Combat sports are fast becoming a hugely popular pastime around the world.
Thrilling, adrenaline-fueled experiences that are unforgettable.
But for beginners, it can be more than a little daunting when it comes to knowing where to start.
The market is overflowing with guns and gear, and then there are things like tactics and strategy to learn, rules and regulations, types of games, and finding places to actually play them.
In this article, we explore the ultimate guide to airsoft for beginners. The stuff you need, the stuff you don’t, and everything in between – without the fluff and jargon.
Let’s get stuck in.
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Airsoft Tips for Beginners – Too Long, Didn’t Read
I can appreciate the busy lives you all lead, so before we get into too much detail, here’s a bite-sized guide to this article, for anyone in a rush.
How to get started in airsoft in a nutshell:
- Learn about airsoft rules and roles.
- Find a local field and join a pickup game.
- Know the best time to play.
- Learn what to wear for your first matches.
- Choose a practical loadout – including guns, clothing, and gear.
- Understand budget – airsoft can be expensive.
- Practice, practice, practice.
There is, of course, much more to it than that, and I would highly recommend you read on as we explore each point in depth.
What is Airsoft?
I’m going to presume you know a little about this sport already, as you probably wouldn’t be here if you didn’t.
Still, I think it’s useful to pen a few words about what it is, and what to expect when playing it, covering some basic rules and regulations, as well as airsoft age restrictions.
You can follow that link for more information, but in short, children should be over 10, but I recommend early teens as the best time to start playing.
As for the game itself, airsoft was developed in Japan in the 1970s, which might surprise some readers who believe it was the younger cousin to paintball.
While paint guns have been around longer (for cattle and tree marking), the game itself has roots in the early 80s. Find out which hurts more by following that link.
The two sports are similar when it comes to gameplay (shooting non-lethal ammo to try to eliminate opponents), but less so when talking about guns and gear.
Airsoft players use realistic weapons that fire tiny, plastic pellets, commonly 6 mm in diameter and weighing 0.20 grams. This article explains the difference between airsoft and BB guns in more detail.
The guns themselves are powered either by single-shot springs, battery packs (AEGS), or gas – all with their advantages and disadvantages. Check this article on different types of airsoft guns for more info.
Airsoft players are often dedicated to achieving hyperrealism, with clothing and equipment close to the real thing. You can explore the differences between airsoft and real steel gear at that link.
Then, when battle commences, two teams duke it out in a large playing field, with a number of different game modes. Close quarters indoor play is also popular, offering fast-paced gameplay with little downtime.
Airsoft Rules and Roles
Understanding the rules of airsoft isn’t as tricky as you might think. It just all depends on the type of game your local field is running.
There are many airsoft game modes to choose from, including team deathmatch, free-for-all, assassination, zombies, and many more. Follow that link to find out which type of game you’d prefer.
The rules will change depending on the game, but the one thing that stays constant – perhaps the most important rule in all of airsoft – is to call your hits.
Unlike paintball, airsoft ammo doesn’t leave an obvious mark on a target’s clothing. As such, there is an honor system in play, where you have to raise your hand and shout “hit” whenever you feel that BB strike.
Failure to do so is called cheating – plain and simple – and will result in a ban, and eternal damnation in the seventh circle of a fiery hell.
Just kidding about that last part.
Jokes aside, this is a vital part of the sport, and must be adhered to at all times. Cheaters never prosper, and karma will come calling if you fail this most basic airsoft rule.
Aside from the different game modes, it’s also important to understand game roles. Again, this will vary depending on the game mode and tactics employed by your team.
Common airsoft roles include team leader, rifleman, support, and sniper – the latter of which is the most coveted, but hardest position to perfect.
This article on airsoft roles will help you choose the one that’s right for you, but don’t worry about it too much for your first few games.
When I first played, I had no idea what I wanted to be, the tactics to use, where to go, what to wear, how to win…pretty much clueless from the start.
But the real trick is simply getting games under your belt. There’s no better way to learn than with experience, so let’s find you a place to play.
Finding a Field
Before you’ve purchased your first gun, plate carrier, tactical shooting gloves, and anything else associated with airsoft, you should find a place where you can join a game.
For me, the internet is the single most important tool in this endeavor. And this website for finding airsoft fields is one of the best resources at your fingertips.
Note that it’s just for the USA at the time of writing, but similar websites should be available for your location.
Alternatively, pop down to your nearest airsoft/combat sports retail store and ask the staff there. They will be more than happy to point a new player in the right direction.
My local field, for example, does pickup games, where rookies and vets alike can turn up at the weekend, pay a modest playing fee, and join a full day of CQB (Close Quarter Battles) skirmishes.
It’s possible to hire guns and gear for a charge, and I would highly recommend doing so for your first couple of games. There’s no need to spend money on equipment only to find out it’s not for you.
Of course, later down the line, bringing your own gear and ammo is going to make it much cheaper to play. Entry might even be free, but a fee of $10-$20 is not uncommon.
Most decent airsoft fields will have quality equipment for hire – including protective goggles and masks, which, of course, will be sanitized after every match.
Remember to choose a preference between indoor and outdoor play.
While not set-in-stone, outdoor games are more commonly associated with MilSim (Military Simulation), while indoor matches are suitable for speedsoft, and fast-paced CQBs.
