It’s a common question that gets asked by people new to the sport of airsoft. If there’s any comparison that can be drawn from paintball to airsoft, it’s often followed by a fear that airsoft may hurt as much.
It’s a valid question and one that new players shouldn’t be afraid to ask. Let me tell you that airsoft can, and does occasionally hurt. However, don’t let that put you off the sport for ever. The pain, for the most part is optional and often, completely avoidable.
The pain compared to paintball
To put the pain into a frame of reference, we’ll use paintball as a benchmark. You don’t even need to have paintballed to grasp this.
Paintball guns and airsoft guns typically fire at a very similar speed. Both around 330 feet per second. However, where a paintball marker shoots balls weighing 3 grams, an airsoft gun will use balls of around 0.2grams.
Here, the energy of an airsoft gun is 1 joule, compared to a paintball gun’s energy of 15 joules.
To think of this in an even simpler format, a car hitting a wall at 30mph has a very different result to a truck hitting a wall at 30mph. Same speed, different energy.
Typically, an airsoft gun fires with 1/15th the energy of a paintball.
That’s not to say, that it will hurt 1/15th as much, pain and physics isn’t that simple. However, it does mean that there’s significantly less energy transfer. This means that an airsoft BB is much easier to slow down (and make hurt less) with thicker baggier clothing.
What does it feel like to be shot with an airsoft gun?
The best and simplest analogy that I’ve been able to use in my time playing airsoft is to think about being flicked as hard as possible. That’s what it feels like to be hit with an airsoft gun (at normal playing distances, not point blank).
It will sting a fair amount on bare skin and feel even worse on a finger, or an ear in the cold. However, there are plenty of opportunities to reduce the pain experienced.
Preventing Airsoft Pain
Firstly, being hit by an airsoft gun does not always hurt. The range at which you are hit from has a huge difference. If you’re playing in a woodland environment, you’re more likely to be engaged at greater ranges and increased distances reduce the energy of the shot. This results in less pain at greater ranges.
This gives you the option as the player, do you want to move up on the frontline and risk getting shot (and it hurting more) or would you like to stay back? It’s entirely down to you as the player.
The pain and fear of being hit whilst playing is an incredibly important part of playing airsoft. Without a certain level of pain, there’s much less adrenaline during firefights, less reason to be cautious during an assault or to strategize. It’s an integral part of playing the sport.
However, preventing pain in airsoft is not just about you. Being a good airsofter is not just about how well you play the game, it’s about how well you play the sport. A good airsoft is always looking for an opportunity to cause the LEAST amount of pain to another player as possible. Be it shooting a player in the body armour, switching the semi-auto or not taking a shot if the only place to shoot is going to be rather painful for the other player. This is what being a good airsofter is all about.