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airsoft-safety-guide

Airsoft
Safety Guide

Airsoft is a popular sport for leisure and competition that’s regularly enjoyed by players all over the UK. As you would expect from mock-combat activities - involving ever-more sophisticated equipment and backdrops – health and safety requirements are strenuously enforced and vitally important.

Ethical airsoft suppliers and game organisers understand that there is a strong connection between protecting players from harm and maximising the enjoyment of the sport. Meanwhile, responsible players invest time in ensuring their own safety, and the safety of others, by being aware of how to play safely. When it comes to airsoft safety, it’s important to be aware of one central theme. That being that airsoft guns have the potential to cause real injury, and so many of the control measures are the same as for any other gun! It’s therefore crucial to play responsibly and to follow the safety guidelines so that the sport can be safe and enjoyable for everyone involved.

The Basic Safety Rules Of Airsoft

Airsoft venues will usually have their own rules and guidelines to ensure safe play which are usually displayed at highly visible locations, and which participants must read before signing into a game. Many organisers will also provide a verbal safety briefing before battle commences.

It’s important to familiarise yourself with any rules set out by an airsoft site you are playing at. And whether you are an airsoft beginner or an experienced player, careful study of all safety instructions and rules at each venue as they can vary from site to site.

In addition, there are some basic rules that all players should follow, which include:

1. Take Time To Familiarise Yourself With Your Gun And Its Features

Being familiar with your gun is fundamental to airsoft and an important step in helping to keep yourself and other players safe. It’s important to know how to load and unload your weapon, how to fire, how to change firing modes and how to operate the safety setting. Learning about how your gun works will help to reduce risks during games and mean that you are likely to become aware of any issues that arise more quickly. It also helps you to understand how to address these issues.

2. Wear Protective Equipment Even Before And After A Skirmish

Safety equipment is designed for a purpose and that is to keep you safe! Of course, during a game of airsoft you should wear safety equipment at all times including eye, head and face protection as a minimum. However, it’s also important to be protected both before and after a game. You never know when accidents might happen and if there are stray shots, or players who get their timings wrong, not having the right protection in place could leave you vulnerable to injury. It’s recommended to always keep protective airsoft gear in place until you are well clear of the game area and all weapons are put down.

3. Listen To Staff Safety Instructions And Game Boundaries Carefully

Whenever you are playing airsoft, it is important to listen to site staff and marshalls and follow any instructions they may give you. This is to ensure the safety of all players so that airsoft can be enjoyed by everyone involved. It is likely that staff are experienced in running games to be as safe as possible, and so any instructions or requests they may have are intended to reduce risk and used for a good reason. You must also always respect site boundaries so that shots are not fired outside of the designated area.

4. Only Point Your Airsoft Weapon At Credible Targets When You Are Ready To Fire

Good muzzle control is fundamental to airsoft safety. You should never point your weapon at anyone or anything unless you intend to shoot, and that should be only at a target or other player during a game. When you are not shooting, make sure your gun is aimed at the floor and away from others, with your finger clear from the trigger, so that any risk of accidental fire is greatly reduced.

5. Only Load Your Weapon Just Prior To Games Starting; Keep It Unloaded At All Other Times

Unless you are actively involved in a game, there is no reason to keep your weapon loaded. An unloaded weapon cannot fire pellets accidentally, and so by ensuring that your airsoft gun is not loaded and is clear of all pellets outside of the game area, potential accidents can be avoided.

6. Don’t Rely On The Safety Mechanism To Avoid Accidents

While airsoft guns have built in safety mechanisms to prevent accidental firing, you should not rely solely on these to keep yourself and others safe. Safety mechanisms should be regarded as an additional layer of protection on top of good practice. They can sometimes fail, or players may think their weapon’s safety is on when it is not, and so while it is important to always use the safety, it should not be a substitute for equipment being correctly handled.

7. Do Not Alter Or Adjust Your Airsoft Equipment Without Experience Or Assistance

One of the things a lot of players enjoy about airsoft is upgrading and customising their guns. However, if you are not experienced in airsoft tech and custom work you should always seek assistance when upgrading a weapon. If not carried out correctly, upgrades or changes to the gun could go wrong, and errors may not always be immediately visible. As well as damaging your valuable equipment, this can result in a weapon that is dangerous and risks injury to yourself and others.

8. Only Use Good Quality Ammunition That Is Suitable For Your Gun

When playing airsoft you should ensure that you are using the right kind of ammunition for your gun. Never use metal pellets designed for BB guns as these can not only damage your equipment but can also lead to injury. Poor quality airsoft pellets should also be avoided, as these can shatter on impact causing shrapnel injury to players. For the safest airsoft experience, source good quality airsoft ammunition from a reputable supplier.

9. If Your Gun Fails, Take Time To Safely Address The Issue Or Ask For Assistance

If your weapon fails during a game then it is advisable to switch to a secondary gun or airsoft sidearm. Other than attempting some simple fixes such as changing the battery or unloading the magazine, you should leave repairs until you are safely clear of the combat area. If you are unsure about issues with your equipment, always ask for assistance from an experienced tech to ensure problems are addressed correctly and safely.

