How to Play Airsoft – The Definitive Guide

  • Updated February 14th, 2023

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If you and your friends are looking to get as close to military-style play as possible, airsoft is the sport for you. Unlike paintball, where the weapons are called markers and look vastly different from real guns, airsoft rifles are made to resemble actual steel weapons. Though this makes them more dangerous if taken outside of the airsoft arena, it allows for a more military like play.

However, airsoft is vastly different than other amateur shooting sports, such as paintball, in that the airsoft projectiles do not mark the enemy. Instead, the game of airsoft relies on the honor system, meaning that the person getting shot must call out that they have been hit and take themselves out of the match. For this reason, many games of airsoft will have designated referees to monitor the players.

Safety First

Playing airsoft battles can be fun and exciting, as well as dangerous. As with any extreme sport that involves tiny projectiles being shot from a gas-powered rifle, safety is the most important aspect of the game. Safety tips to keep in mind before playing airsoft include:

  • Never transport your airsoft guns while loaded. The last thing you want is your rifle having an accidental discharge in your vehicle or while walking to the arena.
  • Ensure you have the proper equipment which includes thick clothing, as well as a paintball or multi-purpose rated mask. Goggles, nor shooting glasses, will work due to the lack of full coverage for your eyes, as well as the increased chance of the lenses shattering. Also, while some feel that military-style clothing is required because it adds to the military feel, blue jeans and a shirt are acceptable for beginners.
  • Only fire your weapon while in the shooting arena, never in a ready area. Although you will always wear your eye protection when around these guns that does not mean other players will do the same.

Finally, you must understand that injuries will occur. Though these injuries are often minor, such as small bruises or cuts to exposed skin, severe injuries can occur if the proper steps aren’t taken. The tiny airsoft pellets have been known to shatter upon impact, which causes the victim to either swallow shards of plastic or can be blinded by shrapnel.

Try it out

If you are new to the game of airsoft or have never played an extreme sport such as this, we recommend trying it out before you invest any money. Whether you are borrowing a friend’s equipment or renting from the airsoft arena where you are playing, spend a few dollars now to see if you like it. Doing this will save you hundreds in the long run. Also, renting the equipment instead of immediately buying it will give you the opportunity to get acquainted with several different styles of weapons before settling on which you prefer.

Methods of Playing

As with any sport, there are several different variations of play that are possible with airsoft. To get the most out of your experience, choose the method that is best for you and your friends. Though some may seem strange, if you have ever played multiplayer shooting games such as Call of Duty, you will be familiar with most. The different variations include, but are not limited to:

  • Free for all-Simply put, this game-mode is every man for himself. Victory is decided simply by who is the last player standing.
  • Team Death Match– The rules are the same as a free-for-all, except you have teams instead of every player battling alone. The teams are split evenly, depending on how many players you have. However, teams should not be more than four or five individuals. Therefore, is you have several people wanting to play, having more than two teams is common.
  • A wingmen-one team consisting of two players versus everyone else. Usually, the two-person team will be given a few minutes to hide and set up before the mob is released. This simulates a sniper/spotter type of situation.
  • Capture the flag-Perhaps the most commonly played on the list requires at least two teams who have each placed their designated flag secretly and away from the enemy. Then, once play commences, one or more team members stay and guard the flag while the remaining members attempt to capture the enemy’s flag. Victory is simple; the first team to capture the enemy flag wins.
  • Close-Quarter Combat/Urban Fighting-One style is becoming more popular today, especially as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq continue, is Urban style, or close-quarter combat. A setting like this is usually set up on a massive arena where makeshift buildings and other structures are constructed for concealment. Then, similar to today’s wars, teams clear buildings one by one while the opposing team conceals themselves in an attempt at an ambush. This style of play is typical for those players who desire a more tactical training approach to airsoft.

These are just a few of the game types you may play. Keep in mind, because the nature of airsoft is to simulate military combat, the variations are truly limitless. Let your imagination and creativity flow as you play round after round.

Rules while in the field

As with any sport, there are a few rules you want to keep in mind, though they may be unwritten. Remember, airsoft is more of a military simulation than anything else so let’s call these our “rules of engagement.” They include:

  • No physical contact – Simply put, let your weapon and tactics do the talking. Never, under any circumstances, get physical with another player. Doing so is the quickest way to get banned from any airsoft arena.
  • Always wear eye protection – Even if you are merely standing on the side of the field of play, always wear your eye protection. The leading severe injury from airsoft is an eye injury.
  • Call your shots – As we previously stated, airsoft pellets do not mark their target. Therefore, if you are on the receiving end of a hit, you are honor-bound to call it out and walk off the field of play or sit if this is the arena rule. Not calling your shots out will not only get you banned from the facility, but your friends won’t be so happy either.
  • If hit, don’t talk – “Dead man talking,” as the phrase goes, is frowned upon to the highest degree. If you are out of the round, then don’t talk. Talking from dead men is taken as a sign of cheating by the other team as you could be signaling teammates to enemy movement. Most referees will give only one warning before punishment follows.
  • No close-range shooting – Though they may be considered toys by most, the plastic bb’s that fly around on an airsoft field move through the air quickly and accurately. If shot from close range, there is more pain felt. Most arenas have a minimum shooting range (usually 10-15 feet.) If you come upon an enemy closer than the minimum range, the field rules should dictate what you do (some arenas will say that both players are “dead”).
  • Obey FPS limits – FPS stands for “feet per second.” Most arenas will have a maximum FPS rating that they allow for weapons on the field. If you show up with a higher-than-allowed FPS, you will not be allowed to participate.

Though rules can seem tedious, they are there to keep every participant safe. Listen to the referees on the field always and remember, the safer you are, the more fun that will be had by all included.

The key to being successful at playing airsoft is always to have a good time. It’s a great way for a large group of friends to get together and relieve stress. After all, what could reduce stress more than shooting at your buddies? In fact, the more people you have, the better your experience will be. Just remember, always be mindful of the rules for the facility you are playing at and don’t take getting shot too seriously. After all, your friends may feel the need to shoot you, too.