If you want to start an instant debate, just ask whether or not a beloved activity is a sport or a hobby. Depending on who you ask, some will claim that airsoft is one of those borderline activities that shouldn’t be classified as a sport. Still, if we check the definition of “sport” in the dictionary, anyone who plays airsoft will say it definitely meets that definition.
Here are 9 reasons why airsoft is considered a sport:
- Airsoft is competitive.
- Airsoft can demand skills and technique.
- There are airsoft tournaments for a reason.
- Airsoft involves lots of athletic movement.
- Airsoft requires physical fitness.
- Airsoft is an individual and team effort.
- Airsoft has rules, just like any other sport.
- There’s a winner and a loser.
- Airsoft may not be standardized, but it’s still organized.
Let’s take a deeper look at these 9 reasons behind classifying airsoft as a sport to discover how you might become an airsoft athlete.
1. Airsoft Is Competitive
Don’t be deceived by the name of this activity. Airsoft can actually be hard and painful, but no matter what you call it — it’s definitely a sport.
Don’t believe me? Think it’s just a glorified hobby? Well, you’d be wrong, and here’s why.
Dictionary.com defines “sport” as “an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature, as racing baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, wrestling, boxing, hunting, fishing, etc.”
Airsoft fits into that “etc.” category because it checks all of the boxes. Physical prowess? You betcha. Skills? Oh, yeah. Competitive? Absolutely.
Competitiveness or competition essentially means a rivalry between two or more people, in team settings or as individuals, who stand off against one another and measure who’s better at a particular action.
Airsoft is similar to paintball and other team sports/activities. You compete against others to see who is the last man or last team standing.
In airsoft, the game’s goal is to eliminate the opposing team players by shooting them with small plastic projectiles from air weapons, referred to as airsoft guns. Once you’re “shot,” you either identify yourself by yelling “HIT,” or, depending on the gear you’re wearing, your vest will light up or somehow designate that you’ve been hit.
The winning team or individual is the last one standing. While the game varies in style and composition, the most common forms of airsoft are speedsoft games, live-action role-playing games, and military simulations.
Speedsoft airsoft games are exceptionally competitive because they’re all about speed and performance. As a result, players usually opt for more practical weapons than the highly realistic military-style airsoft guns in speedsoft that are common in airsoft tournaments.
If you’ve ever enjoyed participating in an airsoft match or even similar activities like paintball, you know that it’s easy to get sucked into the action and feel the pulse of competition ringing in your ears.
Airsoft is a fun and engaging activity that generally inspires feelings of friendly rivalries. Depending on the team’s dedication or players, airsoft teams will sometimes have patches that signify their team with their own specialized logo. The fires of competition can then be lit by burning an opposing team’s patch, often inciting a match.
2. Airsoft Can Demand Skills and Technique
Airsoft was first introduced to the world of sports in Japan in the ’70s. It involved different projectiles shooting at each other, and not the BB’s typically used today, and over time, it’s become a popular activity of choice for many. It’s gained so much popularity that it’s listed on the Encyclopedia of Sports page.
If you’ve played airsoft before, you know that it takes a lot more than just walking around waving a BB gun to win. In fact, just like all sports, you require finesse and skill to succeed at airsoft. Airsoft is one of the few sports and other activities used by the US military and police forces as a training tool for soldiers and officers to prepare for intense situations and combat zones.
The fact that the military and police see airsoft as technical and skillful enough to be used as a training activity should tell you a lot about how demanding this sport can be.
So, just like in battle, individuals and teams must strategize, prepare, plan, and skillfully execute attacks before hitting the airsoft field.
Airsoft teams spend time discussing their tactics and even practicing strategies. Practices and planning sessions can vary depending on the type of airsoft game you’re playing, your seriousness as a player, and the game’s stakes.
Military simulation adaptations of airsoft are typically the most strategic versions of the sport. These players are more likely to be focused on planning and preparing for a match than other variations because these games often require players to accomplish a specific mission or task, such as capturing the opposing team’s flag.
3. There Are Airsoft Tournaments for a Reason
Airsoft involves competitiveness and requires some technical skills and knowledge. But beyond that, airsoft is a sport that also involves tournaments depending on where you live, where you play airsoft, and how invested in the sport you are.
In some places, like Romania, where airsoft is an officially recognized sport, there are larger-scale games and series of games with true airsoft athletes who compete for an overall prize.
Airsoft is similar to sports like soccer or football. It can be highly competitive in specific settings, like a tournament, and not-so-sporty or competitive in others, like a backyard throw-down.
If you’re playing football in your backyard, does that make football any less of a sport? Absolutely not! The same is true for airsoft.
There are some who debate the classification of airsoft as a legitimate sport because of its lack of organizational oversight. These haters cite that airsoft doesn’t have an organization that actively monitors and oversees games, like the NFL does for football, so it can’t be a sport.
