7 Tips to make you Better at Airsoft
Are you a beginner or have a few hours under your belt and are looking to up your Airsoft game? Well you have come to the right place!
I have seven (plus a few bonus tips) to help you get to your A-game quicker. Let’s be honest, none of these tips alone are going to turn you into Rambo on your first foray, but I certainly wish I knew a few of these before my first time out on the battlefield. These will certainly help you to hit the ground running so to speak. So here we go!
- Holding your weapon properly
- Learn the field
- Go prone
- Unload your Magazines
- Get in shape
- Learn to use cover correctly
- Get a good pair of boots.
Holding your weapon properly.
I know this sounds like common sense but as a lot of us coming into Airsoft don’t have any police or military experience, we only go on what we have seen from TV and movies and let’s be honest, that’s not really the best point of reference.
I often see new players “chicken winging” when they hold their rifles. This is when a person holds their elbow out as shown on the left in the photo above. There are no benefits to holding your gun in such position in terms of accuracy or stability, and on top of it all, you will slowly exhaust your shoulder muscles if you “chicken wing” for a prolonged period of time.
Elbows should be tucked in and straight down towards the stomach as shown on the right. Doing this during a gunfight means your profile will be small and tight, giving the opponent’s a smaller target, this is especially evident when you are standing behind cover ready to pop out and you are totally unaware that your elbow is sticking out and has signalled to the enemy where you are. Remember to keep your elbows down or those chicken wings could get shot.
Trigger finger placement is also a very important point to keep in mind when handling your AEG (automatic electric gun). Safely keeping the finger off the trigger is designed to keep you and those around you safe from accidental discharges. When your finger is bent over the trigger you are more prone to sympathetic fire, from involuntary squeezing. I speak from experience when I say it’s not pleasant to be shot in the back of the leg from 6 feet away by a teammate who had poor trigger discipline (some shady looks were thrown).
Learn the field.
This is an important tip and unfortunately, it’s one of those things, the more you play on that map the better you get. Unless you are ex-military you are not going to go into a new situation or a new map and come out on top.
Just the other day I watched a star guest squad (they are fairly popular on YouTube) who came up to our local site for a game and got absolutely obliterated. Turns out they were just used to one style of game-play; CQB (close quarter battle). CQB is usually played indoors, and you often see game modes such as hostage rescue where one team are holed up in a building and the opposition’s goal is to infiltrate the building, clear all rooms and rescue the hostage. In CQB you are guaranteed (mostly) that the room you have just cleared will remain clear for at least a little while, especially in a linear map. But the guest squad didn’t adapt their strategies to our forest map and once they had cleared one area, they would only focus their efforts on moving forward and kept their flanks completely open whilst the opposition utilised this lack of awareness by running circles around them (kinda literally).
When you start playing an FPS game such as Battlefield or Call of Duty you don’t instantly get those mad kill-streaks, it takes a while for you to get used to the controls, used to the map, and as you progress you learn the directions from which the enemy can come and where they spawn from, what line of sights they have from a particular location, what best strategies to approach a certain capture points on the map.
All these observations remain true for Airsoft, as you play at a site, you get used to different aspects of it. You learn to understand how to use the land to your advantage, you learn positions where the enemy is probably holed up, what routes you need to avoid as the enemy have a clear unchallenged sight, and also about different elements on the map which you can utilise for cover and concealment.
I remember my first time playing airsoft, I had no clue, I vividly remember the marshal blowing the whistle and the experienced players running off into the undergrowth, I stood there for a few seconds and dashed off after a few players. After a few minutes of looking in the wrong directions (because I simply didn’t know where the enemy was), I poked my head around a tree and got pinged right in the middle of my forehead. I screamed “Hit” with a mixture of surprise and pain and walked over to the dead zone where the marshals got surprised at my early casualty. I explained to them it was my first time and that I didn’t have a clue where the enemy was and how to approach them. They then proceeded to tell me that the objective was on a hill, with an encampment in the middle where the enemy had taken residence and there were two ways to get to it: either from above them or from below. Armed with this knowledge I ran back into the game and this time, I was a lot more productive providing my team with suppression fire from below so other members could flank and deliver the final blow.
