The History of Airsoft
Airsoft's popularity has grown across the globe over the years as a military simulation sport where players imitate military combat with replica assault weapons and tactics. However, before we delve much deeper into the game, how did it begin? I mean, where did it originate from and probably who started it?
Airsoft gained its popularity in the early 1980s in Japan after World War II. This was after the Japanese government introduced tight gun-laws, making it illegal to own a gun in the country. As a result, the demand for replica firearms increased, so did airsoft emerge. The name 'airsoft' or 'soft-air' came from what the Japanese called the green-gas that is used to propel the gun.
Due to the popularity of airsoft guns, major Japanese companies began manufacturing them on a large scale and began exporting them to neighboring countries such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, and the Philippines, which equally had stringent gun laws. Later on, the 'airsoft theory' reached Europe and America in the early 1980s and eventually spreading to other parts of the world. During those early days, players required to assemble the guns personally as they arrived in different pieces, unlike the modern times where such trouble has been eliminated.
So far, no one has been able to establish the creator of the first air-gun though some people have credited this to Daisy, an American gun manufacturer. She first began producing the air-guns as a marketing tool for her windmill manufacturing firm, where she issued the gun as a bonus to clients who purchased a new windmill.
However, Daisy's airsoft gun had one significant disadvantage. After every trigger pull, one had to pull back the cocking lever, which eradicated the practicality of a real firearm. Additionally, there was the use of metal or lead ball bullets (which players refer to as BB's) which were considered harmful to people. Concerning this, a Japanese company, Mazuren, reproduced the air-guns to fire plastic BB's and made an effort to duplicate a real-life firearm, thus obtaining the 'Soft-air' trademark.
Today, airsoft can be in most countries all over the world, each with their specific laws around the sport. Although some places such as Russia, Kuwait, and Mexico have no laws around the sport, others have laws in place to govern how and who can play the sport. In some, players have to be part of a shooting club to even own an airsoft gun while in most parts of the world, the 'orange' tip on the gun is mandatory to distinguish it from real steel.
Unfortunately, airsoft is illegal in some parts of the world, such as Singapore and Australia, whereas, in India, there are no guidelines or official groups concerning the sport, which continues to grow tremendously.
Actual Rules and Playstyles
Like any other sport, some rules and regulations govern airsoft as well. Whether you are playing on an indoor course or an out-door field course, these basic rules are essential for the safety of all players involved in the game. However, the rules range from the different arena where these games are hosted especially when it comes to the age of the players.
It is mandatory for players always to have eye protection such as safety goggles and face masks, which must never be removed during the game. The glasses are required to meet the ANSI-Z87.1 standards, which state that the lenses must cover the face, and therefore prescription glasses are not considered safe.
This rule does not apply to players only but also to visitors area the vicinity to avoid being hit by stray BBs, which might cause damage.
The Honour System
When an airsoft BB hits any part of a player's body, this is referred to as a hit. Therefore, the airsoft game uses the honor system to depend on a player's honesty to acknowledge being hit. Unlike paintballs, airsoft BBs do not leave any visible mark on a player's body, which calls for integrity on the part of the player whether to call the hit or not.
In this case, if a player has been hit, he or she must shout 'hit' while raising their weapon above their head. This makes the opposing player aware of the situation and will let the eliminated player walk to the safe zone, still with their gun raised above their head.
Referee or game moderator
This is an individual tasked with resolving any conflicts or issues in the game, calling of games, and being responsible for every safety-related item or event in the field of play. Since his word of approval is final, players are not supposed to argue with him; otherwise, you risk being ejected from the field of play.
The 'Medic' Rule
If a player has been hit is required to sit or fall and shout hit. Once on the ground, he is expected to put a red rag on his head to receive first aid and later resume fighting. However, before returning into the battlefield, another player, who is not wounded, must take off the rag from his head, and a knot must be tied onto the rag to signify he was previously hit. A second hit to the player is termed as 'KIA' Killed in action, which means he cannot resume the game but has to return to the safe zone or safe area.
This is basically firing an airsoft gun while behind a barrier such as a wall or a tree. Depending on different arena, the blind firing is allowed if a player is between 25ft-30ft from the attacker. A player must verify the distance of the attacker before blind firing; otherwise, they might be eliminated from the game for a violation of the rule.
This refers to the minimum surrender rule distance, which also ranges with different playing fields from 10ft-15ft. If an attacker pulls on you and they are within the minimum engagement rule, you are required to surrender by yelling 'hit' while the attacker is not allowed to shoot but to shout 'safety kill'.
A player cannot safety kill an opponent from 50ft away regardless of the weapon, such as a DMR or a sniper, but if they are within the 10ft-15ft distance you still cannot safety kill; however, you can withdraw and engage or pull out your secondary weapon such as a pistol. These are minimum engagement distances based on FPS: 400 - 0.2g, and under the minimum engagement distance (M.E.D) is 15. Over 400 FPS, the M.E.D is 50 feet, meaning you additionally need to carry a backup firearm such as a pistol.
Additionally, a player cannot safety kill an opponent who is behind a barrier, such as a wall no matter how close you are. In this case, you will be endangering your life as you risk being hit by the opponent who has the advantage of being behind a barrier. Similarly, you cannot safety kill while blind firing.
This mandatory surrender rule was put in place to avoid players shooting BB's from close range, which could end up lodged in an opponent's eye or any other part of the body.
