The future awaits us all, so does the airsoft. If you are like me, you may be wondering where all of this is going, is the sport of airsoft going to evolve or is it stagnating? I am a passionate person, passionate about things that I put majority of my everyday time into, and knowing that such things may perish with time make me question whether it is worth it or should I change my hobbies and passions for something else, perhaps evergreen?
We all sometimes feel like that, but I have many proofs that keep it rational when it comes to airsoft and its future, it is not going anywhere anytime soon and as a matter of fact I believe that it is going to grow.
It may be difficult to give out predictions, but I think that the golden days of airsoft are not behind it, but instead there is a bright future that awaits it and we shall witness it in its full glory.
Airsoft is growing
You and I have friends who play airsoft and there are many people that our friends know that also enjoy playing airsoft, however If we judged the popularity and the growth of such global sport on local margins, we would most certainly be wrong.
You may see 10 new players on your local fields you have never met before and think that your community is growing which means more fun for everyone because the bigger the community is, the bigger everything in correlation with airsoft is. People report that their local fields and events around them are more populated than ever.
We need to be factual and use some proven metrics that can be found using services such as social network and the biggest search engine known to us.
By analyzing the metrics about users experiences, preferences, search queries and overall mentioning of „airsoft“ that are stored in the database We can track the popularity and see where all of this is going. I have played with this and found some interesting data that we can compare.
Worldwide airsoft popularity
If you do not like the charts I can understand that, I will give you the conclusion. As we can see from the charts, people used to search more for the stuff related to airsoft a few years go, more specifically the airsoft popularity started to decline 5 years ago in 2013.
The blue colored states are very keen of airsoft and from what we can see here there are plenty of them. The conclusion is that airsoft is well known almost everywhere in the world because people search for it.
However, you may be asking if there is such a visible decline after the 2013. why would I still assume that airsoft is growing instead of dying?
Simply because these charts are useful for collecting the past data on which we can conclude how many people and where have heard and searched about airsoft but is not a good indication on the current popularity.
Nowadays people do not have to search so much about airsoft as they used to a few years ago when it was a complete mystery because it is a revealed thing.
Every new thing that shows up and has the potential to intrigue people is going to get searched more for a limited time while it is in trend, after that it declines and it is a normal behaviour that follows the other sports and interests as well. We could say that the real growth happens here because the data is now stable.
As it can be seen from the second chart it is steady and growing because the interest for airsoft in the recent time is not falling and is not indicating that people will stop searching for it.
United States airsoft popularity
In short, the USA follows the same path and airsoft is at a very steady place, from there it can only grow and not fall. Of course it is more popular in some states than the others but it is present everywhere.
I am not saying that airsoft is growing rapidly, but from everything I have looked into the conclusion is that it is going to grow, perhaps slowly but safely, unless something innovative happens on the market or community that is going to shake the things up and sky rocket it!
I should mention that airsoft is one of the most popular interests on youtube, the most popular airsoft channels combined have over 10 million of supportive followers. The video below says alot.
The airsoft market popularity
Some people report that their local airsoft stores are empty and closing the doors and that it is a good sign of airsoft fall, but this does not surprise me because most of the other non-related stores are closing the doors as well. This can be seen in all big towns where the big shopping malls have taken the place at.
I do not think that this is a problem, as a matter of fact we are transitioning from the traditional physical shops to those on the internet, nowadays people buy more on the internet than ever and it will continue to grow.
My predictions are that in only 10 to 15 years almost all physical shops will disappear and more jobs will take the place on the internet.
There is not much of a difference here, because people can now buy more of airsoft gear from the comfort of their homes, sometimes, perhaps overdo it and get in debts if not smart enough, I mean the airsoft gear is the new real estate investment is it not? Just kidding.
People are lazy
The lack of initiative and inspiration is the greatest cause of the stagnation in almost every field in the world. Where is will there is a way, but if such people are missing the others will not have anything to follow and there goes the stagnation.
Innovations are a must in everything, airsoft is no exception, if you are not innovating and coming up with new things you are failing, there is no such thing as a neutral established position.
Airsoft is entertainment and there are millions of people who have heard of it, however what is with all other people who share similar interests? So many people yet do not know about airsoft and do not even consider joining it because no one is coming up with any smart marketing strategy for it.
I can understand this part though, no one is willing to spend money into marketing and bring more people on the global scales if can not make money from it, and behind this lies the problem of airsoft not being suitable for competitive and sponsored level.
Almost every single person from non-related airsoft interest groups I talk to, do not have a clue about airsoft in my area, through better engagement this can be changed.
Many people who are into action games, martial arts, competitive sports, action movies and related stuff would like to participate in airsoft oriented content but they have no idea that they want it because no one is telling them that, this is the fact.
Think about all the possibilities like theme parks and LARP-s or even tv shows that could utilize airsoft and greatly prospect from it.
Have you ever heard of LARPs? If you have not then you should check this out. The idea behind it is that you can implement an organized and a creative story with all its elements into the game and combine it with airsoft or any other sport if it makes sense.
Imagine something like this mixed with airsoft, the community could grow easily .
Playing as cowboys vs indians, playing in a post apocalyptic world in style of Mad Max or Fallout franchise, playing against zombies or against the mutated aliens definitely sounds promising.
I think that the future of airsoft lies in LARPs, this may not become competitive but It does not have to, the point of LARPs is to bring fun to everyone who are interested in such gameplay and for all those people who are often bored of reality.
