Airsoft is a game of 'combat simulation', similar to paintball or laser-tag. It uses guns that shoot small plastic pellets (BB's) at your opposition.

 

The game itself started in Japan some 25/30 years ago. Japanese laws with regards to firearms are incredibly strict, meaning there was a void in the 'gun hobby' market. This is when airsoft started to appear. The first airsoft guns were 1:1 scale replicas of real firearms (to satify the male urge to play with all things 'gun') that fired plastic pellets. The early 'springers' (single shot guns) were woefully underpowered and inaccurate. The pellets would fly 20 yards before dropping to the ground. This was until the company 'Tokyo Mauri' invented the first automatic electric gun (AEG). This used a battery and a gearbox to fire pellets in both semi and fully automatic. Changes were also made to the chambers of the guns to enable them to fire the pellets with reasonable accuracy up to 60/70 yards. Their gearbox design was small enough that it could fit into almost any replica gun that we know today such as M16's, AK47's and MP5's. These are the type of guns we use today.

 

Japanese companies also wanted to produce pistols which would work in a similar fashion to their real-world counterparts. The electric gearbox idea wasn't ideally suited to this task so they used gas instead. The magazine of the pistol would be filled with gas (much like you would fill a cigarette lighter) and BB's. When the pistol is fired the 'slide' on the top of the pistol blows-back to produce a shooting sensation similar to that of a real pistol.

 

Airsoft guns don't use a marking system to register when players get hit. It instead relies on the personal honour of the players to call themselves out when hit. Even though they fire small plastic pellets you can certainly still feel when you are hit. It also makes a rather distinct sound. Of course the honour system is open to abuse but then so is paintball and laser-tag. Paintball paint is waterbased and can be rubbed off easily. You can cover a laser-tag pack with a t-shirt so others cannot shoot it. Cheats exist in all sports however the vast majority of airsofters (that i have ever played with) are honest. Quite simply the system works, otherwise it wouldn't be anywhere near as popular as it is.

 

 

" My mate says airsoft is rubbish, and really 'elitest' "

 

That's because we are the best. Your friend is a bit of a donkey and needs educating.

 

 

Airsoft generally appeals more to the 'military minded' players due to the added realism it offers. Firstly there is the kit you use -

 

PAINTBALL

Where's my motorbike gone ?

 

 

LASER TAG

How politically correct is this team !?

 

 

AIRSOFT

Who's first ?

 

So i think it's fair to say in the looks department airsoft wins every time. But this isn't a fashion parade it's about the playability. This is where airsoft comes into it's own. Paintball guns look awful (even the newer ones that are modelled on real guns). They need a hopper (magazine) to hold all those paintballs and a gas-tank as a power source. The range is hardly amazing, the ball doesn't always break (at range) and the accuracy isn't too hot either. Laser-tag on the other hand is very accurate. It should be, it's a laser beam. It doesn't get much straighter. However that is also the problem; it takes no skill to point a laser-gun at another player and hit them. There are no 'variables' to consider. Airsoft guns on the other hand are a different matter. The guns can fire anywhere up to 1600 rounds a minute (that's 27 a second, seriously !). The guns have an accurate range of around 30/40 yards with an extreme range of around 60/70 yards. You can get full-auto machine guns, blow-back pistols, bolt-action sniper-rifles. You name it, it's been made. Even a mini-gun. You try a 'death-or-glory' charge in an airsoft game you get 'death', under a hail of flying plastic.

 

Airsoft sites provide a variety of different games from 'capture the flag' to 'hunt the snipers'. The games and their structure are more military based. Players use maps, compasses and radios. Themed games such as WWII and Vietnam are common. Two-day weekend games are hardcore. As with all sports set-up costs can be expensive. Then again so is golf. You don't get throw grenades at people on the golf-course either (well . .)

 

If you are looking for a military orientated combat sport and are not afraid of a little pain or a little mud i suggest you find your nearest airsoft site ASAP and have a go. For around £40/£50 you can 'walk-on' at almost any site, rent a gun, loads of ammo, some combats and you might even get a free lunch. Try doing that at a paintball site

 

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