AIRSOFT ACTION | FRIENDS ACROSS THE POND!

The best thing about the digital age is that you can make friends in people you’ve never met, who live in cities you’ve never been too. How does the story of the unicorn fatale hoemance start? 



THE DARK SIDE

I started following Leah on social media all the way back in 2014 when I first started playing airsoft and was looking for other women to follow in the sport. Leah at the time had (and still has) one of the largest followings on IG and the biggest following on YouTube of any female airsofter in the world. Early in 2015 when my social media accounts started to gain traction and receiving attention from airsofters and brands around the world, a dark side effect of the internet started to rear its ugly head - internet trolls. This was the first time I’d encountered hate on any scale, let alone in the quantities it was coming in. Whilst there has obviously been people that I’d encountered in my life that didn’t like me, strangers on the internet making negative comments about my appearance was never anything I’d dealt with and honestly I struggled at the beginning with the concept that people who’d never spoken to me or met me could dislike me so intensely and this is where Leah comes in. I received a DM on Instagram from @thetacticalunicorn (Leah’s account) explaining that she knew how I felt because it was something she had dealt with, and if I ever needed to chat, she was happy to. I immediately felt relieved, although I’d never wish internet hate on anyone, not even those who dish it out to me, I was relieved there was someone out there who understood what I was going through and having that support has been crucial to me continuing on in airsoft media.

FLIGHT TO FREEDOM

Fast forward to 2017, Femme Fatale Airsoft was doing so well that with Leah’s constant moral support I quit my full-time job to pursue a career in airsoft media (much to the dismay of my parents!). At this point we had been messaging on social media for 2 years and had become close friends but we didn’t meet in person until the 23rd March 2017. My partner at the time was due to deploy to Afghanistan for 9 weeks and as a gift (probably to keep me from going insane checking the news) he offered to pay for my flights to Los Angeles to visit Leah and Jet. Leah had been talking about a visit for a while and when I messaged to say I was booking my flights we were both ecstatic at the prospect of hanging out and playing airsoft together for 6 whole weeks!

I booked my flight for the 23rd March from London Gatwick to Los Angeles. At this point I was someone who wasn’t very well traveled and the furthest afield I had travelled from home was Tunisia in 2008 for a week with my best friend and her family. The 11 hour flight on my own, quite honestly terrified me. That morning my wonderful Dad bundled my suitcase into the family car and we set off for Gatwick, once at the airport I said a tearful farewell to my Dad, Mum and little sister. During the flight there were SO many thoughts going through my head - ‘what if we don’t get on in real life?’, ‘what if I get home sick?’, ‘what if she’s not who she says she is’. I can’t tell you how nerve racking flying 11 hours and 6,500 miles across the world away from everything you’ve ever known is to meet people you’ve only spoken to on the internet is! I arrived at Los Angeles at 5.30pm local time and after collecting my suitcases, I waited in the pick-up zone to meet my friends.

Jet and Leah arrived on time (despite the horrendous LA traffic) in their pick-up truck and off we went to Victorville, California for our 6 week adventure. Leah documented my stay on her YouTube channel - Unicorn Leah. During my first visit to the States we visited SS Airsoft in Atlanta for their 7th year anniversary, SC Village, Hill 559 for Uprising 3 and Milsim West in Washington State. During those 6 weeks I got to see and experience SO much of the United States from deserts, to buzzing cities to the beaches in LA and the lush greeneries of Washington (which is pretty much the same as the UK) all with one of my best friends. I experienced first hand Californian speedsoft and some of the most challenging MilSims I’ve taken part in.

Wildlands Airsoft, California 2017
SS Airsoft, Georgia 2017
Enola Gaye USA, Nevada 2017
MilSim West, Washington 2017
MilSim West, Washington 2017
MilSim West, Washington 2017

Fast forward to 2019, I have visited the States 5 times. Once in 2017, twice in 2018 - for Shot Show 2018 (my first one, and one of the most memorable!) and after my Dad passed away and twice in 2019 (once for Shot Show 2019) and the second for 6 weeks to attend local fields and AirsoftCon.


