Right this ones immensely important for the future of Airsoft.
How do we bring kids into the sport and what is the best introduction.
Personally I believe, if kids show interest towards Airsoft or Paintball etc following the likes of Fortnite or Call of Duty then we should encourage it. The question is how?
As my Son get’s older he asks more and more questions regarding my past life in the Army, couple that with seeing and being around my Airsoft kit and bingo. He’s now very much interested in attending Airsoft but understandably as a Father i’m concerned with him getting injured and or dealing with getting hit.
I decided to do something we used to do in the Army to get people ready for different environments. It consists of exposing individuals to lower levels of what they will be expected to experience. As an example I help inoculate teams during public order training with drill’s during petrol bomb and projectile attacks. Starting with Molotov’s filled with water before flammable liquids to test drills and potatoes in leu of bricks, gaining experience with the drills and dealing with hits from the deadly potatoes. This one time (at band camp) potatoes sometimes the size of a small brick being launched hit someone on the helmet actually caused mild concussion, not much of reduction but you get the idea.
Petrol bomb inoculation training, you never forget that smell. In leu of baton’s we used the trusty blue plumbers pipe
The answer in our scenario for kids and I say kids meaning between 8 and 12 years of age. This is because most UK sites that are kid friendly allow 12 year old’s to attend, under the supervision of an accompanying adult. Around 16 years old and sites generally allow an adult sponsor on site waiting or in game playing also all with the correct disclaimers etc.
So 8 – 12 year old Airsoft inoculation as you can see from the video can be conducted using Nerf guns in a multitude of environments. Nerf guns can simulate being hit, not only dealing with the immediate pain but also admitting when hit.
Nerf is obviously designed for kids and big kids, but like Airsoft there is a real a real risk of loss of sight. I always insist on the use of a full face mask for my lad and I use the minimum of ballistic eye pro, game’s are not worth loss of sight. It also again teaches kids to play with PPE so if or when they transition onto Paintball or Airsoft it’s second nature.
An interesting development when using Nerf guns was the replacement rounds. Like any reusable projectiles they get lost and the Nerf branded ones are expensive. We found out you can get 3 times more copies for the price of Nerf from China via eBay.
Chinese copy Nerf rounds are different mainly in the tip, the bit that hurts you now hurts more. A Nerf round shown on the right has a hollow tip which hits softer but is less accurate as lighter being more susceptible to wind etc. The copy has a solid rubber tip flies with more inertia and hits harder, not as hard as a Airsoft BB but again perfect inoculation. Comb eBay and market places for cheap AR like magazine fed guns that are cheap and you can accessorise like Airsoft.
Nerf actually has many different weapon styles which although all react the same it also enables the child to align to a style of game play. For example if they like camping and sniping Nerf has a number fo sniper based rifles that have slightly more range as well as magazine fed assault rifles and shotguns.
The last thing parents want is to splash out on Airsoft clothing, guns and gams and then for them to turn around and not like it. Test the waters first with rented kit at games as well as Nerf etc to confirm the passion and love of the sport before commitment.
Nerf can not just be a fun mess around as shown in our video, I usually teach my son the use of cover, cutting the cake drills and basic weapon handling. As he is only 7 doesn’t pay much attention yet but bit by bit it goes in, getting him ready for moving up as he gets older is the objective. Some Airsoft sites offer kid soft a reduced Airsoft/Nerf and kids paintball games at Airsoft sites which also help so keep your eyes out.
- Use Nerf guns to help teach basic drills and weapon handling
- Get the kids used to full face protection
- Start with back garden or house Nerf games
- Look out for local Nerf games at Airsoft sites
- Second hand Nerf guns can be cheap from Marketplace’s or eBay
- Most importantly have fun and don’t take it serious something I get told off for and need to try harder to let go.
Let us know what you have done to promote kids in Airsoft.