Firstly Airsoft is a sporting game where teams of people are pitted against each other using electric or gas guns that fire 6mm bb’s. These bb’s are normally fed into their Airsoft guns using a magazine and games can take on varying aspects from the domination of a single point to an attack and defend style game. To those of you unfamiliar with the sport you may be thinking “well that just sounds like paintball?” and in some aspects it is, except it does have some major differences, which in my opinion, make it so much more fun.
One the of the benefits of Airsoft are the guns. In airsoft the guns used are called either Real Imitation Firearms (RIFs) or Imitation Firearms (IFs) and are in most cases based around a real world counterpart, commonly referred to as a real steel version. These guns are generally so realistic in appearance that unless you have extensive knowledge of firearms you would struggle to tell the difference. In fact, some airsoft guns are so realistic that when put to the test, in terms of visual appearance, by military contractors, they were unable to tell the difference between the airsoft gun and the real version. Even the barrels are similar in terms of inner diameter. All airsoft guns fire 6mm bb’s and the Real Steel version of the gun shown on the right fires bullets that are 5.56mm in diameter which is only a difference of .44 millimetres. Another advantage is that because these fire 6mm solid plastic bb’s they’re are more easily fed from a spring loaded style magazine (as seen in the picture). This means that the magazine’s you buy for your airsoft guns often share the same or similar dimensions of their real life counterparts. Not such a big deal I hear you say, but what this means is that you can just buy of the shelf tactical equipment from most military surplus retailers or tactical kit specialists and not have to have specialists pouches made for your ammunition. It makes buying equipment easier and means that you can use military designed equipment for your military styled games!
I’ve noticed there are a few different types of players that play airsoft, you have the skirmishers, the load-out guys, the practical guys (kind of me) and then you have the Geardos (Gear Wierdos) as they seem to call themselves. Skirmishers: These guys and gals, generally turn up to their local site at the weekend just for fun. They care little for tactics or equipment and are solely there to have as much fun as they can. It’s a great way to play sometimes, especially at woodland sites. Load-out Guys: These guys are a little bit more serious about their airsoft. They tend to imitate a specific look that they’ve seen somewhere such as a Navy SEAL look and they pay great attention to detail. They go as far as getting every last detail in their kit exactly like the guy they’re trying to impersonate. Their level of detail can be quite impressive! The Practical Guys: The practicals are general people that look at what they need, and just use that. Myself for example, I only use what I need on my gear. I don’t carry Cyallumes (glow sticks) or ear defenders or a Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT). If I don’t need it, I don’t carry it. Finally are the Geardos: These people know everything there is to know about military equipment and weapons, and their knowledge can be a little unnerving to the point where it can make even a seasoned soldier feel like he knows nothing! To put it into context, as a soldier, you are often not concerned with the names and finer details of your kit. You want what works and that’s it. You don’t care what version your Osprey body armour is or what cut your clothing is. You just want your clothing to fit, your body armour to protect you and your rifle to work. In fact I had a conversation with a very close friend, who is still a serving soldier, a few weeks ago and he said to me “you know more about my kit now than I do!” And I’m no Geardo, not even close, but I do work in the private security industry so a lot of this kit keeps my interest for reasons outside of airsoft, but Geardos take it even further. Someone best explained himself as a Geardo to me by calling himself a walking encyclopaedia of information on kit.
None of the above is in anyway meant to be a dig at any style of play there, this is just my interpretation of the sorts of people I see playing, and as you can see there is an area of the sport for everyone and a lot of people drift in between the different areas. If you’ve yet to give airsoft a go then what are you waiting for?!