Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Airsoft


Airsoft players resting on the bench

As a beginner, you may feel confused about how to start with airsoft and what will you actually need. Airsoft offers a lot, but to begin with it there are only a few important things you should know about and the rest will come naturally as you progress as a player and as a member.

I have created this guide for every beginner out there who wants to join airsoft but does not know what to expect and knowingly it is difficult to find all relevant information in one place, I thought that I could save you lots of time and some money by putting everything important in one place you can find here.

Airsoft is a growing sport and is played worldwide and as a matter of fact, there is only one similar sport that shares popularity with airsoft and that is paintball.

The concept of both sports is quite similar, but in my opinion, airsoft offers way more and has more applications when it comes to entertainment.

In the following guide you will find everything you should know about airsoft games, guns, gear and helpful devices, rules, community, and more, so let’s begin.

How to get started with airsoft?

Straight to the point, you do not need much to get started with airsoft.

Often everything you need to start with airsoft is a single airsoft gun of your choice, a magazine with some BBs, good eye protection, and some clothes that you can find in your closet.

You will catch up with the rest once you join the field, airsoft community is one of the greatest and everyone is helpful, at least from my experience and experience of almost everyone I know.

Although you can play airsoft in your private property such as backyards with your friends, airsoft is played in the fields where you can apply the rules, have judges, and where a larger group of people can work together to bring the real experience.

So let’s see what can you expect and find in airsoft fields.

Important things to know before starting with airsoft

The rules of airsoft games are easily learned and you probably won’t need to spend more than a day in the field to figure out everything essential.

If you wonder how many cheaters are there in airsoft and how we deal with them, check my little introduction to this problem.

I will mention a few important things you should know in advance before you show up in the field, so nothing surprises you in a bad and unexpected way.

MED (minimum engagement distance)

There is something called MED or minimum engagement distance and it refers to the distance at which you are allowed to shoot your airsoft gun at other players in the field.

For example, if you have an airsoft rifle that holds the power of 400 FPS (velocity) and the MED rules are set in a way that everyone using 400+ FPS airsoft guns can not shoot others under 50 feet you will simply not shoot others in such case and will rather adjust the distance, use a secondary airsoft gun with lower FPS (for instance 300) or will invoke the “bang” rule to take enemies down.

The “bang” rule states that you will simply yell “BANG” if you approach the enemy from behind in close gaps.

Every rule depends on how the field implements it, so once you check the field rules, you will know what is expected from you.

It may seem like much information, so do not think too much about it, MED differs from field to field and it is situational to the role you play.

This rule is usually there so that people do not use powerful rifles and snipers on close distances to prevent pain and injuries.

This gets significant meaning with guns over 500 FPS, because getting in at 20 feet with a 500 FPS Airsoft sniper on the skin is not a pleasant feeling, but it also balances the roles so nothing feels overpowered.

Some fields won’t even allow you to bring a gun with too high a velocity, so we will have this in mind when we find you your first airsoft gun.

It may hurt a bit, but you’ll get used to it

Even when everyone does not follow the MED rules perfectly, serious injuries happen so rarely that I have not ever seen someone getting more hurt than by a simple bruise or a welt.

As a matter of fact, scratches from branches and trees are more common when you rush through the field in a hurry.

The only mandatory protection is eye protection and this should be the number one priority on your list of what to bring to the airsoft games.

Find good goggles, glasses, or a face mask and keep them on your eyes during the entire airsoft game to stay safe! They are perfect and won’t allow any BB to go through the glass, just bear in mind to always keep them up even when the game is about to be over and you are retreating to the safe zone because the BBs may still fly around you.

If you have eye protection and keep it on, the only other injury that could happen to you is a bruise or a welt if the BBs lands directly on the skin or through thin cloths.

In that case, it may hurt a bit, so if you want to know what is it really to get hit by a BB and how much it hurts check my post dedicated to common airsoft injuries experienced in the fields.

