Airsoft and Kids: Complete Parental Advice [Is it safe for children?]
Most likely you have never heard of airsoft but your child has watched countless youtube videos of airsoft snipers and won’t stop bothering you about it, or you play on the weekends yourself and your child simply wants to be like their dad/mum. Now the question arises – “is airsoft actually safe for my children?”
In order to answer this question, we will delve deep into the topic covering both concerns and advantages of the sport, such as: age requirements, risks and precautions, benefits of airsoft and even offer a parental guide on different types of airsoft replicas.
So is Airsoft safe for children?
In short, the answer is: yes – airsoft is safe to play for children above 12. Similarly, the majority of airsoft fields around the USA, Europe and other continents have a minimum age requirement of 12 years old; however, more often than not, children aged between 12 to 16 have to be accompanied by an adult during the game.
Therefore, get yourself ready to get your boots dirty and enjoy a bonding day out with your children! Nonetheless, we wouldn’t recommend encouraging children below the age of 12 to play airsoft; continue reading to find out all the reasons why, covered in the following sections:
- Risks and Precautions
- Safety for Players & Recommended Products
- Benefits of Airsoft
- Parent Friendly Guide to Airsoft Replica
Risks and Precautions
How old should the child be to own an airsoft replica?
In most countries, the age requirement for purchasing an airsoft replica is over 18 years of age. On top of that, certain countries even require an extra proof/defence/licence in order to purchase one that is a realistic imitation – meaning it has no bright colours or an orange tip on the end.
However, it is legal for an adult to purchase a replica and then gift it to their child or a friend; although, we would strongly recommend that you do not give one to a child that is under 12 or one that you feel that does not fully comprehend the seriousness and responsibility of owning one.
Nonetheless, If you do decide to get one for your child, please make sure that your chosen replica comes with bright colours or an orange tip to indicate to any observer that it is in fact an airsoft toy/replica and not a real firearm.
There is a specific reason for this, owning an airsoft replica means that one has access to it at all times. Subsequently, there have been many cases of irresponsible owners shooting in forests, parks or other public locations. This can cause a lot of distress to passer bys, and unfortunately might result in an armed response from the police – yes, it can get that serious.
Watch the video below to see a police officer dealing with two teenage boys in the USA after they were reported walking around with a realistic pistol replica in the streets; luckily, everything ended well and the boys were simply schooled about being more responsible:
After all, if you do decide to purchase an airsoft replica for your son or daughter who are under 18, please make sure to introduce them to it with proper training and an extreme emphasis on responsibility, safety and being sensible.
How to choose the right airsoft club for your child?
Before sending your children off for their first game, we thoroughly recommend following your chosen airsoft site/club on their social media account to get a feel for the community. On top of that, feel free to message or ring the managers/owners of the club to tell you more about it.
For example, some clubs will not tolerate swearing which is great for the young ones, some might have more intense and competitive games than the others, some might specifically cater for a family friendly experience rather than hardcore airsoft matches. Communicate and if need be, visit the site yourself before you bring your child as well.
Please see our maps for UK and USA airsoft maps by clicking below:
Finally, once you’ve chosen your local airsoft club, make sure to check their rules in order to avoid any disappointments. As mentioned in the beginning, the majority of clubs will request for players aged between 12 to 16 to be accompanied by an adult. However, some clubs simply refuse anyone younger than 18; therefore, make sure to check the club’s specific rules before turning up.
What’s the risk of children playing airsoft / with airsoft replicas?
As you know yourself, children can be unpredictable and might not fully comprehend the seriousness and responsibility of owning a realistic airsoft replica. There are many minor to major injuries that can happen whilst handling an airsoft replica; here is a couple of common ones that are possible whilst playing/shooting without required protection and sensible approach:
- Twisted ankle
- Eye injury
- Facial/dental injury
- Property damage
- Animal abuse
- Police getting involved
Note: The following section covers the issues an airsoft player might run into; however, please click here to be taken to the ‘Safety for Players’ section to see a detailed rundown of recommended products and precaution guidance in regards to all the risks mentioned above.
One of the most common injuries throughout the airsoft community is a twisted ankle, especially when playing outdoors. As you can imagine, most of the playing fields are based in forests or fields and when one is in the middle of a BB firefight, they can easily lose track of their footing or simply slip on uneven terrain. However, this is easily avoidable by investing in a sturdy pair of boots with ankle support.
Read more: See our other article on ‘Seven tips for Airsoft Beginners’ which includes a detailed section on why proper boots are incredibly important or scroll down to see our recommended airsoft boots.
Afterall, airsoft is a shooting sport in which BB pellets are shot at other players; therefore, as you can imagine bruises are a common occurrence. This is most poignant at indoor matches where the distance between players is very close or during summer when it’s too hot to wear more than one or two layers of clothing. Luckily, most outdoor sites will have minimum distance engagement rules; or if a player is right next to another, he/she would ask them to surrender instead of shooting them.
