Airsoft is a wonderful sport that incorporates simulated combat scenarios with replicated weaponry that shoot small plastic bbs. Barriers of entry into Airsoft are low and the community of players is simply the best. What’s not to love?
If you are just getting into the sport, there can be a lot to take in. Fret not as with any sport, practice makes perfect. Nobody’s perfect and mistakes are sometimes made. The best part is that mistakes should be taken simply as a learning tool. In life, as in Airsoft, mistakes allow people to reevaluate a situation, learn from it and grow.
Here are 15 beginner Airsoft mistakes to avoid like the plague. These are some of the most commonly made amongst new players. The mistakes listed below are in no particular order.
INADEQUATE EYE PROTECTION
Starting out, it can be very tempting to rush out and start playing Airsoft even if only to be just plinking around in your back yard or with a few friends. One common mistake that some beginners make is not having the proper safety gear before beginning to play Airsoft.
The bare-minimum item of safety gear you must have is good pair protective eyewear. Beginners will sometimes skip on this altogether or they will buy the cheapest protective eyewear available. The rationale behind this is that there is a belief that what they have bought “will be good enough” or they simply believe they “won’t need it” because they will play carefully.
Sometimes players who have regular eyeglasses will try and get by without purchasing eye protection with the belief that what their glasses will be sufficient enough to protect their eyes from flying bbs. Much like those with eyeglasses, beginners may also be tempted to use the cheap pair of plastic “shooter” style glasses that are sometimes included in the box with their Airsoft replica. In either case, standard eyeglasses or the plastic eyewear can easily allow Airsoft bb’s to penetrate through open areas in the frame, striking the eye.
I cannot say this enough… You only have two eyes. It is simply not worth the risk. So avoid doing yourself a huge disservice, by investing in adequate full-seal protective eyewear.
***TIP: Steer clear of cheaper types of eye pro such as safety glasses or mesh goggles. While both are economical, these types of eyewear offer inadequate protection. Safety Glasses are not full seal and allow bb’s a path into your eyes. Mesh goggles can be penetrated by bbs or allow bbs to shatter which can be introduced into your eye causing damage. Also consider, that while cheap eyewear doesn’t cost you a lot upfront, it may need to be replaced more often. In the long run, this is not saving you much, if anything.
Just as in any sport, Airsoft too can be physically demanding. The Airsoft experience provides plenty of movement such as walking, running, jumping, crouching, crawling and sometimes even climbing.
As such, you should be prepared by expecting some sustained activity and being in decent enough shape to keep up. By any means, this doesn’t mean you have to be super fit, but if you get winded walking to the field form your car, you may need to reevaluate starting. Unless you are playing the role of Sniper, keep in mind you will be moving around, a lot with your team, and sometimes quickly. Should you have reservations regarding your level of physical fitness, it is always good practice to consult your doctor. Personally, I am not in tip-top shape myself; however, I know my limitations and can play within those limitations just fine. However, everybody is different.
***Tip: As in any sport, stretching or “loosening up” prior to going on location can help get ready for some of the rigors of gameplay and avoid injury. Additionally, working on your personal health a little each day can prove beneficial in the long run, and would not be limited to just for the sport of Airsoft.
Drawing on my personal experience, this has not been something all too common that I have seen, but it has happened. Typically, I like to give the benefit of the doubt sometimes to newer Airsoft players. I understand those really new players may get caught up in the excitement of the game, and they may not realize something they have done would be considered cheating or breaking the rules. However, there are some that intentionally cheat, which becomes a behavior that is not a mistake.
Cheating by far takes so much away from the game. No one likes a cheater and the angst of playing with a known cheater really takes some of the fun out of an Airsoft game. Cheating is the type of behavior that when repeated, can have a player asked to leave the game, or in worst cases, banned from a location.
Examples of cheating are things like being hit, not calling your hits, and continuing to play. Another example would be giving away the enemy’s position when you are already dead and walking to the designated respawn point. Or maybe you decide to cheat the chronograph so you can use an Airsoft weapon that normally would not be allowed onto a particular field.
At the end of the day, it pays to just be honest. Call your hits and follow the rules and don’t become that person labeled a “cheater”.
THE WRONG ROLE
This is one of those all too common things that happens amongst beginning Airsoft players. Typically Noobs will sometimes want to jump right into the Sniper’s nest. As they do this, they will go out and buy a sniper rifle, optics, accessories, etc. What they soon discover is that being a sniper (for some) is not nearly as fun as running and gunning with the rest of their team. Sniping requires patience as well as skill. In a lot of cases, these are qualities that beginners seem to lack their first time out on the field. Additionally, Airsoft rifles are nothing like the real steel. They do not have the range or accuracy of their real-life counterparts. This leads to repositioning are teams move in the battle area. Airsoft snipers will find that shots fired will not penetrate some things that are in the path of the bbs. This is simply due to the power of an Airsoft sniper rifle being hugely less that of the real steel.