LARPs are already played and combined with airsoft, however it could be way bigger than it is now, with the technology that keeps raising we can work on the realism and perhaps build the robots that will behave as enemies, do a thing or two to artificial intelligence and we can get deep into the story quite soon.
If you have been to any theme park like Disney, then you are familiar with all cool effects that can be achieved with lights, smokes, costumes, music and other special effect techniques including holograms and so on.
I am talking about LARPs on the high scale where the money is invested into such parks and where people can book the entire trip and have some good time over the weekend and then return to their regular working life the next Monday. This idea is far above the current LARP systems that are played on private fields with improvised technology and stories, although such amateur LARP games are quite exciting too and you should give them a try if you like the idea behind it.
The future of airsoft technology
This is the important question and will dictate the future of airsoft for sure, however under the term „technology“ I do not only mean the new, better guns and similar equipment, but also the technology that is not a part of the airsoft market at all but can be incorporated.
The changes that are going to happen related to the airsoft guns are probably going to be the ones on electric components, so the AEGs may additionally improve. I am talking about improved components such as brushed motors and programmable trigger systems.
Overall the replicas will get better and will become furthermore versatile, perhaps the other stuff like gadgets will get improved and become more realistic, but not much will change in terms of the complete revolutionary ideas, the fundamentals are built and should not be changed when they work, only the quality should be improved.
However, the technology I am excited about is the one that will let us immerse into entertaining stuff more, I am talking about holograms, sensors and AI.
We may have to wait a bit longer for such things to get implemented within airsoft but it may happen.
The competitive aspect
Unless you take it very seriously, it is quite easy to cheat in Airsoft, which is something that discourages people from getting into airsoft and rather stick with paintball. Paintball color balls leave marks on the target, therefore It is harder to cheat, while in airsoft you are supposed to call yourself out of the game if you notice getting hit.
Calling a hit is often respected and this is not a big problem on amateur level, if you do not call yourself hit a few obvious times the reputations of yours will be endangered and you will be very likely kicked out of the field, especially if the complaints come from authoritative players or multiple players report you.
This is a great way to stop cheating because players are there to have fun and not to make plots against other players unless they start breaking the fun through cheating. Once marked as a cheater you will hardly play a second game which is not in your interest.
However, on a professional level, simply relying on solutions above do not quite hit the mark. We need something regulated and provable, otherwise you can forget about sponsorships and interest of greater masses.
If you cut the money flow which comes through sponsorships and 3rd parties like audience, you can forget about anything more than a local amateur level games on the local fields.
How can we deal with the judging system? Are we supposed to install cameras at every single angle on the field, implement sensors for BB detection and hire judges who will be at every corner? There must be a solution for dealing with cheaters and for setting the rules up that can not be avoided.
It is also known that almost every airsoft field has their own rules they set up themselves, the lack of universal rules breaks the further possibilities of uniting communities and taking it on next level.
Take a look at this technology below, do you think that this it the answer?
The legal issues
We are aware that airsoft guns can be dangerous in some specific situations if not treated properly and I believe that we must treat them as real guns although they are just their replica, this leads to the disciplined relation with the airsoft guns and denies the unwanted scenarios from happening.
However, not everybody understands this and some people break the law with airsoft replicas. There are numerous cases where the misuse of airsoft guns had led to such cases and I do not want to furthermore continue mentioning it due to the fact that negativity is not something I talk about often, however I needed to state it.
Airsoft guns are not dangerous if the people respect them and do not behave unacceptably, hopefully there is far more people who understand this than those who do not, but still the minority causes the legal issues and some states and regions all over the world implement them into their law.
I have recently been making a study on the airsoft law per state and have seen many cases related to it and I must state that in the future the law may change on both sides.
Some states that allow the use of airsoft guns now, may change their law and therefore make it difficult for the sport of airsoft to grow. Some states however, may change the law for the better for enthusiasts and allow the import of guns and their use.
You can see what your state says about the airsoft law and I have dedicated the entire airsoft law category that you can browse.
The conclusion is that although the law may change, currently the situation is not bad and as a matter of fact, most of states do not ban airsoft guns and people can freely play with them. This is especially likely to change if some political parties win the elections, so think who you vote for.
The another good thing about the law is that, although the laws are more specific regarding the markings on the gun when it comes to the selling or importing of such and their use in the public spaces, the sport of airsoft can still be played on the private or designated properties like the registered fields and areas.
What can you do?
You as an individual are capable of changing more than you think, the biggest and the most mesmerizing castles were built stone by stone, be one of these stones.
You can support the candidates on the elections who come up with the laws, you can support the airsoft content creators on social network, probably the strongest medium is youtube where many great videos can be found and shared with your friends.
You can simply talk about airsoft on a meeting and ignite the interest in someone or organize the private match if you feel that your organization skills are on point.
When I was just beginning with all the research about airsoft I talked to a friend’s friend, I managed to find the guy who has been playing airsoft for years and spent the real fortune on the equipment.
This man offered me some of his gear and said that the rest of his friends would do the same If I ever wanted to play a match with them. This act of admiration was enough for me to break through overthinking about all cool gear. This allowed me to experience airsoft to its fullest potential.
I believe that many people who have heard of airsoft and perhaps, had a plan to get into it, soon pulled back when they saw how much is there to learn to be able to play with those experienced guys.
Sometimes a very simple act like lending a piece of your gear or taking someone with you to a simple bottle shooting can be enough to turn someone to your side, in this case to the side of fun and cool sport of airsoft.
Enjoy airsoft yourself and make the others enjoy it as well, this is the way to grow and to live in the moment, when the new stuff arrive you surely will hear of it.