If this is a concern to you or your child; we simply recommend wearing extra layers, such as a hoodie or a pullover for the first few games before you commit to military style gear.
Furthermore, one of the most horrifying injuries that can occur whilst irresponsibly using replicas is eyesight loss. Any of the replicas mentioned above are powerful enough to permanently cause serious injury to one’s eyes.
Therefore eye protection is absolutely crucial and non-negotiable, even when simply doing target practice in the freedom of your own garden – all involved MUST wear glasses/goggles or a mask. Finally, no airsoft field will permit players to play without eye protection; it’s simply a necessity.
Along with the above, the next important aspect of airsoft is to protect one’s mouth. Even though airsoft is an honorable sport and most players will avoid shooting someone in the face/head unless they absolutely have to, it still accidentally happens on a regular basis. One’s face and mouth can easily be protected by wearing a face-mask which covers the nose, mouth and a majority of cheeks.
Although mouth/face protection is not obligatory, in my opinion it is also extremely important as I have personally witnessed players having lost or chipped teeth during a game. Do not risk it; a decent mask costs less than $15 on average.
Now imagine your child shooting the airsoft replica inside the house; crash, the BB just shattered your wife’s mirror! This is something to consider, airsoft replicas are powerful enough to shatter glass, windows, TV screens, chip wall paint and plastering and so on. Training your child to use the replica responsibly is absolutely crucial in regards to this; otherwise, we strongly recommend shooting in a backyard or a garden.
If that’s not possible, then here’s a simple trick – use an old shoe box and draw a target or print a target sheet and stick it on the top of the box. The BBs will penetrate the lid, but will also perfectly collect inside the box. Cheap and cheerful solutions!
Now this is quite a serious issue again; animal abuse, whether accidental or purposeful airsoft replicas can cause serious harm to an animal. Eye or mouth injury is just as relevant to animals as to humans.
Therefore, we strongly suggest having a conversation with your child about being sensible with airsoft equipment around animals. Airsoft replicas are powerful enough to cause serious injuries to animals in regards to eyes, mouth and skin; even potentially piercing their skin. Please take serious precaution when shooting in the vicinity of your furry friends.
Police getting involved
Finally, what’s incredibly important is the fact that most replicas in any of these categories are realistic in comparison to their real counterparts. As mentioned before, it is vital that under 18s have the bright colour versions in order to make it easily identifiable as a replica. We strongly recommend only to buy these versions until your children turn 18 in case there are any misunderstandings.
Safety for players
Let’s start with the most important part of safety for airsoft players; eye protection. Eye protection is obligatory for any airsoft games and also extremely crucial for eye safety. Therefore it’s worth investing in high quality equipment in order to not run into unnecessary incidents.
There are generally two types of goggles that are available – polycarbonate and mesh goggles. I thoroughly recommend polycarbonate goggles over mesh for a specific reason; BBs splitting upon impact with the material.
Although the mesh goggles have the advantage of not fogging up, their huge downside is that you risk a BB splitting against upon impact with the plastic mesh and BB debris falling into your eyes. This has happened to me personally on two occasions within my first game; it’s not a pleasant experience and can cause serious eye irritation, especially if eye drops are not available to wash the eye out immediately.
Therefore, here is our recommendation for a good value for money and extremely safe goggles which exceed ANSI Z87.1 high impact requirements and are CE EN166 certified, CAN/CSA Z94.3-07, MIL-V-43511c ballistic standards.
Furthermore, face and teeth are also a vulnerable spot for an airsoft player; no one wants that missing front tooth look. This category also offers a few different variants of protection from: standard half-masks, half-masks with ear protection, balaclava face masks and full face masks which are often seen in paintball. See the following for recommended products from trusted companies:
The head itself is not really prone to injury from BBs themselves; although a shot to the head can hurt a lot, especially when one is bald like me. However, here’s a few reasons why airsoft players should also wear head protection: accidental bumps into walls, falling over and banging their heads on the ground and so on.
Therefore, we recommend the following helmets which are made from ABS plastic and produced by high quality airsoft and paintball companies; these will also become useful in regards to accessories to a more advanced player down the line.
Torso and legs; it’s worth wearing a layer of decent & breathable clothing considering the amount of physical activity and sweating during an airsoft game and also to protect one from potential scratches, bumps and minimising the pain from being shot by a BB.
Overall, good sports wear will do for a beginner; once your child decides to take up the hobby more regularly, it will be worth purchasing clothes with basic camouflage to improve the experience.
As mentioned previously, the most common injury in Airsoft is a twisted ankle. Therefore, high quality boots with ankle-support are essential for playing airsoft. We recommend either high trekking/hiking shoes or investing in “combat boots” which are often leather or suede; comfort is as important as safety to avoid any bruising or blisters.