Another role that a beginner may find themselves mistakenly jumping into, is that of a Support Gunner. This is a role that may not be suited well for all beginners. What makes this something that may not be suited for all beginners is that Support Gunner’s, typically have guns that are suited for suppressive fire. Some of these guns may be bigger, heavier and cost more. Even if the price is not an issue for a beginner, carrying around a bigger gun with additional magazines may prove to be a bit much for those just starting out. Common weapons carried by a Support Gunner include the M249, M240 and RPK’s.
Sometimes, a beginning player has their sights on a specific gun (no pun intended). Something about the gun looks “cool”. This leads them into picking the wrong role.
As a beginner, it’s best to assume a role where you will be able to move about as it will allow you to get a feel for how the game is played. A very natural course for most beginners is the role of Rifleman. Riflemen are on the front line and help their team advance through the game by completing objectives. Common weapons carried by Rifleman include the M4, M16, G3, MP5, and AK-47’s.
***TIP: Sometimes trying a Hybrid role can help you get the most out of gameplay while opening up a variety of other weapons you may like. For example, a Designated Marksman is a Rifleman-Sniper hybrid role. DM’s identify and acquire targets. They also are capable of picking off the opposition that is just out of the range of the rest of the team on the front lines. To be successful choose a semi-automatic rifle designated “DMR”.
CHEAP-O AIRSOFT WEAPON
It’s often been said that “nothing good is cheap and nothing cheap is good”. You don’t have to spend a boatload of money to get a solid Airsoft weapon. However, that doesn’t mean you should opt for the cheapest gun either. When it comes to shopping for an Airsoft gun, beginners sometimes end up not spending enough on their first or primary Airsoft weapon. They later find out that the cheap-o model they bought cannot stand up to the rigors of gameplay. They get out in the thick of battle, the gun breaks, and they are left shelling out more money for a replacement. Or worse, they spend their hard-earned money attempting to have the cheap-o gun repaired…that’s another mistake in and of its own.
For the beginner, you want a good solid gun that won’t break the bank. Airsoft guns come in many price points. I recommend steering clear of anything below $100 USD (even if that is a sale price) as these are on the lower end of the spectrum and can usually be cheaper toy guns. Replicas in the $175-$275 USD price point are going to be built well and will be reliable. A good starting point is around $150 USD.
Remember, an Airsoft gun is a must to break into the sport (aside from good eye pro). I understand that everyone’s budget is different, but there are many great guns out there. If you have to, save up first and get something better. Don’t just settle for the first gun that you have money for now. Trust me on this.
***TIP: Pay a little more for a quality Airsoft replica, and avoid paying more to fix or replace the cheaper option in the future. Have a budget and plan to save up to meet your budget. Airsoft is not going anywhere anytime soon. Not settling on the first weapon you have the cash for will pay off in the long run.
I am sure you have known someone (or at minimum know of someone) who may fall into this category. Don’t get me wrong, there are some awesome accessories available. Many of which I am sure could enhance gameplay. However, in reality, many accessories aren’t really necessary to become good at Airsoft. Practice and consistent learning are how you can become better at Airsoft without accessories…
Regardless, this caliber of newbie shows up to his/her first game and they walk out onto the field with everything they don’t need. Beginner’s of this caliber go out and buy literally every accessory they can afford to deck out their first weapon. Perhaps this may be in an effort to impress more seasoned Airsofter’s or maybe it’s an intimidation tactic. I feel what is more impressive would be a beginner who has picked up some skill without all the extras.
So right off the bat, buying a ton of accessories seems pretty foolish. First, when starting out, you’re jazzed up and ready to go full bore. So, what happens after the first game? What if you decide that, wow, this is really not for me. Now, aside from your Airsoft gun, you’re also left with a lot of extra stuff. Ask yourself, can you recoup what you have spent if you should decide this is not for you. Remember it’s now a used Airsoft weapon and accessories. People like to bargain when something is used.
Even if you do stick with it, consider this…all the accessories mounted to your Airsoft weapon will add extra weight which can certainly make it awkward for some beginners to handle or even carry for an extended period of time.
Accessories cost money and believe me, it all adds up fast. This is money that could be better spent on quality gear, ie., better protective eyewear or even a better gun. When starting out, you don’t need to go for the most expensive Airsoft gun either. Just stay clear of the el cheapo garbage guns.
One way you can gauge if the accessories could be something that would work for you is to hit the field and talk with more seasoned players. It never hurts to ask another player. Most Airsoft players out there are good people who don’t mind talking shop. In some cases, they may let you try one of their accessorized weapons. This is probably the best way to try before you buy. This way you can get a feel for whether or not it would be worth the expense of accessorizing.
