So, your young one has asked you if they can go airsofting for the first time and you’re not entirely sure if you should let them. Rest assured that you’re not the first parent to be apprehensive of letting their child engage in our pastime.
In this article, we’re going to go through what airsoft is, the benefits and potential dangers of airsoft and some important pieces of information that you should know. We’ll try our best to do so with as little bias as possible.
First things first:
What is airsoft?
Airsoft is a sport not too dissimilar to paintball. Instead of firing balls of paint, the weapons fire small 6mm plastic BBs at each other weighing less than half a gram. Airsoft (in general terms) is focussed towards simulating realism more than paintball is. Airsoft pellets don’t ‘mark’ a person when they are hit like a paintball does, the entire sport is based upon the honesty and integrity of calling yourself ‘hit’.
Airsoft is restricted to players over the age of 12, airsoft sites will generally require players between the age of 12-18 to have a signed parental consent form. Most sites may also require a parent to be present. These restrictions are in place for insurance and safety purposes.
Will my child get hurt?
Airsoft in general hurts a little less than paintball. The energy that an airsoft BB carries through the air and impacts a person with is around 1/10th that of paintball due to how much heavier the paintballs are. The feeling of being hit with an airsoft gun is comparable to a good hard flick and loose fitting clothing will reduce the majority of the impact.
Eye protection is mandatory and full-face protection is recommended (and this is often provided free) to under 18s. Read on to the “What are the people like?” section for more on this.
Finally, there are usually pyrotechnics in use when playing airsoft. These are restricted to over 18s only, so your child will never touch one. There are no flames or explosions, however, they can be quite loud (they simulate grenades), and basic ear protection can be beneficial.
In all other aspects, airsoft is no more dangerous than allowing your child to play in the woods or playground, there are natural concerns of falling, tripping etc, but proper clothing and footwear is there to provide protection.
What are the people like?
The sport is based on the honesty and integrity of its players. Unlike paintball, when you are hit with an airsoft pellet, there is no ‘paint’ or mark left on you to distinguish you as ‘out’ of the game. This means it’s down to the honesty of the player to take the ‘hit’ and return to the respawn zone.
This fundamental aspect of the sport means that players are honest people with the good-will to ensure that the game is played fairly for all. Sites have a zero-tolerance policy to cheaters who do not call their ‘hits’ and are not welcome, meaning that everyone who’s left are the right kind of people.
The result is a community who are incredibly friendly, especially to new comers of the sport. New players are welcomed and treated with respect. Ultimately, players simply want everyone to have a good time and for the sport to grow.
Most players are respectful of any young players and will not play against them in the same way they might against an adult opponent; they will avoid shooting at exposed skin and heads where possible, for instance.
On the other hand, the sport is competitive and can get intense at times. Players can get loud, frustrations can build and colourful language might be used. Whilst players are always respectful of new comers and young ones and it will never be focused at them, it is likely something they will witness.
Is it expensive?
Like any hobby, airsoft can be expensive if you want to really get into it. Players can spend thousands of pounds on top-of-the-line gear and equipment. However, for a first time player, it’s a pretty inexpensive experience.
Renting a weapon and protective gear can be as inexpensive as £25 at some sites, add to this the standard entry fee, also £25 on average and you’re looking at £50 for a whole day.
If you’ve been paintballing before, you’ll be aware of the expensive ammunition costs associated with a sport like this. However, they’re not a thing you have to worry about in airsoft. £10 will get you about 5000 rounds to play with, plenty for a day of airsoft and sometimes it’s chucked in for free when you rent.
We thoroughly recommend that you proceed with renting a weapon for your child’s first time airsofting. The laws around purchasing an airsoft gun are complex and you don’t even know if it’s something your child wants to continue.
What is a typical game of airsoft like?
Airsoft games are different across the world, but typically they will start at around 10am. Players are required to ‘sign in’ and pay for their day fee (usually referred to as ‘walk-on’ fee) first thing and are then given time to get ready. Rental players are usually taken separately to the firing range and given a personal safety briefing, tutorial on weapon usage and safety, and overall ensured that they fully understand the rules of the sport before continuing.
Next, all players are gathered together for a group safety briefing, where the rules are covered and it’s ensured that all players are clear on what is expected of them. From here, all players enter the field and they begin play, the game types will vary from site to site. Play continues, with a break for lunch until the end of the day, usually between 4-6pm.
Airsoft sites will operate differently from site to site, so this is simply a rough guide. Some sites play set ‘games’ that last minutes or hours, some play one large game across the entire day.
Why does your child want to play airsoft?
Airsoft is like a real life video game. It’s the chance to feel cool, have awesome moments and act like an action hero. Airsoft develops some really great qualities in people that are hard to find elsewhere.
They will develop friendships and relationship skills in dealing with different personalities, in relaxed and intense environments. They will develop their critical thinking, problem solving and control under pressure, by calculating different ways to assault an objective, avoid a conflict or travel unseen through environments. Not to mention how great fitness is developed through running around with 10kg on their back all day!