The other day I had the fortune of being invited to my first ever game of Airsoft. I have some friends who are crazy about the sport, but up until now I had always managed to be doing something else or have some suitable reason not to attend. Well yesterday I finally donned the mask of pain and steeled myself to get shot by BBs galore just outside of Matlock in Derbyshire.
Every red blooded male worth his salt used to play ‘army’ or ‘soldiers’ when they were kids. They might deny it, but trust me, they did. They would spend hours defending bases, hiding in bushes, crawling in mud and shooting each other with pretend guns.
Airsoft is a growing hobby where people spend hours defending bases, hiding in bushes, crawling in mud and shooting each other with pretend guns. The main differences between airsoft and the kids version, as always with blokes, is that the toys are more expensive. Airsoft uses replica guns to propel little plastic balls at the opposition. This takes all the guess work out of the game, for if one of these balls hits you then you have been shot.
To be straight to the point, I had a really good time. I had been given a bunch of kit to take including a nice G36C replica which let loose a suitable hose of pellets when the trigger was pulled, plenty of ammo and suitable safety gear. Essentially in airsoft, the idea is to shoot your opponents with your gun. It’s longer range than paintball but shorter range than real combat with most effective engagements taking place at less than 50 metres. It uses an honour system, as unlike paintball or lasertag there is no sure way of telling whether someone is hit. If you are hit you are expected to admit it. Apparently in airsoft, if the opposition doesn’t admit it then you switch to full automatic and drill the guy in the head until they do admit it. Getting hit by one pellet is not particularily painful, but some of these guns can pump out 30 sting inducing shots a second!
It is similar to paintball in some ways, and not in others. By comparison paintball is short range, brutal and much more painful. Personally I think this is the great thing about paintball. When you are hit you know about it, and the thought of getting hit really focuses your mind on avoiding being hit. It really gets the adrenaline going! Airsoft doesn’t have anywhere near the same pain factor which means it may appeal to a wider audience. The increased ranges of airsoft guns also lend themselves to it being much more of a military simulation than paintball which will appeal to some people. The cost differences between the two sports are also vast over the long term, in that paintball is much more expensive in terms of ammo. But judging by the people I met in airsoft, it seems that airsoft is an addiction that requires you to purchase many guns which may outweigh the savings made by cheaper ammo!
Overall, I would not say airsoft is better than paintball and vice versa. They are different games, although I reckon I will definitely be going airsofting again!