When you are new, you may be chomping at the bit to get out there and play. Putting eagerness aside, becoming familiar with some basic Airsoft rules as well as location-specific rules can go a long way when you are a newbie. Knowing the rules can also extend a type of game itself as some games have their own specific rules for how each game is played.
Knowing and following the rules, gameplay can be conducted in a safe and fair manner. Here you can find the article I wrote about Airsoft rules that everyone should know. Go ahead and read it to become familiar with some of the basic Airsoft rules.
REUSING BB’s IN YOUR AIRSOFT GUN
I have seen this first hand. This is one of those types of mistakes that can literally ruin your Airsoft weapon. While there are many benefits to recycling, when it comes to Airsoft, the reuse of bbs in your Airsoft gun brings with it anything but benefits.
First off, bbs are not outrageously expensive enough to warrant collecting them one-by-one off of the field for reuse. The problem with reusing bbs in your Airsoft weapon is that once bbs have been expelled from the gun, they can pick up scratches, dents, and even dirt. Airsoft bb’s can hit surfaces that weaken their structural integrity which makes them also susceptible to shattering. While the bb looks ok, running the imperfect or dirty bbs through your Airsoft gun can cause wear or damage to both the internal working components of the gun and the inner barrel.
DUMPING AMMO (AKA THE SPRAY & PRAY)
At first, this may sound similar to hastily ditching all ammo on hand, but it’s about firing discipline and how the lack thereof results in wasting ammunition. Face it, we know it’s fun being able to shoot your gun on full auto. However, there is really no need to become Sgt. Mac Eliot mowing down an entire jungle with a mini-gun. Dumping a large number of bbs onto the opposing team is not only inefficient and wasteful but makes for a very boring game of Airsoft. There is really no skill involved.
Also, running your Airsoft replica continuously on full-auto can cause the gun to overheat. Overheating an AEG Airsoft weapon can ultimately damage the gun’s electrical components as well as its motor. So, in addition to being inefficient, wasteful and boring, it can also end up costing you more money in repairs or replacement of the Airsoft gun.
***Tip: Try setting your Airsoft gun to semi-auto. Take aim and fire at a rate of one bb per second. Being efficient and effective while maintaining a steady rate of fire against the opposition will help you preserve ammo. You can also avoid unnecessarily overheating your weapon.
POOR QUALITY OR CHEAP BB’s
Using poor quality or cheap bbs is another error that novice Airsoft players find themselves making. “Super Cheap” or even “Bargain” bbs have proven to have inconsistencies that are prone to have imperfections. It’s the imperfections that you sometimes cannot see, that can wreak all the havoc on your Airsoft gun.
Going cheap on bb’s now with the belief that you are getting a great deal and saving money, will cost you more in the long run. The truth is that Airsoft bbs are really not that costly. The problem with cheap bbs is that they are typically lower quality and poorly made. Lower quality bb’s can cause multiple problems from damaging your barrel, jamming your gun, and even breaking inside the magazine or gun. This, in turn, causes the need for a repair or replacement of gun components. Worst case scenario, serious damage warrants the replacement of your weapon.
For example, when a bb jams in your AEG during auto fire, the bb itself can break causing fragments to fill internal components. If an imperfect bb does not jam but makes it through your inner barrel, it can cause scratches or damage to the barrel. This affects other bbs being sent through the barrel causing them to take a less than a straight flight path.
***Tip: When looking for a “High Quality” bb, do not base this off price point. All too often I hear of someone buying what is perceived to be a “higher quality” bb because it cost more, only to find that it was the opposite of what they thought. High-quality bbs are made of superior materials and are consistent allowing for near-identical shots being fired with each bb.
SHOOTING AFTER A JAM
If your Airsoft gun jams while you are in the field, the best course of action is to immediately stop firing and take cover. Before you attempt firing, the Airsoft gun needs to be cleared of what is jamming it. Continuing to pull the trigger could cause the jam to become worse or even cause damage to your gun.
The first order of business is to take cover and resolve the issue. You need to clear the jam before you can continue using your Airsoft gun. If you are playing with an AEG, the first thing you should do is remove your battery. In all Airsoft guns, remove the magazine. Disengage your hop up to avoid damaging it. At this point, you’ll need your Airsoft gun’s cleaning rod (hopefully you have brought this with you). You will need to carefully insert this rod into the barrel to gently push the bb or offending material out of the gun. You may have to do this more than once depending upon how many bbs or material is jamming the gun. Once you have sufficiently cleared the jam, you can replace your battery and magazine. Try test firing your weapon without any ammo first. If you are Airsoft weapon appears to be operating correctly and sounds like it is firing as normal, test fire with a bb.
