A parent’s guide to Airsoft, what age is acceptable to let my child play airsoft? How expensive in airsoft? Is it Dangerous? And many other questions are answered below!
What is Airsoft?
Airsoft is a military simulation-based sport/hobby which uses RIFs (real imitation firearms) to fire 6mm BB’s with the help of an electric motor, gas or spring.
What’s a BB?
“BB” is short for ball bearing, In Airsoft we use polymer (plastic) ballbearings as ammunition. They come in two different sizes 6mm and 8mm although nearly all RIFs (Real Imitation firearms) are designed to shoot 6mm bbs.
How Dangerous is it?
Airsoft, in general, is very safe, like all contact sports, there will be accidents and injuries. That being said if you have the proper equipment you can minimize your chance of injury.
Safety Equipment & Why it’s so Serious
When attending a game for your first time it’s important to let the organisers know if you have any medical conditions. That way if anything were to happen to you they may know what’s wrong and how to help you. Sites will always have at least one ref that has first aid training for medical emergencies.
Full Face Protection
Most sites will only allow under 18s to play if they’re wearing Full face protection. This is often due to their Insurance only covering under 18’s if they’re wearing a full-face-protection. On the off-chance that the site near you doesn’t have this rule, I would still suggest that you buy a lower face mesh. This helps to ensure your teeth remain intact as they can easily get shot out if you’re not careful.
Having high-quality eye-pro is something that you really, really need to be cautious about. Unfortunately, there are many distributors that sell eye-pro that isn’t rated for airsoft. I would suggest that when looking to purchase eye-pro you look for full-seal and ensure that it is EN 166 rated A or B. Personally I use stamped steel mesh made by Heroshark myself. However, I would suggest against using mesh for any new players due to the risk of bb fractures or paint chips entering the eye. Instead, I would advise looking at purchasing a pair of polycarbonate eye-protection that has minimal fogging. Fogging can not only be a nuisance it can also be very dangerous making it difficult to see. Newer players may also be tempted to lift eye-pro in-game. This is a massive mistake as it only takes one stray bb to
Whether your eye protection is mesh, clear lenses, fully sealing, shooting glasses or any other of the myriad of types, they will all need to meet a certification standard.
There is a dangerous misconception, that if a pair of goggles is marked EN166 (European standard) or ANSI Z87(USA standard) then it is safe to use. This is potentially WRONG and you could be putting your eyesight in danger. I will explain below:
I am from the UK, so most know the EN166 standard so this is what I will be referring to from now on.
EN166 is a broad standard for all safety eyewear, safety eyewear is designed for many different environments and uses, therefore, they are not all the same.
EN166 actually has lots of sub-standards, for example (and most importantly for airsoft) the impact ratings. In the UK, we are limited to 1.3J for auto capable guns and 2.5J for a single/semi. So all our eyewear needs to be able to withstand 2.5J in case a BB from a bolt action hits them. So with this in mind, the EN166 impact ratings are:
Eye Protection Rating
- A – This can withstand an impact of 0.86g at 190m/s – 15.5J
- B – This can withstand an impact of 0.86g at 120m/s – 6.19J
- F – This can withstand an impact of 0.86g at 45m/s – 0.87J
- S – This can withstand an impact of 0.86g at 12m/s – 0.06J
- T – This can stand high-temperature impacts from objects that are -5 to +55 degrees Celsius. This T will be found next to one of the above marks if it is high temp rated
Both F and S rated eye pro do not meet the minimum requirements of protecting you from even BB’s going at 1J
When looking for quality eye pro look for a rating of A or B!
Testing your eye protection correctly
Also, you should never test shoot your eye pro and then wear it…you should actually buy two pairs…shoot one and throw it in the bin. Whenever eye pro is struck, it is weakened, it will probably last a few hits, but each hit will weaken them until eventually leading to failure and injury. If your goggles take a significant hit, then do yourself a favour and get a new pair.
If you would like to find out more click here, take note of the impact energy class. Remember this needs to be either an A or a B
Having good eye protection is always worth the investment, however, when starting Airsoft I struggled to find eye protection that was EN 166 certified. The problem was, all EN166 Eye-Protection was overly expensive and ended up fogging. That was until I found Bolle Trackers, an inexpensive, full seal certified eye protection that is inexpensive on Amazon.
Ankle Injuries are by far the number one injury when it comes to airsoft. I would highly suggest that before you let your child play you ensure they have some sturdy waterproof boots with good grip and ankle support. Airsoft sites get notoriously muddy and running through the undergrowth with little trainers will not only completely ruin them but will also significantly increase the risk of breaking an ankle or worse.
If you would like to know what Footwear I would suggest you can find that here
How expensive is it?
If it’s your child’s first time playing airsoft it’s often best to rent equipment directly from the site. This usually comes at a fee of £50 per game, games are usually from 9 am – 4 pm and will have a break for lunch. Depending on the site some will have hot food and drinks for sale as well as a shop that will sell additional bb’s, gas and other accessories – This is not always the case, it’s advisable to call your site before attending to ask what services they offer. Remember some equipment they may not provide e.g. Boots and camouflage clothing.
Sites will often provide:
An AEG (Airsoft Electric Gun)
Most sites will hire out AEGs as their rentals, these are often not the best or most precise guns and will often be an M4, AK, G36 or MP5 or similar.
Sites will provide Eye protection but I would always suggest checking to ensure they high-quality eye-pro. I’ve known sites to buy inexpensive mesh goggles which may not be of the highest quality. If this is the case I would suggest buying a set of polycarbonate eye-protection from a reputable source ensuring it’s grade A or B EN166 (see above).
They will often provide you with a few thousand rounds of bb’s and will likely have a shop on-site for players to buy any additional bbs, gas and grenades (Over 18’s only).
- Full Face Safety Mask – This is usually due to their insurance policy and will protect your child’s entire face.
Suggested gear to bring to your first game
Brown or Green clothing (Dark)
Turning up in a bright Gucci Pink jacket might be all the fashion in school, but it’s not the most practical thing to wear to an airsoft game. Especially if you intend to play in woodlands. If you plan to play at a CQB site camouflage is not nearly as important. J
Boots with Ankle support
Having boots with ankle support is fairly important if you intend to play in woodlands or outdoors woodlands. However, if you plan to play at an indoor CQB site you can get away with running a good pair of trainers.
Bottle of Water
Unfortunately, some sites will still not provide drinking water. If it’s a particularly hot day ensure you have enough water to last you a day. Getting heat stroke in really no fun, It’s always best to be prepared for the worst.
Some sites will offer hot food at lunch, but not every site provides this luxury. There’s nothing worse than getting through a half-day of playing and having nothing to eat.
When should I purchase my own gear?
If your child is interested in pursuing airsoft as a hobby it’s a good idea to purchase his own gear. This will save money over time as rentals can be fairly expensive, around £50 per game. It will also limit you to an entry-level weapon and gear. Don’t be put off by this, just most sites will have rentals that are usually very inexpensive and not looked after. Walk on in the UK is usually £20 – £30 for a standard skirmish day, but prices may vary based on location. I have an article dedicated to this topic which can be found here and will save you a huge amount of time effort and money
If you have any further questions, feel free to send me at @craftingcamo.com or send me a message on any of my social media!