What is Airsoft?

Airsoft is a fun mock-combat sport which plays much like a First-Person-Shooter video game, but in real life!

Participants “tag” opponents or score points by hitting each other with spherical non-metallic pellets (BB’s) launched from a compressed-air gun (or Soft Air gun).  The guns are powered by gas, manual spring-load, or an electrically powered gearbox.

Airsoft participants organize meetings, either indoors or outdoors, at dedicated Airsoft battlefields to play a variety of games ranging from short skirmishes, organized scenarios, military simulations, or historical re-enactments.

Combat situations on the battlefield often involve the use of common military tactics to achieve the objectives set in each game. Participants typically use varying types of weaponry designed as replicas of real firearms, tactical gear, and accessories used by modern military and police organizations.

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Is Airsoft like Paintball?

Yes, and no

Unlike paintball, Airsoft lends itself to more realistic military style gaming due to the authentic looking firearms (Airsoft guns) and military style gear worn by Airsoft enthusiasts.  The Airsoft guns fire a much smaller projectile than a paintball gun making them considerably safer and much less painful when hitting a player. The projectile is a 6mm plastic BB which hits with only about 10-20% of the energy of a paintball.

The Honour System

Airsoft play employs an honor system whereby the players rely on each others’ honesty to admit to being hit, because unlike paintballs, plastic pellets do not leave a paint mark. Depending on the muzzle velocity of the gun and distance from the shooter, the person on the receiving end of a shot will usually feel the impact, but the pellets may sometimes not be felt by a player at very long ranges, when distracted, or when running strenuously. Hence, marshals or referees are important to fair game play.

Is Airsoft like Paintball?

Yes, and no

Unlike paintball, Airsoft lends itself to more realistic military style gaming due to the authentic looking firearms (Airsoft guns) and military style gear worn by Airsoft enthusiasts.  The Airsoft guns fire a much smaller projectile than a paintball gun making them considerably safer and much less painful when hitting a player. The projectile is a 6mm plastic BB which hits with only about 10-20% of the energy of a paintball.

The Honour System

Airsoft play employs an honor system whereby the players rely on each others’ honesty to admit to being hit, because unlike paintballs, plastic pellets do not leave a paint mark. Depending on the muzzle velocity of the gun and distance from the shooter, the person on the receiving end of a shot will usually feel the impact, but the pellets may sometimes not be felt by a player at very long ranges, when distracted, or when running strenuously. Hence, marshals or referees are important to fair game play.

The Guns

Airsoft guns use compressed air to fire 6mm plastic BB’s.  The compressed air is generated via 4 different methods and some methods suit particular styles of guns.

Automatic Electric Gun (AEG)
These guns use a battery powered motor and gearbox to compress a piston to produce a blast of air.  Most rifles use this method.

Gas
These guns use compressed gas, either in the form of a CO2 canister or refillable reservoir.  Most pistols use this method.

High Pressure Air (HPA)
Similar to Paintball markers, this method employs an external tank which feeds air via a flexible tube to the gun.

Spring
This is a manually cocked gun that uses a rifle bolt or pump action to draw back a piston to produce the compressed air. Common among bolt action sniper rifles and shotguns.

The Gear

One of the big attractions to the sport is the array of military-styled uniforms and kit. There is a huge range of clothing, vests, helmets and all manner of accessories available from Airsoft retailers.

Players have the ability to customise their gaming attire to suit their style of play and aesthetic preferences.  Players have been able to recreate military outfits (current and historic), reproduce costumes from TV shows and movies, and even build their own custom creations.

While having an Airsoft kit is not a requirement for gaming, the storage features and protection offered by many items does make storing your guns, magazines and spare bb’s a lot easier.

The Games

Airsoft games take on a variety of forms from quick to long, simple to involved, indoors and out. Depending on the level of experience, the type of gaming area and the gear available, a wide range of individual gaming options can be generated. Most types of games fall into one of the following categories with their own particular objective(s).

Skirmish
Skirmish is the term often used to describe a quick game with simple objectives. These are often played as a warm up to a larger game, as an introduction to new players or when testing out a new field.

Mil-Sim
“MilSim”, short for Military Simulation, generally combines Airsoft play with some military live-action role-playing elements. Several goals or missions are assigned to each team. The teams will remain in the field for the duration of play, only returning to a staging area or “safe zone” for medical emergencies or other special circumstances. Military simulation games often last several hours or in some large events, days.

CQB
Close Quarters Battle (CQB), is the style of game play where combatants engage at close distance – usually in a mock-urban or indoor environment.

Guns are usually low powered to avoid injury and players wear a lot more safety gear than they might on an open field where they are less likely to be hit.

Airsoft Safety

Eye Protection

Suitable eye protection is the most important item of kit for any Airsoft player.

Eye protection should:

  • Be well-fitted with minimal gaps
  • Have solid lenses able to repel BB’s at a speed above the maximum posted for the field
  • Regularly checked for defects and replaced if damaged

If in doubt, opt for a Hi-Impact rated set of profession work wear goggles.

Gun Clearing

It’s important to make sure your gun is safe after every event or in-between games on the field.  This is due to the likelihood that the gun will be around people without eye protection.

The standard process for making a gun safe is:

  1. Remove the magazine
  2. Fire the gun at the ground to clear any BB’s
  3. Switch the fire selector to “Safe”

After a game, the Marshals will often call: “Mags out!  Clear chambers!  Safety on!”

Firearms Law

While many overseas countries may consider Airsoft guns to be more like “toys”, in NZ they are considered firearms.  They have their own special classification and while they are not treated the same as real firearms, some of the same rules apply.

The most important to remember are:

  • You must be 18 (or 16+ with a firearms license) to purchase, sell or transport an Airsoft gun.
  • You must not present an Airsoft gun in public.
  • You must apply for a permit to import any Airsoft guns from overseas retailers.

 

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    Think Airsoft is so awesome you want to do it all the time?  Of course you do!  Talk to one of our local clubs about their regular games.

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    Club membership is a great way to find out more about Airsoft gear and game ideas.

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