Airsoft 101: An Introduction To The Sport of Airsoft

Airsoft 101: An Introduction To The Sport of Airsoft

Posted by Jay P. on Jan 31, 2023

Airsoft 101: An Introduction To The Sport of Airsoft

Jay P.
Updated 2/20/24
Airsoft is a team shooting sport similar to paintball (but less painful and messy), where the players use replica toy guns that shoot 6mm plastic BBs. Airsoft guns are mainly used for recreational shooting sports but also for military simulation and training purposes by many law enforcement agencies around the world. In addition to being a fun, community-based sport, airsoft has proven to be an excellent method of building skills needed for real-life situations such as combat or self-defense. But mostly, we just play because it's a fun sport.

A Brief History of Airsoft

The history of airsoft began in Japan in the early 1970s, when manufacturers started creating "soft air guns," designed to meet the needs of the firearm community but still followed Japan's strict weapons control laws. These soft air guns were designed to shoot plastic BBs and were deemed a safe way for enthusiasts to continue their hobby.

In the late 1980s, airsoft guns began spreading throughout Europe and North America, and by 1990, they became available worldwide. Since then, airsoft has been adapted for recreational use and training purposes —and enjoyed by people of all ages. The sport continues to grow and evolve and is now being recognized more and even being shown in well-known shows like SouthPark (if you haven't seen the episode, we highly recommend it; SouthPark really did a great job capturing the fun we have)!
Photo of Airsoft Players at a Milsim Event

Different Types of Airsoft Platforms

Airsoft guns are replica firearms that use compressed air to shoot 6mm plastic BBs through a variety of methods. Airsoft guns come in different models, including airsoft pistols, rifles, SMGs, shotguns, LMGs, and snipers - just to name a few.

The most popular types of platforms are:

    1. Gas: Some airsoft guns run off Green Gas (prefilled compressed air mixed with silicone oil) or CO2. This type of airsoft gun is also called a GBB gun or GBBR (Gas Blowback Rifle). When shot, the blowback mimics recoil, creating an authentic feel. GBB and GBBR are widely used in airsoft and training because of their authentic feel.
    2. Electric (Battery powered): Automatic Electric Gun or AEG, is an airsoft gun that utilizes an electric motor powered by a rechargeable battery to propel 6mm plastic BBs. These guns are popular in the airsoft community due to their ease of use, reliability, and ability to fire in automatic or semi-automatic modes.
    3. High-Pressure Air (HPA): High-Pressure Air, more commonly known as HPA airsoft guns, run using an air tank, line, and regulator alongside an HPA Unit or HPA adaptor to power the airsoft gun. They are more expensive but are known for being reliable.
    4. Spring: Spring-powered guns, or springers, use a contained coiled spring that propels the BB.
Photo of an Airsoft Player at Amped Airsoft Arena

Airsoft Playstyles

There are various styles of airsoft gameplay, from casual weekend games to speed tournaments and fully immersive 72-hour events, each offering a unique experience.

Here are a few of the most popular airsoft gameplay styles:

    • Milsim (Military Simulation) is when players simulate real or fictional wars using military tactics, strict camo requirements, and event-specific ruleset or TACSOP. Some events are more laid back, while others can be days of non-stop intense gameplay like Milsim West. MSW is one of the largest events in the country, with thousands of players each year! These events are sometimes held at actual military training facilities, incorporate helicopters and other technicals, and use blank rounds for increased realism. Events like MSW require lots of preparation. In other words, it is extreme larping.
    • Speedsoft games are quick, fast-paced games where firepower is critical. Speedsoft is usually played with two teams that consist of 3-5 players each that try to gain points by eliminating the opposing team. Most events, like SpeedQB, consist of matches with three 60-second rounds, and each team competes and will move on to different stages. Speedsoft teams are organized and usually train to compete based on the tournament rules.
    • Skirmish or Open Play can be either indoors or outdoors. Indoor open play usually incorporates a lot of close-quarter combat, or CQB, playstyle, while outdoor allows for more varied gameplay. Both indoor and outdoor will have different rules, as will the field you play at. Gameplay sessions usually last a maximum of a few hours with breaks between rounds, so everyone gets downtime to rest and reload before starting again!
    • AIPSC, which stands for Action International Precision Shooting Confederation, is based on a firearms-based sport that uses airsoft guns that fire BBs to shoot targets and are scored by accuracy and time. Methods and styles are similar to IPSC matches.
Photo of a Vest Used for Airsoft

