What is Airsoft? A Beginner’s Guide to the Sport

What is Airsoft

Airsoft is a sport that’s growing in popularity in the UK. If you’re interested in stepping into the world of airsoft games, we’ve put everything you need to know into this helpful guide.

It’s a game that requires both mental and physical skill. But aside from the exhilarating thrill of handling and firing weapons, you also get to join a fantastic community of people who all love the sport. Whether you take up airsoft as a weekend hobby or you’re determined to become one of the best players around, there are opportunities for everyone to get involved.

As airsoft experts, we’re going to dive into what airsoft is, the types of airsoft games, rules and regs and other essential parts of the sport that you’ll need to know before booking in for your first skirmish (if you’re not sure what a skirmish is, we’ll cover that, too!). 

So, let’s dive straight in!

What is Airsoft?

So, the big question – what is airsoft?

Airsoft, also known as survival game in Japan where it was first popularized, is a team-based shooting game in which participants eliminate opposing players out of play by tagging them with spherical plastic projectiles shot from low-power airguns called airsoft guns.” Wikipedia

Airsoft is a competitive team sport where players eliminate opponents by hitting them with spherical plastic projectiles (BBs) launched from replica firearms. Most airsoft guns are designed to mimic real firearms to provide a realistic combat experience.

Games are hosted by and played at dedicated airsoft sites across the country, and there are hundreds dotted in different regions. The game requires strategy, teamwork, and quick thinking as teams battle out different scenarios, which can range from capturing the flag to the last man standing.

Safety is paramount in airsoft. Despite the projectiles being less lethal than those used in similar sports, like paintball, players are still required to wear protective gear, including face masks and goggles.

Additionally, airsoft culture fosters fair play — players are expected to call themselves out when hit. 

This combination of realism, strategy, and sportsmanship is what makes airsoft a truly engaging and enjoyable sport.

Types of Airsoft Matches
What is Airsoft? A Beginner's Guide to the Sport

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Different Types of Airsoft Matches

There are a few different types of airsoft matches that you can partake in. Some are more suited to beginners, while others are ideal for experienced airsoft players who want to have a truly immersive experience that lasts for days.

Type of Airsoft MatchWhat it Entails

A skirmish in airsoft is one of the most common types of matches you’ll encounter. It’s a casual game, often between two teams, where the primary objective is to eliminate as many opponents as possible.
This is typically a fast-paced game, with players respawning after a short period of time.
The team with the most player eliminations, or the last team standing, is usually declared the winner.

MilSim, or Military Simulation, is a type of airsoft game that takes the sport to a whole new level of realism.
These matches are designed to closely simulate real military operations, featuring complex scenarios, extended gameplay, and often incorporating military tactics.
Participants typically don realistic military gear, and the rules can be stricter, with constraints on ammo and more defined roles. These roles can range from squad leaders to medics, and communication between team members is key to carrying out successful missions.

Urban Airsoft
Urban airsoft is played in rural, built-up environments, providing a lifelike battle experience. The venues are usually smaller to encourage close-quarters combat.

CQB (Close-Quarter Combat)
This is an intense type of airsoft that involves battling in confined spaces. Sites will usually consist of enclosed shelters and buildings to encourage players to fight in close proximity.

Night Airsoft
As the name suggests, night airsoft games are played in the evening or at night in dark environments. 
Players will need to use night vision equipment to navigate their way round the site and battle enemies.

SpeedSoft significantly differs from traditional airsoft and MilSim matches. Emphasising fast-paced gameplay and requiring quick reflexes, SpeedSoft matches often take place in smaller indoor arenas.
The use of lighter, more manoeuvrable gear and rapid-fire airsoft guns is common in these games. The focus lies on fast action, agility, and speed, with players executing quick manoeuvres to outmanoeuvre and eliminate opponents.

