How old do you have to be to play Airsoft? What age is too young? While it is important to look into the implications and dangers of guns, and the handling of them by children over 12 years. I would argue that structured training in Airsoft is acceptable for a person aged between 13 and 17. This is the age when our visual acuity is at its best and our hand/eye coordination is at its most skilled.
Furthermore, like golf, shooting learned at this age and mastered under supervision can be a formidable skill, and teaching younger people Airsoft we could well end up with a future Olympic shooter. Or a sportsman/woman in another area requiring excellent hand/eye coordination. I think that in order to appease the anti-gun lobby it would be better to ask a reputable registered training authority, to write and structure a credentialed course as a high school sports elective, and run it accordingly.
Age Need not be a Barrier to Play Airsoft
Airsoft guns in the USA are required to have orange tips to identify them from real guns. As parents, we all know that guns are dangerous and we worry about the safety of our children. Whether you allow your 13-year-old to handle a gun, or not, is up to you as a parent. Many children of 13 are very responsible, but guns are heavy, so if they were going to learn to handle an Airsoft gun they need to start with a light one.
The minimum age to start playing Airsoft depends on where you live, as the rules are different in every state. I think we often underestimate our teenagers, and after all, we allow them to handle the lawnmower and verge snipper, both dangerous tools, so why not let them handle an Airsoft gun, of course, under strict supervision.
Airsoft and Personal Protective Equipment
It is shocking to read that annually 13,000 children under 18 years get eye injuries from non-powder firearms, and 22% of these injuries require hospitalization. So before anyone even touches the gun, they need intensive safety training and some first aid training about flesh wounds and abrasions.
Gun safety is everything, and you can’t be seen in public with a gun even if it is an Airsoft gun. Putting away your firearm properly when leaving the course and not carrying it home on the bus should probably be the first lesson learned. In fact, the Airsoft gun should be stored in a locked cabinet at the Airsoft field, and only handled by the young person under strict supervision.
The equipment needed for a young person should be strictly supervised while they are learning Airsoft as a sport. This is what they will need.
- A proper airsoft face mask
- Eye goggles
- A helmet to protect their head.
- Combat gear, camouflage.
- A combat jacket
- Army boots and thick socks
There are legal aspects to outdoor gun activities, and the law is there to keep everyone safe, so as a parent it is a good idea to know the law in your area. Some areas don’t have any laws on non-powder firearms.
Once they have their equipment they will be ready to start their Airsoft training program.
Assessing your Child’s Maturity to play Airsoft
Younger children should not be taken to the Airsoft field, as it is not a suitable spectator sport for them. They won’t have any understanding of why they can’t participate, so take them somewhere for more age-appropriate activities.
Children aged 13 and up have a very strong understanding of danger, and in most cases ( unless they are delayed in some area of their development)
have an ability to understand the dangers that come from handling an Airsoft gun. Limits on purchasing guns will mostly be restricted to much older people, so once you have decided on the right sort of Airsoft gun for your 13-year-old, you will need to go and make the purchase. To teach your child the right way to do things, he should be trained in Airsoft skills at a designated Airsoft field.
Once he is at the field he will find that they have their own regulations for wars and combat held on their property. This is good for your child, as at this stage their safety is all about the rules. Once your child is ready for his first combat/wars, he will understand the rules and how important they are for the safety of everyone playing. The dress code of the club should also be checked as some require a full face shield for everyone under 16 years.
There are also video games that will assist in preparing your child for the combat game, and as children learn very quickly it may be something he can watch and learn at home. By the time you get to your first combat game, here is a list of what you will need to buy to actually play.
- Face and eye protection, full face shield, like a COVID shield.
- Firearm and rounds of ammunition.
- Proper long sleeve thick cotton shirt and long pants.
- Hiking boots/ army boots with traction.
- A holster.
- Bottle of water
- Flak jacket with compartments to carry the water
- Knee pads and gloves.
- Radio devise.
- Some trail mix or dehydrated food to carry.
As a responsible parent, it would be best for you to be present at combat games and activities, just in case something goes wrong. If the game is straightforward all should be well. But, when something goes wrong the child could become rattled and require emotional support, and need some debriefing.
This can happen in any type of sporting event, and sometimes a child will totally ‘lose it’ when something goes wrong. I have seen it right through the football season with the under fourteens, and often there is a ‘meltdown’. This is the responsibility of the parent, and a parent should be present at all times.
How Old do you Have to be to play Airsoft?
Boys aged 13-14 would actually love Airsoft, and I realize it creates an ethical dilemma in some circles. Given the video and play station games that the kids all play at home, I don’t feel that Airsoft is in any way damaging to children, and there would be many young girls who would love to take on the boys at a sport like Airsoft. Often the girls are quite mature at this age and have a cognitive ability to plan a good strategic game, and the outcome could be quite interesting as all our children are now so very competitive.
In Australia, you can hardly mention the word gun without being lynched, we have all become so politicly correct, and as someone who grew up on a rural property in the 60s in my family, we were all very good at shooting a real gun, once!
What Age is Too Young to Play Airsoft
I think that by now we know that anyone younger than 12 is too young to play Airsoft, but every child is different and some kids aged 12 will not want to play, and that’s okay, they can choose another sport. Children under 12 are not big enough to carry a weapon, and they are cognitively and emotionally not mature enough to fully understand safety. I think that if you have younger children that they should not even be taken to see an Airsoft game, as there has to be a cut-off point somewhere and why to expose them to guns when they are still happy to watch Disney movies.
With the school curriculum now, there are so many activities that teachers have to undertake every week. In most cases the curriculum is overcrowded, but with the rise of sports high schools, I am sure that there is room for one more sport, and learning Airsoft would be a good addition.
Experts say that an Airsoft rifle can kill a small animal. so a lot of training should be put into the safety training of young people in ‘Safe Handling’ procedures. This aspect is worrying, as it is horrible to think that young people would even contemplate killing anything. I guess that the fact that a gun is not a toy would constantly have to be reinforced. Many parents would find it hard to allow their children to handle a gun, and others would embrace it as the sport that Airsoft is.
How Old Do You Have To Be To Play Airsoft? Final Thoughts
In a way, I can see both sides of the argument. One hundred years ago men were heading off to War at the age of 14, and they had to learn to use a gun very quickly. None of us would want to see this happen again, but there is a lot to be said for having training and ability in using a firearm as it is a skill and if you don’t use it you will lose it. Also when you see older people playing Airsoft they seem to be having such fun in their teams that you immediately want to join in!
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