Airsoft is a sport in which participants eliminate opponents by hitting each other with special spherical non-metallic pellets, launched from a replica weapons called an "Airsoft" gun.
Airsoft is commonly compared to paintball, but with some key differences being:
Unlike paintballs, airsoft pellets do not mark their target and hits are not always visibly.
Airsoft pellets may leave red marks or "welts" to their target however rare that might be.
The sport heavily relies on an honor system, in which it is the ethical duty of the person who has been hit to call themselves out regardless of whether or not anyone saw it happen.
Most airsoft guns are magazine-fed with some, especially pistols, having CO2 canisters, and tend to closely replicate the look and feel of a real military guns.
This makes them more popular especially for military simulation and historical reenactments.
For casual airsoft players it is much cheaper to try and start-up than paintballing, with manual-cocking pistols costing as very little and airsoft pellets costing even less per round.
The airsoft gun originated in Japan during the early 1970s. The name "Soft-Air" referred to the green gas used as a propellant.
Originally designed for target shooting, their bullets could also hit humans without injury and thus became popular for casual war-games.
Airsoft guns spread to the UK in the late 1980s and early 1990s with a company called LS.
The guns were sold in pieces and had to be assembled before they were capable of firing pellets.
Airsoft equipment was designed to closely emulate real guns.
Since the mid-1980s, airsoft guns have been adapted with a purely recreational application in mind, and the sport is enjoyed by all ages.
Airsoft replicas are produced globally, with the majority being manufactured in Asia.
Many law enforcement agencies and military units within the US use Airsoft for force-on-force training drills.
Airsoft technology is used in military and law enforcement training.
Due to airsoft’s realism, relatively safe projectiles, and economical ammunition, it is well-suited to war games and scenarios to train troops.
Multiple airsoft inventions were developed originally for military and law enforcement use.
Economically, airsoft is cheaper than Simunition training. Maj. Benjamin Kratz, Fort Jackson's battalion executive officer, said that one blank M16 round can cost as much as 32 airsoft rounds. And with decreasing military and law enforcement budgets, airsoft adds a number of necessary practice hours.
Varies in style and composition but often range from short-term skirmishes, organized scenarios, C.Q.B. (Close Quarters Battle), field, military simulations (MilSim) or historical reenactments.
They are played in some indoor courses, and outdoor (fields).
Combat situations on the battlefield may involve the use of military tactics to achieve objectives set in each game.
Participants may attempt to emulate the tactical equipment and accessories used by modern military and police organizations.
A game is normally kept safe by a trained professional and the weapons are usually powered by gas or various types of batteries.
An Airsoft gun's power is checked through a chronograph and usually measured in feet per second (FPS).
Different game sites allow a different amount of FPS; for instance, a sniper would usually have a higher FPS than a submachine gun, since a sniper needs a minimum engagement range to reduce the danger from being hit at close range.
Community safety precautions
Many manufacturers and retailers suggest treating an airsoft gun like a real gun at all times.
This will help alleviate safety issues resulting in a misfire to an unknowing target or an airsoft gun being mistaken for a real firearm.
Most manufacturers include an orange tip on the barrel of the airsoft gun for safety purposes.
When not actively playing, some fields require "barrel bags", also known as barrel socks, barrel condoms, barrel blockers, or barrel sleeves, to be placed over the muzzle of the gun.
The magazine is usually removed as well, and the gun fired to clear the chamber.
Most fields also require players to leave their guns set to the safety position when they are not shooting, a practice common when using real firearms.
Legals - also seek other advice as this is just a guide.
In the United Kingdom, some Airsoft guns are classified as realistic imitation firearms or RIFs.
The sale, manufacture, or importation of these is restricted to activities that are exempted or have been granted a defense by the Home Office under the Violent Crime Reduction Act (VCRA) of 2006.
Airsoft skirmishing has been granted a specific defense against the requirements of the act, and a skirmisher as defined under British law is allowed to sell, import and manufacture airsoft replicas, and convert them into RIFs.
Purchase from other vendors is not illegal, but the sale is - the crime is committed by the vendor.
All are still, however, crimes under British law that can be defended successfully (in theory – this has never been tried to date) by fulfilling criteria suggested in the guidelines accompanying the VCRA.
The most accepted method of proving entitlement to the defense is to be a member of a site that holds public liability insurance.
An association set up by UK retailers, called the United Kingdom Airsoft Retailers Association (UKARA), in line with the Home Office documentation accompanying the VCRA, recommends that an airsoft site only give membership to a player who has played at least three games over a period of no less than two months.
It is also possible for a member of an insured reenactment society or the film or television industry to purchase an Airsoft replica (this is a full exemption from, and not a defense against, the VCRA).
The right to buy a RIF (or IF) is still reserved for individuals age 18 and over.