Starting off in Airsoft can be a pretty daunting experience. There is a lot to learn and perhaps more horrifying, a lot to buy. I had the luxury of already having a friend who played that could lend me a variety of gear for my first few games to see if I liked it. Honestly, that’s what I’d recommend first. Before you spend any money on gear or guns, play a few games to make sure you enjoy what you’re getting into. If you don’t have a friend you can leech gear off don’t worry, most sites let you rent a gun and a face mask for the day. While the initial costs of a few game days and renting a gun seem expensive, its waaaaaaaay cheaper than gearing yourself out then realising Airsoft isn’t for you.
Okay, you’ve been to a few games and you’re hooked, what’s the next step? Well if you live in the UK you want to look at getting your UKARA registration sorted out. In brief, UKARA gives you legal exemption from purchasing replica imitation firearms (RIFS) which is usually a prosecutable offence in the UK (Americans please don’t laugh). This means you can purchase realistic looking Airsoft guns without the dreaded bright two tone colouring. For more information about UKARA give it a quick Google, their website is easy to find and explains how it all works very clearly.
Believe it or not guns are not the most important part of airsoft that prestige goes to eye protection. I’m gonna be crystal clear here. DO NOT SKIMP ON EYE PROTECTION. Buy something with a suitable ballistic rating and personally I wouldn’t recommend anything that isn’t full seal. Full seal is something that creates a full seal around your eyes so that no matter the angle BBs cannot penetrate. I know those slick shooting glasses look cool but they do not provide 100% protection, they leave gaps and tragically people have been injured while wearing them. Buy a recognised brand, Revision, ESS, Bolle, there are literally hundreds to choose from and tonnes of official retailers. You only get one pair of eyes so spend the extra cash and buy something decent. Mesh or lenses? Well that’s more a personal preference. Again in an ideal world I would recommended everyone choose lenses for absolute protection but if you’re like me and sweat more than a pig in sauna they can be a royal pain in the arse. I run some ESS Profile goggles with a Heroshark mesh insert so I get a full seal but don’t have to worry about fogging. A lot of people don’t like mesh for the same reason I don’t like shooting glasses, BBs can sometimes fragment on impact with the mesh (especially bio BBs) and fragments can pass through into the eye. Mesh comes with that risk and it’s up to you if you want to take it. If you play at higher fps sites it might be best to stick to lenses but if you play in a low fps cap country or a low fps site, mesh is a more viable option.
Boots soldier! Boots! Get yourself a good pair of sturdy boots with ankle support. Spraining your ankle sucks and on your average airsoft site there is plenty of uneven terrain and debris to trip on so trainers won’t cut it. I know I probably sound like your mum making sure you’ve got your packed lunch for school but its basic stuff that can ruin your day if you get it wrong. You can pick up a decent pair of boots for very little money these days and they don’t just come in black anymore.
I know this isn’t exactly the most fascinating side of Airsoft but getting the basics right means you can spend your day getting stuck in and having a good time playing rather than sitting in the safe zone or worse an ER.