I seldom use the term warrior to describe people. It is often a term that is thrown around casually, especially among airsofters, with little to no thought of what being a warrior actually involves. The dictionary itself describes a warrior as someone who is “engaged or experienced in combat”, or a person who has shown great “vigour, courage or aggressiveness”. As airsofters we don’t need to be brave. We don’t need to have vigour or courage. There is nothing to be afraid of with what we do. It’s a game of fun and while it does replicate combat, it in fact, not. But, for one man, the term warrior can be applied.
Meet Simon Jameson. A 28 year old Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy sufferer who, in case you hadn’t already noticed, is a wheelchair bound airsofter. Yes, that’s right. This guy has a muscle wasting disease, that is degenerative, and yet still manages to get out onto the field, in his chair, dual wielding support guns, slinging plastic!! His outlook on life is commendable and he’s currently trying to raise funds for a new wheelchair that is more suited to off-road and airsoft. The support he has received, ranging from Airsofters to Navy SEAL’s is a testament to his character. So a few months back I got in touch, and asked him some questions!
Templar Airsoft: So the first question has got to be: How on earth did a guy in a wheelchair even consider getting into such an active hobby?
Simon Jameson: Well it was something unexpected to be honest. I went to a military show in 2006 and noticed a few guys with serious kit and they told me about airsoft starting. It had only become legal that year in Ireland. I thought hmmm, I wonder, could I play. So I visited the first site in Ireland at the time, witnessed the good fun, met a very encouraging group, who pretty much were the first friends I ever had, so I just suppose at the time wanted to be just involved in something . That and I thought it was cool as shit! 2 weeks later I was out with an m4 duck taped to my chair playing and promoting the sport and so my journey of dare started.
TA: Wow! I didn’t realise you had been slinging plastic for so long! So going back to those early days of Airsoft in Ireland, how did other players perceive you? Was it a good community spirit back then?
SJ: Yeah pretty much since its birth here, proud to say. I suppose then because, I was really disabled looking (I had a really tiny wheelchair and literally a gun tapped to me) I found most people were welcoming on a pr scale, but gaming I felt a different sense. Sadly I always found abit of a unwelcoming vibe, like I was disrupting there game, but eventually I realized it was there ego I was upsetting, haha. Like I was challenging there manly tuffness, haha. So that pushed me further to smack peoples asses for that, haha. Plus I felt if airsoft wants to be a legit sport with good intentions, it would have to weed out that kind of attitude. It’s a sport, it’s fun for EVERYONE, and serious sams should maybe enlist if they wanna really put that bravado to the test.
TA: That’s fair enough, and I can’t say I’m surprised really. Although I would love to have seen some of the elitist faces of upset! So how do you normally run your hit taking. Obviously you present a bigger target with less manoeuvrability than the average player, so do the sites you play offer a handicap system, so to speak, to account for that, or do you follow the exact same rules?
SJ: Aye but don’t get me wrong, some were all for it. Funnily enough, the ones who were actually past/present military personnel were the real encouraging ones who today are still great friends and supporters.
My hit rule I created with my team captain, because I am the first disabled person to play in Ireland, I feel it’s my right to make this an official rule for me. We named it after a mini game called Juggernaut, which is basically taking your hits when your comfort limit has been reached. This may seem a bit unfair at the start but when you think about the fact that I’m a huge target, no agility, taking cover is not really an option, and your average player doesn’t really expose themselves much. This rule gives me a fighting chance and if you think about it further, 1 or 2 stray bullets won’t really do much to a Humvee but if you give it a few bursts you will damage it. Don’t let that give you the idea that in storm in like iron man killing everyone and ignoring hits though. While I enjoy getting shot at, haha, nobody can take getting riddled with bb’s. I mostly take direct shots to vital places, head, chest, neck I’m hit, if not and I get a few bursts then I’m out. But if I get a wussy single shot to my shield I’m just going to laugh at you and give you a baaaad fire response, ha. I treat the rule a little like I’m an LAV [Light Armoured Vehicle] or a tougher foe on your Playstation, so don’t expect me to go down on the first shot but after a few bursts I’m gone.
TA: So players have to get a good tag on you to take you out: Seems pretty fair to me. So how much mobility do you have on your current chair, and how much will that improve with the new chair?
SJ: Aye, that and a good barrage of shots.
Not a lot. I mean I can take the odd bit of mudd and gravel, but it’s a killer on the ass because the suspension is, well, nearly non existent, haha. I try and stay away from anything bumpy, even pebbles, ha. The new chair will totally change everything for me, its a game changer. Because of its revolutionary suspension and 6 wheel caterpillar chasis it means it will absorb every bump dramatically. Even the seat moves to counteract any dips or bumps, so its not just going to open the harsher playing fields for me, but also give a lot more of a comfortable drive, and alot lot less pain on my delicate bumbum and back.
TA: Yeah I can imagine no suspension being a bit sore! Carrying on with your scooter. How did the idea for the shield come about, and what fire-power are you running on it now?
SJ: Yeah, but it’s not so much sore, as it is just having the crap shaken out of you. Arms and head all over the place, haha, so its annoying. The idea for the shield came up when I decided to mount guns directly in front. I wanted it to look like the top turret set up on the U.S Humvees. Having something believable was important to me. I thought it would incorporate better gameplay too, making the rules apply better. I have always been using the 249s, as absolutely terrible as they are, the look was important to me, plus I built the mount based on the 249 shape and i wasn’t really arsed making a new one, haha. Funnily enough, only for wolverine airsoft coming to my rescue with 2 hpa infernos I would of hammered the 249s to shambles, I was that sick of them ha, so hopefully now hpa has paved the path ahead for me.
The conversation continues: A Warrior Among Men Part 2
Simon is currently trying to raise funds to purchase a new chair, that will allow him to airsoft in harsher environments. You can help Simon reach his goal of a new chair by donating to his Go Fund Me page at: https://www.gofundme.com/cqj26f4k
Part 2 of this interview will be up tomorrow. Be sure to subscribe on the top left of the website to ensure you receive notifications every time a post goes live, and please support Simon. Let’s get him to that 20,000 mark!