Once again, it is not a big deal and such injuries heal quite fast!

What should you bring to the airsoft field?

For your first game you should not think too much about the equipment, so take only the necessary stuff which is some decent clothing that will protect you from BBs, necessary eye protection, and a single airsoft gun with a magazine and some BBs.

Other necessities are water (bring a bottle and fill it in the field), food (only snacks if there will be food in the field, if not bring food in a container and a few snacks), and a charger both for a mobile phone and for AEG if you own one just to be sure you do not run out of the battery.

Regarding magazines and BBs, you should read my guide on choosing which magazine and BBs should you bring to see what will fit you optimally. Also bear in mind that some airsoft fields do not allow high-capacity magazines and in that case, you will have to use mid-ones.

I have written a guide on what you can wear to airsoft and as you will see you’ll find plenty of items already in the closet. 

When it comes to anything fancy and oh boy, there is a lot of fancy stuff in airsoft, just take a breath in and out and experience airsoft in a raw mode first so you see what you really want and need.

Should you bring your airsoft gun or rent one?

There are three options when it comes to acquiring airsoft guns, you can buy one, borrow one from another player or rent one in the airsoft field.

I advocate borrowing or renting the airsoft gun for your first games instead of purchasing one immediately on your own, so you can see how you like airsoft and whether there is a purpose in investing in airsoft guns and equipment or not.

You can see how much would it cost you to get your airsoft gun and other gear in my beginner’s financial guide.

Camouflage also plays a big role in airsoft

What airsoft gun types are out there

In airsoft, there are 6 common gun types and additional devices that will upgrade their effectiveness. 

  • Rifles – Most common rifles you will see are AEGs, they are also the recommended airsoft gun, to begin with, due to their simplistic and effective nature.
  • SMGs– These are similar to rifles, but in my opinion, they suit the CQB games better.
  • Heavy machine guns– They are large and heavy as the name suggests and they offer a lot of pressure due to large magazine capacity with the high rate of fire.
  • Snipers– Snipers are not something that a beginner should immediately invest in because they tend to be expensive due to all possible upgrades that make them shine, but once you feel ready and determined to get one, you should go for it. Sniping in airsoft is awesome, but takes lots of skill and strategy, so a sniper is probably the most difficult role in airsoft to play effectively.
  • Shotguns– The kings of CQB, are awesome and there are models that shoot 3 BBs at the shot. They are not the best pick for skirmishes because outdoor games are played at long distances and these guys have somewhat limited range.
  • Pistols– A great secondary gun option, they are quick and fun, but should not be considered for a first and primary gun you will purchase. 

Each airsoft gun type has a few possible ways they operate (operating types) and those are:

  • AEGs (electric)– There are electric rifles, SMGs, and pistols that you can choose from. Basically, this is the most beginner-friendly type and they are also a great investment for experienced players as well.

Electric guns use batteries that can be recharged which is a good thing when it comes to money-saving because gas can get quite expensive with time. AEGs have everything that airsoft player wants and they are for the reason the most popular type of an airsoft gun out there.

  • Gas guns– Gas guns are not the most beginner-friendly gun type, but nevertheless, they are great and they offer things such as blowback features that other gun types do not. The blowback feature is great for all those players who enjoy the idea of realism because they provide the gun with a recoil.

Besides the realism, they bring everything that AEGs bring as well but bear in mind that because they are more expensive due to the gas usage and in case that the blowback feature is present, they can be harder to maintain. There are non-blowbacks and blowbacks that you can choose from.

  • Spring guns– Spring airsoft guns are the first airsoft guns ever created and they operate by the way of a spring. The mechanism is simple, yet effective but you won’t find a spring airsoft gun with a blowback feature, nor do they offer a high rate of fire which is a big downfall for many airsoft roles.

However, shotguns and snipers do not need a high rate of fire because they are manually clocked either by the lever or the pump action. As you can see, they do not need any kind of energy but the kinetic one, so they are free to charge and the maintenance is extremely simple due to their natural lack of complex components.

