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Starting Off In Airsoft

Updated on October 19, 2014

What Is Airsoft?

Airsoft is a combat simulation game much like paintball. Instead of paintball guns, players use airsoft guns, these shoot small plastic BBs. These guns are made to resemble real firearms.

Airsoft players firing (photographed by Michael Brown)
Airsoft players firing (photographed by Michael Brown) | Source

What You Need To Get Started

Several things are needed in order to play airsoft, the most obvious being

An Airsoft Gun: These are available at most sporting goods stores, online, at some hobby shops, and special airsoft shops. There are three basic types of airsoft guns, spring, gas, and electric powered. Spring guns are usually the cheapest, the BBs are propelled by a spring that the user cocks back every time they want to fire. These guns also have the lowest rate of fire (number of BBs fired in a certain amount of time) of the three because it needs to be cocked after every shot. Gas guns propel BBs by using a shot of gas (usually propane, "green" gas, or CO2) to push the BB out of the gun. Gas pistols are the most common gas guns, and many times they will have a blowback feature, meaning that the slide will shoot back every time the gun is fired, resulting in a realistic "kick" feel. Gas is most commonly in metal cartridges that are inserted into the magazine (clip) of the gun, or the magazine is filled with a larger canister of gas. Gas airsoft guns are usually semi-automatic, this means every time you pull the trigger it shoots a BB. The last common type of airsoft gun is electric powered. These guns use an electric motor to pull a spring back repeatedly to fire many BBs in a short amount of time. Electric guns usually have a semi-automatic firing mode and and a fully automatic mode, this means when you pull and hold the trigger it will keep firing repeatedly. There are many upsides an downsides to these different guns, I will cover these in a different follow-up article.

Safety Gear: Airsoft guns are not toys and should be treated like real guns outside of playing. BBs usually travel at 200-500 fps (feet per second), depending on the gun. This is enough to seriously injure an unprotected eye, or any part of your body. Safety gear is necessary to prevent serious injury. At the very least, protective eyewear is required, however I use a paintball mask because I don't like getting hit in the face. I also recommend wearing long pants and and a long sleeve shirt, and using colors that match the environment that you will be playing in. I also would recommend a hat.

Ammunition, Gas, and Other Accessories: In order to do well while playing airsoft a few more accessories are needed, one of these being a vest or bag. A vest will have places to store things like extra ammo, radios, extra gas or batteries, and more. A bag or backpack will work if a vest isn't available. Now for things to put in this vest or bag. Extra ammunition is a must, getting caught in the field without ammo is not a situation anyone wants to be in. If a gas gun is bering used, bring extra gas with you as well. Depending on how long the game will last, you may need food. Bring a small toolkit in case something goes wrong, including duct tape, a couple screw drivers, zip ties, and pliers. Any other tools that may be needed could be added. Some airsofters also bring along a first aid kit in case something goes wrong. I also usually bring a utility knife and binoculars.

Extra Weaponry: Some airsofters choose to bring with them airsoft grenades and smoke grenades, however these can be expensive. Depending on where you are playing, toy knives or tomahawks are also allowed to hit, stab, or throw at people.

A violet smoke grenade being put to use at an airsoft match
A violet smoke grenade being put to use at an airsoft match | Source

Snap shooting

How To Do Well

There are many methods to do well while playing airsoft. Here are a few.

Keep Moving: This isn't Call Of Duty, camping in one spot is (usually) a terrible idea, unless you are a designated sniper, or know what you're doing. If you stay in one spot while playing airsoft, bad things will most likely happen. Keep moving around to confuse your enemy.

Snap shooting: Snap shooting is a very important aspect of airsoft, and paintball for that matter. Snap shooting is put to use when a player is taking cover behind something, and someone on the other side of the object is locked in on their position so that every time they poke their head out, they get shot at. To snap shoot, one sticks their head and gun outside cover for about a second of two, fires of as many rounds as they can at the enemy player, then pulls their head and gun back behind cover. This is to try to get the opponent to pull back behind cover so the player that was snap shooting can lock in on them. Take a look at the video above regarding snap shooting.

Communication: Communication is key in airsoft, whether it's using radios or shouting or whispering. I wouldn't recommend shouting to a teammate as the other team could easily overhear. But the point is, if no one knows what anyone else is doing, your team is most likely going to end up losing the match.

Now, there are many more ways to do well when playing airsoft, but these are just some of the basic skills and methods needed.

Final Thoughts

Airsoft is a very fun and active sport, its easy to start out when you know how to play and what you need. Keep checking for more hubs as I will soon publish a guide on how to choose an airsoft gun.


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