However, airsoft still meets the definition of a sport, and it can have oversight depending on the tournament and the location. As mentioned, some countries have already designated and officially recognized airsoft as a legit sport. America may not have officially dubbed airsoft a sport, but the overwhelming evidence supporting this sport can’t be ignored.
4. Airsoft Involves Lots of Athletic Movement
In the early ’90s, airsoft gained popularity and began to take off in places like the UK and the United States. While the game has changed in terms of styles and settings since then and adapted into several variations, it’s still a sport that demands some athletic ability.
Whether you’re playing in an indoor or outdoor field or course, playing military-simulation style, speedsoft, or something else, you won’t be standing still. Airsoft games require the players to move.
If you’re playing the speedsoft version of airsoft, you’ll be physically exerting yourself because it’s a faster-paced version of airsoft. Players often run, jump, dive, or do any number of movements to successfully evade getting shot or shoot opposing team members.
The live-action role-playing versions of airsoft, although less athletic, still require some measure of physical capability.
5. Airsoft Requires Physical Fitness
If you’re playing airsoft, there’s a good chance that you’ll be running in either an outdoor or indoor airsoft field. Even military simulation games involve running, squatting, kneeling, and other physically exerting activities.
When you’re playing airsoft, you’ll probably need to maintain some sort of endurance to last as long as possible and win the game.
The type of field that you’re playing in doesn’t affect how much physical exertion you can expect to put out. But the fact that this sport is used by the military and police force as a training exercise should tell you a lot about how physically demanding this activity can be.
If you’re not physically fit, you can play other versions of the game to minimize the amount of work you’ll have to put in, but the more physically in shape you are, the better experience you’re likely to have while playing.
The dictionary definition shared above states that for an activity to be classified as a sport, it must be physically exerting. Airsoft definitely fits that definition.
6. Airsoft Is an Individual and Team Effort
Like most sports, even recently declared sports like cornhole, it takes an individual and team effort to succeed.
You have to put in your best effort to contribute to the team and ensure success. In many forms of airsoft, teamwork is essential, just like it is in sports like football or basketball. The ability to work, strategize, and compete with others are ever-present necessities on any airsoft field.
So, despite the overwhelming evidence to attest that airsoft is a legitimate sport, if you still find the facts debatable, read on for more proof supporting airsoft as more than a hobby.
7. Airsoft Has Rules, Just Like Any Other Sport
Every sport has specific rules that players and participants must follow to play. The regulations make it fun, challenging, and fair for all participants.
Airsoft, just like any other sport you can think of, is governed by a set of standard rules that keep the game in a realm above hobbies like painting or playing board games.
While different game variations and accompanying rules and procedures ensue, the standard rule of any airsoft game is that if you get shot by your opponent, you’re out. Now, this can get sticky if you don’t have an unbiased means of ensuring individuals don’t cheat. However, assuming every participant is honest, the honor system of self-identifying your hits can and does work.
Some argue that without enforcement of standardized rules, it can’t be classified as a sport. However, those people fail to realize that not all sports, and the laws that govern them, are always strictly adhered to and enforced.
For example, if a foul happens in a basketball game, but a referee doesn’t call it or doesn’t see it, does that delegitimize the entire sport? What if there are no referees at all?
Then it’s up to the good sportsmen that are participating to show their integrity in the sport by self-identifying their own fouls, or, if you’re playing airsoft, hits.
There are some larger airsoft tournaments that use anti-cheating equipment, like vests that light up when they’re hit, similar to laser-tag games, that can also help enforce the main airsoft rule.
Other variations of airsoft rules can involve specific missions for each team, which are essentially additional tasks for each team to complete, or targeting one specific enemy, and more.
More standard rules exist, mostly pertaining to safety; to see a full list of official rules, check out this list from VIP Airsoft.
8. There Is a Winner and a Loser
Some variations of airsoft involve having to hit every player on the opposing team to win. Some require achieving a shared mission, like capturing the flag. Still, no matter what adaptation you play, you’re playing to win.
A significant piece of competition is some sort of recognition or prize. For example, if there’s no prize involved, you at least get the pride and joy of being recognized as the winner.
In more significant airsoft matches and tournaments, an additional prize is often involved varying in type and monetary value.
While some argue that airsoft doesn’t qualify as a sport because it’s often played as “friendly matches,” meaning games where a winner and loser aren’t necessarily identified, it’s no different than friendly games of baseball or any other sport where you’re not keeping score.
Whether you’re competitively keeping score or competing for fun, airsoft as an activity is still a sport.
9. Airsoft May Not Be Standardized, but It’s Still Organized
Those that debate the legitimacy of airsoft as a sport claim that its lack of standardization in the world of sports proves that it’s not a sport.
Even if it were true, airsoft, by definition, is a sport, as proven above. Beyond that, even though airsoft isn’t necessarily standardized in the same way as football with tiers like the NFL, airsoft leagues can form – and likely do – in areas where it’s an officially recognized sport like it is in Romania.
Because it’s capable of being standardized,it’s well organized enough to be classified as a sport.