AIPSC, or Airsoft International Practical Shooting Confederation, is another unique form of airsoft that focuses heavily on precision and speed. Derived from the real steel sport of IPSC, AIPSC is fundamentally a target shooting sport.
Players are required to navigate a course and engage a series of targets as quickly and accurately as possible. The use of cover, reloading tactics, and manoeuvring make AIPSC matches an exciting mix of speed, accuracy, and strategy.
This discipline of airsoft can be played both indoors or outdoors and often features obstacles or barriers to increase the challenge.
airsoft rules
What is Airsoft? A Beginner's Guide to the Sport

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General Airsoft Rules

As with any kind of sport, airsoft is subject to rules to make sure play is fair and everyone knows where they stand during the game. Each specific type of airsoft game will have its own rules relating to how the game should be played. 

In a more general sense, here are some of the most common rules you need to know before stepping onto the battlefield:

Safety First

In airsoft, the utmost respect for safety measures is a non-negotiable rule.

All players must wear the appropriate protective gear at all times during the game. The safety gear you need to play the game includes:

  • Helmet
  • Gloves
  • Knee and elbow pads
  • Goggles
  • Full or half-face mask

The guns used in airsoft must adhere to strict limits when it comes to their FPS (Feet Per Second). FPS refers to the speed at which the plastic projectiles, or BBs, are launched from an airsoft gun. This is a crucial aspect to consider, as it influences both the range and impact of the BBs.

In the UK, there are strict limits on the FPS for airsoft guns to ensure safety and fairness in the game. Typically, most airsoft fields allow a maximum FPS of 350 for automatic weapons and 500 for sniper rifles. Exceeding these limits can lead to injuries and is generally seen as unsportsmanlike.

Airsoft Equipment Etiquette
What is Airsoft? A Beginner's Guide to the Sport

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Non-Gameplay Airsoft Equipment Etiquette

Airsoft guns should always be treated as if they are real. The muzzle should never be pointed at anything one does not intend to shoot. 

Lastly, when not on the playing field, the safety should be on, and the gun should be holstered or placed down gently, ensuring it does not accidentally discharge.

Use the Field Appropriately

The majority of airsoft fields in the UK feature scenery that is either natural or man-made, depending on the location and the type of game being played. This scenery helps to make airsoft skirmishing feel more immersive and realistic.

With that being said, much of this scenery is off-limits, so you should avoid climbing and jumping on areas of the field that aren’t designed for it. This is both a safety consideration and an issue of respect. Climbing on things that aren’t meant to be climbed on can result in injury and damage to the airsoft field.

Many airsoft sites also require the use of biodegradable BBs to preserve the environment, so always be sure to follow the rules of each field you visit. 

Be Respectful of Staff & Other Players

This is a really important rule. The staff at airsoft fields are there to make sure everyone is safe and has a good time. If they tell you to do something (or not do something), be respectful and listen to them. They’re just doing their job.

Similarly, people on your team and the opposing team are there to have a good time, engage in their airsoft hobby, and unwind with friends. Although games can get intense, it’s important to remain respectful of players on the other team. Accept when you get hit or stealth killed, and move on. Nobody likes a sore loser!

Remember, It’s Just a Game

This ties in with the last rule but is worth mentioning on its own. Airsoft is a great hobby that builds strong bonds between players and requires skill and precision. A game may get intense, but it’s important to remember that it’s just a game, nothing more. If you find yourself getting excessively frustrated or emotional, you should leave the field to calm down.

Types of Airsoft Guns
What is Airsoft? A Beginner's Guide to the Sport

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Types of Airsoft Guns

Airsoft guns, the heart of the sport, come in a variety of types, each with its own unique features, advantages, and drawbacks. Here are the primary types you can choose from:

Spring-Powered Airsoft Guns

Spring-powered airsoft guns are mechanically powered by a stiff metal spring which must be manually cocked before each shot. 

They are typically less expensive and less durable than their electric and gas counterparts, but their simplicity and reliability make them a favourite amongst beginners or as a backup weapon.