Usually, in any field where airsoft is played, there are set boundaries that are marked mostly with orange ribbons. Players are required to stay within the set boundaries. Any violation will result in ejection from the game. This is to avoid being mistaken by outsiders as a person with other motives and choose to draw out a real-life weapon for self-defense.
'Knife kills' are allowed when a player crawls up to an unsuspecting opponent and taps him with the knife to execute a hit but only at the venue's discretion. The eliminated player should leave the field of play after being released by the attacking player by silently raising his red rag. In this case, the eliminated player cannot shout 'hit' to allow the stealth 'ninja' to move to his next attack.
Holding or man-handling other players on the field of play is prohibited. One is not supposed to either grab them by their gear or equipment, such as guns. This also includes the excessive shooting of other players or the use of foul language. Show respect to other players and their property.
Team Death-Match (TDM)
Arguably one of the most common airsoft playstyle which involves two teams competing to acquire the most kills on their opponents. Before starting the game, the teams must ensure they both have equal numbers. Secondly, the teams should be on the opposite ends of the field, all working towards eliminating most of the opposing team before being hit.
Individual Death-Match or Free For All
Contrary to the TDM playstyle, Individual Death-Match has no teams. Here, every man is on his own eliminating any player that comes in sight intending to become the last man standing. Most players prefer the TDM because of it lasts longer and the idea comradeship rather than free for all, which is usually short and fast-paced.
Close-Quarter Battle (C.Q.B)
The C.Q.B style of play is also known as close-quarter combat, which is also a standard game among airsoft players. Just as the name applies, close quarters, CQB is played in a very tight environment such as a warehouse with sharp turns or blind corners. It is majorly played in an indoor arena. CQB involves extreme fast-paced movements, and due to this, the game lasts on for about 5 to 30 minutes. Therefore, a player not used to the indoor course might need to change his or her tactics and movements to accommodate the style of play.
The main aim of CQB is to be fast and increase efficiency; therefore, players need to offload the unnecessary weight such as large load-outs, helmets, and pads. Although such gear is useful as a safety precaution, the short lifespan of the game makes it needless.
Military Simulations (Milsims)
Imagine this, it's in the middle of the night so dark you can hardly see a thing located in some army base where some of the best soldiers are made. The entire day you have been firing magazine into enemy territory, you are tired, hungry and most likely shivering due to the cold of the night. You manage to crawl back to the safe zone to get some sleep, and as soon as you decide to doze off, then you hear the sound of BB's cracking through objects and blank grenades exploding. Take cover! Take cover! That's Milsim for you.
Milsim is intended to provide airsoft enthusiasts with the ultimate military experience while using airsoft guns. Unlike other forms of airsoft skirmishes that heavily rely on tactics, skill, and patience, Milsim integrates real military battlefields and authentic combat-specific intentions.
Capture the Flag (C.T.F)
Also referred to as capture the intelligence, CTF is another favorite game among airsoft players. In this style of play, players can either provide an actual flag or a symbolic flag as long as it is physical and can be captured. To start with, players have to divide themselves into teams, with each side having its home base where the flag will be positioned for all to see and reach.
The goal of this game is for the team to capture the opponent's flag first before the capture yours or when a member of the team brings back their flag to the home base. While sending players to capture the opponent's flag, a team must ensure others are left behind to protect their flag.
Typically Needed Equipment
For you to take part in airsoft you will need the necessary equipment to take part in the sport. Besides the tactical weapons that we see first when watching airsoft skirmishes, there is the protective gear that most barely notice until you enter the field of play. Therefore, there are two categories of equipment that we will talk about in detail to ensure you are well prepared before you start firing those BBs.
Airsoft is a full adrenaline sport that involves running, falling on the ground, or crawling. Such engagements demand players to mind their safety first before enjoying the sport. Eye protection comes as one of the most essential precautions before participating in any airsoft skirmish to avoid getting your eyes damaged by fast traveling BBs. Get yourself some glasses or goggles or better still the full face mask. If you cannot afford the full face mask, acquire a half-face mask, which usually has a metal mesh. This also protects your teeth and the entire mouth area.
Other forms of protective gear include helmets, to avoid any head injuries; boots, advisably those with huge ankle support to protect you from ankle injuries with a common in airsoft; gloves, besides keeping you warm in cold conditions, they will protect you from abrasive surfaces such as thorny trees.
It obviously goes without saying that you need an airsoft gun, which usually depends on a player's budget, playstyle, or environment. Airsoft guns come in three forms: the spring-powered gun, gas-powered and Automatic Electric Gas (AEGs).
Secondly, you will need ammo, which comes in the form of ball bullets (BBs), which are small plastic pellets. They come in different weights. Therefore the more powerful your weapon, the heavier the BBs you will need.
Body armor and ammo storage is another tactical apparatus a player might require to increase the amount of weaponry you can carry at one time. These come in the form of vests, plate carriers, and chest rigs. Vests have several pockets and pouches which carry magazines, grenades, or pistols for convenience and easy access.
To improve your general performance in airsoft, it essential for a player to ascertain what his or her requirements are to make it easier to select your weapon and other equipment and also boost logical thinking in decision-making.
Do you fancy a sport that involves simulated gun combat while using Realistic Imitation Fire (RIF)? Look no further, airsoft is just the game for you. Although similar to paintball in terms of organized teams which group themselves and fire at each other just for fun. However, airsoft slightly differs from paintball in that airsoft mainly focuses on military simulation and the use of RIFs, which look close to real guns, unlike paintball markers, which seem less real. Besides, airsoft players are more dedicated in terms of military apparel such as helmets, tactical vests, and belts to look more practical.