***Tip: Regular cleaning and proper maintenance of your Airsoft gun will help reduce the chance of your gun jamming. Additionally, using quality ammo, maintaining your weapon, and not reusing bbs can go a long way in the effort to preventing jams.
INCORRECT UTILIZATION OF COVER
Typically, players take cover either when they are taking fire or when they expect to take fire. As such so do beginners. However, sometimes beginners will use cover incorrectly causing them to be less effective.
Beginning Airsoft players tend to plaster themselves directly up against a piece of cover. This can limit a player’s effectiveness. First, it limits their view of the battlefield. The view of the battlegrounds is important when it comes to seeing your opponents. In this situation, the player may have to reposition to acquire a better view and risks being hit.
Second, being tight up against a piece of cover may also mean a player will not be ready to engage an enemy. This may require them to ready their weapon when they emerge from cover. This makes them less effective when taking a shot, as an enemy presents themselves. Under this situation, they also run a greater risk of being hit.
While in cover, beginners may sometimes be reluctant to move away from one area of cover to the next. This can be due to fear of being hit. Other times, they may perceive that staying put would be more effective as they can pick off the enemy from where they are at. This belief may come from an overestimation of their weapon’s effective range. However, staying put is actually not as useful as their team advances since the battlefield is ever-changing.
***Tip: Position yourself about a foot and a half away from the piece of cover with your Airsoft weapon up and ready to engage opponents. This will give you a better view of the battlefield while having your weapon up and pointing in the direction you are looking at. You will be ready to engage should an enemy present themselves.
Regular basic maintenance of your weapon is a must as it relates to protecting your Airsoft investment. Keeping your Airsoft gun maintained will ensure optimum performance and will help to avoid downtime as well as issues that are cause for total gun replacement.
Keep your Airsoft gun clean and lubricated. If your bbs are deviating when you fire your weapon, it can be an indication that your Airsoft gun barrel is dirty. The barrel of your weapon should be cleaned and lubricated with spray silicone.
Cleaning your gun barrel is a very simple process only requiring your cleaning rod and a decent lint-free and soft paper towel. The cleaning/unjamming rod that came with your Airsoft gun usually has a tip where a strip of soft paper towel can be threaded through. Apply a light amount of lubricant on the cleaning strip. Insert the cleaning rod and gently spin it as you move it down the barrel. The cleaning process should be repeated as needed.
Sometimes, it may be necessary to lubricate the internals of the gun. Jamming or misfeeding is also a sign that your gun may need some lubrication. Empty the Airsoft gun of any bbs. Start with lubricating the hop-up. Spray a sparing amount of silicone lubricant into the hop-up and allow it to work its way inside.
Lubricating a gearbox will require a little more effort than lubricating a barrel or hop-up and may be out of the comfort level of a beginner. If you are not handy, or not confident that you can perform this type of maintenance, it is always best to have your Airsoft gun serviced by someone who is experienced.
Basic care also extends to caring for your magazines. Keep your magazines clean! BBs can take dirt from the magazine into the gearbox and out the barrel. Keep your magazines empty when not in use. This means emptying out bbs when you are done playing. This will preserve spring strength in spring and AEG style weapons. For gas-powered guns, emptying the remaining gas will help reduce O-ring deterioration which would cause the development of leaks.
BEING TOO COMPETITIVE
Airsoft is a sport. Like other sports, there is bound to be some competitive behavior. However, sometimes beginners can easily become too competitive. I have seen instances where players have gotten so caught up in the game to a point that their behavior teetered on the edge of unsportsmanlike conduct.
Airsoft is just a game, which should be enjoyed. Some friendly competition and banter between teams should be expected. However, when things go too far or are taken way too seriously, it can be less than enjoyable. You may find it hard dealing with someone who is being too competitive. It all starts with keeping your cool. With beginner’s who are overly competitive, just remember they are new and may have unintentionally let themselves get out of control. In most cases simply communicating with them in a calm manner can help ease the situation. In some cases, it may be easier to simply let them “win” and move on.
Airsoft is meant to be fun and is not a matter of life or death.
NO RESPECT FOR THE LOCATION
Sometimes, beginning players get so wrapped up in all the excitement of Airsoft that they forget that they are on someone else’s property. Whether on private property or public property, players should always be respectful of the location. A lack of respect is something that can get you banned from a location. Respecting the location can be as simple as following the rules of the location, being respectful of others and leaving the location in better shape than you found it. By showing respect for the location, its rules, and the laws, you are a positive reflection of the Airsoft sport. This is one of the core values that ensure the sport will be around for all to enjoy.
Airsoft is an exciting sport combining realistic replica weapons with combat simulation. Practice makes perfect when you are a beginner in any sport and Airsoft is no exception. Mistakes are sometimes made when players are in the beginner phase but should be looked upon as an opportunity to learn and grow in the sport.
See you out on the battlefield!