Often kids come home and inform their parents they NEED an airsoft gun, and most parents then ask, "What is an airsoft gun and why do you need one?"
1. Airsoft Is Older Than Paintball
A little history, airsoft was invented before paintball back in the '80s. Tokyo Mauri in Japan created the first airsoft gun, about eight years before paintball was invented. The early guns were powered by a compressed air cylinder which was connected to the gun by a hose. They were used for target shooting and playing war games in the woods. It became popular in Japan along with paintball. Years later, Tokyo Mauri came out with an M16 replica gun that ran on a battery. They called it an AEG (automatic electric gun), and airsoft took off worldwide.
2. These Are Low-Velocity Non-Lethal Guns
Airsoft guns were created to be low-velocity non-lethal guns. This is accomplished by using a 6mm or 8mm plastic BB that is very light (.12 to .45 grams), fired at low velocities of 170–550fps (feet per second). In Japan, the fps limit is 300fps with a .20 gram BB for all guns. Kids large and small have always wanted to play soldier, and these guns give them an opportunity to do that with the right protective gear. They should not be confused with Daisy BB guns sold in the US for years, which at close range are lethal.
3. Be Aware of Safety Concerns
There are safety concerns that parents need to be aware of. Children need to play with full clothing, long sleeve shirts, pants, and gloves. BBs will only leave a red spot through clothes, but on bare skin it can cause a blood blister and can bleed, if hit at close enough range with a high enough velocity gun. This is one reason airsoft fields in the US and around the world have a 10 to 20ft minimum engagement distance and any gun shooting .20 gram BBs at more than 400fps must observe a 100ft minimum engagement distance.
This may sound bad or scary to some, but in reality it is a minor issue, and you find adults (18–22-year-olds) on the field all the time in shorts and short sleeve t-shirts. However, this is also why I personally do not allow my children to play in the backyard, unless there will be an adult supervising.
The greatest danger in airsoft is being shot in the eye with a BB. That is why all fields indoor and outdoor require full seal goggles designed for paintball or airsoft. Even if your child is only doing target shooting, he and anyone in the area should at a minimum have shooting glasses on. This is because the low-velocity plastic BBs bounce off hard objects, wood, stone, etc. I have personally shot at a wood board 60 feet away and had the BBs bounce back and hit me on the head. The danger to the eyes cannot be overemphasized, and this needs to be communicated to your child, and your child needs to fully understand this before he touches any airsoft gun!
4. Responsibility and Gun Safety Are Critical
Since there is an element of danger with these guns, this was an excellent way to teach responsibility and gun safety. I have personally found with three of my children that my imposing strict gun safety rules with them has helped them to be safe, mature, and see that they need to be careful even when playing a "game" that is "safe." In fact, they are now actually more careful than I am which is comforting, and yes, I did have to ban them occasionally.
Gun safety rules:
- Always wear eyewear when shooting.
- Always point the gun in a safe direction.
- Never look down the barrel.
- Always have the gun on safe (safetied) until you are about to shoot.
- Never put your finger on the trigger until you are aiming at the target and are ready to shoot.
- Always treat the gun as if it is loaded.
- Always treat your airsoft gun like a real gun.
If you follow these rules, you can be safe and have a lot of good clean fun.
5. Airsoft Guns Bear Resemblance to Real Guns
Like any gun owner, airsoft players enjoy the pleasure of owning a respected gun, whether that is an M16, SCAR, AK47, MP5, G36, etc. Adding rails, handles, barrels, zero-point triggers, etc. All the things that you can do with real guns are also the rage for airsoft guns. This is what has made the sport so popular. Heckler & Koch makes the guns used by special forces units around the world and some of the most reliable guns in the world; the airsoft replicas perform up to that reputation and are very popular.
There are many countries that ban their people from owning real guns—Japan and England to name just two—so airsoft guns with their close resemblance to the real steel guns are the closest people in these countries can get to owning a real gun.
6. Airsoft Guns Can Be Fun: Target Shooting, Outdoor Play, and Indoor Play
I have spoken about the dangers involved now let's talk about the fun you and your child can have. Target shooting is where we started, with a spring pistol from BassPro Shop. I next purchased an AEG because I could do target shooting and play on an airsoft field with it (I thought), then a shotgun and finally a sniper rifle. The most fun per dollar has always been using my Double Eagle shotgun and I would highly recommend any shotgun that has an adjustable hop-up. For accurate shooting and learning how to apply all the shooting techniques of a real gun, the sniper rifle has been the most fun.
Having small skirmishes in the backyard is also fun and good preparation for going to an organized outdoor airsoft field. These fields may be a property owned by the person putting on the game day, or land rented from the county, or state, or a piece of land where the owner allows organized play. This type of play will usually be based on simulated military-type missions.
