How old do you have to be to do airsoft?
In most countries airsoft is reserved for adults only, so you should be over 18 years old to play airsoft. However, in some countries, children at the age of 12 can play airsoft under the supervision of an adult.
Age restriction strictly depends on the country in which you live. In general, airsoft weapons are classed as replica firearms (guns), and as such, they must not be accessible to persons under a certain age. Some countries have their own law about this matter like Great Britain, the USA, and Australia.
In general airsoft replica weapons must not fire above a certain velocity, for instance, no segment of the population under 18 years can use or buy airsoft guns that shoot over 350 feet per second (fps). But it is not only the velocity that could be an issue. Usually, the look and feel of airsoft replica weapons is a major factor in deciding if one could be used by minors or not.
If it looks like a real gun, if it could be confused with an actual weapon in the eyes of members of law enforcement or any other person, then it is not suitable for persons under 18, or it should not be bought by them.
Airsoft rules and regulations in the US
In the United States, airsoft is classed as a replica firearm. In order to purchase airsoft devices, one must be at least 18 years old. It is illegal for anyone under 18 to purchase or use airsoft devices without parental supervision and consent from a parent or legal guardian.
Airsoft rules in the USA are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and approved by the Federal Trade Commission. It is illegal for anyone under 18 to purchase airsoft weapons/equipment, even if accompanied by a parent. The reason is that these devices are too similar to real guns and could be confused with actual firearms.
The National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA) and the International Tactical Training Academy (ITTA) have also created a set of safety guidelines for airsoft which are available at http://www.ntoa.org/safety_rules.htm
Airsoft is a fast-growing sport in the US, with hundreds of active players in most states. Airsoft is so popular in the US that it has been featured on the Outdoor Channel’s “World of Adventure Sports” program and on the Discovery Channel’s “How It’s Made” program. There are also numerous other airsoft sites around the US that are not associated with official fields, giving players a place to play airsoft in areas where there are no authorized sites nearby.
Airsoft rules and regulations in the UK
In the United Kingdom, airsoft is classed as a replica firearm. In order to purchase airsoft weapons/equipment, one must be at least 18 years old. It is illegal for anyone under 18 to purchase or use airsoft devices, even if accompanied by an adult. The reason is that these devices look too similar to real guns.
In the UK airsoft was originally sold in Crosman or Air Gun shops, but in recent years it has slowly spread and there are now a few specialist airsoft shops. It is reported that airsoft in the UK is expanding faster and growing in popularity than Paintball.
It is also reported that there are around 100 registered airsoft sites (some of which may be rented) and it has been estimated that a further 200 sites exist, but have not been officially notified to the police. The problem with this is that some teenagers are using these sites, as they think it is OK because they are not breaking any rules.
Airsoft rules and regulations in Australia
In Australia, airsoft guns are currently illegal to purchase or use without a firearms license.
Airsoft was legalized in Victoria (Australia) in early 2008, however, it is still illegal to possess an airsoft gun anywhere else in Australia unless you have a valid defense such as members of your local shooting club, etc. and even then if you are found with one in a public place you will still be charged and face serious jail time.
Due to the success of airsoft legislation in Victoria, owners without firearms licenses have formed a number of clubs throughout Australia for members to play airsoft at sanctioned clubs. The introduction of these clubs has led to increased calls for airsoft guns to be legal for all in Victoria, and for the same to spread throughout Australia.
Age restrictions on airsoft weapons are considerably stricter than other toy guns or BB guns due to their realistic appearance, which has led to a number of incidents where police officers and members of the public have mistaken airsoft weapons for genuine firearms.
General rules to remember when playing airsoft
In general, airsoft is a safe sport when it is played in an area where there are no people or houses around. This is because the toy guns used do not have the power to hurt someone, so injury is highly unlikely. Here are a couple of general rules to remember:
– Always wear eye protection. Even if it’s not required at the game field, keep a pair of clear goggles in your bag for use on the battlefield, just in case!
– If you are going to use an airsoft gun that has a muzzle velocity in excess of 100 feet per second (fps), ensure that it is zeroed. This means that your BBs will group at a certain point, instead of shooting all over the place. It also allows you to play more safely as it means if someone is standing behind a bush and you can’t see them but they’re in range, their head won’t suddenly disappear!
– Take care of your equipment! Always carry a cleaning kit in case anything breaks or needs fixing, and keep a backup on you. If your gun breaks, don’t be afraid to use a backup. You do not want to get mixed up in a situation without the right equipment for the right reasons.
As airsoft has gained popularity, many players have also joined the airsoft community. Airsoft is becoming more popular and a number of airsofters are placing pressure on government agencies to legalize their sport. Airsoft is regulated in most countries, but it all depends on where you live and who you play with.
If you wish to play airsoft, I strongly urge you to join one of the many airsoft clubs available. The people there are friendly and will be more than happy to help you get started playing airsoft!