What is Airsoft?
Airsoft skirmishing, often referred to as simply ‘airsoft’, is a combat simulation that sees teams pitched against each other in various game scenarios. Players will work together as a team to achieve the the game objective.
Players use replica firearms that fire small pellets (BBs). Unlike paintball, when a BB hits a player no mark is left. For this reason airsoft is a game of honesty, Of what you're reading, this is the most important, if you take nothing else away from this guide please remember that it is a game of honesty!
Airsoft games in the UK can take place in both outdoor and indoor (CQB) settings. Both of these settings offer different experiences of the sport and we'd recommend trying both before setting on a particular type.
It's easy to get carried away with online browsing, especially if you've seen any airsoft videos on YouTube but the reality (and recommendation) is that you turn up to your first game in hardwearing clothes and a good pair of boots with ankle support (a lot of sites will turn away trainers!). By far, the most common injury in Airsoft is ankles.
If you really want to spent on Airsoft for you're first game you might want to consider looking
at eye protection, often abbreviated to as 'eye pro'. All sites will be able to provide this to you on your first visit however these tend to be the mesh style protection and we'd suggest you look to get eye pro goggles that offer a clear glass protection and are sealed around your eyes. This type off the maximum protection to you during the games.
For your first game we really really do suggest you rent a gun from the site, more on this below...
Finding a site
Believe it or not, this is a common question we get asked in the shop and there's not more to say other than - Google is your friend here. Most if not all sites will be found through a search engine. Other than that, ask your local airsoft shop for local recommendations.
First visit - what to expect
When arriving at a site you'll want to find the staff and likely give your name a booking number, you'll need to sign a waiver and will probably have a quick introduction to the site and next steps. In no particular order you'll be able to:
Talk to the regulars - don't be afraid to walk around the area where people are kitting up (safe zone). The more season players will probably be more than willing to talk to you about their gear and guns, often giving you valuable tips about the game zone.
Get familiarised with your rental gun with a walkthrough by the staff. Expect to cover how to handle the gun safely, aim, shoot and reload.
Listen to the safety brief. The most important part of your day! Every site will give you a safety brief before any games start. We can't stress enough how important it is to listen to this, everything you need will be mentioned, the safety brief might also lead into the game brief. Again, LISTEN. There's nothing more embarrassing than getting into the game zone and not knowing what the objective is - trust me...
One more thing - I remember the first time I turned up to an airsoft game, I was on my own and surprisingly nervous but my nerves were quickly put to rest. I've found this at every site I've played (although I'm sure there's exceptions) - the staff and regulars are very friendly and welcoming to both new and experience players. Rock up with less nerves than me, I'm sure you'll be made to feel welcome.
What Gun should I get?
If you've not played before - maybe don't buy one. You'll be stuck with having to buy a bright coloured gun that you'll regret. These are usually for younger players.
Played and ready to buy? This is a bit of a minefield with so many variables to consider such as your style of play and the type of sites you'll be playing at.
Once you've settled on a style there's the mechanism to consider, gas, electric, spring. Each have there own pro's and con's and the common question 'What's the best starter gun?' is a somewhat difficult question to answer. While we can't answer that question, we can talk to you about your site, style of play and budget, then direct to a selection of guns that wed recommend based on this discussion.
Please also be aware of the legalities in selling and owning an airsoft replica gun.
In 2007 a bill was enacted called the violent crime reduction act, or VCRA. Before this act you could walk into a shop and buy an airsoft replica but now things are a little more complicated however RIF’s (Realistic Imitation Firearms) are still available to almost everyone, if they get involved in airsoft.
A few sections of the VCRA focus on banning the sale and purchase (but not ownership) of RIFs, a category which includes realistically coloured airsoft replicas. After the airsoft community won the long battle against the government and because the abuse of replica firearms was nothing to do with replicas sold to airsoft skirmishers, the government allowed airsoft skirmishers and a few other groups a ‘specific defence’ against the act which allowed us to continue buying RIF’s. So if you are a skirmisher, you are allowed to buy airsoft replicas without restriction. You can get them from retailers in the UK, import them from overseas and buy them from to fellow skirmishers.
There are a number of interpretations as to what a skirmisher is. The most commonly accepted and safe method of becoming one is to attend 3 games at the same site over a time period of more than 2 months (so all 3 games can’t be within 2 months). Once you have done this, you may become a member of that skirmish site. To register on the UKARA database you must do the above at a UKARA registered site.