Before you start your first game or when you arrive to a new site with your friends, I would highly recommend to speak to the regulars or even the marshals in order to get a better understanding of the map you’re about to be playing in. Not only will you be making new friends in the process, but you will also have a clearer, visualised picture of what the terrain looks like. You will then be a much more valuable member of your squad. In most cases, some beforehand research of the site will not be in vain, most sites have photos of their different maps and some even have diagrams on their Facebook page or on their website. Just like a real-life SWAT team doesn’t just storm an embassy without knowing the basic layout of the place you too can be armed with some prior knowledge helping you navigate the map better on game day.
Go prone… like on the ground? Where the dirt and bugs live?!
Yes, the thought of lying down on a wet muddy ground or meeting some of your childhood nightmare bugs seems like a silly idea. However, there are a multitude of reasons why I believe that this is an overlooked tip. Here’s how you can utilise staying low to your advantage.
Okay, the obvious one first, it lowers your profile and makes you a much harder target to hit once spotted. This is important especially during scenario type games where the event lasts longer, you have time and the square footage to actually set up an ambush, and the objective may require you to defend a point against attackers who have the lower ground; from the high ground, it’d make the most sense to go prone to keep your superior position hidden while also not expending too much effort to take aim.
Going prone can be useful when you are an attacker too, going prone and slowly moving up toward the objective, will mean the enemy won’t be able to see you until it’s too late. Humans, in general, try to keep their eyesight at a shoulder level and likewise their guns at that eye level, if you were to approach them at a lower angle you have the split second advantage while they refocus their weapon on you. If you are deep in cover and get close to the enemy position, bear in mind, once you start firing they will have a general idea of where the shots were fired from so engage only when you have a clear shot and continue the suppressing fire to the rest of your team if necessary.
Empty/Unload your magazines
Why? You ask. Surely it’s simpler to just leave the BBs in the magazine ready for the next game. While this may be true in terms of already unwind-ed high capacity magazines; having a loaded mid capacity magazine over a period of time will slowly and surely deteriorate the spring which is the key component of a mid-cap magazine.
As you can see in the image, the mid-caps are only powered by a single solitary spring, which over time will weaken. This can cause miss feeding, complete lack of feeding, rifle jams and other issues. So if you want to prolong the life of your gear, after each and every game day, empty your mags back into the BB bottle. This should increase the lifespan of your magazines and reduce the chance of your gun misfeeding during gameplay.
Get in shape.
I remember what it is like to have poor cardio. During a few of my earlier games when the whistle got blown and I’d rush forward into cover, I swear, I would already be out of breath and spend a minute trying to recover.
Airsoft is a sport and like any sport, fitness plays a big role in how you perform. Although fitness is often overlooked in Airsoft we spend thousands of dollars on gear and guns and we often neglect the actual physical side of the sport. Being physically fit will allow you to perform better, reduce a chance of injuries and allow you to have a more enjoyable time out in the field.
One could argue that you start Airsoft to improve your health, but like any other sport, you have to put extra practice in order to get better at it. I have handpicked three key exercises that you can do (without the need for a gym) which will directly impact how well you perform on the Airsoft field. I would suggest incorporating these into whatever workout routine you currently do for maximum benefit.
Squat jumps are going to help you with explosiveness and core strength. Explosiveness is extremely important in Airsoft as we need to be quick off the line to get to cover and in order to use an opening to our advantage. The squat jump is going to exercise every muscle in your leg and will allow for better, rapid sprints and prolonged crouching.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Start by doing a regular squat, then engage your core and jump up explosively.
- When you land, lower your body back into the squat position to complete one rep. Land as quietly as possible; this requires control.
- Do at least three sets of 10 reps.
We are not real soldiers and we don’t have to lug loads of gear over kilometers of terrain. However, we need to be fast over short distances, as soon as the whistle blows, we should aim to get to a good position in a skirmish or CQB position. Sprints are adapatble thus you can start at any level. They can help with your speed, endurance, and general cardio. Two aspects to consider for sprints are distance and time. So you can sprint the set distance and go for the fastest time or you can set a time and try to do as many short sprints as possible during that time. It is important to challenge yourself in order to see progression over time; make sure to increase intensity, even by a margin, every session.