Shot Show 2018
Mojave, California 2018
Wildlands, California 2018
Airsoftcon 2018, California
Airsoftcon 2018, California
MilSim West, California 2018
SHOT Show 2019
Glasgow UK, 2019
National Airsoft Festival 2019, UK
Upper Tean, UK 2019
California, 2019
Houston, Texas, 2019
Houston, Texas 2019
Disneyland 2019
Airsoftcon 2019
Venice Beach, 2019
JET & LEAH

Leah has been playing airsoft for a little over 6 years, and got introduced to airsoft by working for an airsoft distributor called Spartan Imports. She decided to play a few games so that she could be a more effective sales person and ended up having so much fun that she began to play every weekend and started to push the company to be more active in the community. Leah started her YouTube channel a little over 5 years ago and moved to Southern California shortly after (the airsoft Mecca of north America) to pursue YouTube full-time. In this time she has played throughout the US, Aruba and in Mexico all the while documenting her adventures on Unicorn Leah. To date, Leah’s channel which has everything from gameplay, to unboxing videos to vlogs and reviews has amassed over 142,000 subscribers. Leah is passionate about all types of airsoft, from challenging MilSims to speedsoft. Out of all the female players I’ve met over my time in airsoft, Leah is one of the most dedicated to the game.


Jet started playing airsoft in 2002 but got his introduction into airsoft through paintball. He worked in a paintball store and really enjoyed playing paintball. Until he discovered an airsoft store called Jungle Toy that opened up in the town next to him and he ended up selling all his paintball gear to start airsoft. He started his YouTube channel ‘DesertFoxAirsoft’ 9 years ago and has built his channel up to a whopping 1,172,000 subscribers! During this time Jet opened up his own airsoft field called DesertFox MOUT that was located in Oro Grande, CA but this unfortunately had to close a few years later due to complications with the city, but there are plans to rebuild the field at a later date. His main focus now (bar his YouTube channel) is Desertfox Events, which is an airsoft events company that holds events on in multiple states across northern America. What sets DFE apart from all the other events companies is that they have developed an app to revolutionise the gameplay at their events. The Blue Fox Tracker app is a free downloadable app from the App Store/Google Play Store and works on a 3/4G connection. Players download the app and create their own profile within the app, once they are at a DFE event they can scan the events QR code to get in the game. The app is essentially a mini-map that shows players their location, their alive/wounded/killed team-mates locations, the objectives and has features such as the app chat and medic function. The DFE games can be played if you don’t have the app or a data connection but it definitely adds another element to gameplay. Jet is really passionate about the game - which is why he is so successful at what he does. He simply loves airsoft and cares about player experience making him a great events organiser.


In August 2019, our friends at Enola Gaye flew Jet and Leah out to the UK for 3 weeks to represent them at the National Airsoft Festival ran by Zero One Airsoft in Ringwood, Hampshire. During my visits to the US, Jet and Leah have housed me, fed me and taken me to multiple states to experience American airsoft at its finest so I wanted to do the same for them. So during the short time they’ve been in the UK we’ve driven 7 hours from Derby to Glasgow to play the Depot - Scotlands biggest playable CQB site which they both thoroughly enjoyed, then the hour to Edinburgh to meet the team at Land Warrior Airsoft and to experience the Fringe festival then the 5 hours back home to have just 4 days to prepare for the NAF. The National Airsoft Festival is the biggest airsoft event in the UK - with attendance of well over 3000 people. We spent 3 days at the NAF - arriving early on the Friday morning and leaving at end of play on the Sunday. The US doesn’t yet have anything like the NAF, so I was keen for them to experience an event that I enjoy so much. According to the Americans we were ‘posh camping’ (I being someone who doesn’t like camping at all had a very different description for what we were doing), we listened to a lot of country music, played a lot of beersby, BBQ’d a lot of meat and just generally enjoyed the festival atmosphere. The weather over the weekend was perfect and right up Jet and Leah’s street so they had no problem playing in the unusually high temps we had, admittedly I struggled a little! 

Leah’s take from the NAF: ‘I said it hundreds of times this weekend and I will say it again: I really wish that America had something like the National Airsoft Festival. It was a fantastic, fun-filled weekend fit for anyone and everyone. It was just like being a a music festival - bar tents and bands, lots of food trucks, all kinds of airsoft and tactical gear. The gameplay was fun and very organised, but casual enough that anyone could jump in and have fun. Also there was plenty of people there for just the camping and fun social aspect; with camping grounds being split up into Louder, loud and quiet camping; making it easy for people to bring their families for a fun festival weekend. Huge thank you to Enola Gaye for making this trip possible’

Jet’s take of the NAF: ‘I really enjoyed the social aspect of the event. The airsoft was also fun but to me the thing that stood out the most, that I enjoyed the most was the camping, hanging out, meeting everyone and learning more about British culture and the British airsoft scene.’

Hardwick, K. (2019). Friends Across the Pond. Airsoft Action. 106 (November), 32-25.

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