About the Author:
The Geardo Crow – also known by his mortal name of Fred – started the blog in 2017 primarily as an outlet for his mad ravings about gear, and to complain about X-Harnesses. As time has gone on, the blog has transformed into a platform to discuss new gear arriving to the market, old gear that still holds its own and to hopefully provide at least a small insight into what gear might work for you.
Something I realised was missing from the blog was who I actually am. I know a good few of my readers personally, but many may just be thinking “who the fuck is this guy?”. Well if you want to know more then you’re in the right place.
2013 – Starting Airsoft
I started playing Airsoft in 2013. I’d had an interest in the sport for years and wanting to join the military from a young age naturally meant I was keen to play dress up and simulate the dream. These were the years of really getting into gear.
While working as a lifeguard, the majority of my social life grew out of the sport. Becoming a regular at my local site meant that eventually I began marshalling, and this led to the group of cunts I unfortunately have to call friends. This for me has been the biggest positive change the controversial sport has made on my life, and our group has stayed strong throughout the years, despite all of our lives going in different directions.
2015 – Army
At 19 I finally took the plunge and signed on the dotted line. 6 months of training later and I passed out as a freshly qualified screaming crowbag, joining A Coy, 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment. Completing training meant not only I’d joined the big boys, but could start rocking some of my own gear.
2016 – 2018
These years saw a lot of changes, mistakes and learned lessons. Getting off to a good start with the Company was important, and on exercises in the first months of 2016 I looked to be on track, despite the rank discovering a photo taken the weekend after I passed out where I was wearing a Mercian TRF for the first time (standard crow move). My weekend hobby was in the open, and the character building abuse for being keen was in full swing.
2016 – Poland
This all went tits up in Poland. What should have been a fantastic experience of my first overseas exercise actually turned into my first proper lesson in not fucking up, and revealed a party trick that haunts me to this day. My superpower as it turns out is being able to have fully coherent conversations and even move about in my sleep, without any recollection of it in the morning. Waking up to a harbour area alive with people wondering why the fuck there was no stag on, with a radio next to me and a stag list in my doss bag was my first “oh fucking shit” moment and unfortunately wouldn’t be the last. Needless to say this put a pretty big dent in my reputation with the company and was the first time I really realised that you will only improve through hard work and personal determination.
Coming home after our 6 week stumble about in the woods also brought about 2 changes that helped me to get my head back in the game. A reshuffle of the platoon staff meant that I had something of a fresh start, and the guy who over the years has helped me to spend an unhealthy amount of cash on gear made himself known as a fellow gear pervert. Getting to know a few more guys in the company better helped us find a few more of the repressed gear heads and help them to flourish. With everyone being more accepting of keenness the gear we used really started to evolve in the latter half of 2016 and into 2017.
July was 2016’s saving grace. We had a week training how to use flood defences, which while it sounds shit but did mean showing off to Manchester’s emergency services by flying all over the area in Merlins and rolling into the collective briefings feeling like a viagra pill with a face. We then had the fantastic opportunity to go and play enemy down in Hereford.
This week was possibly the best “Army” week I had in my career. Seeing what these guys do close up brought the keenness flooding back, and being a total pervert it was fantastic to see the gear they were running. I’m glad I did this before the UKSF craze really kicked off, as it provided a lot of 1st hand insight into the “Has it been seen?” culture. Basically, there is very little that is identical from man to man. Chances are if it is available for sale from the likes of Tactical Kit or Edgar Brothers, then one of these guys is using it. The best element of the week was going force on force with the SAS. Simunition is basically the same as airsoft in it’s concept, apart from one sucks a massive dick when you get hit with it. I know it’s not much of a flex, but there is something intensely satisfying about knowing that I’ve shot a Hereford guy in the grid as he came smashing through a window of a train (although he gave me most of a magazine back), and catching one of them white light ND’ing as he comes up through the service hatch of a 747 and jumping him out of his skin with a burst of AK blank at close range.
Not saying I’m better than them, or that they didn’t flatten us all week with a mix of Sim, bangs, gas, dogs, knees and bad words, just that I’m a nerd who would go back again in a heartbeat.
2017 – South Sudan
We got the word of our first proper deployment and naturally everyone got very excited. The 1st of August was coming up fast and with all the pre-deployment training something that came to the forefront was the gear we were using. At this point we’d had VIRTUS for almost a year, and just how much of a bag of shit it was became apparent in April 2016 in Celini village. This was the one and only time we were instructed to use the whole system by the RSM, and it performed so badly that we were then instructed not to use it for Poland. What this meant was that we were back to running our own gear, and as it was our first deployment we wanted it to be spot on.
