So your kids are asking you for an airsoft gun, and you’re not sure what to tell them. Or maybe you’re getting into the sport yourself, and would love to have your kids come along for the fun. But Is that a good idea? How old should you really be to start playing airsoft?
The good news is that many, many airsoft players are under the age of 18, and it’s not uncommon for fields to allow players as young as 12 or 13. But there are some players even younger than that, and some parents allow their kids to have guns as young as 10 or 11. But how young is too young, and when should you start your kids shooting airsoft guns?
It’s A Judgement Call
The truth is that deciding to let your kids have airsoft guns, or not, is always going to be judgement call – very personal decision that will depend on their age and maturity.
Maybe a few decades ago, when you were growing up, it wasn’t at all uncommon for kids to grow up with a BB gun or two. Most older BB and pellet guns shot metal pellets that could inflict some serious damage (whether to your eyes or to window) if used incorrectly. But for the most part, these were just fun, decently safe toys.
By comparison, then, airsoft guns seem rather safe. Instead of metal pellets, they shoot relatively harmless 6mm plastic pellets that, propelled by air (mostly) at speeds between 300-400 feet per second, could still put out an eye or draw some blood on bare skin, but are otherwise pretty safe with the right eye protection. And many people are no longer used to seeing kids run around the neighborhood with realistic looking pellet guns.
So when is a good age to let them have an airsoft gun?
A Few Things To Keep In Mind
As mentioned, the first thing you will want to consider is how mature your kids are. That’s something only you can gauge, but is definitely important to consider. A good rule of thumb that any airsofters go by, in local airsoft communities and online forums, is – whenever they are old enough to understand the concept of personal responsibility.
Second, remember that in most of the US, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to purchase an airsoft gun. It is also illegal in most states for a minor to transport an airsoft gun without an adult present. It is not, however, illegal for a minor to use one, even without adult supervision. In some states, such as Massachusetts, it is also illegal for anyone other than a parent to give one to a minor, meaning a friend or relative could be in trouble if you are not present.
So what are some advantages to letting your kids have guns? For one, airsoft guns are a very safe and economical way to introduce kids to firearms, and proper firearm handling and safety. Handling firearms properly is of paramount importance, and instead of purchasing more expensive and much more dangerous real firearms, you can use an airsoft gun to teach them the basics. Such as, to treat every gun as if it were loaded, always point it in a safe direction, trigger discipline, and to always wear the proper safety gear.
You can even help them learn proper firing technique. Then, once your child has proven him or herself to be responsible when handling an airsoft gun, you can graduate them to a real firearm.
Airsoft Guns and Realism
Another important thing to keep in mind is that airsoft guns do very closely resemble real firearms, and are often indistinguishable from their real-steel counterparts. You can purchase airsoft guns that are practically perfect clones of popular firearms such as AK-47’s, M4’s, and 1911’s. Furthermore, they can almost always be customized as much as a real gun, using rails, add-ons, scopes, grips; anything made for a real gun will almost always have an airsoft equivalent. This realism is one reason for airsoft’s popularity, but does come with a downside.
Because airsoft guns so much like real guns, they can be easily mistaken for real guns. This has led to trouble more than few occasions, and people regularly have the police called on them and, in a few sad occasions, even led to people being shot for being seen as a threat. Make sure your kids are aware of this danger, and know how to properly react and behave should this ever happen.
Of course, it’s far better than airsoft guns never be used in public or in anyone else’s sight in the first place. Airsoft should only be played at designated field or gaming facility, or on private property far out of sight of any passersby, cars or neighbors – never in a front yard, street, or public park.
So, Why Let Them Shoot At All?
With all that said, airsoft guns are really safe and practical ways to shoot without the danger or hassle of real guns, and a great way to game a little and have fun without actually hurting anybody in the process.
So, if you feel your kid is ready, many kids – as we mentioned – start around the age of 13. But if you’d like to introduce your kid to firearms even sooner, and get them on their way to proper handling and safety etiquette, then there is no harm in starting them even younger. Make sure your kids wear proper safety gear at all times, such as full-seal goggles or facemasks. Be sure they are aware of all the proper safety rules and laws in your area, and know how to react should a situation occur. And if you’re taking them to an airsoft field or event, be sure to know all the rules and age limits in place.
If you follow all these guidelines, you’re in for a good time. Just be warned: airsoft is addictively fun, and if your kids like it, they may never want to stop playing.