Airsoft is a realistic combat simulation game, using 1:1 scale replica weapons, which fire ball bearings (BB's). The sport was originally created in Japan as an alternative to America's Paintball.
The BB's are 6mm, weigh on average 2.5 grams and are made of a biodegradable plastic. A few bruises are the worst injuries usually suffered, although eye protection is paramount! I have never played paintball, but I am told that the paintballs hurt a lot more than the average BB.
Unlike paintball the BB's do not make a splat or a visible hit mark on a player (apart from the odd bruise), so airsoft very much depends on fair play and 'Taking your hits'...
The game is traditionally played in woodland, but you can also play in and around some buildings for an urban theme. The gameplay or missions vary from site to site but basically there are two opposing teams which carry out set objectives, various tasks or just stalk each other throughout the day.
There is a vast array of weapons available, but they generally fall under the following categories:
Gas or Gas Blow Back (GBB)
Electric or Automatic Electric Gun (AEG)
These include: Pistols, Shotguns, Assault Rifles, Bullpup Rifles, Sniper Rifles, Sub-Machine Guns and Support Weapons.
Also lets not forget about Pyrotechnics: BB Grenades, Smoke Grenades and Flash Bangs!
Black is usually worn for urban skirmishes and camouflage for woodland battles, but any clothing can be worn as long as your eyes are protected.
Most skirmish sites rent guns for a nominal fee, usually around £15 with a load of BB's and charge a 'Green Fee', also around £15.
Most people get hooked and purchase a gun after going to a couple of skirmishes and then only need to pay the sites green fee and buy some ammunition for around £8 for 3700 BB's on the day.
Fitness is a factor to a degree, some sites are very strenuous with hills and large playing areas which can give you a good work out over a hard days skirmishing, but as a rule you can play at your own speed and pace.
Airsoft is a rapidly growing sport in the Uk, skirmish sites are popping up all over the country, which means there is a chance there is one not too far away from you.
So if you are physically active, thinking about planning some outdoor pursuits with some friends, fancy yourself as a bit of a Rambo or possibly a bit of team building, Airsoft is ideal, I recommend it!