What to Wear for Your First Game
Looking at YouTube videos, reading airsoft websites, following experienced players online – you might think that you need a full ghillie suit and helmet before you’ve even set foot in the arena.
This is a common misconception about airsoft and airsoft players, and the gear snobbery is something I’m particularly keen on stamping out of the sport.
I turned up to my first game wearing an old hoodie and cargo pants, playing alongside airsoft veterans wearing plate carriers, helmets, and full camouflage.
It might be scary at first – but don’t let it put you off. Most airsoft players are friendly and welcoming, and enjoy seeing new recruits join the community.
Which means you don’t need to look like a professional soldier for your first game.
This article on what to wear for airsoft will go into more detail, but so long as you’re comfortable, and it’s not going to injure you or others around you – you can wear whatever you please.
And while spring through fall is the best time to get involved, you can still play airsoft in winter – so follow that link for special tips and advice for combat in the cold.
But once the bug has bitten (and it will), you’ll want to put together your own, pro loadout – which is a huge part of the sport’s enjoyment.
Choosing a Loadout
Now, we reach the exciting part.
Once you’ve played a few games, cut your teeth on the vibe and atmosphere, and you’ve learned a bit about what other players are rocking, you can start to build your own loadout.
And here at Riflepal, we have a wealth of resources to help you do just that.
You might be tempted to go straight to the armory, but the most important part of your loadout is going to be your airsoft goggles. Follow that link to get started choosing the right one for you.
Protecting your eyes is vital in this game – and this is the one time you don’t want to be cheap. Ski and snowboard goggles aren’t rated to stop ballistics – so don’t even think about cutting corners.
So long as your eyes are covered, airsoft masks are optional – but I highly recommend covering the rest of your face, too.
Taking a BB to soft tissue like the lips is going to be a world of hurt, so follow that link to keep your kissers protected.
I highly recommend purchasing a pair of dedicated tactical pants with knee pads. You might well be throwing yourself all over the place to avoid getting hit, so give your legs the protection and comfort they will need.
Realistic tactical helmets aren’t necessary, but if you’re playing a MilSim scenario, or you just want to up your loadout to more realistic gear, then follow that link to see what’s available for your head.
You might also have seen players sporting plate carriers and/or chest rigs, and that link will explain the differences between the two – and if you need them or not.
If there’s one aspect to airsoft that’s as daunting as it is exciting – it’s the guns.
Guaranteed to make your mouth water, and shake beginner’s knees at the same time. When I first started this sport, I was freaking out at the sheer number of choices available.
Which is why I wrote these guides to help calm your farm, so let’s take things easy.
First, you will probably want to understand the differences between gas and battery-powered weapons. Aside from the obvious, knowing their strengths and weaknesses will give you a serious advantage when choosing your armory.
Most airsoft players will have one of each – an AEG primary weapon, and a gas-powered sidearm.
Take a look at this article to explore the best electric airsoft guns on the market.
And go here for some top-quality airsoft pistols you can use as your backup option.
When it comes to gas, there are several types you should be familiar with.
This article will explain the differences between Co2 and green gas, while this piece explores the different “colored” gases and what they mean for airsoft players.
Airsoft shotguns are good secondary weapons, and are awesome when playing close quarters battles, such as clearing rooms in abandoned buildings.
Airsoft rifles are often chosen for both assault and/or DM roles (Designated Marksman), depending on their type.
And of course, if you’re looking to be the coveted lone wolf, you’ll want to explore this article on the best airsoft sniper rifles available – for dealing death from a distance. If you decide to become a sniper, you might want to ask yourself – do you need an airsoft backup gun in case something goes wrong.
One of the most common questions that beginners ask when selecting their first airsoft gun, is if it’s possible (and legal) to remove the orange tip. Follow that link to find out – and make sure you stay within the law in your region.
Finally, you’ll want to know how to maintain and upgrade your airsoft guns – so that they last for many battles to come. Follow that link for some top care tips to improve the longevity of your loadout.
It’s no secret that airsoft can be an expensive hobby – especially if you insist on purchasing high-end guns, gear, and equipment.
But it doesn’t need to be this way – if you learn how to budget.
This article on the best cheap airsoft guns is a great place to start. You don’t need to spend the big bucks right away – choose something that fits within your price range, and that you can upgrade and modify later.
Knowing and understanding the best airsoft brands will also help you in choosing quality gear without over or underspending.
Don’t be afraid to look at army-surplus stores and thrift shops for second-hand gear to start with. The high-end plate carriers can come later, for example.
When learning how to play airsoft, there’s no better teacher than practice. You will gain more knowledge from one game than you will pouring over hundreds of articles and hours of videos on the internet.
So get out there and play!
Practice makes perfect, and that is certainly true when it comes to airsoft. The more you play, the faster you’ll get better, developing your skills, strategies, teamwork, and tactics one game at a time.
You can even develop drills to stay sharp – some of which can even be done at home. Watch the video below for some more information
I wish you the very best of luck in achieving airsoft greatness.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide to airsoft for beginners, and it’s shed some light on this exciting sport, and becoming involved is a less daunting prospect.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments, both if you’re a new player, or if you’re an old war dog with some exciting stories.
The community is a friendly one – and we look forward to welcoming you to it.
Stay safe out there, call those hits, and happy airsofting!