Airsoft is an exciting outdoor activity and sport that simulates military scenarios and combat situations. Participants use replica firearms called airsoft guns to shoot rounds made of biodegradable plastic pellets at one another in organized games. It combines elements of roleplaying, target shooting, and tactical simulations for an adrenaline-fueled experience.
Airsoft first originated in Japan in the 1970s, inspired by war games played with spring pistols. Over the decades, airsoft equipment advanced with more realistic replications of actual firearms powered first by springs, then battery-powered electric motors, and finally by gas mechanisms like those in real guns. This allowed for semi-automatic and fully automatic firing capabilities for enhanced realism.
As airsoft gained popularity around the world, games and tournaments standardized around military simulation rulesets. Today, airsoft is most popular in Asia and North America with millions of enthusiasts participating regularly. This guide will explore everything beginners need to know about getting into airsoft as a recreational activity or competitive sport.
What Are Airsoft Guns and How Do They Work?
Airsoft guns are replica weapons used to shoot rounded plastic bbs, meant to mimic real firearms while being completely safe. From pistols to sniper rifles to submachine guns, airsoft guns come in many varieties modeled after actual guns.
Instead of gunpowder explosion like real firearms, airsoft guns have springloaded piston systems powered by:
- Spring: Manually cocked springs that drive the piston to shoot each pellet. Spring airsoft guns are single-shot per cocking requiring manual reloading between each shot.
- Electric: Battery-powered gears or motors that rapidly drive the piston for semi-automatic or fully automatic firing just like the real firearm it mimics. Popular for assault rifles and submachine gun varieties.
- Gas: Green gas (propane/silicon mix) or CO2 provides the compression to drive the piston system. Gas blowback airsoft guns have the most realistic recoil and actions of real firearms.
This allows airsoft BBs to launch out of the barrel at velocities between 200 to 600+ feet per second depending on type and model. But the lightweight plastic ammo means little risk even at close ranges.
Are Airsoft Guns Safe?
When proper safety precautions are taken, airsoft is generally safe for participants of all ages. Safety gear should always be worn and safety guidelines followed.
The plastic 6mm BBs used in airsoft weigh just 0.20 grams, allowing them to travel fast but with little mass for injury risk. However, shots to unprotected skin at close range can sting and bruise so players wear long sleeves, pants, and close-toed shoes to cover exposed skin.
For facial protection, airsoft masks, goggles, glasses or mesh face protection are necessary, even under camo helmets, to fully cover eyes and teeth. Referees also enforce FPS limits for airsoft guns based on engagement distance. Heavier BBs fired hotter do require MEDs (minimum engagement distances).
Following field safety rules, maintaining protective equipment, using guns legally and responsibly, and wearing padded gear under uniforms will all ensure participants avoid any injuries more serious than minor scrapes and welts. New players should familiarize themselves with all guidelines and gear before playing airsoft.
Airsoft Gameplay and Rules
Airsoft games feature teams engaged in various match formats trying to eliminate opponents by tagging them out of play when they are hit. Games emphasize teamwork, communication, strategy, and marksmanship under fire.
Skirmishes take place on dedicated airsoft fields with man-made and natural terrain features. Teams navigate terrain looking to achieve scenario objectives ranging from capturing points, eliminating VIPs, securing hostages, defusing bombs, and more. Or they compete for victory in elimination-style attack and defend, capture the flag, domination, deathmatch, or last man standing games.
Hits from BB shots count as wounds with exceptions for ricochets, environmental hits or shots to equipment like guns or gear. A hit player calls themselves out and heads to the designated respawn zone before rejoining play the next round. Honesty and integrity regarding hits are paramount to fair gameplay built on sportsmanship.
Cheating, blind firing, inappropriate physical contact, and unsafe behavior can lead to ejection at the referee’s discretion. Other field rules include:
- FPS limits and engagement distances for guns
- No blind fire around the cover
- Barrel covers in the staging area
- Trigger discipline enforced
- Call all hits from BB impacts
- Yell “cease fire” if dangerous situation spotted
Proper gameplay etiquette, rule-following, and fair-minded participation enhance enjoyment for all players involved regardless of experience level or play style.
Airsoft Guns and Equipment
Building out your custom airsoft loadout is half the fun. Airsofters model their kits after real special forces, infantry, and SWAT team loadouts. Here is some of the popular gear:
The core airsoft gun brings firepower such as:
- Assault Rifle: M4, AK, SCAR
- SMG: MP5, P90, UZI
- Sniper Rifle: Bolt Action, Spring, AEG
- Shotgun: TriShot Pump, Gas Blowback
- LMG (Light Machine Gun): M249, M60
Secondary Weapon: Sidearm
- GBB (Gas Blowback) Pistol
- AEP (Electric Pistol)
- HPA Tapped Hi-Capa or Glock
- Plate Carrier Vest and Chest Rig
- Pouches to carry extra magazines and gear
- Battle Belt for the holster, mag pouches, and accessories
- Airsoft Helmet for protection and mounting gear
- BDUs (Battle Dress Uniform): Fatigues in camo patterns like Multicam, Woodland, ACU
- Boots: Tactical style for ankle support
- Gloves: Hard knuckles for protection
- Radio: For squad communication
- Hydration: Backpack or pack for water
- Lower Face Mask
- Shooting Glasses
- Goggles (Low Profile or Bulky)
- Mesh Mask
- Helmet Mesh
The specific optimal combination of an airsoft loadout is open for customization and modifications for preferred play style and scenario – whether as a lightweight skirmisher or heavily equipped support gunner.
