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What is Airsoft?
A Quick Summary

Airsoft is a tactical simulation game played with air rifles shooting 6mm plastic pellets at high velocities to complete an objective/mission on a team based tactical scenario. Scenarios range from hostage rescues to elimination rounds. Teams are chosen on an unbiased basis by two designated team captains. Players are allowed any weapon or assortment of weaponry as long as it follows the constitution. No tactical experience is necessary for this team.

Is it just like Paintball?

The games last longer and it is a very honorable sport. No paint is used so it is also less of a mess. It is more realistic than the experience of our paint counterpart. It is new to the US so it is not very popular yet but is growing rapidly so upgrades and new technology is at the hand.

An Indepth Look

Airsoft is a military simulation or tactical simulation game. In this simulation, teams accomplish a mission or an objective such as rescuing a hostage, capturing a point, assault, etc. Operators use air powered toy guns as a means. These toys accomplish high muzzle velocities through different types of air injection systems. The three air injection systems are spring-piston, electric piston, and gas injection. The spring-piston can result in muzzle velocities between 250 and 350 feet per second (fps). As for the other systems, electric-piston systems can achieve a broader scope of 200- 400 fps with automatic, semi-automatic and burst-fire capabilities. The gas systems are the most high-powered systems in Airsoft having rages from 250-550+ fps. Injuries sustained by airsoft rifles depend on the engagement range, fps of toy and in what spot on ones body they are hit at. Injuries, however, are not very common among experienced and well prepared operators. Any gun manufactured for the military or otherwise, also comes in an Airsoft model.

Airsoft was first introduced in Japan to train their military. It was later adopted by America for the same reason and released to the public around 1990. The US military has since developed more sophisticated manners of training such as the OneTESS. The nature of the simulation is to use all available resources to overcome an opposing force. It is a game based off integrity and good-natured spirits as there are no marking systems as the bb’s do not explode on impact like in paintball. Simulations can last minutes, hours, or even days.

Many people believe Airsoft to be like paintball. While both sports use simulated weapons, most aspects are quite different. The whole point behind Airsoft simulations are to get out of the idea that it is fast and operators have only time to react and shoot. Instead, it focuses on reality. The guns used in Airsoft for the most part exactly match that of their real counterpart (in design, length and weight). Upon getting hit, there are many different systems of how to get out. Some use one shot one kill, others use system of hits is a point system based on where one get hit at, shots at more vital areas are more dangerous than shots in the non-vital parts and this is taken into account while playing.

The equipment is very varied. Some operators get into the MilSim aspect and wear BDU, DCU, ACU, Flectarn, and Multicam type of Military camouflage with real patches, correct boots and uniformity (there are many, many, many other camouflage types out there, these are but a small percentage). They also wear tactical vests, and helmets, headsets, holsters, etc. Any equipment you can get for any army in the world, you can get in Airsoft. Every Airsoft player knows the value of having good camouflage and also how to use his (or her) camouflage effectively.

Now while in real-life situations, soldiers often resort to different unprecedented things to accomplish an objective, such as climbing a tree or setting ambushes, or even covering themselves with leaves and other things to become invisible. The same is true in Airsoft. Anything that is humanly possible is generally allowed in Airsoft. Ghillie suits (camouflage made from strips of colored cloth in earth tones and bits of environment to break up the outline of a human that the modern day snipers use) are not uncommon among Airsoft snipers. Climbing into trees to set up a good post is well known to assault and defense teams.

Because of the almost unlimited capabilities in Airsoft, it challenges players in many ways. It develops good thought processes and quick reaction times. Many times one must analyze, set up and react to a situation in a matter of seconds. You may make decisions on the fly that will decide if one team wins or not. It is much like chess where the player must be able to see in what direction and force the simulation is taking to better prepare an operator and set up for defense and success.

There are two main types simulations within Airsoft. There is CQB/CPE (Close Quarters Battle/Close Proximity Engagement) and there is Woodland Engagement. Woodland Engagement is a self-explanatory and the most common type of engagement. Most airsofters play outdoors in all types of environments (not just woodland but that is once again most common). There are a few, however, that do CQB or a combination of Woodland and CQB.

To develop CQB, one should know the emphasis in airsoft is realism (in most cases that is). CQB takes place indoors. Essentially – think SWAT. Since airsoft leaves no mess, all you need to worry about is making dents in the walls, unless you are playing in a stone building. CQB is played with CQB rifles or pistols or those types of CPE weaponry. These are generally defined as having high ROF (Rate of Fire), unless, of course, you have a pistol, but not necessarily high fps. The equipment set is slightly different. Camouflage isn’t worried about too much, but dark colors are preferable, black is most desirable. Low-light environments require special equipment sets – night vision, low-light tactical flashlights, laser sights, red dot sights, etc. Even SWAT shields are used.

Airsoft helps develop good problem solving skills and analyzing skills. It is always necessary to gather information and then make an educated decision given what one knows and this happens every time in an Airsoft round. During an interview, John Elson, a team captain for KSU Airsoft, said that “Airsoft has helped me think faster and better on my feet as one have to look at everything at once and one have to take everything into account and be able to plan for things that one don’t know,” (Elson). Thus, analyzing a situation and making quick thought processes are easier as operators practice them many times in Airsoft.

Other important values that Airsoft upholds are the values of team work and integrity. It is always necessary to function on a team in Airsoft. Without the team, one is almost useless. Operators develop a tight friendship with the team as one cannot separate into entities (going off without knowing a central plan and following it) or success may not be an option. There are many roles in Airsoft and each has its pros and cons but all of them can only do so much without their team. A need for support roles, assault roles, recon/scout roles are necessary to create a well balanced team. Each position integrates its own skill and specialty, but one must have a well balanced team. Also, Airsoft develops integrity as there is no marking system. There has to be honesty as to when and where one gets hit for the simulation fails if the operators fail to be honest. There is generally very little intentional cheating. Most merely do not feel the shots as they are sometimes from 100 feet away where a shot isn’t felt at all.

It has been banned in a few states as the guns do look real but in the other 40 plus states, it is a sport with shops dedicated to all Airsoft. There is not a national organization for it, but many international teams as it is very popular in the UK and Japan as well as Canada. There are U.S. tournaments that last weekends and have teams as large as 100 players. Kansas City has its own Airsoft team, the Kansas City Airsoft Association that plays about once a month at Airsoft fields they own.

Airsoft has helped shape the society in a subtle way as it isn’t that popular yet. But the changes it has showed are very large ones. Shaping players to be better people and having fun. Airsoft, instead of just shooting, focuses on realism. Also, it helps develop good thought processes. In addition to thought processes, it helps shape the value of integrity in the players.