10. Keep Your Gun Clean, Dry And Away From Extreme Temperatures

Part of being a responsible airsoft player means taking proper care of your equipment. Not only will it enhance your enjoyment of the sport by providing greater accuracy and reliability, but will also mean that equipment operates safely. Extreme temperatures and conditions can cause damage, which sometimes cannot easily be seen. Extreme conditions can also increase wear and tear which means components can fail more quickly than expected. Always ensure your gun is empty before leaving the game area and clean your barrel after each use, then safely store guns somewhere they will stay dry and not be subjected to extremes in temperature.

Airsoft Safety Equipment

Before participating in airsoft it is highly recommended to invest in protective safety equipment. The basic equipment requirements of most airsoft events are safety glasses or goggles to protect the eyes of participants. This must only be impact-resistant eyewear designed for ballistic situations, not goggles manufactured for other purposes.

Also, many events and airsoft game providers insist on the use of ear defenders during games, as well as clothing that covers arms and legs to avoid direct contact between airsoft ammunition and skin.

Airsoft Protective Equipment For The Whole Body

Eyes

Impact resistant glasses or goggles protect the eyes from pellets

Face

Masks or balaclavas protect the face, particularly around the nose and mouth

Ears

Ear defenders protect against potential serious injuries from a pellet entering the ear as well as noise damage

Head

Helmets or other headwear resistant to impact protect the head

Body

Vests can be equipped with plates to protect the upper body

Hands

Tough, impact absorbing gloves protect the hands from injury

Knees & Elbows

Knee and elbow pads project joints from injury, either from pellets or contact with the ground

Arms & Legs

Clothing that fully covers the arms and legs in durable material protects the skin from injury

Feet & Ankles

Tactical or combat boots protect the feet and guard against injury on rough terrain

Airsoft Gun Maintenance

Gun maintenance is an essential part of enjoying airsoft. As well as the safety aspects, it also helps your equipment perform at its best for as long as possible. There are various types of airsoft guns which use different types of firing systems. This includes manual spring firing guns, gas powered airsoft guns as well as battery-powered AEGs.

The important thing to keep in mind is that many resemble a real gun not just in their aesthetics! They have the capacity to cause serious injury. This is why airsoft is sometimes used for military simulation and training exercises.

One of the most important aspects of airsoft safety is to store your gun appropriately and securely, preferably in a locked cabinet. This ensures it can’t be accessed by a child or unauthorised adult. Also, it should be regularly cleaned and checked, as per the individual manufacturer’s instructions. Advanced airsoft players sometimes customise their guns, which can include adding performance aids such as airsoft scopes, sights and flashlights – or to personalise the appearance of their equipment. Please keep in mind that any alterations should be matched to manufacturer's recommendations and restrictions, and within the sport’s allowable enhancement list. For example, unsuitable lasers and flashlights to dazzle opponents are often discouraged and in some cases outlawed if the laser is powerful enough to represent a danger to eyesight!

The basic rule of thumb is to understand the risk and research your equipment and events. Then, stay alert to the potential for harm, and thoroughly enjoy this exciting sport safe in the knowledge that you are protecting yourself and others. If you are unsure about any aspect of equipment maintenance or modification, you should contact an experienced professional, such as a member of the team here at Land Warrior, who will be happy to help you.

Airsoft Regulations

In the UK, guns (including imitation firearms) are carefully regulated and controlled. It is vital to note that some airsoft guns are deemed realistic imitation firearms (RIFs) making their sale, manufacture, or importation illegal under the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006. However, it is legal to own and sell replica airsoft guns so long as certain criteria are met. Before getting started in the sport it’s worth taking the time to learn about the laws and regulations that apply to airsoft in the UK.

Another aspect to be aware of is that many airsoft venues have their own specific regulations, rules and limits. Part of these will most likely focus on the relative velocity of the guns used. Each gameplay situation could involve thoroughly checking this – using a chronograph to measure in feet per second (FPS) – before the competition begins.

Allowable velocity or kinetic energy can vary between different fields of play. Much depends on the likelihood of an airsoft pellet doing damage, which can be impacted by both the power of the gun and the range of the shot. In playing areas with limited space where it’s likely most shots will be fired from closer range, such as indoor venues, the potential for injury becomes greater so allowable velocity may be reduced to compensate.

Registered Retailers & Game Sites

Protecting yourself as an airsoft participant starts with only engaging with credible organisations. This means playing at well-organised and managed sites and purchasing equipment from properly validated suppliers.

Most retailers of airsoft equipment and operators of game sites are registered with the United Kingdom Airsoft Retailer Association (UKARA). Checking the approval of companies via this body is an excellent idea.

Why should you only buy airsoft equipment from validated sources? Clearly, faulty equipment and poor quality ammunition are hazardous to both other players and yourself! For instance, inferior plastic ammunition can splinter on firing or impact, creating a serious risk of injury. Buying from respected airsoft suppliers ensures that you use the correct ammunition for your particular make and model of airsoft gun.

Playing at a well-managed airsoft site means that there will be safety precautions and guidelines in place. There should be sufficient staff on hand with the necessary experience to ensure games run smoothly and safely. From having clearly marked combat and safe areas, to restrictions on the power of weapons used, to management of player numbers - playing at a professionally operated site means a safe and enjoyable airsoft experience for all involved.