Airsoft Fields and Events
Dedicated facilities purpose-built for airsoft battles offer terrain tailored for gameplay along with staffing, rentals, stores, and amenities.
Indoor Fields allow skirmishing in close quarters across multi-level buildings and industrial environments. Outdoor Fields provide acres of land for woodland and urban simulated warfare translating to real-world environments. Larger Operations pull together hundreds of players on vast swaths of land for massive simulation battles not possible otherwise.
Many airsoft fields offer rental packages with all the necessary guns and gear to get players onto the battlefield within minutes. Experienced players often own $1,000+ custom rifles and equipment bringing serious firepower and tactics.
Events and large-scale operations especially allow airsofters to truly test their skills in grueling matches up to mil-sim intensity. Teams navigate objectives across tens of thousands of square feet at 24 to 72-hour continuous events. Milsim West, American Milsim, and Ballahack host the biggest US national events where participants eat, live and breathe an airsoft military lifestyle for entire weekends testing will and endurance.
Getting Started with Airsoft Gear and Guns
The airsoft world can certainly seem imposing for newcomers between intimidating realistic guns built like the real steel ones and players kitted out like special forces operators ready for battle. But beginners can get started playing airsoft with basic affordable gear and rental options.
Most dedicated airsoft fields offer all-inclusive rental packages that provide masks, guns, ammo, and even fatigues so first-timers can test the waters before buying any gear. Indoor arenas especially cater to more casual participants with strong walk-on recreational play.
When deciding to commit and buy starter airsoft equipment, the core essentials simply include:
- Mask or mesh lower face protection, rated goggles/glasses Primary Airsoft Rifle:
- Entry Level M4 or AK AEG Rifle
- Smart Charger and Extra Battery Ammo and Gear:
- Extra Magazines for rifle
- Speed Loader
- BBs (0.20 or 0.25g)
- Tactical Chest Rig, Vest, or Belt
This basic loadout allows new players to hold their own on the battlefield for under $300. Airsoft offers extensive room for gear upgrades and enhancements down the road whether in pursuit of higher performance or greater authenticity. But coming out for that very first game day requires remarkably little investment to already feel like a true airsofter blasting away in the skirmish.
The airsoft community also eagerly welcomes newcomers looking to get into the sport. While it attracts all personality types, most players remain friendly and happy to share guidance from their own experiences starting. Airsoft fields cultivate positive recreational communities among regulars, ensuring first-time players and walk-ons feel comfortable settling into the sport’s culture. Fellow players want to see the community continue growing and will mentor you in finding the joy airsoft offers.
Airsoft Tips for Beginners
Here is some key guidance for those embarking on their first forays into airsoft gaming and sport:
Safety First: Protect those eyes, teeth, and skin out there before anything else even if just renting.
Start Small: Don’t buy premium custom guns and gear right off the bat. Test the waters first before major investments.
Prepare for Elements: Bring plenty of water/snacks and wear performance gear to play hard and stay cool/warm outdoors.
Communicate Constantly: Talk to both fellow players and field refs – key info gets exchanged to benefit all.
Play Fair and Honest: Call your hits, follow rules, avoid confrontation, and keep your integrity.
Have Fun Most of All: Don’t worry about skills, winning, or anything else besides enjoying some awesome times competing. Share the enjoyment of airsoft with all.
While airsoft provides actual physical exertion and simulated combat pressure, maintaining a fun lighthearted spirit ensures everyone involved relishes the entire experience on and off the field.
Ready to Dive Into Airsoft?
This guide just touches the surface of exploring the world of recreational and competitive airsoft. The guns deliver a visceral thrill holding recon legendary firearms modeled right down to realistic blowback actions. Airsofters kit themselves out to impressive specifications matching real special forces operators in tactical gear collection obsession. Gameplay offers the adrenaline rush of paintball combined with militaristic action hero fantasies played out in immersive settings not Possible otherwise. Events take the intensity to unprecedented levels only limited by airsofters willingness for combat challenges.
Yet for all its intensity, airsoft coalesces around building community connections. Lifelong friendships form over a shared interest in quality replica gear and exciting tactical simulations may continue for decades. Fields thrive as communal hubs welcoming newcomers to join in the camaraderie.
With skies the limit for customization pursuits and skill building in this exciting sport, airsoft offers recreation for all types from casual blinkers to hardcore devotees. Ready to give it a shot?