If the idea of spraying an opponent with plastic pellets appeals to you, you better be ready to take a fair share yourself.
The pellets, called BBs, can be projected by either a gas canister within the weapon, a spring, or a battery-powered electric motor depending on the type of gun being used. BBs can reach speeds of up to 650 feet per second (198 m/s), so players are required to wear long sleeves and pants to protect their skin, as well some sort of facial protection in the form of a face mask or goggles.
Airsoft games rely on an honors system of players self-reporting when they're hit. "We're all here to get hit", says Matthew Timoszyk, a long time Airsoft player and blogger for a digital network of Airsoft players and vendors called Airsoft Squared. He's quoting an Airsoft commander of a team that he plays with from time to time, and for most players it's true.
But not everybody follows the rules. "You'll have guys who don't have enough honor or integrity to call their hit. And it is frustrating."
Despite those players who can't help but try to cheat the system, Timoszyk gets his fair share of "kills" thanks to his uncanny ability for sneaking up on the enemy unheard or seen. You would think that this ability comes from his military training, but Matthew attributes this skill to his background in theater.
"I was given my nickname, the Ghost, by a director that I worked for because I can sneak around the theater without anybody noticing". It's a fitting name, even in the field where he is known for taking his "victims" by surprise.
But even the Ghost takes a hit now and then.
"The worst place to get hit, believe it or not, is your hand", says Timoszyk, adding that he gets hit in the knuckles a lot.
However, The most serious injury that an Airsoft player may sustain is in the eye. A poorly aimed shot at an unprotected eye can cause cataracts, vitreous hemorrhaging and hyphema, so players are required to wear some form of eye protection.
What form that protection takes is up to the player, whether it is ski-style goggles, face masks, metal mesh or plastic safety lenses or a combination of some sort. But the problem with most eye protective goggles is that they can inhibit vision, which is an Airsoft player's most vital asset.
"I've been hit in the face many times, but I choose to not wear a face mask because one of the biggest problems is that it fogs up the eye protection". Instead, Timoszyk wears safety glasses and a thin mouth guard.
Still, apart from stinging knuckles and sly opponents, the Airsoft field is Timoszyk's happy place.
"What I love about [Airsoft] is that it's a great stress-reliever. It really makes you focus, but it's also a great getaway. Once you put on the uniform and pick up a weapon, you get transformed into a whole new world".
Airsoft has been infiltrating America's recreational markets since the early 90's, and with a strong military aesthetic and combative appeal, the number of players in the United States has been steadily growing since.
Looking to get started playing Airsoft? Check out one of these Michigan locations:
24649 Mound Rd, Warren, MI 48091
Tango Down Tactical
2937 E Grand Blvd, Detroit, MI 48202
Kalamazoo Airsoft Field
1809 Reed Ave, Kalamazoo Township, MI 49002
Close Quarters Tactical
Utica Dr, Shelby Township, MI 48315