Airsoft is growing in popularity. Since its creation in the 1970s, airsoft has become a renowned and celebrated sport around the globe. Each year sees new guns, new gear, new fields – and most importantly – new players.
But what is airsoft? Is airsoft a sport? Are there any official rules? What should you bring to an airsoft match? Is blind fire actually good for meeting friends?
Getting into airsoft can seem a bit overwhelming at times. This guide is here to provide a comprehensive look at the sport – from its history to the current state of the game.
Understanding Airsoft Before You Get Started
Airsoft is a competitive shooting sport – and yes, airsoft is a sport. Like any sport, different games have different rules. Most airsoft matches involve two teams trying to eliminate the other in a deathmatch-style skirmish. Players score “kills” by firing plastic pellets – BBs – at their opponents.
What are airsoft guns used for? Airsoft guns should be used for one thing – airsoft wars. Players can practice with them at home, but must always do so in a safe environment. Airsoft guns are not toys, and should be treated with respect. However, some militaries have adopted airsoft guns for training purposes.
What is an Airsoft Gun?
An airsoft gun is a replica firearm that fires plastic BBs. Airsoft guns come in two main varieties – electric and gas. Airsoft electric guns, or AEGs, are the most common type for their reliability and ease of use. As the name suggests, AEGs use high-voltage batteries to power a system of gears and springs that propel BBs out of the barrel. Some AEGs make use of lithium polymer, or LiPo, batteries for an added boost.
Gas airsoft guns, called gas blowbacks or GBBs, use compressed carbon dioxide or propane to shoot BBs. “Blowback” refers to the slide action recoil seen in GBBs. Some players prefer GBBs for the added realism, notably in military simulation settings. GBBs tend to be more expensive and complicated, but may come with higher performance over some AEGs.
A Short History of Airsoft
“Who invented airsoft?” is good question with a clear answer – Ichiro Nagata. Living in 1970s Japan, Nagata wanted to get around his country’s strict gun control laws. He did so by creating spring-powered replica firearms known as “soft air guns.” These early airsoft guns became popular in Japan and other Asian countries, and would spread to Europe over the next decade.
From the 1980s onwards, airsoft guns began to enter the European market. As the industry grew, so did innovation. Electric and gas-powered airsoft guns replaced their spring-powered ancestors. By the 2000s, airsoft was a global phenomenon, with dozens of airsoft gun manufacturers and airsoft fields operating in the United States, Asia and Europe. Today, airsoft is more popular than ever, and airsoft sporting events are getting bigger and better by the year.
Airsoft Game Rules and Etiquette
While there are no official airsoft rules, there is a universal code of conduct. The most important of all – one that forms the very basis of airsoft as a sport – is to call your hits. The meaning is simple – when hit by a BB, call it. Airsoft is an honor sport. Without hit calling, the entire match is compromised. Players who fail to call hits risk ejection from the match, or even worse, loss of respect from teammates and opponents alike.
Organized outdoor airsoft arenas will always some restrictions. The most common is an airsoft gun FPS limit. FPS, or feet per second, refers to the speed of a BB. In general, an airsoft gun with a high FPS will perform better. Airsoft field rules use FPS limits to keep the game fair and balanced.
Indoor airsoft often takes the form of CQB airsoft matches. What is CQB airsoft? CQB, or close quarters battle, is exactly what it sounds like – a close range airsoft match. These indoor airsoft games may have their own unique set of rules. Restrictions include mandatory face protection, strict FPS limits, and no full-auto in the building.
Airsoft knife rules vary from field to field. Some airsoft fields allow melee weapons – anything from rubber knives to plastic sporting bats. Other fields prohibit melee kills altogether. Airsoft knife rules may also allow “silent kills.” If a player is hit with a melee weapon, they are not allowed to speak unless revived or have returned to spawn.
Types of Airsoft Matches
Team deathmatch, king of the hill, capture the flag, zombie apocalypse – the ways you can play airsoft are endless. Most airsoft fields will have a rotating playlist of game modes to keep the players interested and engaged. These organized airsoft matches, or skirmishes, are the most common airsoft games you will encounter. Of course, there are always more extreme airsoft game modes.
One such extreme is Trouble in Terrorist Town, called TTT for short. Based on a game mode from the video game Garry’s Mod, players are divided into three groups: traitors, innocents and the detective. Traitors want to kill all innocents, including the detective, without being caught. Innocents and the detective want to find out which players are traitors and eliminating them. The detective may ask for another player’s identity at any moment. TTT is a game of trust and chance. Players must use deception, cunning and trickery to win, all of which make for a fun airsoft match.
Finally, some players take things a step further with military simulation, or MilSim. Unlike standard airsoft matches, the goal of milsim is to mimic actual military engagements with as much accuracy as possible. Milsim players accomplish this by using real military gear and tactics. Some milsim events also try to recreate historical conflicts, with the Second World War always a popular choice. Milsim is without a doubt the most expensive form of airsoft, owing to the authenticity and quality of the equipment involved.
What Should You Bring to an Airsoft War?
Airsoft is an active sport, and you should bring the appropriate items. First, bring plenty of water. At the end of an airsoft match, you will be sweating. Running with heavy gear and protective clothing is drain on the body. Hydration is key. Failing to drink water could lead to heat exhaustion, which can be life-threatening in certain cases.
Second, wear the right clothing. Snow, rain, or sunshine, all airsoft players must wear the right clothing for the right weather. Don’t wear a parka if playing in a humid swamp, and layer up during airsoft games in the winter. During periods of extreme heat, players may forgo protective gear such as plate carriers, as they can drastically restrict breathing. Of course, this is all up to preference. Some players don’t wear tactical gear at all, and preferring comfortable clothes over camouflage and webbing. Depending on the field, players may also want to consider waterproof boots to prevent dangerous fungal infections.
Third, bring whatever the airsoft field requires. If playing at an organized outdoor airsoft arena, chances are they will require a waiver or contract. Such contracts will be fairly straightforward, indicating the airsoft field is not liable for any injury the player may sustain during the match. Most fields also require a small fee to cover expenses. Print the waiver at home, and bring it to the field, well as plenty of cash.
Airsoft is a growing sport. Each year sees new airsoft guns, new tactical gear, new airsoft fields, and most important, new players. It’s essential to have a good understanding of the rules and workings of airsoft before getting started. Follow these tips and you will be sure to have an engaging first airsoft match.