  • HPA modified airsoft guns– You should not worry about HPA systems as a beginner at all, but it is good to know they exist. HPA can be applied to almost every gun type by installing the HPA system kit. What they offer can be described as injecting the gun with steroids because they can literally improve the FPS and rate of fire on demand.

You can read more about HPA systems and see their potential in airsoft in my post.

How to choose your first airsoft gun

Once you are familiar with what airsoft gun types are out there, let’s see which one will suit you the best at the beginning.

My recommendation is an AEG rifle or SMG due to their simplicity, efficiency, and effectiveness.

AEGs are not only great for beginners because they are easy to get to and the maintenance is simple, but they will also remain a great airsoft gun once you advance.

AEGs can be upgraded, so whether it is accuracy, rate of fire or velocity that you want to improve it certainly can be done later.

The only thing you should bear in mind is to invest in a solid quality AEG, so do not get a toy that will break and won’t be upgrade-friendly.

You can take a look at some of the great AEG picks for beginners in my guide that I created according to the important criteria that I mentioned above.

You can also supplement your arsenal with a pistol or a shotgun, but it is not necessary to start with.

I recommend simple and effective non-blowback airsoft pistols and spring-powered airsoft shotguns, yet if you want to start fancy you can get a gas shotgun or a gas blowback pistol mostly for entertainment purposes.

I also advise you to wait on snipers a bit and only decide to get one if you are sure you want to play this role, otherwise, you may cash out the money on a sniper and figure out that sniping is not for you.

If you are keen on the idea of sniping you can check my guide and see what you can expect and what will you need to become a superior sniper.

How to choose your airsoft role

To choose what role suits you the best you should give it some time and begin your airsoft career as a universal rifleman, which also suits the idea of getting an AEG first.

Once you get some experience you will be able to choose the direction you want to go, so pay attention to what others do and talk to the people in the field.

If you have a team of people you will regularly play with, it will make it easier for you to pick a role and the team will give you suggestions based on what they need and what you can offer to the team.

Example of a CQB game with an aggressive entrance approach

Common airsoft roles you can choose

The following roles are the usual roles you may find in most airsoft fields, however, they are not definite because airsoft can get quite creative to the point where you, your team, or the field can create new roles.

I have created a short quiz that may help you find the role that suits your persona, so try it out if you have time.

  • Rifleman– You can see yourself as a jack-of-all-trades and master of none and you are there to take on objectives while taking down enemies with a rifle that can deal with enemies on medium to long distances. 

Rifleman is a role for players who like to mix a variety of tactics and tasks into their playstyle. You will need a rifle (recommended AEG), an optional secondary airsoft gun and if you want to upgrade your loadout you can carry bombs, flashlights, and similar stuff. 

  • Designated marksman– You go the step beyond what the classic rifleman does and your job is to take down the targets that are far away, so this role is kind of similar to the role of a sniper.

You will rarely engage in any short-medium combat and rather stay behind to cover your team with a semi-automatic rifle designed for long shoots.

If you are interested in being a designated marksman you can read more about the DMR role that will make you a modified sniper in the field capable of adding the value that traditional sniper can not.

  • Grenadier– You are a mad man that likes to approach the enemy points just to set up a bomb that will take everyone down in a radius of 10 feet and when you get angry you will utilize short-medium range devices such as an under-barrel grenade launcher to cause mayhem.

You will also set up a variety of different traps and throw smoke bombs to support the team.

  • Rusher/breacher – You will take care of the close combat stuff with a rapid fire and will create entries for your team. 

SMG is a natural choice for a rusher and you can upgrade the loadout with grenades that will confuse enemies and open entries.

This is the funniest role for those that enjoy the adrenaline rush and this role is mostly used in the CQB environment.

  • Heavy gunner– You carry heavy weaponry with lots of BBs and magazines to pressure down the enemy team with a never-ending offense. 