Benefits of Airsoft for your child
Rules and Regulations
One of the benefits of rules and regulations is both you and your children learning the local laws in regards to Airsoft. This is incredibly important when taking up the sport or even just owning an airsoft replica.
In order to ensure you or your children don’t find yourself in any funny business with the authority, make sure to google local laws specific to your country or state. We can provide you with the following:
- UK Laws and Airsoft Regulations Guide (LandWarriorAirsoft.com)
- USA Airsoft Laws by State Guide (Bachbio.com)
Secondly, airsoft is a great way to introduce teenagers and young adults to shooting sports in a safe environment and manner.
Airsoft can teach them: responsible handling and safety; always pointing the replica in a safe direction; the importance of always wearing appropriate and protective clothing and equipment; and actual techniques in regards to aiming and firing.
Here’s a quick break down of extremely important set of rules which we recommend that you as a responsible parent – implement instantly:
- Only point the replica in a safe direction
- DO NOT look down the barrel of the replica
- The replica MUST be in a safety mode unless you are firing
- Only pace your finger on the trigger when you intend to shoot
- Always act as if the replica is loaded – there always might be a lingering BB
At the end of the day, airsoft is a sport and requires a lot of physical endurance. Certain games can last between 8-10 hours and whether the player is walking, jogging, sprinting, ducking or jumping, airsoft players are constantly on the move.
Similarly to other competitive and team based sports, this is a great way to improve your child’s fitness and make sure they get regular exercise whilst having fun. Finally, the appeal of airsoft is a great way to get your child off their computer or console.
As all airsoft players, when they first start, your kids will be running around the field and shooting at any player that moves. However, with regular games and time, they will begin to learn vital skills that are transferable to other areas of life:
- Team skills and working with others
- Leadership and following instructions
- Taking responsibility
- Strategies and tactics to outsmart the opponents
- Thinking on the spot to adapt to the situation
Furthermore, some clubs/sites might offer free games for helping them build a new section of the site, painting walls or taking pictures of the games. There are always opportunities to give and get back great experience in regards to life skills. I have met college photography students at games taking photos for the club to use for their projects and in return receiving free games.
Airsoft is an honourable game; the first and foremost thing it teaches a player is fairness. You might have wondered how a player knows if they’ve been hit – they can feel it, however, there is no visual confirmation there it is potentially easy to cheat. Therefore, the sport of airsoft and its community is built on the foundation of trust, fairness and honour.
Furthermore, your children will be socialising with other teenagers and adults from different paths of life. I have personally played with other teachers, (I am an English teacher myself), business men, ex-soldiers, high school students and so many more.
Airsoft brings a wide variety of people together; including professional backgrounds, race, ethnicity, religious beliefs. It’s an amazing and welcoming community and your children will have an open mind in regards to new people they meet.
All kids will have a chance to come out of their comfort zones and be put in situations where they need to think quickly and as a part of a team. Their actions will affect their teammates and potentially the outcome of the games.
One of my favourite moments was to see a twelve year old boy win the game out of nowhere as he hid in a bush and then took out the whole team of – ADULTS! It certainly was a laugh for us, but the boy immediately got so much more confident after everyone praised him for his skill.
Parent Guide to Airsoft Replicas
Finally, there are different types of airsoft replicas which are generally categorised into: spring-action, gas/high pressure air and electric. Without getting too technical, their velocity/ power output is measured in FPS (Feet per second) and Joules (Energy). Although, all of these replicas can be altered and modified, therefore their velocity/power output can be changed to suit the player’s needs, they generally come out of the box in this order in regards to power:
- Least powerful – Pistols (250 – 330 FPS)
- Standard power – Electric Rifles (280 – 350FPS)
- Most Powerful – Sniper Rifles (380 – 500 FPS)
The most popular type of replicas are electric as they are the easiest to run in the field and cover most of the famous rifle models; all they require is a battery and BB pellets. Closely followed by gas powered pistols which provide a slightly more realistic experience as they provide kickback when shot.
Finally, spring powered rifles are often used in sniper models as they are the most powerful in order to reach further targets. If you decide to purchase a replica for your children, we would recommend the electric models for playing airsoft games and spring-action or gas pistols for target practice. Here are a couple of our top recommendations based on price, weight and kid friendliness:
If you would like to read more in depth information about how airsoft replicas work and how to maintain please see our other articles, such as:
All in all, airsoft is a great way to spend the weekend for children in the company of their peers or yourselves. We thoroughly recommend it due to the vast amount of benefits from learning to follow the rules to genuine mental, social and physical development.
We hope this article has helped you make the decision and you found it helpful. Please feel free to comment below or message us on our social media accounts, or via the contact form in regards to any questions you might have!