Airsoft…that’s like Paintball, right? I hear this all the time when I tell someone that I played airsoft on the weekend or that I just got in a new airsoft gun.
Sometimes I just ask if they are into first-person shooter video games and if they say “yes”, I’ve got an easy response. “Then sure, the same as Battlefield is just like Call of Duty”. After the hailstorm of “No way” CoD vs BF or BF vs CoD comments, and they catch their breath, I make the connection to what — for me — is the main difference. This is obviously a generalization but serves to clarify what I enjoy about airsoft.
Like Battlefield, airsoft is a tactical, large scale, team-based event where you rely on your sqaud for support and communication. Paintball, like Call of Duty, is intense, skill-based, fast-action rounds with paint flying everywhere.
Both sports have projectiles flying at you but unlike the larger paint filled balls that explode on impact, airsoft pellets are hard plastic and don’t mark their target. In paintball if you get hit it’s usually pretty obvious by the paint splatter. In airsoft, it’s a honour system, it’s up to the player to call his hits. Like any sport you’re going to have the occasional player that doesn’t but the field refs and teammates usually put them on the right track.
On the gear side of things, airsoft tends to be more realistic looking. Guns are military and replica based, resembling real weapons. Mostl players will opt for full camo uniforms, helmets and vests. Paintball tends to be a bit flashier in clothes and the guns (markers) have a unique look. However, more recently the markers are getting the real weapon look overhaul and there are some pretty impressive looking ones out there.
Granted in airsoft there are close quarter combat events, small squad matches, speedsofting and free-for-alls but the mainstream is essential about planning, teamwork and execution where battles last a few hours. Paintball also has military simulation events and tactical squad play, but is traditionally burst rounds and running from cover to cover.
My personal take is that airsoft has a much lower cost of entry. Of course you can spend a ton of money on top of the line guns and gear but a reasonable investment (or even rental gear) can still make you competitive.
When it comes down to it, it’s players shooting at each other and hopefully having fun with their friends. So whatever you’re playing, enjoy the start of the outdoor season.
If you play both or have moved from one to another, please comment below to tell us your story.