For many kids and teens, airsoft is the closest they can get to a real-life video game. This exciting sport lets players experience combat simulation with non-lethal air-powered guns. While it’s mostly safe, you might wonder when exactly is a good age to let your kid try it out.
The minimum age to play airsoft is usually 13 to 14 years old. However, different states and fields have different rules about when minors can buy and use airsoft guns. Additionally, parents may have different opinions on when children can play, depending on the individual child’s maturity level.
This article dives into the factors affecting the minimum age to play airsoft. We’ll also examine the potential risks of injury for kids who participate in airsoft, and how to mitigate those risks.
The Minimum Age Range To Play Airsoft
In most situations, the minimum age to start playing airsoft is around 13-14 years old.
The foremost reason is safety. Airsoft is typically safe when you observe proper rules and equipment. However, children might struggle to follow all the guidelines and get injured as a result.
For example, an 8 or 9-year-old might have difficulty remembering to keep their safety goggles on or may struggle to hold and use cumbersome airsoft rifles correctly.
I won’t deny that age range is disputable. After all, there’s plenty of mature 12-year-olds and immature teenagers.
However, on average, a teen has a better grasp of personal responsibility and safety than a child has. They’ll also have a few more years of physical development, allowing them to be able to handle airsoft equipment designed for adults.
Additionally, younger children are at higher risk when playing airsoft, and are especially susceptible to suffering eye injuries.
We’ll talk more about the risks of airsoft for kids further down.
However, there’s a couple of other factors affecting the minimum age to play – that is, the rules of individual fields and varying local laws.
Airsoft Age Restrictions Based on Field
Many airsoft fields require participants to be within specific age ranges to play. They may request players below a certain age have adult supervision. Or bar children under age from playing entirely.
Generally, the minimum age of play is around 10 to 12 years old. However, children below 15-16 years of age will usually require adult supervision. This is partially why ages 13 or 14 strike a happy medium.
At this age, teens develop a sense of basic respect and responsibility, but they are still young enough to be supervised and guided. This means you can teach them how to play airsoft appropriately without worrying about them rebelling against your rules.
However, other events, such as military simulation (MilSim) airsoft events, have their own rules.
MilSims are much more intense than regular airsoft play. They often involve multiple days of play meant to simulate an ongoing military engagement.
While many 13 or 14-year-olds handle it okay, it poses more risks for children than normal airsoft. In fact, it’s arduous enough that the U.S. Army has used airsoft MilSim in their combat training, so it’s easy to understand why it’s not meant for younger children.
Airsoft Age Restrictions Based on Law
We have a legal age for driving, voting, and buying firearms. But what about airsoft? Is there a minimum age where it’s legal to purchase or possess an airsoft gun?
Believe it or not, there’s no federal law for the minimum age to play airsoft (however, you must be at least 18 years old to buy an airsoft gun).
States and some counties govern the laws on handling airsoft guns within their borders. And there are some major differences.
So in determining the minimum age to play airsoft, it can often come down to where you live.
Some places, like California, treat airsoft guns as if they’re firearms. That is, you must be 18-years-old to purchase and possess them legally.
Other states, like Nebraska and Maine, consider them to be more akin to toys than weapons and don’t have any age stipulations for using or possessing airsoft guns.
That said, while you may need to be 18 years old to buy an airsoft gun in some states, minors can usually still shoot them legally as long as they have adult supervision.
Risks for Kids and Teens Playing Airsoft
Airsoft is seldom deadly, but it can be hazardous.
Thick fabric or goggles can easily stop the plastic pellets shot by airsoft guns. However, they can still do considerable harm if they hit unprotected parts of the body.
Studies have shown that playing airsoft increases a child’s chances of eye damage dramatically.
From 2010-2012 alone, the rising popularity of airsoft caused a 500% increase in child eye injuries due to the guns. This is another reason why you don’t generally want kids under 13 years old playing airsoft – they’re simply more likely to get hurt when doing so.
Additionally, airsoft injuries are often severe. While getting hit on the skin usually only leaves you sore, pellets to the eye may cause permanent vision damage.
If you’re allowing a child under the recommended minimum age to play, make sure they do so safely.
The easiest way to keep them unharmed is by buying the proper equipment.
Recommended Airsoft Safety Equipment for Your Child
Thankfully, airsoft isn’t as equipment intensive as you might think.
Here’s a list of what you should make sure your teen or kid has before they play:
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- Airsoft Mask – Probably the most essential gear you want to buy is a full airsoft mask, such as the durable Senmortar Airsoft Mask (available on Amazon.com). It’ll protect the entire face effectively.
- Tactical Gloves – Hands are very likely to be hit due to being exposed while firing at opponents. Durable and flexible gloves such as the Accmor Gloves (available on Amazon.com) will protect your child’s hands from those shots.
- Knee and Elbow Pads – Airsoft can involve lots of crouching, diving, and crawling. So, you want to make sure your child’s elbow and knees are cushioned. I recommend the affordable VOVOV Knee & Elbow Pads (available on Amazon.com), which are made of nylon and are both comfortable to wear and durable when used.
- Thick Protective Clothing – Finally, you want to ensure that your child covers any remaining exposed areas in clothes. Consider having your child layer up with outerwear and scarves for extra protection. Comfortable boots are a good idea too.
Once they’ve got the right equipment, your child can enjoy their time on the field while staying safe.
There are few sports out there that manage the immense thrill of playing airsoft. The sport can be dangerous, but your kids should be safe as long as they observe the rules and wear protective gear.
While it’s recommended that kids be at least about 13 to 14 years old while playing airsoft, it is possible for younger kids to play as well. However, you should be confident that your children are mature enough to deal with the sport, and the field you’re playing at allows younger children to play.