The word “sport” evokes a mental image of an athlete running towards the end zone, arms stretched wide; a cross-country runner drenched in sweat, an Olympic gymnast completing a perfect vault. Because of the competitive nature of sports, the physical aspect is often the first thing we think of. But is airsoft a sport, because it is not often associated with physical activity. Instead, it might be associated with something like poker, where a basic definition of a sport is that: “It requires physical exertion, mental effort, and a competitive result.”
So, is airsoft a sport? Yes. Airsoft is a competitive team sport where players use replica guns to fire round plastic pellets at an opposing team in simulated battle games. Games can occur on indoor or outdoor fields, and range from action shooting to shorter live action role-play scenarios.
The sport of airsoft is quite complex yet offers opportunities for beginners and professionals alike. There are many considerations in this exciting and fast-paced game, from deciding which position to play, gun to shoot, necessary accessories, and learning the rules.
While safety is the number one priority of airsoft play, the airsoft gun is the second most crucial aspect.
Replicas of real guns, airsoft guns come in pistols or revolvers, shotguns, submachine guns, machine guns, assault rifles, and sniper rifles. There is also a Designated Marksman’s Gun, or DMR, a modified rifle used for mid-range shots.
Airsoft guns typically have an orange tip to differentiate them from their real counterparts. Still, they are sometimes mistaken for real firearms by inexperienced people. Therefore, it is essential to treat an airsoft gun just as you would a real firearm.
Airsoft rifles come with one of three types of firing mechanisms, each with advantages and disadvantages:
Spring-powered airsoft guns are typically the most affordable of the three types. These are an excellent option for beginners or kids as they are straightforward.
Spring-powered guns must be cocked. This mechanism causes them to look less realistic than a real gun but makes them easier to use. When the gun is cocked, the lever compresses the spring that compresses air. When the trigger is pulled, the air is released, launching the pellet from the gun.
These rifles have unlimited shooting capacity as you don’t have to replace gas canisters or recharge batteries as you do with the others. However, they have a lower firing velocity (FPS) than the others, meaning the pellet won’t shoot as far or as accurately.
Electric-powered airsoft guns are the most expensive and the most popular and come with their own set of distinct advantages and disadvantages.
These use rechargeable batteries, typically 8.4V, attached to a small motor. This motor operates an internal spring that launches the pellets. These usually have a firing speed of 500 FPS, making them more powerful than their spring-powered counterparts.
The batteries usually last many rounds before needing to be recharged; however, carry an extra one if you run out of battery power in the middle of a game. Battery quality varies, so it pays to make sure you are using high-quality batteries.
They are also quieter, making them popular for games where you don’t want your location given away.
Gas-powered airsoft guns fall in the middle range of affordability and are popular with professional and advanced users. Rather than using batteries or springs, they use gas cartridges.
There are two types of gas used: CO2 and green gas, which is propane mixed with a lubricant and scent.
The gas pushes through the barrel, creating the momentum required to fire the pellet into the air. The shooting velocity can be adjusted, and they do fire at higher speeds than the others.
These offer the most realistic shooting experience.
Equipment and Accessories
The type of equipment and accessories you will need to play the sport of airsoft will depend on which position on the field you choose to play. Here are some basics needed regardless of position:
Eye protection: Safety is the number one priority on the airsoft playing field, and good eye protection is critical. Get a good pair of protective glasses or goggles made explicitly for airsoft play. This will keep you from getting hit in the eye and seriously injured and also allow you to play without visual limitations.
Mesh Face Mask: These not only protect your face but also come in camo patterns to keep your face concealed.
Pellets: There are many types of airsoft gun pellets and which you choose depends mainly on the gun you shoot and your use. Factors to consider when selecting an appropriate airsoft gun pellet include performance, material, and cost.
Spare magazines: Carrying extra magazines for both your rifles and your sidearms will ensure you’ve always got plenty of firing capabilities.
Clothing and camouflage: The less you can stand out from your surroundings, the better. Usually, your gun, face, head, or hands are not covered and stand out, so consider how you can hide them. Simple camouflage works, all the way up to a full-blown ghillie suit. What works for you will be determined through experimentation and practice.
Every airsoft field will have a set of rules, and it is essential to read and understand them before engaging in airsoft play. They are in place to keep players safe.
Most games have trained professionals overseeing the game as it’s played. It is important to listen to and obey these referees or run the risk of being permanently banned.
Before a game can begin, an airsoft gun’s velocity is checked and measured. Different player positions use different types of guns on the field. The velocity is different depending on the gun and the role being played.
Real knives, guns, and metal BBs are banned, as is drinking alcohol before play. Certain types of safety gear are required, such as full-face protection.
There may be other rules specific to the playing field. For example, the Designated Marksman may have a Minimum Engagement Distance, or MED, since the DMR they will shoot will be modified to have a higher velocity. This means they can only shoot at someone outside of a specific range to avoid injuring the opposing team members.
While this is a general overview of some basic rules, each playing field will have its own set. You must know what they are before play and are prepared to follow them.