Indoor fields allow younger players to play in a more paintball-like way. Games normally last 5 to 10 minutes. Although dressing with layers of clothing would be recommended, since minimum engagement distances are shorter than those in outdoor play.
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7. Know Your Laws
Before purchasing an airsoft gun you also need to find out what the laws are in your city, your state, and for those outside the US, your country. For instance, in Massachusetts it is illegal for anyone except the child's parent to give a child an airsoft gun: grandparents, aunts, or uncles will go to jail if they buy one and give it to a child. In many cities/towns, it is illegal to discharge ANY BB gun, even airsoft guns, so target shooting in the backyard is illegal. And some states do not allow an airsoft gun to leave the store except in a gun case.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: how old do you think your kid should be to own an airsoft gun?
Answer: Totally depends on maturity. They have to be able to grasp this is a toy that can injure someone and have respect for that.
Question: What method should I use to secure an airsoft gun? I'm in California.
Answer: You can use a gun trigger lock.
Question: Will airsoft pellets damage siding on a house?
Question: How do the biodegradable BBs affect the environment? Do animals eat them?
Answer: That is the source of great debate. The biodegradable BBS - half of the BB has to break down into dust in 6 months. Where I played in Georgia places with high concentrations of BBS would be muddier because they are pea-size gravel and allowed water to go into the earth more easily.
Question: What are the laws in South Carolina for airguns?
Answer: SC last time I lived there was one of the least regulated states.
Question: What about laws in Oklahoma?
Answer: I do not know. You will have to do a search like Oklahoma airsoft laws or pellet gun laws.
Sam on January 30, 2019:
but I see this as related though. Don't you think so, it all about airsoft.
Hello on December 24, 2018:
HEY Chris don't talk like that on and airsoft page it isnt even realated to this topic
Chris on October 01, 2017:
I almost wish that we lived in a country that banned guns so that we could run around our neighborhood playing Airsoft without worrying about a bad cop shooting us, or, some lunatic with a concealed carry permit shooting us imagining that he'll be some kind of "hero" for shooting one of us because "he had a gun".
We did play "Cops and Robbers" with Airsoft guns in our back yards a few times and it was GREAT fun, we all LOVED it, but, I'm afraid it's just too dangerous, that somebody might shoot my kid. So although I really want my kids to play outside like that, get some exercise, have a ton of fun, and get away from the cell phones and video games for a while, it might just not be worth the risk :(
I hope someday that will change, and society will stop accepting police officers murdering innocent people because they mistakenly "thought they were a threat" or were "scared" - one should simply not be a cop, not be allowed to be a cop, if they can't stop themselves from shooting people who are not actually aiming a gun at someone or if they can't be patient enough (and keep their distance) to figure out that a kid has only a toy gun or airgun instead of behaaving like a trigger happy psycho and murdering the kid within seconds of arriving at the scene (speaking about the poor boy who was murdered by a bad cop in Cleavland Ohio).
Tristan on July 19, 2017:
Hey guys I'm an Airsoft technician out of AZ, I'm here to add a few things to this intro to airsoft and clear up some confusion caused by the comment section. First the confusion, I've seen multiple people say mesh masks's are bad for Airsoft, while this is true for eye protection, this is not true for face protection, yes there is still a chance at point blank that a bb could shatter through, while bad for the eyes, the velocity of the BB fragments after entering the mask would be so low that a mere scratch would be the worst thing that I've ever seen come of it (personal experience), now on some things that you may still be wondering if you plan on letting your kiddo come and sling BBS with the rest of us. First is that every field has their own set of reasonable limits, for example the indoor field I work at has a non conditional fps limit of 350 and you MUST use house BBS (special colored field BBS purchased at the front), the reason for this is to prevent people from bringing .32's or even higher in a chrono check when they should be using .20's this would result in some one with a High powered Airsoft passing a chrono at 350 fps but having the kinetic energy (resulting in pain) of a bb flying at 450+. Second, is that some modifications to your Airsoft "weapon" could be illegal depending on where you live so be sure to check state laws, one great example of this is adding a more realistic looking flash hider or an Airsoft suppressor (mock or functional) ; if your here in the US then I'm sure your very familiar with the orange flash hiders and barrel tips that come on every Airsoft gun in stores, it is a federal law that these guns have these orange flash hiders and tips up to the point of sale, once the transfer has been made it is up to state law and your own discretion to decide if you want to remove the flash hider or not, here in AZ it is no where near illegal to remove an orange tip compared to a place like California where the gun must have the orange tip during transportation and must have a piece of colored tape around the grip, trigger guard, and magazine. Be sure to check your state laws before modifying your Airsoft "weapon". Now if you ever want to know about the technical specs of Airsoft guns, need guidance or help modifying your "weapon" (internally or externally) or just have more general questions about the sport/ hobby it's self, you can head to your local Airsoft field and ask the technician and other staff there or you can contact me at tristan mares on Facebook (the picture is of me in a helmet it's hard to miss lmao) or @twistairsoft on instagram, you guys have a great day
Tristan on July 19, 2017:
Hi, I want to cover a few things that the author may have forgot to mention and clear up any mischief that the comments may have stirred up, in an airsoft technician out of AZ, and have worked at multiple fields with my current job residing at our priemier local indoor field, first of all yes it is possible for a bb to bounce back at 60 feet, there are so many factors that come into how a bb ricochets that it's near impossible to tell if one won't. now, the author did a great job at explaining and actually created the nicest into to Airsoft I've seen yet, but everyone forgets something so here's the minor details that he may have forgotten
Dylan on July 12, 2017:
I have a glock 18, it's an amazing gun considering I got it for £15 pounds, but it's not the smallest or easiest to handle. What pistol should I aim for now?
