The Journey of a Novice Airsofter

I believe I jumped into airsoft like many kids did, when money was scarce and time was plentiful. My friends, straight-laced yet with their own mischievous streaks, owned airsoft guns. Following some friendly peer pressure, I finally decided to give in and purchase my first airsoft gun. Let me tell you, I fell absolutely in love once I discovered it there on the shelf.

A black Crossman Glock replica laid before me – a handheld punisher powered by CO2. I gazed in amazement like Ralphie at a Red Ryder BB gun, and knew I had to walk out with that gun in tow. That’s exactly what I did, along with some basics: a bottle of ammo, gas cannisters, and an empty wallet. By no means was this a premium pistol, but I truly believed I could conquer the airsoft world. After begging my mom to drive home faster, I was finally able to unbox my prized possession and break it in. We lost a lot of good cans that day.

While few thrills can compare to shooting your first airsoft gun, playing in your first game is quite memorable. Having the opportunity to test your meddle is a blast, especially with close friends. Sure, we mis-stepped occasionally (safety wasn’t exactly priority one) and my yard was our battlefield, but we made do with what we had. Like most suburban kids can affirm, the pure joy and adrenaline of casual firefights won the day. Airsoft was a great way to pass the time, and not something to take too seriously. As a beginner, it’s great to have that competitive flair. However, enjoying yourself should be the main goal – ideally with some good company. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Sadly, not every story has a happy ending. When you’re just starting out as a player, gun maintenance typically isn’t your primary concern. That said, perhaps I should’ve been less surprised after grabbing my pistol one day and having it dry fire. Repeatedly. This happened shortly before the trigger mechanism kicked the bucket, adding further insult to injury. Lesson learned! The passing of my gateway gun occurred briefly after Call of Duty entered its heyday. My search for a replacement began, and it wasn’t long before I had upgraded to my first AEG. Marksmanship quickly gave way to rate of fire. I ran around spraying BBs like Rambo and loved every moment of it. I never had the flashiest loadout or extensive knowledge of battle tactics. I carried only ammo and wore cheap camouflage, and dodged, ducked, dipped, dove, and dodged my way to victory. One of the best things about airsoft is these bells and whistles, while helpful, are not mandatory for success. The game is what you and your playing partners make it.

Eventually, I outgrew my yard and began playing somewhat-competitive games. Groups and environments grew ever larger, and quick fights morphed into multi-hour matches. My (mis)adventures took me through fields, forests, neighborhoods, and even the grounds surrounding local water towers. I made new friends, sparked new rivalries, and was shot in more places than I’d care to share. That doesn’t include the dumb pranks and inevitable accidents when you’re shooting relatively-harmless pellets at each other. I can guarantee at least one of your friends will sickly enjoy shooting you in the butt while your back is turned. No matter how competitive, airsoft is best played with a sense of humor.

We had no official fields within driving distance. Instead, we poured our energy into improvisation and constructing makeshift bases. This is typical for many airsofters in my estimation. After all, airsoft doesn’t enjoy immense popularity compared to sports like tennis and basketball, whose courts dot nearly every neighborhood in the country. The game is gaining steam, but us players are forced to get a little creative. That’s certainly not a bad thing, and makes the sport accessible in its own unique way.

I’ll admit, as I’ve meandered through life and friends have relocated, I’ve drifted away from playing more than I’d prefer. I still enjoy following the sport, researching it, and learning more. It’s a bit ironic. Though airsoft isn’t a central hobby in my life any longer, here I am writing about it. That really epitomizes the beauty of this sport and those who play it. No matter how long a hiatus you take, those past experiences leave lasting impressions.