The Sport of Airsoft

By Markus Weinzinger

People are familiar with such activities like video games, football, dancing, and paintball. However, there is another activity that is lying just beneath the skin. Airsoft is a sport born from the gun ban in Japan and other Asian countries and has endured and evolved over time to become a favorite pastime. Airsoft equipment, appearing like real-steel guns, are powered by different functions. Official fields have been created and can be found across the U.S. and beyond. Misconceptions and safety violations have and can plague airsoft unless responsibility and safety are learned and practice. If video games were great entertainment, airsoft takes the experience to a whole new level!

Airsoft was created as a result of guns being illegal for individuals to hold in Japan. Some companies turned to an alternate that would prosper despite the law. Guns that fired small plastic BBs (ball bearings) utilized air, blasting caps, and other methods of function. Countries of Asia were delightful with the new creation. A similar product was created in the 1950’s in the U.S. The climax of the airsoft influence peaked in the 1990’s in the western countries, with the continuing to this day.

The guns featured in airsoft are powered by three main functions: spring, electric, and gas. Spring-powered guns require manual power to cock, or charge the gun. With the pull of the trigger, the tension from the spring is released, and air rushes through a nozzle in the barrel, which propels the BB forward. Airsoft electric guns, or AEGs, use a battery to work a gearbox that shoots BBs at a typically rapid rate. Most AEGs are select-fire, in that they can be fired with multiple pulls of the trigger (semi-automatic), or by holding the trigger down to unleash many BBs (full automatic). Gas guns channel a certain type of gas to propel the BB, and tend to have high velocities. Some are semi-automatic and/or fully automatic, and may use CO2 cartridges, green gas, red gas, and even propane.

There is more to airsoft than the gun. Accessories can be applied by a player for different games. Among these include gun slings, sights, eye protection, chargers (for batteries), helmets, uniforms, and a variety of other items. For a simple backyard battle, chances are one would have less gear than going to a long, intense military simulation.

There is a variety of ways airsoft can be played, from urban backyards to large, dedicated fields. Dedicated and fields shared with paintball games are located throughout the U.S. and abroad. Fields include Operation Lion Claws, found commonly in the western U.S., S.C. Village, Ballahack Airsoft, and V.I.P. Airsoft. Different gameplays are available at these fields. Gun safety is to be practiced at all times, such as transporting an airsoft gun in a gun bag, wearing eye protection in the presence of active guns, and not playing a game in a public place. Rules are expected to be followed at the games.

BBs are crucial to the sport of airsoft. They come in different weights from .12g to higher than .40g and come in two diameters: 6mm and 8mm. Most BBs are made from plastic, though an eco-friendly BB has been made with outdoor play and the environment in mind. Metal BBs used in BB guns and pellets in air rifles are mistaken for airsoft. The BB gun ammunition has smaller diameter BBs, and airsoft BBs are almost always never metal. Pellets are shaped projectiles that look like bullets, while the airsoft BBs are spheres. Using BB or pellet guns in airsoft is against the rules and poses risk for serious injury or death.

Airsoft is an interesting sport and hobby. It can be a great bonding experience for people, and is healthy in the fact that one moves about a field. This sport has come a long way from its primitive origins. Airsoft guns come in a variety of operations, from the simple spring-powered to the intricate gas-powered. Airsoft is yet to be fully recognized by the world, and continues to grow with one’s desire for a modern pastime.

Gear found in the sport of Airsoft: goggles, BBs, battery and charger, magazines for airsoft guns, and armored gloves for the protection of the hands. Photo by Markus Weinzinger.
Gear found in the sport of Airsoft: goggles, BBs, battery and charger, magazines for airsoft guns, and armored gloves for the protection of the hands. Photo by Markus Weinzinger.