Maurice Dudeley on February 07, 2017:
Like your point of view!
Definitely, parents should really aware of and should watch over their kids when playing airsoft.
larryg2011 (author) from Portland, OR on February 02, 2017:
Did the police arrest him? Schools are gun free zones even airsoft guns.
Will on January 31, 2017:
I'm 11 and hoping to convince my mom to let me get an air soft gun. What is a good, cheap, starter gun, like a pistol, etc. Thanks for the amazing insight! ;)
RavioliAssassin on January 25, 2017:
What would I where if I have a 300fps SCAR what should my friends and I where
Ryan on January 21, 2017:
Eddie that is absolutely wrong... Wire mesh in my opinion is almost as safe as a full mask.... And any bb would never be able to explode and get into your eye unless you weren't wearing goggles or safety glasses.... Shame on you if you weren't!
jesmond on January 11, 2017:
a kid had one at my school and shot some1
RealAuzzie on December 22, 2016:
Not a very informative article. Might I suggest telling us some of the safety concerns of airsoft. Or maybe, tell us a little about the history. Like, which is older? Airsoft or paintball?
Haha, just kidding mate. Keep up the great work, it is very fun to read.
larryg2011 (author) from Portland, OR on December 09, 2016:
I am sorry you feel that way. How many outings did you get from your AEG before it broke? What was your cost per outing? A lot more than the $25 to $30 that a shotgun costs, so my point is if the shotgun only lasts one outing it is still cheaper than your AEG, and the user can decide if he or she wants to upgrade to an AEG.
Pg on December 02, 2016:
Not to be mean or anything but double eagle Is kind of a sucky brand for airsoft
bgigstead on April 08, 2016:
Great Article. I have been playing with my son for the past 2 1/2 years.
Louis on April 03, 2016:
What are the rules for air soft guns in the UK,Godalming???
Yay 2.0 on April 01, 2016:
In Ohio there are a number of fields blooming! Fallen Warriors is one. Located in Chillicothe. Their is War Den Airsoft near Cincinnati. And many more. I personally prefer fallen warriors. Airsoft Ohio is a great website for events and news in Ohio!!
gabrielle on February 17, 2016:
we live in the hastens and my son is 10 and he has been bugging me for a year what age should he get a airlift be he said he would get a pink m4
kevin on January 14, 2016:
just play safe and just have fun
Yay on August 01, 2015:
Any good fields in Ohio
yolomickswag on April 16, 2015:
i don't want one to shoot just to play with
Grayson on March 14, 2015:
I am 16 i have been playing airsoft for 3 to 4 years now i belong to and help manage a small team called woodland rebels airsoft. Overall this article does have useful info but first whenever looking for your first gun think about what you will be doing if its backyard play some .12 gram bbs will be perfect as well as a low powered cheap double eagle or crossman springer or aeg if playing at a field you may want something a little stronger because if you use those guns you will hit nothing for the younger ages 10 and under i would suggest a g&g combat machine and for it purchase .20 gram bbs as well as a 9.6 volt battery for ages above that id go with something a bit better however a little more expensive a we katana works nicely which you would use the same battery and a.23 or .25 gram bb of course you need face protection of any sort some fields require full face protection some do not it is smart to buy a smart charger for your battery. For safety if the player is wearing goggles you should not worry about eye damage most players within a certain range even without a safety rule will not shoot instead warn you that you are out and for you to go back to your spawn (why waste ammo) if you go to a field more times than not you will return with a few whelps but you should not worry too much just keep in mind to be courtious and call your hits also BE RESPONSIBLE WITH YOUR AIRSOFT GUN don't walk around on the street with it in hand reccomended is a rifle bag but most of all have fun and be safe
John Doe on December 26, 2014:
I am 23 year old airsofter, at first this sport seemed silly to me up til a few years ago when i started getting interested with the ammo shortages changing my shooting habits. Since the spark of my interest I found myself at a CQB field and decided to look into it and ask questions then came done to trying it. At first I was there just to waste time but after it really changed my view and I'm looking forward to getting more active in the sport. I started out with a WE Heavy Weight CQB Master 1911 (from Evike.com) with a pair of goggles that I liked and did research on (Smith Optics, if you were wondering) and the knowledge that its a good idea to wear a long sleeve shirt with pants ( of course). Starting out, I knew I didn't want to go cheap b/c of my fondness of the realistic weight of the gear tickling my obsession with real steel firearms this sport has taken me by a landslide. A tip for the younger and newer players is to call your hits b/c nothing is more irritating to a regular player than someone who don't take or call their hits (More fun and less arguing with someone else or a referee.
