Some call airsoft “paintball for grown-ups” but many airsofter players take it a bit more seriously, especially when it comes to an official event hosted by an airsoft field or organization. Of course like everything there’s an in-between too. In airsoft, some may call that middle of the road event a skirmish. A localized event during which a group of people get decked out in camouflage gear and navigate private grounds shooting at each other. In simple terms, that’s a “Skirmish” or “Skirmishing”. It’s a step up from a backyard shoot-out and a step down from a full blown airsoft milsim event which is simulated military mission game play.
Be Safe with Airsoft Guns
Sure, you can buy an airsoft gun because they’re cool or for indoor or backyard plinking and target shooting, but many people, even firearms trainers, have figured out that they make outstanding training and practice tools. #Practice2Protect. You can get an airsoft pistol that looks the same as your everyday carry gun. It feels the same. It operates in the same way. It fits your existing “real gun” holsters and accessories. And it’s real close to the same weight. The same goes for tactical-style rifles. There’s an airsoft rifle that gets pretty close if not an actual replica of the centerfire version. Taking it a step further, these airsoft guns, because they’re less-than-lethal, can be used for force-on-force training. You must exercise strict safety protocols and control though.
When replica airsoft guns are used responsibly under supervised conditions airsoft play is generally safe. Of course common sense precautions must be adhered to and enforced by all parties involved, even participants.
First, keep your airsoft guns separate from your firearms; do NOT get them mixed up. In fact, you should just go ahead and leave that orange tip on the muzzle in place (for those of you in the U.S.).
Second, when using airsoft in force-on-force training, skirmish, or during milsim events, use safety precautions like heavy clothing and especially protective facewear. That includes eye pro, mouth/teeth protection, and ear protection. A fast moving 6mm airsoft projectile can get embedded in your skin and can put your eye out.
Third, always transport your airsoft guns in cases to and from locations including stores, events or ranges. There’s absolutely no need to cause alarm by having an airsoft gun setting visible in the backseat of a vehicle and being carried into your friends house or even into the range. Be responsible. Case it. #NoCaseNoService
Why You Should Be Safe with Airsoft
If you’ve ever been hit by a paintball you know it hurts. Standard paintballs are large (0.68″ dia), heavy (3 grams), and filled with liquid. They’re fired at muzzle energies around 6 to 12 times those allowed in airsoft with kinetic energies around 9 ft lbs. Paintballs can, and do, leave some pretty nasty bruises. You certainly know when you’ve been hit by a paintball.
Airsoft BBs on the other hand are smaller (6mm dia) and lighter (usually .20-.28 gram). Muzzle energies are airsoft event or field limited to 300 fps. While an airsoft BB flies at about the same speed as a paintball it is much lighter and doesn’t carry anywhere near the kinetic energy of a paintball -- just 1 ft lb. At that a BB can still leave a small bruise and can break unprotected skin and they do break teeth (just read this blog) which is why Elite Force Airsoft recommends full face protection. At longer ranges BBs typically don’t bruise or break skin but it is possible.
To put it in perspective, it only takes 9 ft lbs to kill a squirrel or a rabbit with a .22 caliber pellet which is approximately the same size as a 6mm BB and many small game airgun hunters use a .177 at a third the size to put food on the table.
Airsoft Guns for Skirmishing aka Force-on-Force
The models and types of airguns guns for your skirmish are nearly endless. Elite Force Airsoft alone offers 12 different brands, many of which are from Umarex license agreements with firearm companies like GLOCK, Heckler & Koch, Beretta, and Walther. That means you can own a full-auto HK MP5! Okay, well, maybe it doesn’t shoot actual bullets using gunpowder, but it sure looks the part! Within that vast array of airsoft guns there’s also a handful of options in terms of how they’re powered. Some are battery powered, some use simple spring power (these are your backyard airsoft guns) and others use compressed gas.
In the compressed gas realm, you’ll find two types of power sources. Some airsoft handguns, like many of the GLOCK airsoft pistols, use a standard 12-gram CO2 cylinder as a power source. These are the same CO2 cylinders that power many of the common BB guns, so they’re easy to find at sporting goods stores. The other common compressed gas used for airsoft is “green gas”. It’s a mixture of propane and silicone lubricant that helps things run smoothly. Elite Force Fuel green gas is available in pressurized cans with a built-in fill nozzle much like those on butane canisters used to fill lighters and fire starters. The canister’s built-in fill nozzle is made to fit into a fill port on your gun’s magazine or the gun itself depending on how it was engineered.
For a skirmish, it would be advisable to at least get a competition grade airsoft gun like those offered by Elite Force. If you’re stepping up to officially run milsim events and if your bank account will allow it you’ll want to shoot for an Elite level airsoft gun. Your handguns will cost you around the $120 mark and your rifles will start at $175 and go up.
Winning the Skirmish
Here’s the skinny. Airsoft isn’t just a kid’s game. The airsoft rifles, handguns, and airsoft gear can get serious. Like any hobby, you can wrap as much money in it as you like. Event hosts, whether a skirmish on private land or a full-blown hosted milsim event, can and will give you objectives, rules, boundaries, and expect you to play with honor or get kicked out. In other words, call your hits and respawn when required. In the end, whether part of a platoon or simply being the first to capture the flag, when all involved in the skirmish have had a good time that’s a win.
~jB. I only have ⅓ of one of my front teeth. So re-read that safety section above.