Airsoft began as another way to practice target shooting. It eventually expanded into competitions where a score is kept, and people get “shot.” Many people also enjoy Airsoft for acting out strategy discovered in video games. Airsoft offers an outlet for individuals wanting real-life action in a non-lethal atmosphere.
Airsoft also provides a safe environment for tactical simulation exercises for the military and police to hone skills, strategies, and awareness. Guns look and feel real, thus creating a realistic training program.
Not toys, Airsoft guns are instead called “high detailed firearm simulations.” Airsoft experts insist on this nomenclature because Airsoft guns fire plastic BBs at muzzle velocities of 100-400FPS. That’s enough to injure an eye, chip a tooth, and hurt the skin.
Airsoft BBs don’t pierce skin or damage internal organs, though. For this reason, they are not lethal. However, that doesn’t mean they are absent from safety issues. This article explores those issues along with some solutions.
While Airsoft BBs may not be life-threatening, they can damage eyes to the point of permanent blindness. In fact, eye damage is the number one danger from Airsoft guns.
The Center for Disease Control reports that more than 19,000 people were treated for eye injuries caused by guns that don’t use gunpowder. That includes Airsoft guns. Of those treated, 71% were under 20 years old.
Always use eye protection when firing Airsoft guns or even when near them being fired because of the potential for eye damage. This includes even when only shooting at targets. Proper eye protection can prevent serious eye damage whether from a direct shot to the face or from a BB ricocheting.
The best eye and face protection for Airsoft users range from airsoft safety glasses and goggles to full face masks. At a minimum, eye protection should wrap around sides of the eyes to protect from ricocheting BBs.
While not usually penetrating the skin, Airsoft BBs can leave painful welts which occasionally bleed when the bullet strikes the skin. For this reason, covering skin with loose clothing is a good idea. Many individuals even wear battle fatigues when playing Airsoft.
In addition, Airsoft BBs can travel fast enough to chip a tooth. This is why many Airsoft experts recommend wearing face masks to protect the entire face.
While eye, face, and skin protection will prevent the majority of safety issues involving Airsoft guns, a few other significant concerns exist that are addressed in Airsoft Safety, Part 2.
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