Can airsoft guns hurt and do actual damage?
The short answer is, yes airsoft guns hurt. Surprisingly though, airsoft weapon pain is nowhere as excruciating and damaging as that of paintball or any other kind of sport shooting. This is due to the fact that in airsoft weapons the use of lethal force is never allowed. The idea behind this type of “weapon” is complete avoidance of real-life situations, and more towards recreational purposes. This range of activity causes the players to be constantly alert and aware which reduces the chance of anyone getting hurt or injured.
Common reasons that cause injuries
The number one cause for injuries in airsoft (and paintball) is due to loss of concentration on part of the player. During play, they lose track of their target and end up getting hit by a soft spherical head, not hard plastic high-powered BB rounds. The airsoft guns which use rubber or plastic round are the ones that cause pain during play. However, this is only applicable in cases where individuals have received shots at close range. In such instances, the pain received is generally caused due to the impact of the blow rather than the velocity of the round. But as mentioned earlier, such instances are rare due to constant alertness on part of the players.
What airsoft weapon could cause the most damage?
The worst of airsoft weapons are those that use metal BB rounds. These types of rounds are more harmful than rubber-made ones due to its greater velocity and impact force when it hits an object. However, the amount of pain caused in such cases is minimal but can be quite a shocker for individuals who have never played before. It is the responsibility of every player in an airsoft game to make sure that they have a plan against such weapons.
How much does it hurt when playing airsoft?
The pain received during airsoft varies from individual to individual. The type and intensity of impact depends on the nature and speed of the round used. Rubber or plastic soft headshots cause minimum damage while plastic or metal with harder heads causes more pain and damage. The following figure will help you understand the amount of damage a hard-hit from either material can cause.
Main factors that can cause pain and injuries
Airsoft weapons used in games vary in terms of quality, durability, accuracy, power level, and capacity as well as costs. These factors all combine and result in the levels, shapes, and sizes of rounds used. These are as follows:
1. Power Levels (PPS or Joules)
Airsoft guns can be categorized into 2 major types – spring action & gas-powered. Spring-powered airsoft guns work on a spring that is wound up to power it. Gas-powered airsoft guns run on compressed air or gas. The power of the gun is determined by the strength of the spring or the amount of gas used to fire rounds.
Airsoft weapons range in power level from 1 joule to over 1,300 joules. PPS stands for Power (draw) per Second. This figure refers to how much power the gun can deliver (in joules) in 1 second. The higher this figure is, the greater the velocity of the airsoft rounds.
Most airsoft guns have a power level of between 200-500 FPS. The velocity however varies depending on the type of gun and how much gas is used. For example, an airsoft sniper rifle can shoot at 350-375 FPS while a pistol can fire rounds at up to 300 FPS (when fired at the maximum power level).
2. Types of ammunition
The most common round used in airsoft weapons is a 6 mm soft plastic round or abbreviated as a “BB”. Originally designed for guns to use in the 1970s, airsoft weapons became popular in Japan during the 1980s. The BB uses a small amount of energy to deliver that results in minimal pain and damage. The other most common type is 4 mm plastic or metal ball rounds which can cause more pain and injury.
The length/diameter of both these types ranges from 0.20 to 0.90 mm.
3. Weight of round
Airsoft rounds are classified into 3 categories – head, tail, and internal. The weight of each round varies between 0.2 to 3 gm depending on the type used i.e., plastic or metal ball rounds or BBs (fig 2).
Types of injuries
Airsoft weapons use non-lethal projectiles to hit players. Similar to paintball, airsoft uses hard plastic or soft-tipped plastic rounds. The soft-tip projectiles are designed to minimize pain and damage. This type of ammunition has a hard, plastic head covered with rubber or plastic.
Damage caused by airsoft guns is dependent on the amount of energy transferred to the body during impact (fig 1). During close distance interaction, damage can range from minor bruises, pain, and welts to fractures and nerve damage.
How to stay protected while playing airsoft?
During the course of airsoft games, players are injured due to carelessness or lack of awareness. Keeping oneself protected is vital for ensuring a safe experience during game play. The following tips will help you to minimize pain and injuries and also ensure that you have as much fun playing airsoft as possible:
1. Use safety goggles/glasses:
Safety glasses can protect your eyes from getting damaged when hit by an airsoft round. They will decrease the shock received on impact thus minimizing injury. It is highly recommended that you use high-quality safety gear such as visors, helmets, mouth guards, chest protection, hand protection, and face mask. Even eye protection is very important regardless of whether the field has been properly regulated or otherwise.
Those who are not comfortable wearing goggles/glasses or aiming with their eyes open can use face masks. These allow you to aim better as well as protect your mouth, nose, ears, and chin from getting damaged while playing airsoft.
An important thing to know is that your goggles should fit comfortably over your eyes without slipping down so that they protect you effectively during play. Goggles come in half or full-face protection, wraparound styles, or full coverage of the sides of the face (fig 4). Your mask should also be comfortable to wear for longer periods of time.
2. Wear protective clothing:
The objective behind protective gear is to reduce shock and prevent injury during airsoft play. It will help by absorbing much of the impact energy during impact thus preventing injury. It is important to wear a protective vest, as this will prevent you from getting shot in vital areas such as the heart, lungs, and abdomen (fig 3).
Staying protected doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to cover yourself entirely with protective gear. The more exposed parts of your body are usually covered by the ballistic mesh layers. A chest protector made from durable material can also help absorb impact and minimize injury.
3. Don’t aim at soft tissues:
Aiming for soft tissue and avoiding hard surfaces will increase pain when hit since your skin is elastic while bone and steel are not (fig 5). Thus it’s better to aim for hard surfaces like helmets or torso which won’t cause as much pain with an airsoft round.
4. Know when to stop playing:
When you feel tired or experience pain in your body, it is time you stopped playing and rest. Signs that indicate when you should call it a day include bleeding, blisters, muscle spasms, and being found unconscious after getting hit. If any of these signs occur during play, you should get immediate medical attention before the situation worsens. Remember injuries are bound to happen but trying your best to minimize them will ensure that they don’t turn fatal. This will also help prevent further damage from occurring so that the recovery process can be faster. In most cases, professional treatment is necessary for wounds resulting from airsoft rounds such as cuts and abrasions.
Airsoft gun playing involves little physical exertion but can cause physical harm especially if proper safety precautions are not taken. The fact that these guns look like real guns makes airsoft playing seem more realistic and fun, however, one should be wise of the possible dangers resulting from careless play. Players need to wear protective gear and follow the rules in order to minimize the risk of injury and ensure that they have as safe a time playing airsoft as possible.