Should Riot Shields Be Allowed in Airsoft Games?


Riot shields are an awesome innovation and we see them daily in films, games and occasional police interventions, but they are applicable in airsoft too.

I am a big advocate for adding realism to airsoft and whenever I have an opportunity to talk about possible innovations in technology or rules that may make airsoft games more enjoyable, I am simply in for a discussion.

In this case we are about to discuss whether riot shields have a purpose and place in airsoft fields or not, what they offer to players and how to integrate them in a game without breaking the game balance.

This is my short opinion on whether riot shields should be allowed or not,

Riot shields should be allowed in airsoft games, however if we do not pay attention to the rules and some limitations they may break the fun for the opponent team.

Now, let’s take the concept and break it into different factors for further analysis.

Riot shields that can be used in airsoft
The real riot shields (These are not bulletproof,but rather against rocks and glass)

How legal are riot shields in airsoft fields?

Currently, not all airsoft fields allow riot shields which is understandable, but there are many fields that do allow them and in fact they have developed the specific rules in order to balance the game and allow fun to both, the riot shield users and players who rather take straight fire approach.

One thing that is yet to be determined is what is the optimal set of rules that should be accepted, because best practices need time to get tested and only after a set of rules have been approved by players, they can be implemented as official set of rules in the fields.

What do riot shields offer to players?

Riot shields offer a completely new perspective into the game strategy by allowing players to boost up the defense that would otherwise be missed.

Shields can be used to fill the defense gaps and because naturally every airsoft field has objects such as walls, window frames, barrels, stone blocks and similar objects and parts of the buildings that offer cover, when smartly used a shield can allow players to become almost untouchable by feeling the gaps where the cover is not otherwise present.

When players develop a proper strategy, they can simple walk in a formation from a cover to cover without worrying that they will get hit in the meantime.

Although this makes stuff interesting because it opens a new spectrum of tactics such as the taking of angles and points that will allow the team to control the field more dominantly, it certainly can break the game for the opposite team.

The problem is that if the shielded team uses the cover to its maximum potential and do not make mistakes by exposing their bodies, they can
move untouchable wherever they want because they are not technically receiving any hit if the BBs are blocked and they can even simultaneously return fire.

Even if it is harder to aim while carrying a shield, a blind fire can score multiple random kills while being perfectly safe from returned shots.

If the team uses this strategy properly, a shield carrier does not have to carry a gun and rather hold a shield to protect their team mates that will shoot from behind lines.

If you add multiple shields to the occasion, now you have a serious battle tank that can not be stopped, unless of course, we add the rules to balance the game.

How do real riot shields behave compared to airsoft replicas?

In order to fully understand why the rules that you will find below make sense, we need to see how realistically riot shields behave.

The point is to make the game as realistic as possible and to keep it entertaining at the same time, so if real riot shields have obvious disadvantages in the real life situations, we must implement a way to realistically portray them in airsoft fields as well.

A true realism is achieved by copying both of the things that are good and work and the things that do not.

The thing with airsoft is that sometimes people choose to implement only the things that they find beneficial and choose to remain silent on the other part, but that is not realistic, because the nature of airsoft does not allow the use of real bombs, bullets and some other life-threatening ways to win the combat.

In real life, when you implement such stuff, you simply realize how not every single wall will protect you from getting hit and as matter of fact only a couple objects in the entire field will.

The same thing applies to riot shields, the special ops or military can not use them relentlessly against the enemy’s fire or they will end up looking like fried chicken or a Switzerland cheese (which is by the way, very tasty and you should try it).

A real riot shield can not take every caliber and can not take that much fire from close range, it is extremely vulnerable to grenades, mines and other explosives and in case that someone reaches it within melee range, they will take it away from you and bash you with it or simply knife you down.

As you know non of these scenarios is possible in airsoft for obvious reasons, but because they exist in real life, the field rules need to do their best to replicate them if they want to keep the shields within fields.

And oh, did I mention that realistic riot shields only have a small window that you can actually look though? Most airsoft replicated shields are completely visible through due to a different manufacturing material.

This alone makes a big difference and just for fun add to all these the fact that the real riot shield weighs at least 10 more pounds and you will quickly realize how bad of a job the airsoft riot shields do in order to imitate the battle scenario.

How to balance the game with riot shields and make it fair?

As you can see, it is necessary that we develop the rules, so that the shielded team can still experience the benefits of riot shields and that they can still use it for advanced tactics, but that there are still holes in their game that can be exposed by the opponent team.

Every positive needs to have some negative, otherwise we have an imbalance.

Some ways to balance their use are:

  • Limit the use of a gun while holding a shield or limit the range, power and magazine capacity (only pistols are allowed to be used while holding a shield)
  • Make the riot shields more realistic by painting them with non transparent color and only allow a small portion in the top middle part of the shield to be visible through ( this would limit the visibility and seizure the space awareness)
  • Put a limit to shields per team ( no more than a shield is allowed in CQB and no more than two or three are allowed in bigger skirmish games)
  • Ban the option that people can bring their own shields to the field and rather make them a rental-only item
  • Make a rule where a grenade or claymore mine takes out shielded players and any player around in 15 feet radius
  • If the shield carrier receives more than 10 hits to the shield, he must drop it and wait at least 10 seconds before he can take it up again ( kind of difficult to implement, but I like throwing ideas in here)
  • If other players manage to get in the melee range and tap the shield, both the shield and the player holding it is gone and must return to the respawn point
  • simply ban shields in specific fields and game modes and only implement them in specific game modes where they would make sense

Some of these ideas are already implemented in some fields as I have heard, but I also managed to come up with some on my own that I think would be cool.

There are multiple ways to do this, but most importantly is to test them in-game and to make a survey to find out what majority of players think.

This is one of the videos I found on youtube where a guy uses a shield he made himself (it is not all visible through, which is nice because it makes the shield more balanced), just pay attention that he sometimes still gets hit in the knees and he only uses a pistol which makes it tricky to take players off on long range.

Final take on riot shields

There is so much to say when it comes to this topic and I believe that you got a lot to say as well, so speak it up in your local fields and see what your friends and other players think.

This is certainly a great way to spice things up and develop new strategies, just look at those popular pc games such as Rainbow Six Siege, they certainly have a purpose and can bring lots of fun.

Let’s finish this with some final reasons for their use and against their use, so we can conclude what good would they bring and what bad could arrive with them as well.

Reasons for their use

  • They allow players to take their game to completely next level by giving them an access to new tactics and strategies
  • It can be refreshing to implement new stuff and this can create a new role- a shield carrier that helps their team win objectives!
  • Sometimes you can just chill out and not worry about getting hit while reaching for a new plan (or eat something, have a cigar.. you name it)
  • Certainly it should be a great thing for entire team and may in fact, bring the team to play together rather than just it being focused on one guy

Reasons against

  • Players may start using more grenades, claymore mines and such stuff to counter it because players adapt, this is not necessarily a bad thing though, but would it be fun to be forced to use such stuff only to counter the enemy team’s shield carrier each game?
  • Some people do not want to strategize that much and just want to have immediate straight forward fire exchange.
  • Some players may use it selfishly without incorporating it into the team play.
  • A new way for cheaters to cheat, unless there would be strong-enough rules that could make this harder to happen.

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