Now, I've enjoyed plinking with 'soft' airguns since the early 1990s, but it's really only in recent years that I've become aware of the sport of airsoft - a version of paintballing where plastic BB-firing soft airguns are used instead of CO2-powered paintball chuckers. I say 'aware of' loosely, because I'd not really taken part in a fully-fledged airsoft event. Until last weekend, that is...
I went along to a local 'skirmish' run by Ultimate AirSoft - though it was more a recce trip for me, as I didn't want to take part, just have a look-see what it's all about. Personally, I struggle at pointing any guns in the direction of people - although airsoft guns are, effectively, very low-powered toys which shoot 6mm BBs weighing just 0.2grams, so they're quite harmless.
Run under the well-organised umbrella of UKARA - the United Kingdom Airsoft Retailers' Association - airsofting is a booming business in the UK, as it is in the rest of the world. The event I rolled up at was a regular one (at least twice a month) and was attended by over 120 re-enactors who are keen on the tactical side of the sport, not to mention its historic side. Some of the costume and weaponry was incredibly realistic, right down to the last detail.
I'm still not sure it's something I'd be so keen on taking part in, but I left the event in no doubt that the shooters who participate in games of this type are very serious about what they do - and if it's helping keep the gun industry going in these austere times, then it's certainly no bad thing.
Airsofting is a very well organised sport, and business - and if you've never done it before, or want to know more, the AirgunTV team took along a camera and dared to get right into the heart of the day-long sorties. You can watch it on AirgunTV's YouTube channel here: