Saturday, 28 August 2010


In between watching the third day of the Fourth Test Match between England and Pakistan and modifying some Heroscape™ hexed terrain (and photographing each state of the process for a 'How to' blog entry I will write later this weekend), I have been sorting out my airsoft gear.

For those of you who don't know what airsoft is, Wikipedia defines it as 'primarily a recreational activity with replica firearms that shoot plastic BBs that are often used for personal collection, gaming (similar to paintball), or professional training purposes (military simulations, a.k.a. MilSim, and police training exercises). A primary difference between airsoft guns and BB guns is that an airsoft gun uses a 6mm or 8mm plastic pellet and has a muzzle velocity of typically less than 180 meters per second (600 feet); which is generally considered safe when used in a controlled environment and with safety equipment like protective eyewear.'

I became interested in airsoft when I found a shop in King's Lynn, Norfolk, selling a lot of cheap 'springer' (i.e. spring powered, single-shot) airsoft guns a few weeks before a COW (Conference of Wargamers) some years ago. I took the guns along, where we played a few, impromptu games with them ... and that is how the whole thing started.

Since then, airsoft sessions have been a part of most COWs, and they have actually served a very practical purpose in showing wargamers who have not had much or any military training how important ‘battle drills’ and cover – however sparse or small it may be – are on the battlefield.

Would you read a blog written by this man?
This photograph was taken during an airsoft session held some years ago during February (hence the very necessary woollen gloves!). Gloves, thick clothing and – most importantly – eye and face protection are essential safety equipment. The gun I am carrying is an AK47 AEG (Automatic Electric Gun) made by CYMA, and the ammo pouch is a genuine ex-Yugoslav Army item; I know, because when I bought it there were four empty AK47 magazines (still in their greased paper wrappers) inside it!
Those cheap guns are long gone … but over the years (and before the Violent Criminal Reduction Act came into force; this Act makes the buying and selling of airsoft guns in the UK much more restricted than it previously was) I acquired quite a collection of guns. These need fairly regular maintenance and checking, and today was a day when I had enough time – and space – to do it.

I have not had the opportunity over the past years or so to take part in any airsoft battles, but one of the leading retailers recently opened a CQB (Close Quarter Battle) venue less than three miles for where I live, and hopefully I might be able to go along there soon and take part in an evening session.


  1. The Violent Criminal Reduction Act makes AIRSOFT guns harder to purchase?!? Really?!?

    I live within ten miles of the OK Corral (Tombstone, AZ), so I guess seeing guns - airsoft, show, and real - is pretty common. You see people openly carrying handguns in the local stores. Crime is down too, despite being on the Mexican border where 30 miles away, drug cartels blast away at each other.

    Ah well, to each their own. Your outfit looks cool. :)

  2. Dale,

    I usually try not to make even vaguely political comments on my blog but ...

    In the UK we have a history of having legislation that shuts the door after the horse has bolted, and the Violent Crime Reduction Act is such a law.

    I suppose it began with the Hungerford Massacre (where an individual armed with two semi-automatic rifles and a hand gun shot sixteen people dead and wounded fifteen others before killing himself) and the Dunblane Incident (where an individual armed with four handguns [all legally held], entered a Primary School and killed sixteen 5 & 6-year-old children and a teacher before committing suicide). The former led to the banning of private ownership of semi-automatic rifles & shotguns, and the latter led to the banning of private ownership of handguns.

    Despite the legislation brought in at the time, gun-related crime continued to rise, and this led to the Violent Crime Reduction Act, which amongst other things bans the ownership of realistic and replica firearms because these were often what armed criminals were using during robberies etc. Airsofters can continue to own such firearms but their defence in law is limited to showing that they use them for the hobby/sport and nothing else.

    We have now had another shooting incident in Cumbria, and there is pressure to make the ownership of shotguns restricted as well.

    The reasoning behind all this legislation is that if you make guns difficult to get hold of, you reduce their criminal use. In fact, it does not seem to have worked, and firearms are still available to criminals; the only people who don’t have them – and are not allowed them – are non-criminals.

    I hope that this explains the situation, which may appear odd to most Americans.

    All the best,


  3. Good to see another wargaming airsofter around on the net.

    What is ironic is that Russia, which has gun laws comparable to the UK, but gun numbers equivalent to the USA, has far more murders than the USA. Whereas Canada has more guns per head of population than the USA and less murders.

    Murders are made easier with the right tools, but what we are seeing is the rise of murders exacerbated by social disenchantment from destabalising influences on the social mores and customs that bind society together.

    Unfortunately, this means that harmless hobbyists get their interests curtailed due to the perceived needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few.

  4. Paint it Pink,

    Yes, there are a few airsofters around within the wargaming community … but we tend to keep it quiet just in case the wargamers think that we are weird(!).

    As it has often been said, it is people who kill people, not guns. If guns were legally more readily available in the UK, I don't know if there would be an increase or decrease in gun crime, but to penalise people who are responsible holders of firearms does seem to miss the point somewhat.

    My father was a soldier, and even as a child I was taught gun safety. I may have only had a toy gun, but I was taught to treat it as if it were a real one. Today most youngsters learn about guns from watching films and playing video games ... and believe what they see. I had a conversation with one of my South East London students some time ago about guns, and he asked what I would do if he brought one to college. When I told him that I would take it away from him he said,

    “But if I pulled the trigger, you’d be dead!”

    “Would you have loaded it correctly, turned the safety off, and chambered a round before you pointed it at me?”

    “What are you talking about? I don’t know what them things are?”


    Apparently you never see that done in films or computer games, so obviously don’t need to do them.

    All the best,


  5. Sounds like we should be very grateful that computer games DON'T show how to handle guns correctly! I hope you won't be teaching your pupil stuff he really doesn't need to know...

    The thing I don't understand about UK legislation is why committing an offence with an imitation weapon [that has not been converted to fire live rounds] is treated equally seriously as using a real firearm. One would have thought that the public and police would be far safer if the law encouraged crooks to use imitation weapons, rather than real ones...

  6. Arthur1815,

    I think that you know me well enough to know that I wouldn't tell (or show) a student that!

    The reasoning behind the sentencing guidelines seems to be that the victim of the crime does not know if the gun pointed at them is real, imitation or – as in one case – a banana in carrier bag that was held and pointed like a pistol. This does make sense in that this is one instance where the effect of the criminal act on the victim seems to have been taken into account.

    All the best,


  7. But Bob,
    Although the victim of a crime committed with an imitation firearm may be frightened temporarily, they won't end up getting shot! The potential physical harm to the victim is less.
    So, IMHO, it would be preferable to legislate in a way that did not encourage criminals to use real guns instead of imitation ones, because they will receive just as severe a sentence as if caught with the latter. Otherwise, the 'might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb' principle comes into effect.
    And, one could argue that the criminal who uses an imitation weapon, although prepared to bluff/frighten his victims, demonstrates he has no intention of injuring them physically, so deserves to be treated more leniently than someone who uses any artefact that can actually cause harm, be it gun, knife, club or even fists.
    As Mr Dickens said, "the law is a ass!"

  8. Arthur1815,

    I cannot fault your argument or your reasoning; I am just trying to explain the thinking behind the sentencing guidelines.

    My own feelings are that the laws in the UK relating to firearms of all kinds are flawed, and do seem to punish the responsible law-abiding person whilst not deterring the criminal.

    As your quote from Mr. Dickens says “If the law supposes that,” said Mr. Bumble, “the law is a ass – a idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is that his eye may be opened by experience – by experience.” I doubt if much law is ever framed with experience in mind!

    All the best,



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