Pistols, sniper and shotguns are usually spring-powered. 

Electric Airsoft Guns (AEGs)

Electric airsoft guns, also known as Automatic Electric Guns (AEGs), run on an electric motor powered by a rechargeable battery. These guns can typically fire in both semi-automatic and fully automatic modes, making them a popular choice for many players. 

Despite being more expensive, their durability, high fire rate and ease of use make them an excellent choice for both experienced and beginner airsoft players.

Gas Airsoft Guns

Gas guns utilise compressed gas to propel BBs. Gas types include CO2, green gas, and propane. These guns can produce a more realistic kick when fired, enhancing the overall game experience for players. They’re particularly popular for sidearms and specialist roles due to their power and realism.

High-Pressure Air (HPA) Guns

High-pressure air (HPA) guns utilise pressurised air for propulsion, stored in a separate tank connected to the gun via a hose. These guns offer superior performance in terms of firing speed and accuracy, but the need for a separate air tank can be off-putting for some players due to the added weight and complexity.

Each of these types of airsoft guns offers a unique experience, and the choice largely depends on your personal preference, your role in the game, and the game style.

What Happens When You Get Hit in Airsoft?

As we mentioned above, when you play airsoft, a reasonable amount of sportsmanship is required. Because of this, there are certain things you need to do when you get hit to make the game run smoothly and ensure a fair outcome.

Alerting Other Players

Unlike paintball, there’s no real way of knowing that you’ve been hit with plastic BBs unless you tell someone, and that’s exactly what you’re supposed to do. The type of hit will determine how you’re expected to respond according to basic airsoft rules.

  • A direct hit – when you receive a direct hit from another airsoft player, you will have to act ‘dead’ or ‘down’, so you won’t be able to shoot for a specific period of time, or you’ll be out of the game (depending on the type of match you’re playing).
  • A gun hit – taking a hit on your weapon doesn’t mean you’re out, but in the name of sportsmanship, most games require that you acknowledge these hits.
  • Stealth kills – If you’re stealth killed in airsoft (by an opposing player placing their hand on your shoulder), you don’t need to shout ‘hit’. Instead, you simply stay in place with your ‘death flag’ or return to the respawn spot.
Airsoft Equipment
What is Airsoft? A Beginner's Guide to the Sport

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Leaving the Field

If the game you’re playing requires you to return to a respawn spot to re-enter the game after being eliminated, you need to take care when leaving the field. 

The easiest way to leave the field without taking a barrage of extra shots is to display your ‘death flag’ and have your weapons holstered. This signals to other players that you’re not a threat or an active target.

To Respawn or Not to Respawn

The respawn rules will depend on the type of game you’re playing. Unlike paintball, where once you’re out, you’re out, airsoft games allow you to re-enter the game after a period of time. 

Once hit, you’ll be required to return to a respawn spot and wait for a predetermined amount of time, or you’ll have to remain in place until a ‘medic’ revives you.

Airsoft Camo
What is Airsoft? A Beginner's Guide to the Sport

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Get Kitted Out for Your First Airsoft Battle at Socom Tactical

Being prepared for an airsoft battle means understanding the game rules, respecting the field and other players, choosing the right airsoft gun, and knowing what to do when hit. Here at Socom, we offer a wide range of equipment and advice to help you get started on your airsoft journey.

Get yourself kitted out with all the safety equipment and airsoft replicas from SoCom Tactical and immerse yourself in the thrilling world of airsoft warfare.

Why not check out our airsoft blog for more information about airsoft in the UK?


About Laurence

Laurence is a keen airsoft player and has been the owner of SoCom Tactical for over 10 years. He’s played airsoft all over the country solo and as part of teams and is an expert on all things airsoft, like tactics, airsoft guns and gameplay equipment. As one of the UK’s leading airsoft suppliers and retailers, Laurence is the go-to source for airsoft knowledge.