If you haven’t heard of airsoft yet, the new(ish) sport that involves authentic-looking replica guns that shoot plastic BBs in an indoor or outdoor military simulation battle, it is the 2018 version of paintball, except with more accurate guns and with extra military simulation mixed in. Players don military garb, protective goggles or masks, and equip themselves with airsoft guns like an M6 or AK-47, complete with rifle modifications like scopes, extended stocks and even laser sights.
Airsoft can be played either indoors (CQB or close-quarters battle), or outdoors (CQB or MilSim, or military simulation). From the uneducated eye, everything looks almost exactly like a shootout amongst real soldiers, shooting behind army jeep’s, broken down buildings, sniper nests, and other realistic barriers.
If you’re looking to get into this amazing and realistic new sport, we have the guide for you to get in the game.
Pick your Guns
To get into airsoft as a beginner, you’re going to want a rifle or pistol or both. Airsoft guns are powered either by electric batteries, propane tanks, CO2 cartridges, or springs. We asked Ben from AirsoftGunGuy.com what he recommends for a beginner airsoft rifle. “The best rifle for beginners is something fairly commonly used, like an M4 or M16, that is light and heavily modifiable as a novice finds their way through the game. You’ll also want an AEG [automatic electric gun], as dealing with a gas setup can be overwhelming for a beginner that has yet to take a rifle apart. We especially recommend the G&G Combat Machine 16 Raider. It’s surprisingly cheap, yet durable enough to take the typical beating from a beginner.”
If you really want to be prepared, grab a pistol while you’re at it. Again, according to Airsoft Gun Guy, the best pistols for beginners are usually the ones powered on CO2, that way you can just load the cartridge and stow your pistol until your rifle runs out of ammo or battery juice.
Get your Gear
The minimum required gear for most fields are certified and approved airsoft goggles or masks (referred to in the airsoft community as eye protection or “Eye Pro”), that can withstand getting shot at close range with an airsoft BB without cracking, and gloves. One of the problems that airsoft players, especially beginners, run into is the fogging up of goggles or masks. We recommend goggles that are ventilated and that have been applied with anti-fog material. Having your goggles fog up constantly in-game can really ruin the experience. But of course, so can goggles that aren’t approved for airsoft play when you get a BB in the eye!
For gloves, there are a variety of options, and there are no certification requirements. A lot of players use standard work gloves, and you can get a pair of Mechanix gloves that come in black or camouflage that are favored by special operations soldiers around the world for under $20 (bonus points for the military authenticity).
If you’re playing outdoor or in a MilSim match, or even indoors, camouflage is highly recommended. If you stick out like a sore thumb wearing bright colors in a MilSim battle, giving away your squad’s position, your teammates won’t be too thrilled about it. And, as always in the airsoft community, authentic-looking military clothing is the standard. You can get camouflage military BDU’s in any army surplus or outlet store – a full outfit can be had for less than $50.
Don’t forget the boots. Getting shot in the foot with soft sneakers can leave a welt for days. Work boots will do the job, but so will military-style boots at an army outfitter, which can be the same price or cheaper than work boots.
Knee pads are also recommended too. You will be spending a lot of time on at least one knee, and there are times you may need to run and slide to avoid getting shot. Any knee pads will do. Again, you can get these while you get the rest of your gear at an army surplus store or outfitter, usually for around $20, but you can also just wear roller blade or even sports knee pads.
Find a Field
You would be surprised how many airsoft fields are around, both indoor and outdoor. While you may not have heard of them, odds are you have at least one in your backyard. When we Googled airsoft fields near us, we were surprised to find both an indoor and outdoor field within 20 miles of our location.
Airsoft is a great way to meet like-minded squad mates, but airsoft is always more fun with a few friends. If you can get some friends interested to join up, especially if they are at the same novice skill as you are, you will have hours of fun discovering the sport for your first time.