A new sport is rising throughout the UK, the US and Europe. Commonly known as ‘Airsoft Skirmishing’ or ‘Airsoft Wargaming’ and similar in essence to paintball, two or more teams are pitched against each other in a game of skill, speed, accuracy and tactics. Originally designed to simulate a war zone with far more realism than can be achieved with paintball, these games are played on privately owned and insured sites dotted around the country. Normal Airsoft replicas are used and strict safety limits are imposed in order to make sure that everyone has fun and no one gets injured.
A days play will usually cost you about £15 to £20 (about $25 to $40). This normally includes all games during the day and hire of eye & face protection. Some sites will even provide lunch. Airsoft Skirmishing is generally far cheaper than paintball. For example, 100 paintball shots will usually cost around £6 (approx US$10). 100 Airsoft shots costs about 15 pence (about 25c in the US). Put simply paintball ammunition is about 40 times more expensive than airsoft ammunition.
Airsoft games can have many scenarios that are unworkable in paintball, but there are some old favourites that bridge the gap. “Capture the flag”, “hostage rescue” and “last man standing” are popular paintball games that have been adapted for airsoft, but as airsoft has more flexibility, games such as “Pistol duel”, “Close Quarters Combat” and true ‘Re-Gen’ simulations (games where getting hit means that you are only considered ‘out’ for a few seconds before rejoining the action) become possible.
To play airsoft, you must be wearing the correct protective clothing. As with many other sports (fencing, motor-sport, horse racing, cricket, etc…) you’re only safe if you are properly dressed. After all, you wouldn’t expect to see Michael Schumacher getting in to his formula 1 racing car wearing his favourite t-shirt and no helmet! An Airsoft BB hit on bare skin will leave a small mark on the surface of the skin that will look and feel like a bee-sting. The more powerful the airsoft gun, the more it will hurt if you get hit, but with site energy limits in the UK being largely 1 Joule, there is no possibility of a BB causing a penetrative injury. With this in mind, airsofters wear eye & face protection, sturdy boots and tough clothing. For extra protection gloves and a scarf can be worn to give cover for your hands, neck and ears.