Do 5 sprints of 30m with 60 seconds rest in between. If this is too easy, either increase the distance or do more repetitions.
Next exercise is going to be lateral raises, these allow you to strengthen your shoulder muscles and upper back. These muscle groups are constantly under tension from our kit and from carrying our rifles. Therefore, not only will you improve your performance during a long skirmish, you will also decrease a chance of injury.
To perform the exercise, grab some moderately light dumbbells. Hold them next to your sides, with a slight bend at your elbow. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and squeeze your core.
Raise your arms straight out to your sides, maintaining your elbow position, until they reach shoulder height. Your body should look like the letter T, or a cross.
Pause at the top for a beat, then lower the weights at a controlled pace back to the starting position. If you don’t have any dumbbells you can use your rifle and do the exercise one arm at a time.
Learn how to use cover correctly
Seriously. Practice this every time you’re out in the field or simply clear your rooms at home. We see a lot of incorrect manoeuvres on TV and movies for showmanship, often SWAT members or soldiers run up to a piece of cover and simply lean against it, that doesn’t really work in the real world. What you actually want to do is make sure that you get the piece of cover in front of you, but stay back from it about an arm’s length. This allows you to keep your gun up when you’re behind cover in order to shoot anyone peaking in your field of vision. If your gun is down whilst you are coming out of cover, you will lose time to bring it up to aim which is enough for an enemy to fire at you first. However, if you’re ready behind cover with your gun up read to come out you have a much higher chance to get that first shot in. Thus, make sure that you’re at an arms-length from the cover when entering a new room, or coming out of it in the field.
The other reason for that is to enhance your field of vision. If you’re behind a piece of cover and it is right up to your face, all you can see is that piece of cover in front of you. However, if you stand back about an arm’s length from it, you still benefit from the cover but you can see around yourself a bit better and get a much better sense of your battlefield.
Another useful tip is to use what you find in your environment to your advantage. If you spot a wooden pallet resting against a tree, don’t just use it for hiding. Get a teammate to join you and work together; one person can move the pallet like a shield while the other can provide fire from over the top or sides. This way you have a mobile DIY shield and thus can put a lot of pressure on the enemy team. Especially when they hold a fortified position with only few avenues of approach. Many airsoft sites have such pieces laying around so don’t be too shy to use your imagination!
Get a good pair of boots
I can’t stress this one enough, and all airsoft players you meet will back me up on this. When I went to my first time game I wore a pair of old trainers (as I didn’t mind them getting dirty) but let me tell you I was lucky to not come out of that day with a sprained ankle.
In Airsoft, you do a lot of running at varied paces and often you might have to rapidly change direction or dive for cover on uneven terrain. You have to remember that the ground (especially when playing outdoors) is never going to be perfect, there are lots of opportunities to roll your ankle. So it is absolutely vital that you get boots with good ankle support, and we recommend waterproof as they will leave your feet nice and dry throughout the event unlike my trainers which were wet through within the hour.
The pair of boots I currently use are Lowa Mountain GTX, and I must admit they are a little bit on the expensive side. However, in my opinion they are a worthy investment, not only because they have a great build quality, but the brand is so well known for their quality, their products are actually used by multiple armed forces around the world. Some soldiers have even commented on Amazon that a pair of these boots can last up to even ten years. They use Gortex which means they are fully waterproof, this is perfect as you won’t have to keep your eyes on the floor worrying that about stepping into a puddle. Another hobby of mine is hiking and living next to the peak district I get plenty of opportunities to go out and enjoy the great outdoors. Even on the longest of hikes in these boots, I’ve not had a single blister as they are incredibly comfortable. So if you are looking for a pair of sturdy boots, don’t just go for the cheapest option, just like with your AEGs, think of these as an investment that will last you a long time.
Thank you for reading my article and I hope you have found it helpful! If you have any questions please leave them in the comments below.