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Airsoft: A Growing Sport
The sport of airsoft began as a way to "get around" legislation in the country of Japan. During the late 1950s, firearms in Japan were extremely difficult, if not impossible to obtain due to local laws and regulation. This meant that hunters and gun enthusiasts were not able to enjoy their hobby. So they needed a way to bring the experience of real guns to environment that was hostile toward them.
So they ended up inventing the sport of airsoft. Basic airsoft guns are non-lethal replicas of real guns. They can be spring powered, battery operated, or even CO2 or green gas powered. The cheaper guns tend to be spring powered, while the more expensive ones are gas powered.
This sport can be as extreme as fully tactically gear military simulations, to simplified one off skirmishes, all the way down to just a friendly game, kind of like the sport of paint ball. Events for this sport can be as little as one day, or all the way up to multi-day tournaments that bring in people from all over a region to compete. These events are usually held on weekends, and can be quite exasperating for new (and even old) airsoft players.
There is also a practical application to this sport, and that is training. Recently, there has been a growth in the number of law enforcement and military groups that have gotten into airsoft as a training ground for new officers and troops.
In the last couple of years, the sport has really grown, and there are more and more brand names and companies pushing the products. Why? Because so many more people are playing the sport. The popularity of the sport has hit America, where there is a rapid growth in the number of airsoft enthusiasts. The appeal of the sport is due to its "real life" look and action. America is entertainment driven, and movies have depicted very graphic representations of war, etc. and therefore kids, teens, and adults alike want to have a more realistic experience than some of the other sports like paint ball, that don't deliver the adrenaline rush.
You'll find when you get involved with the sport, that a basic airsoft gun fires 6 mm plastic (or paint) BBs, and can fire at the speed of 100-500 feet per second (commonly known as FPS in this sport's world). If you are interested in a local group of players, just go to google and type in "airsoft" and the name of your city or county, and you should be able to find groups that play on a regular basis. Start interacting with them, get to know what types of gear they use, and what types of scenarios they run for the games. Then you'll need to find a dealer to supply you with everything you need to give you an advantage over your opponents.