Airsoft in its modern day form started back in the early 80s in Asia. It grew in popularity there very quickly to the point that today there are thousands of players comprising thousands of different teams throughout the continent.
Airsoft is a combat tag sport similar to paintball, except that the projectiles leave no actual mark upon impact. Airsoft devices or replicas are 1:1 scale models of real world firearms and players will often also invest in a similar BDU(Battle Dress Uniform) to the armies which use their chosen replica style ie: M4 with an American style BDU, AK-series with Russian, G36 with German.
Airsoft devices fire a 6mm spherical plastic pellet which typically weighs 0.2grams and is commonly referred to as a “BB”. As mentioned, this BB does not leave a mark on impact with the target, hence the sport operates on an honour basis. That is to say, that when you are shot you raise your arm in the air, shout “HIT!”, and proceed to follow the directions for getting hit as determined by the game scenario and set out in the brief given at the start of the game.
One of the most common remarks made when people first hear about airsoft is that the pellets must really hurt when they hit you. The truth is that it is no worse than getting a stiff flick to exposed skin and in the vast majority of cases the BB will leave no marks whatsoever. If fired from extremely close range on exposed skin, they can leave a very small bruise or may crack the skin very slightly but that is the worst case scenario. Unlike paintball, YOU WILL NOT BE BLACK AND BLUE AFTER A DAY OF AIRSOFTING.
The reason for this is that the legal limit for the muzzle energy of airsoft replicas as laid out in the Criminal Justice Act 2006 is 1 joule. Now that term means very little to the vast majority of people but to put it into perspective, 1 joule is the same kinetic energy held in a tennis ball as it hits the ground after falling from a height of 1 metre. In airsoft terms, this translates to a 0.2g BB travelling at a maximum speed of 100 metres per second as it leaves the barrel of the device. This energy level has been scientifically shown to be incapable of causing a penetrating wound, even to vulnerable areas of the body such as the eye. (This does not, however, mean that it will not cause temporary damage to the eye and eye protection is mandatory at all times when using airsoft devices.)
The sport is growing at an incredible rate in this country at the moment. The number of sites and retailers is increasing rapidly as is the number of players. This is a trend that we are delighted to see and one which we hope will continue. However, it does lead us on to the key point which will ensure the future of the sport – and that point is responsibility! Responsible behaviour is the most important factor in airsoft. As mentioned earlier, Airsoft device are scale replicas of real world firearms.
When we say they are scale replicas, we mean that if you were to place an Airsoft replica beside its real steel counterpart and try to tell the difference, you woud need to be an expert to do it. On account of this fact it is imperative that these devices are handled responsibly and stored, transported and used in such a manner as not to cause alarm to anyone else who may see them. Any manner of use or storage which causes alarm to any member of the public, intentional or otherwise, can be classed as assault and prosecuted as such. With the enactment of the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act of 2009, it is now a criminal offence to brandish an Airsoft device in public. This is legislation that the IAA fully supported.
More importantly, An Garda Siochana will treat any replica firearm as the real thing! This is also a stance which the IAA fully supports.
Airsoft as a sport is suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels and attracts people from all nationalities. It promotes social interaction and is the source of great cross-border community spirit on account of regular games played both north and south of the border. It is a sport which can be as mentally challenging as it is physically challenging. It has been shown many times in this sport that youth will have a hard time beating experience, as having a tactical edge and good teamwork will always win out over the ability to run fast. It encourages teamwork, builds friendships, helps us rediscover the great outdoors and is above all great fun – so why not take a look at some of our affiliated venues and give it a go?