Tactical Military Simulation Sport
Airsoft is a modern combat sport or recreational hobby in which participants eliminate opponents by hitting each other with spherical non-metallic pellets launched from a compressed-air gun (or Soft Air gun) powered by gas, manual spring-load, or an electrically powered gearbox.
Airsoft participants organize meetings, either indoors or outdoors, at dedicated airsoft battlefields to play a variety of games ranging from short-term skirmishes, organized scenarios, military simulations, or historical reenactments.
Combat situations on the battlefield often involve the use of common military tactics to achieve the objectives set in each game. Participants typically use varying types of weaponry designed as replicas of real firearms, tactical gear, and accessories used by modern military and police organizations.
The Honour System
Airsoft play employs an honor system whereby the players rely on each others’ honesty to admit to being hit, because unlike paintballs, plastic pellets do not leave a surface mark distinguishable at a distance. While airsoft pellets that contain paint do exist, they are very rarely used by serious players due to their ineffectiveness and tendency to damage some airsoft equipment.
Depending on the muzzle velocity of the gun and distance from the shooter, the person on the receiving end of a shot will usually feel the impact, but the pellets may sometimes not be felt by a player at very long ranges, when distracted, or when running strenuously. Hence, marshals or referees are important to fair game play. Nevertheless, honest admission of hits is still required because it is impractical to monitor what happens to every player on the playing field.
To avoid unnecessary disputes that disrupt the game, players are discouraged from calling out hits on an opponent, but are expected to signal a marshal to judge how effectively they have hit their opponent. Simulated ‘knife kills’ can, at the venue’s discretion, be recognized when a player touches or taps an unaware opponent. This prevents the player being forced to shoot him or her at point-blank range. Similarly, a ‘courtesy kill’ occurs when a player refrains from shooting an opponent at close range while enforcing that opponent’s surrender. Players are usually prohibited from firing blindly when not able to see their target, especially around corners. Players are expected to avoid the shooting of an opponent who has already admitted to being hit. Harsh language and forceful physical contact between players is strongly discouraged and even penalized. Players are expected to resolve disputes politely and with proper decorum.
All airsoft players are required and expected to acknowledge being hit even if they are in doubt. Those who acknowledge being hit are generally expected to do the following: (1) shout “I’m hit” loudly, and (2) raise their hand or gun high and/or display a ‘hit indicator’ while walking back to the safe zone. A hit indicator can be either a bright-colored cloth during daytime or a blinker or mini-flashlight when in dim light or darkness. Dishonest players who fail to follow the rules or acknowledge their hits run the risk of being labeled and ostracized by the local airsoft community. From then on they will be observed more carefully by the marshals, or possibly even be banned from playing in the area.
Another form of cheating occurs when an active player gains an unfair advantage by pretending to be an already-hit player in order to avoid being shot. During night games, active players have been known to turn on their blinker lights to move casually and then to turn them off for combat. Cheating also takes place when an eliminated player reactivates himself within the same game without permission from a marshal. Players can also gain an unfair advantage by spontaneously joining a game (without authorization) some time long after the game has already started, thus being in fresh condition and in a position to surprise their opponents.
Due to the nature of the honor system, many feel airsoft requires high moral values and honesty to play well without the need for distinguishing hit marks or strict marshal’s calls.