After the foundation and boom of paintball in America, the Japanese speculated how to react. Their answer was a sport called airsoft. Thus, in this essay I would like to introduce it and explain what is it all about.
Let us firstly zoom in the history of airsoft. As mentioned before, its country of origin is Japan. The game itself it very new, I presume - from the end of the last century. It presents the Japanese need of sport similar to paintball. Paintball is an outdoor game with two teams that use special gas weapons to either shoot all the opponents out or at least capture their flag. The most interesting thing is the ammunition – small balls containing paint that can easily “convict” the killed man. The only problem that Japanese had with paintball was the very high price of weapons, as well as that of the balls. So they determined to use smaller balls, made of pure plastic (with no paint). These are much cheaper (the price is up to 10 times lower). The next thing I would like to discuss is the equipment used for airsoft. To continue the topic about the shots, the size Japanese stopped at is the contemporary size of balls – 6 millimeters. These bullets soon got the abbreviation BB, but I am not sure about the meaning. Their weight can vary – from 0.12 grams, through the most common 0.20 and 0.25, up to 0.35 g. They are mostly white, but sometimes yellow or other bright color can be used, as well. As to the weapons that airsoft deals with, they are divided into three main groups: manual, gas and electric. Manuals have to be tensed after each shot. That is very slow and prolegomenous and therefore they are produced and used mainly as small, reserve guns. Rarely a longer rifle or submachine gun can be seen in a manual version. Gas weapons shoot more bullets one after another, but are not often, since they are very defective. Most popular are the electric weapons, also called AEGs (airsoft electric guns). They shoot many balls about, with a cadence from 60 up to 600 shots in a minute. However, their price is high, too. The lowest AEG value is $300 plus costs for a battery or two and a charger, which is quite a lot in comparison with that of a manual (starting at $25). Though, it is lower than that of paintball guns. When comparing both these types of weapons, it would be reasonable to mention also another differences.
Due to heavier ammunition, paintball guns need much more storage place, as well as greater shooting power. Therefore they have a very big magazine for balls at the top and a similar, but for gas, at the bottom. The gun then looks like a Star Wars weapon and is very incompact and weighty. On the other hand, airsoft guns are perfect imitations of real weapons. After the gun with bullet, an airsoft player needs many protective items. Most relevant are the goggles, which have to be very hard and strong. The ball flies with a speed of up to 150 meters in a second, which can be very harmful to human eyes. From a normal distance, the shot does not hurt as much as when the weapon is upgraded or the distance shorter. Then the pain increases rapidly and for close combats (e.g. in buildings) it is useful to protect also other parts of the body. Those are the knuckles, nails, ears and lips, which can hurt quite a lot. Many “soldiers” use hoods in a combination with masks for the whole face. The next part of the airsoft equipment is the - usually military – clothing. It can be adjusted to camouflage in woodland, desert, snow or “concrete jungle”. And there many other devices used when playing airsoft: walkie – talkies, night goggles, knives, pyrotechnics, … All these make it much more interesting, maybe because they are rarely used in paintball and therefore more “demanded”.
Airsoft is a sport that was created as a cheaper form of the paintball sport. However, it became at least as much popular as paintball, due to its many advantages mentioned before.