This is a true support role because you do the pressure for your team even when there are not clear tactics present, but you are there to eventually create them.

Lots of BBs, high rate of fire, high velocity, and high mayhem!

  • Sniper- You are the death from above, the master of stealth and informer who tracks enemies to either reveal their position to the team or to mercilessly take them down one by one.

You can read more about what sniping looks like in airsoft in the guide I mentioned under how to choose your first airsoft gun section above.

  • Medic– Medics are everyone’s best friend in the fields when they get shot.

As a medic, you will revive fallen players by either marking them with a badge or by rolling a bandage around their arms. 

You can read about being a medic in airsoft in my guide where I also explain the point of this role, objectives, and the loadout.

How the medic role works are regulated by the field, so MilSim events make it so real that you may have the entire process of treating others’ injuries to add to the realism.

What all fields and game mods have in common is that once they take you down, there is no one to revive you because you usually have only one life, so there is a downside!

Bear in mind that each role may have given limitations such as MED and rate of fire allowed for the specific airsoft gun and equipment designed for the specific role.

Therefore, a designated marksman won’t be allowed to use full fire and will have to respect the MED just as a sniper will do, and a rusher with an SMG will utilize both the high rate of fire and won’t have to think about the MED.

These limitations are there not only to prevent injuries but rather to create balance.

Just like in real life you can not have it all, so the rules give you both the advantages and disadvantages, so nothing is overpowered.

How long do airsoft games last and what game modes are there?

Typical airsoft games

  • Outdoor games
  • Indoor games are also known as CQB ( means all game modes played in buildings)

There are Zombie modes where for instance a bunch of players gets dived into the large groups of “zombies” who have to reach and tap a minority of “human” players and infest them, flag captures where it is all about scoring the points for the team, seek and destroy where you may have to plant an improvised device that represents a bomb or a classic team deathmatch.

There are also tons of other creative mods that fields and players create, so check what your local fields offer!

Games last from 20 minutes to an hour, yet this is the estimation of how long you can expect each game session to last for but it really depends on players, the field rules, and the objectives of how long will the airsoft game truly last.

If you are just beginning with airsoft and don’t know much about what should you expect, what should matter more to you is the overall time you are going to spend in the field once you get there.

If you like to play with your teammates on a particular field, usually people gather at weekends or on a given day in the week when everyone is free.

Organizing matches just for one game session does not make much sense, so people like to take a whole day just for airsoft games.

This often means 5-10 game sessions in a day, so you can expect to stay at the field for 6 hours on average and sometimes longer than that if you desire.

There are pauses in-between game sessions and launch and snack break too.

Other airsoft games such as

  • Larp games
  • MilSim games

Can last for days if agreed so, but those are not classic games you will play when you begin with airsoft anyways.

LARP is a cool thing, it opens unlimited opportunities when it comes to entertainment.

Your entire gameplay is based on an idea or a story that is often of a fabricated nature.

Modern soldiers in the world of medieval knights with a visit of aliens? No problems.

Cowboys criminals vs sheriff’s department? That’s fine too!

MilSim follows more of a real-life battle strategy and that said it literally can take days of a game type to take a single objective, just as it is in real life with real missions.

What is cool about these games is that you agree to a given set of rules and if you agree to pay for the days, you play for the days and you do all sort of other things such as grilling, drinking, dancing or whatever you are keen of with the people you decide to get into the adventure.

Final take on

As you could see, airsoft is welcoming to the new players and there is no rush or pressure put on you.

The overall experience depends on the people you play with, but from what I have seen and experienced people who join airsoft and stay there for a long time do respect the rules and other players because after all, it is how the community of people should be treated and if someone is there for more than a few games, the chances are that they are good people.

Cheaters and disrespectful people never remain in the community because everyone who understands what airsoft is about won’t tolerate bad behavior.

Bear in mind that it is all about the experience and the joy, so you are about to have a great time!

See you in the field one day, friend.

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