The follow article was kindly provided for us by Jon Bucktrout and David Weston.
Airsoft is a fast paced growing sport that revolves around a replica war game that uses realistic looking guns that fire 6mm plastic BB pellets. Airsoft ranges from day skirmishes to weekend long battles, there are many ways to take part with games taking place on a variety sites such as private land or military training sites. All sites, both inside and out are all unique and all vary from site to site. Unlike paintball, which is orientated around fun and exiting games such as capture the flag, the enjoyment of playing Airsoft is in the increased realism of the sport. Scenario games such as search and destroy and assault the objective require participants to use tactical thinking and teamwork to complete the objectives. Many sites holding day skirmishes start with a site wide ‘team death match’ to allow for adjustment and acclimatisation to the site before following with tailored games to the individual site.
Although a somewhat expensive sport when compared to rugby and football, like all things you only spend what you are willing to. The availability and commercialism of the sport provides opportunity to tailor one’s kit around your own desires, your imagination is your only limit. The most popular Airsoft guns are AEGs (Automatic Electric Guns) by which the firing mechanism relies on battery power followed by GBBs (Gas Blow Back) where compressed CO2 like those used in a soda stream, or green gas (a commercially available product) drives a mechanical firing mechanism. There is an almost an Airsoft replica for every weapon in use by military and para-military forces. Due to the realism of the weaponry, anyone within the United Kingdom requires a defence to be able to purchase an Airsoft replica, the most common one is proving your site membership with the UKARA (United Kingdom Airsoft Retailers’ Association) scheme. With regard to one’s equipment, it can be personalised to their own desires: Historic gear (World War Two, Vietnam act…), movie replication and team load outs or uniforms as well as site and situation demands based around the nature of the site, be it woodland or urban.
There are three different layers of rules, Universal, Site specific and Game specific. What I would call universal rules are the basic rules of Airsoft, safety precautions such as the compulsory use of eye protection within games. A second key rule is to take your hit. Unlike paintball, Airsoft leaves no indication of being shot meaning that in Airsoft you rely on the honesty of the participant. The greatest form of cheating is the non-calling when an individual is hit when they feel, hear or even see the pellet hit them. Site rules vary from site to site due to the variety of each site and are usually specified in a safety talk before the start of the game and refer to the requirements of the owners of the site and the rules that players need to follow. This is not dissimilar to the safety briefing before a pheasant shoot. Finally, Game specific rules are stated before each individual game and designed to increase the enjoyment, flow and realism for the players. Key examples would be regeneration rules and boundary lines.
It’s easy to get involved, as simple as finding your nearest site and asking when their next game day is and if there is a space. The general rules of age are: minimum age of 14, 14-16 with a parent and 16-18 with parental permission. The ability to take a large group to an open day or book a large private game day will depend on the individual sites. When starting, most sites offer a hire package for the day, no need to spend money before you know you enjoy the sport, and once you have a taste for the game and wish to become a regular, usually three games in no less than two months, you can sign up for site membership via the aforementioned UKARA scheme and thus are able to buy your own airsoft replicas.
Hopefully this helps clear up any confusion that may surround Airsoft and you give the sport a try.