So, your kid wants to get into airsoft?
It’s all he talks about and, according to him, all the cool kids are into it.
You want to allow him to indulge his passion, but you’re worried that the whole airsoft experience is going to be detrimental to your child’s safety – and their long term development.
You’re not alone.
In this world of school shootings and violent video games, many parents feel that airsoft is sending the wrong message to their kid.
Others are equally concerned with the potential physical dangers involved.
In this article, we delve into the subject of airsoft and kids to provide you with a balanced perspective on the issue.
Parent’s Guide to Airsoft Guns
Airsoft may appear to be a relatively new phenomenon.
However, it is important to realize that airsoft has been around for a long time.
The first airsoft gun was made by a Japanese company back in the ’80s, long before paintball guns were even invented.
Airsoft guns were created as, and remain, low velocity, non-lethal guns.
They generally fire at a velocity of 300-400 feet per second. The airsoft BBs that they fire are either 66mm or 8mm in diameter and generally weigh .20 grams.
When your child is hit, a red welt will be left under their clothing. However, if they are hit on the bare skin, it will probably break the skin.
For this reason, the majority of airsoft fields around the world will have a minimum engagement distance of around 10 meters.
If you are going to allow your kids to play airsoft in the backyard, over and above target shooting, you should insist that they are wearing full protective gear.
The greatest danger when it comes to getting shot is being hit in the eye. That is why it is imperative that your child is wearing quality goggles at all times.
Kids can get frustrated when wearing goggles as they tend to fog up and impair vision.
Talk to your child about this, stressing that they must never take off their goggles, no matter how tempting it may be.
As a responsible parent, you should impose a number of set in stone rules regarding airsoft guns. They should include:
- Only point the gun in a safe direction
- DO NOT look down the barrel of the gun
- The gun MUST be in safety mode unless you are firing
- Only place your finger on the trigger when you have the intention of shooting
- Always act as if the gun is loaded
You should be aware of the airsoft laws in your local area. Each state in the US has its own laws in this regard.
For example, in Massachusetts, it is illegal for anyone but parents to purchase an airsoft gun for a child.
Ignorance of the law is not an excuse, so you need to be educated before you go down the airsoft route with your child.
How Old Should a Child be to Play Airsoft?
The first point to note when answering the question of what age a child should be to play airsoft is that, in most places, you have to be at least 18 years of age to buy an airsoft gun.
However, there are many thousands of children under that age who play airsoft battles. Most airsoft battlefields in the United States have a minimum age of 12.
However, they usually stipulate that children aged between 12-15 need to have an adult supervisor with them at all times.
So, children under the age of 12 should not be encouraged to play.
Whether or not you allow a 10-12-year-old to practice target shooting with an airsoft rifle in the backyard is a decision that you will have to make.
The decision as to whether you allow your child to have an airsoft gun can be guided by their age, but, ultimately, it needs to be a decision based upon their attitude and level of maturity.
Is your child old enough to understand the concept of personal responsibility – that every action they take has a consequence?
If not, leave it for a year and then revisit the issue.
You can probably recall that a generation or two back, it was quite common for kids as young as 8 or 9 to have a BB gun.
This was primarily used for target shooting in the backyard. In comparison to a BB gun, an airsoft gun is actually safer. Rather than a metal pellet, they fire plastic BBs. These 6mm projectiles are fired at between 300-400 feet per second (fps).
Although lower than what you’d get from the average BB gun, this is still powerful enough to take out a person’s eye.
We should also take into account the current social and political climate. There is a fixation on guns as being responsible for the problems in society.
As a result, many people recoil at the sight of a pre-teen running around with a weapon that looks very much like a real assault weapon.
And that brings up a significant issue that you need to consider – realism.
Airsoft guns are extremely realistic looking. In comparison to the BB guns of old, there really is no comparison!
Airsoft assault rifles, especially replicas, are virtually indistinguishable from the real thing. It is imperative that, when they are carrying their guns in public, people keep them in a carry case.
If you don’t trust your child to be able to do that, are you prepared for them to be mistaken for a lunatic with a real assault rifle – and the potential consequences that could follow?
If you do decide to allow your child to have an airsoft gun, you need to sit down and discuss the issue of potentially being mistaken for holding a real gun.
Let them know that this has happened and has resulted in people being shot with a real gun. If they don’t ‘get’ how serious an issue this is, do not let them go near an airsoft gun!
You should also know that, in most US states, it is illegal for a child under the age of 18 to transport airsoft unless they are in the company of an adult.
In some states, only a parent can give an airsoft gun to a child under the age of 18.
Airsoft should only be played on a designated airsoft battlefield, so there is no reason that a child, or anyone else, should be carrying them around in public.
You may decide to allow your under 18-year-old to use an airsoft gun on the battlefield and then keep the gun locked in a safe at other times.
Airsoft for Kids: The Pros
Assuming that your child is at least 12 years of age, what are the benefits of allowing him to get into airsoft.
We’ve identified the following benefits:
Safe Intro to Guns
Airsoft allows a child to be introduced to the world of guns in a safe manner.
It can teach them responsible gun handling and safety, such as treating every firearm as being loaded, always pointing the weapon in a safe direction, the importance of always wearing protective gear and the proper techniques to do with leveling, aiming and firing the weapon.
If your kid is anything like the vast majority, it’s hard enough to get them off the computer, let alone running around in the great outdoors for 6-7 hours straight.
Airsoft can do that. In fact, many kids find it so addictive that they are literally begging you to allow them to run around in the woods for 6-7 hours every weekend!
That has got to be good for them physically.
At the start, your child will probably be content to run around with very little structure shooting of BBs. But, as part of a team, they will soon be learning some vital life skills.
They will learn to be a team player, to follow orders, exercise patience and construct strategy in order to bet the opposition.
We live in a social media-driven world that, ironically enough, is hugely anti-social.
Kids, in general, do not engage with others face-to-face. As a result, they lack basic social skills that kids of a generation or two ago had mastered by the age of 10.
Being part of an airsoft team allows them to develop those skills. They will be interacting with people of different age groups, too, which is one more lost skill among the young people of today.
Airsoft can be a wonderful experience for your child. It provides the opportunity to learn to handle guns safely while also developing physically, mentally and socially.
However, there are potential pitfalls. This article has provided you with a balanced perspective on both sides of the issue. Now, the decision is yours!