Find an Airsoft Game—You Won’t Regret It!
We love the rush. The thrill of adrenaline, the excitement of the chase, the execution of that perfect move. Each of us is unique in that we go for it in different ways. For some, it’s skydiving, scuba diving, parkour, skateboarding, or jumping off a cliff (after climbing it!). For others, it’s the thrill of the hunt, the outsmarting of your opponent and the victory of that perfect kill. This is where airsoft comes in!
Not Your Average Military Exercise
Airsoft, as a game and sport, didn’t actually exist until the early 1980’s. It originated in Japan as a way to go target shooting, but not actually have to fire real bullets. It spread from there to the UK in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, where some began to realize its potential as a recreational sport. It continued to spread, and now airsoft games are played all over the world, by people of all ages. It is also used very frequently in law enforcement and military training exercises, having eclipsed paintball for a number of reasons.
Differences Between Airsoft and Paintball
While the style of play is similar, airsoft has a number of advantages over paintball. The biggest advantage is price. If an individual player decides to buy his/her own gear, the higher-end guns are typically slightly more expensive than paintball guns, but the other gear, such as fatigues, face masks, CO2 canisters, etc., are typically the same price.
While this doesn’t sound like much of an advantage (paying MORE!?), the place where airsoft really beats paintball in price is in the ammunition. The price for airsoft ammunition, if bought in bulk, is about 2000 rounds for 1 dollar. Paintball is about 2 cents a round, or 50 rounds to the dollar. This is literally 40 times cheaper ammunition, and that really begins to add up after a few games. As well, super cheap airsoft replica pistols can be found, for the beginner, for as little as five dollars, making entry into the airsoft world a pretty cheap possibility. Like we mentioned, though, getting a decent rig will cost you a bit more, but it’s totally worth it.
Taking into account that there is no paint splash on your clothing, the environment, or anything else, it’s also much cleaner. The only potential downside is that airsoft relies on an honor system for people to acknowledge when they are hit. If someone doesn’t follow the rules very well, it could lead to frustration, though this rarely happens.
Different Types of Guns
There are two types of airsoft guns, those that run on CO2, and spring/electric. With the carbon dioxide models, the gas charge powers the flight of the pellet. Spring-loaded electric guns have batteries that are tied to a small motor, which re-cocks a spring between every shot. The gun then fires a pellet using the spring to create the needed energy.
An electric gun is commonly cheaper than a CO2 gun in the long run, as it doesn’t require you to get CO2 canisters or refills, just to charge up the batteries, though eventually parts in the guns need to be changed (the spring for example). Electric guns do not benefit from a longer barrel in terms of accuracy. The sweet spot for those type of gun barrels is 450mm, anything higher than that, contrary to common knowledge of ballistics and barrels, won’t do anything to improve your shot.
On the other hand, a gas-powered replica is much more like a real firearm. Adding barrel length will increase velocity and accuracy. So there is a tradeoff from the standpoint of which type of gun you wish to buy. Many people go for a combination of spring/electric sidearms (pistols) and CO2 powered longer range guns. The velocity of both is regulated before you step on the field, and oftentimes the max effective range is around 300 feet on a nice sniper rifle.
Most pellets are regulated for 350 feet per second for indoor games to 500 feet per second for sniper rifles in outdoor games, though under game rules they have a minimum range discharge.
Different Types of Games
As you may imagine, there are a number of different ways to get your airsoft game on. There are regular games, military style training exercises, re-enactments, and tournaments. Each is similar in terms of the equipment used, i.e. airsoft guns, but all have differences that are worth knowing about, as these differences help them appeal to a much wider audience.
Regular games are just that: a group of people (usually through a local organization or a non-tournament-style club) organizes games, oftentimes outdoors and on weekends. People can bring their own equipment, or rent it, and 9 times out of 10 there is a small fee for joining in the game and for the organizers for hosting the event. These games are pretty laid back, and the organizers usually “referee” the games. There are countless variants, such as capture the flag, elimination, “President,” etc. This, by far, makes up the bulk of airsoft get togethers.
Military style training exercises are usually more robust. They are usually reserved for police and military personnel, yet there are civilian training companies out there as well. These cost quite a bit more money, but have very robust weapons and rules, with trained professionals. The idea is to simulate real life as much as possible, while training for all types of situations. After all, it’s not like a hostage situation occurs every day, and this is a chance for people to get some live experience to back up the theory they learn.
Re-enactments are pretty awesome. They are fairly intricate games that are set up by professionals to replicate a real situation that happened sometime in the past. For example, the shootout at the O.K. Corral! The sets that are used are usually pretty authentic, as are the firearms. No one knows if the outcome will match history, but there is a chance for both sides to find out! Also, this is one of the few games, other than military training, where people can play “The Bad Guy” and still have fun while doing it. Ever secretly have the urge to know what it was like to rob a bank? You may be able to find a reenactment, complete with actors, airsoft guns, etc.!
Tournaments are fantastic. Since the beginning of the airsoft trend in the UK, people have begun to make it a professional sport. Tournament play has a number of specific rules, though the fields can be changed. There are tournament leagues all over the world at this point, so check out if there is one in your area. Even if you are a beginner, there are tourney and professional trainings available so that you can get up to speed quickly. This is where people invest some real money in top of the line equipment, and it becomes a serious sport to them, rather than a hobby.
Get Into the Game
Airsoft play is open to just about everyone. All you need is some free time and a little bit of money. You can get some friends together and begin with regular games, and branch out from there if you find you enjoy it. It’s also something that you can pick up or put down as much as you want, provided you aren’t in a league. You can start your own team and travel around the world to compete. Airsoft is a sport that wasn’t even possible technologically until very recently, but is growing by leaps and bounds.
One thing we suggest is triple weave camo jacket and pants (if you can find them) if you are going to play outdoors—because those little pellets sting a little bit, (but only a little)! Have fun, and enjoy!
Have you ever played? Share your airsoft experience in the comments, we’d love to hear about it!