Airsoft Information

Airsoft is a team-based sport in which player will shoot round plastic pellets or BB's at each other to eliminate the opposing players. The weapons that are used are replicas of real guns, often referred to as RIF's or replica imitation firearms. Sometimes compared to paintball, airsoft leaves far less damage on the player, only leaving small marks in most cases and heavily relies on the gentleman's agreement or “honour system” for taking themselves out of the game. 

History

With its origins in Japan in the early 1970s airsoft began with an enthusiastic model maker Ichiro Nagata who wanted to make model guns that could shoot projectiles but not kill. This gave birth to the “soft air gun” this allowed gun enthusiast to use them whilst adhering to Japans strict gun laws. The name airsoft comes from the first propellants used, compressed silicon oil and later propane oil or “green gas”. First designed for target shooting airsoft quickly gained popularity with wargames “survival games” as they could be used without causing significant injury. In the late 1980s, airsoft guns arrived on the shores of the UK, the first guns were sold as DIY kits are required to be assembled.

Gameplay

The gameplay and sites can vary massively from realistic military simulations “mil-sim's” in sprawling forest locations, with them often having strict rules to follow regarding magazine capacity and life count, as well as this there can be a ranking system similar to the military. Alongside these games can usually span more than one day. As well as mil-sims there are the more casual environments, such as woodland or other outdoor locations, the woodland game will often have more players and bigger battles and more use of the woodland terrain to outplay other teams. Indoor airsoft is a much faster-paced affair, with tight corners and players waiting to ambush these game types tend to have small amounts of players and use a variety of props to simulate different game types.

Airsoft guns

They are feed in the same way their real-world counterparts are most use a magazine whilst some use shells or even have real bullets for closer accuracy. Most are powered by a battery and spring system using a gearbox to move a piston back and compressing a spring that upon trigger pull to release its energy to a nozzle and cause air compression then fires out the projectile these are often referred to as AEG's or Airsoft Electric Guns. As well as the spring systems there are propellants such as compressed air, these guns are typically used by more experienced players are they are more expensive and require more advanced knowledge to set up and maintain. Whilst most will have spring rifles nearly all with have gas-powered pistols be it with c02 canisters or with “green gas” these rely on a store of compressed gas to be released and fire the guns.

Hop-up

Hop-up are installed in most modern airsoft guns off the shelf, the hop-up system is used to create extra range to the projectiles by adding backspin to them. The system comprises of a small rubber nub in the barrel that the top of the bb will catch as it leaves the barrel of the gun. Making fine adjustments to this nub by making it protrude more or less will result in more backspin respectively.  This backspin is used to stop the bb diving to the ground too early or flying up into the air to soon, adjustments are made to get this to the desired point where the bb will fly straight for as long as possible. The most commonplace for the hop-up dials to be present are in the ejection ports of the gun so that the player can adjust them on the fly during a game if necessary.

Safety

Safety is one of the key parts of airsofting and is usually the emphasis of the player holding a loaded gun, so if you have a gun that could hurt someone in your hands your are responsible for it. Airsofters treat guns like they are same as real guns, taking extra caution to make sure that in the safe areas the gun has its magazine remove, if they have a barrel sock it is used. Most sites will insist that you remove the magazine and fire a few shots to make sure that the gun is clear before entering into any safe areas. As well as making the guns safe players are required to wear eye protection, this is because although they will not kill you they could easily cause loss of sight if a bb were to hit you in the eye.

Lower face protection for mouth and nose is optional, most players do wear this but there are a few who prefer not and risk their teeth with this. As well as making sure its safe to remove eye protection every player's weapon will undergo the same test before they are allowed to participate in the days' games, this is done using a chronograph, this often referred to as chrono or chronoing this will check that the gun they are using and the weight of the bb fall within the tolerance of the sites FPS limits. 

FPS limits in the UK

Depending on where you play some sites will have a varying limit to the Feet Per Second rule. But the most common limits are shown in the table below.

Rate of Fire Joules FPS 0.2g BB
Fully-Automactic 1.14j 350fps
Semi-Automactic 1.68j 425fps
Single Fire (bolt action) 2.32j 500fps

These will sit below the legal limits outline by the Policing and Crime bill on the 31st of January 2017 anything over the limits set out below would be classed a firearm and be a prohibited weapon and also carry a section 5 offence.

Rate of Fire Joules FPS 0.2g BB
Fully-Automactic 1.3j 375fps
Semi-Automactic 2.5j 520fps
Single Fire (bolt action) 2.5j 520fps

As all of the above guidance is done to limited variables to show consistent data that can be used to measure power and FPS. As many airsofters have different preferences in wight of projectile bb the below table takes the formula

J = 0.5 x m x v2

Joules (J) = 0.5 x the mass (m) of the bb (kg) x the speed squared (v2)

 

The chart shown below can be used to give rough guidance on FPS for varying weights of bb's this is a rough guide as there are many other factors such wind ect that can cause changes in the values and this would be if the gun was fired in a controlled environment. So take these with a pinch of salt and ensure you always well within the legal limits.

Velocity Energy in Joules
FPS .20gm .23gm .25gm .28gm .30gm .33gm .38gm .43gm .45gm
250 0.58 0.67 0.73 0.81 0.87 0.96 1.1 1.25 1.31
260 0.63 0.72 0.79 0.88 0.94 1.04 1.19 1.35 1.41
270 0.68 0.78 0.58 0.95 1.02 1.12 1.29 1.46 1.52
280 0.73 0.84 0.91 1.02 1.09 1.2 1.38 1.57 1.64
290 0.78 0.9 0.98 1.09 1.17 1.29 1.48 1.68 1.76
300 0.84 0.96 1.05 1.02 1.25 1.38 1.59 1.8 1.88
310 0.89 1.03 1.12 1.17 1.34 1.47 1.7 1.92 2.01
320 0.95 1.09 1.19 1.25 1.43 1.57 1.81 2.05 2.14
328 1 1.15 1.25 1.33 1.5 1.65 1.9 2.15 2.25
335 1.04 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.56 1.72 1.98 2.24 2.35
340 1.07 1.24 1.34 1.46 1.61 1.77 2.04 2.31 2.45
345 1.11 1.27 1.38 1.5 1.66 1.82 2.1 2.38 2.49
350 1.14 1.31 1.42 1.55 1.71 1.88 2.16 2.45 2.56
355 1.17 1.35 1.46 1.59 1.76 1.93 2.22 2.52 2.63
360 1.2 1.38 1.51 1.64 1.81 1.99 2.29 2.59 2.71
365 1.24 1.42 1.55 1.69 1.86 2.04 2.35 2.66 2.78
370 1.27 1.46 1.59 1.73 1.91 2.1 2.42 2.73 2.86
375 1.31 1.5 1.63 1.78 1.96 2.16 2.48 2.81 2.94
380 1.34 1.54 1.68 1.83 2.01 2.21 2.55 2.88 3.02

As well as the legal limits regulations are surrounding the purchasing of airsoft replicas because as they are replicas they can look intimidating as mistaken as real guns. For this, there was a group formed in response to the 2006 violent crimes reduction to enable the safe method of selling RIF's to UK airsoft players.

UKARA or The United Kingdom Airsoft Retailers Association are in place to help protect and also legitimise purchases of RIF's in the UK, they do this by having retailers on their database and also players. When a player has played the required amount of games in a given period 3 games in 3 months, they are then added to the register and should they wish to purchase a RIF a retailer can then check that they are a legitimate player before selling to them.