Getting Started in Airsoft Part 2
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- Last updated: 28/11/2019
So, that moment has arrived when you’ve either done a bit of homework and decided that you want to give airsoft a try, or the time has come that you want to actually give that two-tone replica BB gun a proper go by partaking in what is the lifeblood of the 6mm world, the weekend skirmish!
It may be that one of your mates has suggested a bit of a day out to an airsoft site, or it could even be that work has laid on a corporate day that entails some BB slinging; whatever your entry point to the wonderful world of airsoft games undoubtedly your first visit to a skirmish site will be a memorable one!
The first thing to make crystal-clear is that you don’t actually need to own fancy tactical clothing, gear, or even your own airsoft rifle, shotgun, or pistol to go and try things out; as I stated last month the law as it stands actually prohibits you owning a Realistic Imitation Firearm (i.e. a black gun) until you have a Defence in Law, which basically means that you need a bloody good reason to own one. Virtually every skirmish airsoft site that I know of offers a “Hire Gun” facility, one that not only covers you for your Airsoft Electric Gun (AEG) but usually also a magazine and BBs, eye protection, and sometimes even clothing.
What you will need are a few basics to ensure that you have a comfortable and enjoyable day, and that’s largely a case of common sense! First off, you’re going to be outdoors all day so you need to account for that in your choice of clothing and footwear, and even in the hot summer months you’re ideally going to want to keep your skin covered because being hit even by a 6mm, 0.20g plastic BB is going to sting, and dependant on engagement range, leave a bit of a welt. It’s unlikely given the power levels set for airsoft in the UK that this will break the skin (a “bleeder” as it’s known in the game!), but it probably will leave you with a little mark on exposed skin similar to a blood blister.
So, think jeans or outdoor trousers, and a sweatshirt or hoody to get you started; the fancy gear will come in time if you decide that airsoft is for you! Also think about a good pair of boots as you’ll likely as not be in one of two settings dependant on where you try your first game, either the ever-popular woodland or one of the increasingly popular “urban” sites. Both offer similar challenges in many ways when it comes to protecting your feet and ankles, in that underfoot will often be broken ground, with rubble or slippery tree roots to deal with, so something like a good pair of hiking boots will set you on the right track!
Gloves are always a personal choice, but let me tell you from experience that a BB on the knuckle is something that will stay with you! Don’t think for a moment that you need thick, padded winter gloves, but if you ride a mountain bike and have gloves for that they’re not actually that dissimilar to certain “tacticool” models, other than the colour.
A Hire Package is usually booked in advance with the site so that they a) know you’re coming, and b) can ensure they have enough kit for you to hire in the first place; don’t just rock up at a site on a game day and expect them to have gear available for you! For a fee, dependant on whether you are intending to play a full day or a half day (this option is offered by some indoor sites) and usually paid in advance via the sites website, the site operator will provide you with all-important eye protection (eyepro) that for new hires will usually be a full-face, paintball style mask, an AEG (some sites offer a choice of model), a High Capacity magazine (Hi Cap), and possibly an old DPM jacket or boiler suit. Most sites offer free tea and coffee, and some even include a hot lunch in your hire fee, but do check on the website as this will tell you all you need to know in most cases.
When you arrive at your chosen site the first thing you will need to do once you’re parked up is to check in, and most sites will ask you to sign a waiver in line with their insurance when you do; don’t be worried about this, is simply a part of pleasing the “elves & safety” brigade. As a new player you’ll be issued your safety kit first and then usually one of the Marshals will run you through the operation of your AEG, hopefully stressing safety and good practice; please listen to this as it will not endear you to your more seasoned team members if you start “muzzle sweeping” them! Once his is done you’ll usually be invited to test fire your “AEG for the day” on the chrono range, then shown how to unload and “make safe”.
Once you’re all geared-up and gagging to get shooting there’s a few more hoops to jump through before you do. First off will be the Site Safety Briefing, and again do pay full attention here as not only will the Marshal give you an overview of all pertinent safety guidelines, but they will often give you a description of the site itself and where to avoid; it’s probably at this point that you’ll be given a coloured armband or coloured tape to show which side you are on, and after this you may well also have a Team Briefing if there is someone in command (I/C) of your team for the day.
With all of this done, your eyepro in place, and your AEG ready but NOT loaded with a magazine yet, the time will finally have arrived for you to GET SUM! The Marshal with your team will normally advise when you can safely insert your magazine and make ready, and at this point it’s not unusual for players to loose off a few BBs in a safe direction to ensure that everything is working as it should; if you find that your hire AEG is having a problem simply POLITELY ask the Marshal for assistance and they’ll get you going in no time at all.
In game, as we say in the trade, “Take Your Hits”; airsoft is all about honour and unlike messy old paintball there is no real visual indicator that you’ve been hit, although 90% of the time you will feel it, so it’s down to you to play fair. In reality if you don’t take a hit not only are you cheating yourself, but you’re also cheating other players out of their enjoyment; once hit you’re going to respawn as you might do in a video game so it’s just a matter of a short walk to the respawn point and you’re back in the game anyway! I’m afraid that getting hit is part of the game, but the satisfaction of getting better and not getting hit will make things so much more satisfying in the end!
Bottom line is that airsoft is just like any other sport or hobby, and when you turn up on site your jaw is probably going to drop when you see the “regulars” carrying every kind of replica firearm you can possibly imagine, and absolutely dripping in “Gucci” equipment! Don’t be put off by this, as at some point we were all “newbs” in jeans and hoodies, and if you play hard, and above all play fair with honour, integrity, and a good sense of humour those same “veterans” will soon be chatting to you and egging you on!
Next month I’ll be getting into picking your first set of airsoft specific clothing and gear, but for now I’ll sign off by wishing you the very best for your first skirmish… go get sum!