I’d had a few months out of airsoft but getting keen for work meant getting keen out of work as well. This is where The Geardo Crow started. Something I felt I had to do at the time was to keep it separate from the guys at work. 1 or 2 guys new about it but largely it was a secret, meaning blurred faces and being cagey as fuck about my unit. The reasoning behind this wasn’t that I thought I was mega cool and had to protect my identity, but instead I wanted to be able to say what I liked free of reparation from above. Any of my early followers might remember the first photo that ever went onto TGC, a VIRTUS plate carrier with a Haley D3CR strapped to the front. At the time this was revolutionary and played testament to the level of fuckery we were getting away with, our new Pl Sgt was an enormously cool guy and for the simple cost of a breakfast wrap he left us to do what we wanted.
Unfortunately when we actually made it into South Sudan, our hopes of fire and glory were dashed when it transpired that we were in actual fact simply guarding some engineers who weren’t doing a whole lot of anything useful. Despite the lack of warfighting Sudan was still an eye opener. If you’ve never been to “proper Africa” and still believe that the UN does any good in the world then I wouldn’t recommend it. It was hard to see the levels of brutality that humans can descend to given half a chance, and even harder to deal with the levels of selfishness and greed that some Officers can descend to. Op Trenton 3 was a monumental waste of time for anyone not going after an MBE. Sandbags were flipped to make them “look better”, protective HESCO walls were built to half height to appear “less threatening” (despite this meaning any potential aggressor being able to mow down everyone in the camp with a single PKM if it took their fancy) and the evil cunt Lt. Col. Katie Hislop single handedly wiping out all the Infantry lads’ morale while maintaining she needed HESCO blocks for the flowerbeds outside her room.
Katie if you ever read this I cannot express in words the hatred I have for you. You are a disgrace to the uniform, and if you’d ever actually come out of your room for more than sticking your tongue up the UN’s arse then maybe you would be aware of the dream world you live in. Fuck you.
Despite the lunatic head-shed doing their best to turn our tour into a trip to a shit Butlins, there were still opportunities to test gear out, and opportunities for fuck ups and lessons. My party trick came out again, several times, but luckily we weren’t in a desperately dangerous environment so it was more of an inconvenience than a risk to life. The biggest lesson from the tour is that I no longer use HSGI Taco pouches. After months of use in training with no issues sod’s law had it that the first time we would leave camp armed was the time for a mag to jump my pouch. I was incredibly lucky that this happened in the transport to the airfield, where it was found by the driver, but upon our return and the return of my magazine I was in for a skull fucking. It’s unfortunate that it happened, and since then I have always been neurotic about accounting for my gear, but it was an incredibly valuable lesson to carry forward.
Christmas and New Year in Malakal was a dire affair, but with the end of the tour drawing close everyone got excited to get home.
2018 – Afghan
2018 was fucking mint. A solid month and a bit off on post tour leave, having a reasonable standing in the company and the end of the fuckups meant that when the high speed Afghan tasking came around we were all in pretty high spirits to go. While it was preceded by the worst exercise I’ve ever been on, the 3 month trip to the mountains more than made up for it. Op Toral was the mission to provide close protection to senior NATO officers who were training their Afghan counterparts in how to run a functioning country.
If you’ve never been to Afghanistan then you might not have the most accurate image of it in your head. Kabul at least is beautiful country, the mountains are spectacular, and the people are largely kind, friendly and welcoming. As far as the tour went we weren’t fighting every day, our base had all the creature comforts of a yank strip mall and a 24 hour scoff house. While in country I had also refined my gear down to a T. The need to stay strapped at all times was an eye opener to the world of open carry and influenced a lot of how I was evaluating kit on the blog, plus being around guys from other nations showed how short British kit has fallen.
When Afghan drew to a close we had moved to Cyprus, and I was nearing the end of my career.
2019 – Cyprus and Coming Home
Cyprus was fucking wank. The sheer amount of bollocks that went on in a country where it is regularly above 35° drove a lot of guys to ramp up their drinking. It created an incredibly unhealthy attitude throughout the camp, and the amount of guys getting booted for doing drugs went on the climb as well. Being on the island did provide a lot of opportunities for off-roading and go-karting though, without which the posting would have been a total failure. Luckily I had already handed in my papers to leave, and so in May my time in the Army drew to a close.
My decision to leave was guided by the lack of opportunities to perform the job I had signed up to do, the unforgivable actions of certain members of the command structure (like Katie fucking Hislop) who will inevitably rise to positions of total control over the service, and the fact I had never fired my weapon in anger. My home life was always of the utmost importance to me, and coming away from my 4 years free of trauma either mental or physical is something I have seen as a fantastic opportunity. I still feel regret that I never had the chance to fight for my country, but I have decided not to go looking for that fight.
Where am I now? Sat in the UK working a regular job and doing my best to enjoy freedom. While I miss the job every day, being able to spend time with family and friends has made me a happier person, and allowed me to really get back to my hobbies. I’m lucky that the people around me have been so supportive during the transition, and my new colleagues are cool enough to accept the squaddie mouth.
The benefit of getting out is that I can spend more time right here on the blog, and hopefully providing some useful information for the guys who are still wandering around in the dreaded MTP.