Charlie Leonidas on December 06, 2014:
In the case of California, you're right.. the discharge of airsoft guns is illegal, but only PUBLICLY. Nowhere does it say that discharge in private property is banned. Only if you do not let the public ( your neighbors for example) get offended, or feel unsafe. Check with your neighbors and local laws. But other than that, you should be fine
Craig on October 21, 2014:
This was a good article. I recently went to an indoor CQB arena with my 11 year old son. He had been bugging me for a while, and it sounded like fun. We rented gear, played several rounds, and I think I had as much fun as he did! While there is some inherent risk, the facility was very safety cautious. They do a full safety briefing followed by a facility walkthrough, and while they don't have a set age limit, they were very engaged during the walkthrough and asked my son very specific questions to see if he was paying attention.
Parents with kids who express interest in airsoft, my advice would be to take the time to educate both yourself and your child. Airsoft guns are not toys, and should not be treated as such, but they also are not something to fear. If your child has the maturity to learn the proper safety, it can be a very fun and rewarding activity.
larryg2011 (author) from Portland, OR on September 29, 2014:
In Massachusetts it is illegal for anyone except your parent to give a child an airsoft gun.
Kevin on September 25, 2014:
Is it ture that your uncle and etc can go to jail
Nate on August 13, 2014:
I'm 12 I've been playing with airsoft since I was 3 really all you need are glasses and my first was a stinger p3 11 at Walmart or anywhere really for about $14
larryg2011 (author) from Portland, OR on August 05, 2014:
Thanks for the clarifications.
Matt on August 04, 2014:
By the way Real Steel guns ARE LEGAL in England, providing you have enough space to safely shoot away from houses and civilians, and that you have a checked gun locker, you will get your license for up to .22 Semi-Automatics, any caliber over this must be single or bolt action, shotguns require a separate permit and all handguns excluding revolvers are banned except for on a few of the UK's surrounding isles.
larryg2011 (author) from Portland, OR on July 23, 2014:
Yes, glasses will fit under masks.
cool on July 23, 2014:
Wait I have glasses will they fit under masks?
Scott on July 18, 2014:
Disagree with the 60' bounce back and laugh if you want, but his point was sound.
BB's bounce. Protect everyone's eyes.
Geoff on June 15, 2014:
^not necessarily. It ask depends on how much you're willing to spend, and your idea of fun. Just do your research before every single purchase, because there's chances you could of bought something better for your money.
Colin on June 13, 2014:
Well as an extreme airsoft player I can safely say that this person (in some places) has no idea what their talking about. It's funny actually. Also there is NO way that they could have shot a board at 60 feet and still have been hit by it. Also double Eagle is terrible, and shotguns are terrible get an echo one Xcr-c, or a G&G combat machine mk18. As a starter weapom
Brony on June 03, 2014:
Ethan, different guns have different accuracy, fps, and many things can be determined by the size of the bullet. It is possible for a bullet to bounce off a wood board and back at you. It has happened to me before.e.
Anyway, good article/post.
colin on April 22, 2014:
this is a great way to learn the concepts of an air soft gun.
Mike on January 05, 2014:
I agree with ethan how is that possible
ethan on December 10, 2013:
I must disagree with the "wood board bounces back bbs at 60ft", I have an Ashbury airsoft sniper that does 530 fps and never once have I been hit even at 40ft.
Eddie on February 16, 2013:
Interesting. Whatever you do, do not buy mesh face masks. If it is shot with an airsoft gun over 400 FPS, it will shatter and get in your eyes.
Trisha on January 15, 2012:
Thank you for your article. I found my 6 year old playing with the 10 yr old neighbor kids and had no idea what airsoft was. While I am not still totally convinced this is a good idea at his age, I'm not as put off as I first was. We will be buying some safety goggles.