5 Things to consider when getting into airsoft
Getting into any hobby can be a big enough minefield as it is let alone a hobby that is fragmented as airsoft – with Milsim, speedsoft, sci-softers and chairsofters to name a few of the divisions under the plastic slinging umbrella it’s hard to know what is really needed when you are getting started. Here we are going to take a look at our top 5 things to consider when getting into the hobby.
Do I need to go straight out and buy a rifle/pistol?
The short answer to this is NO – Almost all sites in the UK have guns for hire (no not mercenaries!) for new players or customers who do not have their own equipment to use. Nine times out of ten these will be the good old fashion G36c (an assault-style rifle more commonly seen at airports or in the hands of police in TV dramas). The site staff will be able to host you at their games with some face and eye protection (normally a full face mesh mask) a rifle and a high-cap (high capacity) magazine – This will normally hold around 300 bbs and should be enough for the whole game (unless you are a trigger happy Rambo type but that is for another blog post!).
We would advise going to a few sites and hiring equipment to get a feel of the game. This will give you a chance to understand a bit more about the game and also if you really want to get involved. There is nothing worse than spending a whole bunch of money on equipment for a new hobby, going to take part and then finding out that this really isnt for you. Once you have played a few times and got a feel for the sport you then might like to invest some money into your own equipment.
How much should I expect to spend when buying a rifle?
A sensible budget for someone getting into the hobby would be around the £250 mark – with a rifle being in the £150 area and giving you some change left over to get some batteries, a charger and maybe an extra magazine or two – Some shops offer some great bundle deals so you might be able to get a deal depending on where you shop. Be aware that if you do not have a defence (UKARA or similar) then the rifle or pistol will need to be two-toned. If you are not happy with running around with a blue, green or red gun then you might want to go and get the correct defence before parting with your hard earned money. Most sites and reputable airsoft shops will be able to help you obtain the right defence.
One of the most important and commonly overlooked thing in airsoft is Eye Protection – If we simplify the hobby down we are shooting solid plastic ball bearings at each other and if one of those connected with your soft, squishy eye…. Well, I don’t need to go on. Make sure you are getting the best eye protection that you can afford – at the end of the day you only have two eyes and that is all you are getting… there are no returns and no replacements. We always find it odd when people will spend £500 on a rifle and then scrimp and spend £9.99 on eye protection – surely this should be more the other way around.
Ask your local airsoft shop or site what they recommend, they should have good knowledge of the hobby and should be able to guide you to eye and face protection that works for you. There are lots of great options out there from full face paintball style masks (made by Valken or Dye) to more low profile shooting/ballistic glasses (made by Bolle, Pyramex).
Plate carriers, chest rigs, dye elbow and knee pads?
Some players will head out to their local surplus or airsoft store and will kit themselves out from head to toe in ballistic armour, enough mag pouches to carry 300 magazines of 10 different calibres and multiple camouflages from various conflicts across the globe – is this necessary? No, not at all! Don’t get us wrong its cool as hell to get kitted up in all the gear and head out to an imaginary plastic war with your brothers in arms but its not a must to take part.
One of the first things you will notice when you get onto the site and you look across the player scape is the wide range of different types and choices of equipment. You can have a German WW2 soldier chatting with a Scifi space ninja and an Afghan special operator (complete with thick operator beard). There is no wrong or right here – where what you like and what works for you. Emersion and roleplay is a big part in airsoft so embrace it… or not, it’s your choice!
The world of airsoft is littered with accessories – If you want a grip or grenade launcher to be at any position of the clock on the front, back or even side of your rifle… I’m sure there is an accessory for that! This is the bit that is completely down to you (the user) an again like the above point there is no wrong or right way of doing things. Of course, there are practical reasons for some accessories – If you are going to be playing inside a building or in a dark site then you might want to consider things like tactical lights and lasers.