Before I go any further, I need to mention something about buying your own airsoft gun. As long as you’re over 18, you can buy an airsoft gun in the UK. However, most sites online and many private sellers need buyers to have a UKARA license. This is simply a system that allows retailers to quickly check that you are in fact an airsofter and not some gun buying loon. You can gain a UKARA license by joining a site and playing at that site three times in as many months. Once this has happened you can grab a UKARA form. Fill in your details, get the site to stamp it and then send it off to Zero One and you’ll be all set. Your site should help you out with this and if not, there is a ton of stuff online.
Another point to make is about the police. To the untrained eye, airsoft guns look like real steel guns. Therefore, don’t be an idiot – running round the street with you M4 with probably end up with a firearms officer screaming in your face or potentially worse. Therefore, carry guns to and from sites in gun bags with all magazines or shells unloaded. If the police stop you, be sensible, follow directions they give you and whatever you say, try to avoid saying “gun”.
Types of Site
First up, what type of site have you gone to? Well, airsoft sites are split into two types.
The first is Woodland. Woodland sites are like your standard paintball site, usually big tracts of woodland. They may have some buildings but most of the cover consists of bushes, trees and other natural features as opposed to man-made structures. They are more about range and concealment than urban sites. The sites are also larger than many urban sites, which can mean a long walk to and from the combat zone.
Urban is a totally different beast. The sites are often abandoned industrial buildings or in certain cases actual military FIBUA training areas. These sites are a combination of indoor and outdoor with abandoned offices and houses as well as areas with long sight ranges. CQB sites require shorter weapons with the enclosed corridors as well as very different tactics. It more of a team focused affair requiring proper military CQB tactics to clear corridors and rooms. The action is more intense than woodland but its less friendly to snipers and it guarantees that players will be hit repeatedly. Personally I prefer Urban but there are fewer sites in the UK.
Airsoft games massively vary. Sites throughout the day will run different games from simple attack and defends to vip protection to the simple speedball style. Each of these will be explained on the day
Some games will also include a medic rule. This is simple – generally, when you take a hit, stand up with your hand in the air and wait 60 seconds. If by the end of that time no one has come and revived you, then head back to the rally point. Some sites will change up the rules so listen during the safety briefing at the start for everything.
Another rule that often turns up is what’s known as the “bang rule”. This is based around close quarters fight. Two players at close quarters who could have the chance to shoot each can instead simply say back up like gentlemen instead of shooting each other at close range. Most of the sites I go to don’t use these rules – instead if you surprise someone, you can get them to surrender. If they don’t take it, blast them. Additionally close quarters means you can use a rubber knife. Or a spatula.
A Few Hints
- At the start of the day, make sure you get payed in sharpish.
- Listen to the safety brief. This is vital
- Before you run out onto the field, make sure you have spare mags, batteries for any AEGs, speedloaders and anything else you need.
- TAKE YOUR HITS. This is vital in order to make the games fun for everyone involved. If someone next to you taps you on the shoulder and says you’ve been hit, listen to them. If you don’t take hits, you give the other team an excuse not to take hits.
- Between games, player will probably have their guns lying around. If you interested in one, simply ask its owner if you can take a look. Airsofters are normally decent people but always ask.
- If you have a radio, don’t use it to listen in to the other team’s comms. Its just not cricket.
- Don’t be a dick
So You’re Interested In All This Then?
Well then, let me give you a few more pieces of advice. I recommend you find a local site first and try going along to a few games renting. Get known at the site and get used to the sport. Alternatively, find a group of other airsofters. This works best at places like uni where you have it as a club but find other airsofters. A good place to look is http://www.zeroin.co.uk, a UK forum. Its full of helpful people (although like all parts of the internet it also has its dicks) who will guide on getting started. It also has a huge list of classified ads so you can pick up guns cheap once you have UKARA. The main point with airsoft is to be social, make friends and have a good time. I’m part of Teesside University’s Airsoft Club so if you’re coming to Teesside or are already there but haven’t joined up, join the club and have a laugh.
That’s my introduction finished. I’ll have some more articles up in the future about some stuff but this should be a good taster guide to airsoft which hopefully gives you a grounding in it. Have fun and don’t forget to slay some bodies.
Photos thanks to Denis Chernov and Optac UK