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Airsoft is an extreme sport with game play that involves military-like strategy and tactics. Players wield airsoft handguns or rifles that shoot small plastic pellets (up to .25 caliber) using either a spring or compressed gas. There are many pros and cons to playing airsoft. Whether airsoft is the right sport for you or your child depends on many factors, including pain tolerance and the ability to distinguish fantasy from reality.
Airsoft involves real-life game play that is performed in a variety of different landscapes. With the exception of free-for-all games, airsoft tournaments and competitions require planning and structure. Airsoft teams often designate different positions for each player, including leadership, scouting and infantry positions. Each players must follow the instruction of the team leader and cooperate with other players. This type of game play teaches players discipline, team work and tactical skills that are useful in other sports and everyday life.
Unlike video games and other sedentary activities, airsoft requires the use of a player's entire body. Airsoft game play often includes running, crawling, crouching and hiking. Some extreme versions of airsoft also require the climbing of ropes, ladders and trees. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 150 minutes of activity a week reduces the risk of developing a chronic disease.
Some airsoft guns can launch pellets in excess of 500fps. The risk of injury while playing airsoft is significant, though the risk of serious injury can be reduced if proper steps are taken. All players should wear safety goggles rated for the velocity of the guns used during game play at all times. Padded clothing and protective armor can be used to protect skin and sensitive areas of the body, such as the ears, groin and extremities. If safety gear is not used, or if it is used improperly, bodily injury may occur. Typical airsoft injuries include broken skin and minor to severe bruising.
While airsoft can be a fun and rewarding sport, it is imperative that all players have a firm grounding in reality. Airsoft weapons are often identical replicas of real-world guns, and many have realistic blow-back action to simulate the firing of an actual firearm. Young children may be incapable of adequately distinguishing between the fantasy of airsoft and the reality of firearms. A child that is incapable of understanding the difference between a real gun and an airsoft gun may carelessly handle a real weapon and discharge it at himself or others.
- Airsoft Scene image by DanielC from Fotolia.com