use low power side replicas in buildings. This is probably the most important thing.
JR: And what can you expect during the first game?
MS: First of all, adrenaline, concentration, emotions and learning humility. Quite a lot of determination is needed to survive the initial failures. However, if you learn quickly, you will start to enjoy the next achievements. Before entering the field of play, remember to have good goggles and a reflective vest or colored fabric, both last means being hit.
JR: It's time for freestyle, a few words from each other. You can say hello to someone, or you can say anything you have never done before.
MS: No matter what kind of sport you do, no matter if it's airsoft and no matter if it's a serious battlefield simulation or a Sunday outing for a cheerful shootout - always play fair. Respect your opponent, because after shooting he often turns out to be a good friend! At this time, I greet the MISia and BGO bullies, if they read this, and everyone who managed to hit me;).
Interviewed by: Joanna Rassmus
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