Airsoft was invented in Japan in the 1980s, and many airsoft weapons are detailed copies of the real deal. In Japan its illegal for civilians to own weapons, this rule also includes paint-ball. Airsoft was therefore covered the demand for realistic weapons for weapons collectors, and in addition were possible to use for sport activities.
Airsoft weapons are not designed to harm and uses a 6mm plastic pellet with a muzzle velocity of 70-150 m/s. These pellets weigh 0.12 – 0.40g, and therefore have a very small impact energy. Airsoft is less harmful/painful than paintball, because of the small impact energy. The Norwegian Airsoft Association (NASF) has strict guidelines and rules concerning muzzle velocity and safety distance. All weapons are put into groups based on their muzzle velocity and each group has their own safety distance from 1 to 20 meters, based on the weapons power.
As a part of the safety rules it’s mandatory to use safety glasses. Strict rule apply for these glasses and they have to meet international safety standards. NASF do regular tests and posts recommendations on what safety glasses that fulfill these requirements.
All in all the highest risk of injury comes from people falling or twisting their limbs. Being hit is, ofcourse, supposed to be felt, but not at a painful level. Football, for example, has a higher risk of injury than airsoft.
Airsoft is a game and not, in any form, «Warfare Training». What makes it different from paintball is that it’s heavily influenced by and focused on Military Simulation and realism, in weapons and gear. Since the BBs does not contain paint, the game is based on trust between players. Airsoft is in a way a Gentleman’s sport in that each player follow the rules and take their hits when shot. Even if it can look extremely real, all the realities of war removed, the only thing that’s left is the adrenaline rush and the bonding between friends.
When it comes to the different types of games only the imagination is the limit. Airsoft can be played as role-play (MilSim) or as a competition (Speedball). No matter what you play the goal is not for your team to win, but for everyone to have fun and feel accepted. Airsoft is, first and foremost, a social and friendship bonding hobby. Not a competative sport.