Essential Airsoft Gear

    Now that you understand what airsoft is and the different gameplay styles, let's review the essentials. Having the proper gear is vital for a safe and enjoyable experience on the field. 

    Let's go over the basic airsoft essentials that you'll need:

    1. Eye Protection: Proper eye protection is paramount for airsoft because BBs can travel at high speeds and cause serious eye injuries. Invest in impact-resistant goggles or glasses specifically designed for airsoft. Don't compromise on safety.
    2. Face Protection: Just like eye pro, you'll want to protect your teeth with a lower face mask.
    3. Chest Rig, Vest or Plate Carrier: These vests provide additional protection and also allow you to carry spare magazines, hydration packs, and other gear.
    4. Airsoft Gun: Your choice of airsoft gun impacts gameplay. Rifles, submachine guns, or pistols—pick what suits your style. Invest in a reliable, accurate airsoft gun. 
    5. Ammunition (BBs) and Magazines: Always carry extra BBs and magazines. Choose the right weight BB for your gun. Consider eco-friendly BBs for outdoor play.
    6. Gloves (Full-Fingered): Gloves shield your hands from impacts and abrasions. Choose gloves that allow you to handle your gun and gear effectively.

Not sure where to buy gear? Search for airsoft stores near you or check out any reputible online airsoft retailer like, Amped Airsoft. (Shameless plug)

Airsoft Rules and Best Practices

As a new player, you'll probably want to know the basic rules and best practices of airsoft before you and your friends head out to play.

Here are some basic airsoft guidelines:

    • Firstly, listen to the safety brief at the field or event you attend. Each field has different rules.
    • You must use 6mm PLASTIC BBs. There are different weights (we recommend .20-.25 for indoor and .28+ for outdoor gameplay). METAL BBs ARE DANGEROUS AND CAN CAUSE SERIOUS HARM.
    • Do NOT shoot any animals or wildlife. They don't call their hits, and it's cruel.
    • Wear GOOD eye protection while playing airsoft. (Its recommended to wear full face protection)
    • If you are hit anywhere during gameplay, immediately yell "HIT!" and raise your arm with your weapon in the air. Most fields have an exception for gun hits—you must yell "GUN HIT!" immediately but can continue playing.
    • When in staging, ensure your magazines are out of the airsoft gun and your weapon is cleared. Some fields require a barrel sock cover.
    • You must wear eye protection while playing airsoft. Full face protection is recommended (and sometimes required for those under 18)
    • Never "blind fire" and always aim down sight. For example, you can not hold your airsoft gun over a wall and shoot or shoot through a hole. If you aren't aiming by looking down sight, you are doing it wrong.
    • Most Milsims or outdoor play require a dead rag or light to put on when you are out.
    • But most importantly, be honest, call your hits, and have fun (remember, we are out here playing with toy guns)
Photo of Airsoft Players One Young Military

Where to Play Airsoft

If you're new to airsoft, you'll first want to know where to play. If there are no airsoft fields nearby or if you're looking for something more than just backyard plinking, you can search online for airsoft fields near your location. Many online resources, such as airsoft forums and groups, can help you find places to play airsoft near you. You may even find new friends and people to play with. The airsoft community is known for being very welcoming to new players.
We hope this article has helped you understand the game better and how to start playing. If you have any questions about airsoft or want more information on how to play, don't hesitate to contact us! We are here for all your airsoft needs and concerns. Welcome to the airsoft community. Have fun out there!

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