You might have heard about this sport that is taking in proportion every year.
Airsoft has been steadily moving toward the mainstream and can now be found in most countries. I have taken an interest in it and while I was explaining what it was to my friends, I realized that people have very different opinions on it. Some thought it was cool, others wondered why I would be foolish enough to spend the money on expensive toys, some feared the effect that shooting humans would have on me, while others couldn’t be bothered to give a damn. I will share my experience with the sport and let you make up your own mind.
I came across a video on the internet that showed a first-person perspective, much like an FPS computer game, of a person with a weapon, going across a field and shooting white little balls, quite accurately, toward military-looking players. It looked like fun and it bore a striking resemblance to first-person shooters, so it got me interested. Pretty soon I was watching videos like that regularly and started visiting airsoft online shops to look at the merchandise. The weapons looked so real, the gear was so varied that I started to seriously consider buying one. So I did. I bought a G&G CM 16 Raider L M4 rifle. I went to a real shooting range before, so I was used to the weight and feel of a real weapon. When I first held the airsoft rifle in my hands, I could barely sense a difference. Next, I bought a green gas blowback pistol for CQB(Close Quarter Battle), because the rifle was too long to quickly and effectively maneuver in tight spaces, like buildings. I later added a leg holster, extra magazines, professional goggles, a face mask, military camo gear, a rifle scope for long-range shots and weapon case to carry everything around.
It cost me around 700 dollars to get what I consider now to be the essential beginner gear.
I spent more on the weapons and the protective gear than on anything else. This is not a cheap sport if you want to have guns that are accurate and also shoot far. The airsoft fields can rent you all the weapons and gear that you need but I have discovered that these are not well maintained, which is why I decided to buy my own. I did A LOT of research before buying my weapons and went for the best price to quality ratio on the low-end price spectrum. I didn’t want to buy some expensive piece of equipment only to realize that I hate it. As far as prices go, weapons range from 30 dollars to 3000. The same goes for the items that belong to the sport. It depends on how much you want to invest in this hobby. Some of the people who do this will show up to the playing field wearing 2-3000 dollars worth of gear while the guy right next to him may have spent 300 dollars on his. Expensive gear does not translate into a capable player. In fact, some of the most capable players on the field are sporting relatively cheap weapons but possess the know-how to outsmart the other players.
Airsoft is fun when everybody is on the same page.
Some people take things waaaay to seriously and think that just because they look like a warrior, they automatically become one. This is a male-dominated sport and sometimes tensions do run high, especially when there is a debate about whether someone got hit or not. Unlike paintball, where the ball leaves a visible paint mark on the body, airsoft uses 6mm plastic balls, or BB’s. The rule is that if you get hit, you have to call it. Sometimes, in the heat of battle, so to speak, people don’t notice the BB’s hitting them, or their clothes are too thick and that leads to frustrations and confrontations with others. Some players will intentionally pretend that they didn’t get hit and keep playing. There are refs that oversee the games but they can’t be everywhere, especially if the map where you are playing is very big. Shooting distances are important. Generally, if you are within 10 feet of another player, you have to shout Bang, Bang, instead of riddling the poor bastard with BB’s, because from that distance, it really hurts. Cheaters are a big issue, shooting distances are a big issue, fair play is also very important.
A typical day at the airsoft field goes like this: you arrive there, meet the other players and decide on the type of game that you want to play. There are generally two teams consisting of a minimum of 8 players per team. You prepare your gear, dress up, pick a team, go to your designated spawn and start playing. You can play just about every type of game that you can find in FPS games: deathmatch, capture the flag, king of the hill, search and destroy, disarm the bomb, free the hostage etc. The players consist of “veterans” who mostly put emphasis on the practical side of their gear and look the most “military” of the bunch, normal players and then noobs, who think that their experience in playing Battlefield somehow translates in real life as well. They are wrong and many of them quit after realizing how much they suck. I play for about three hours because the battery on my electric rifle can only last that long. I may try to do a couple more rounds with my pistol alone but I usually call it quits after that because the limited range of the pistol restricts my playing style.
Realistic weapons and gear, physical exercise(a lot of running around, carrying heavy weapons and gear for hours), fun, learning the importance of being a team player, a healthy hobby, socializing, getting out of the house.
Quality weapons and gear cost a lot, there are a lot of cheaters on the field, some people can’t accept that they are not the best players in the world and make a lot of fuss or can even get verbally or physically violent(the latter is a rare but sadly real situation), sometimes the players will get injured by falling down or bashing their head and body against the obstacles in the environment.
For me, airsoft is mindless fun, a place to meet people with the same interest and disconnect from the mundane for a couple of hours. Most people who play know that this is just a game and treat it as such. The ones who get overly aggressive are usually kicked out, so everybody is on their best behavior and trying to have a good time. I do not feel like shooting anybody with a real gun just because I managed to get 15 “kills” on the airsoft field the previous day. Yes, the gear looks real. Yes, we sometimes employ military tactics in order to out-maneuver the opposing team. Yes, we literally shoot each other in the head over and over again. But it’s fun, harmless, it allows us to relax, possibly vent those male aggressive tendencies by channeling them in a fast-paced game that looks like real war but ultimately is just an upgraded version of the “bang-bang” games we used to play as kids.