WHAT IS THE SPORT OF AIRSOFT

History of the sport of Airsoft

Airsoft is a shooting sport similar to Paintball, however safer, cheaper and more convenient. Airsoft originated in Japan in the early 1980′s when ownership of guns by citizens was made illegal. Since they did not have access to firearms, the demand for replicas grew. It is from this demand that the sport of Airsoft surfaced. Paintball is illegal in Japan, being considered too dangerous.

The sport is currently being enjoyed by millions around the world of all ages, sexes and professional backgrounds. The sport of Airsoft has three main disciplines:

Re-enactment (historical or fictional)

Airsoft re-enactments take place in wide open areas, with opposing teams, up to hundreds of players or more, competing against each other or to complete set objectives over the course of several hours or days.

Competitive target shooting

Players compete against each other on a time or points based system. There are currently three such international events:

Speedsoft

Speedsoft is a fast paced tournament style competition usually played by teams of 5 on a symmetrical course with artificial obstacles.

Games can also be enjoyed by spectators and are usually over in minutes.

AIRSOFT DEVICES

Airsoft devices are non lethal copies of firearms which shoot 6 mm biodegradable non destructive round projectiles called BB’s. These biodegradable plastic BBs hold a very low weight ranging from 0.2 to 0.4 grams, and speeds between 100-150 m/s.

Airsoft Devices are constructed of plastic, pot metal or aluminium, use similar components as remote controlled toys and are predominately powered by electricity. Springs and compressed gasses are also used as a source of propulsion.

WHY WE PLAY AIRSOFT

Mateship (our Australian pride)

We often hear stories and see hero and team based action movies portraying acts of valour and sacrifice, friendships beyond words, teamwork, suspense, courage and fear. We wish to experience all of these feelings in a safe environment and this is what Airsoft re-enactments offer us.

Physical exercise

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The sport of Airsoft is a very enjoyable outdoor activity with friends, requiring good stamina and endurance. The sport provides for full body workout: running, crawling, kneeling, jumping, etc. The usual games go on for 3-4 hours and large events go on for several days. The weight of the average Airsoft kit carried by a player is around 10 kilograms.

Stress relief

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Complete detachment from reality and everyday worries coupled with outdoor physical activity surrounded by friends and family.

Safer, Cheaper and more Convenient than Paintball

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  • Safer: the energy of a shooting BB is 10 times lower than a shooting paintball (average of 1.4 Joules). It is equivalent to dropping 5 x 50 cent coins from a height of 2 meters vs. dropping a metal bocce ball from the same height;
  • Cheaper: about 3.5-4 times cheaper, mostly due to the lower cost of BBs;
  • More convenient: no attached air tank, no magazine on top, smaller size of BBs, etc.

Cosplay, Escapism and LARP

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  • Cosplay: the activity or practice of dressing up as a character from a work of fiction;
  • Escapism: habitual diversion of the mind to purely imaginative activity or entertainment as an escape from reality or routine;
  • LARP (live-action role-playing): a type of game where a group of people wear costumes representing a character they create to participate in an agreed fantasy world.

Tinkering

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Airsoft devices are complex, encompassing mechanical, electrical, pneumatic and electronic components.

Repairing and tuning them can be challenging, rewarding and great fun.

PERCEPTION OF PUBLIC RISK

The wide distribution and acceptance of the sport on a world wide scale shows that the sport of Airsoft presents no real public risk.

This can be further substantiated by some recent regulatory changes such as below. New Zealand, in their recent review of Firearms legislation, has adjusted importation requirements for Airsoft devices and permitted fully automatic function, based on ‘lower power and reduced ability to cause harm.

Furthermore, The European Union, through the latest amendment of the Firearms Directive (March 2017) has specifically excluded Airsoft devices of all types from the Directive`s scope for not corresponding to the definition of a firearm. This decision was made despite the numerous terror attacks that have recently plagued Europe and the initial proposal to regulate Airsoft devices as firearms.

Video Games

Shooting sports are not a new social trend in Australia or the world.

For the last 5-10 years first person shooting video games have been leading the top sales charts all over the world.

This also holds true for Australia with an average of 3 of the top 5 video games being first person shooters.

EQUIVALENCE PRINCIPLE

Different regulatory approaches are being taken at Federal and State level regarding Airsoft devices, imitation firearms, paintball markers and Gel Ball Blasters, despite similar form or function.

These different approaches do not seem to follow evidence based regulations, current international practice nor seem proportionate to the risk.

The Western Australian legal definition of a firearm, unlike other countries, is not based on the means of propulsion of the shot, bullet or projectile (i.e. by the action of a combustible propellant). It is neither based on the lethal capability of the expelled shot, bullet or projectile. This allows regulators and law makers free hand on what to classify as a firearms or not. Examples of devices with means of propulsion such as: electricity, springs, compressed air or gasses, etc. have been conveniently classified as firearms to restrict ownership, use and importation.

EQUIVALENCE PRINCIPLE (FORM)

Airsoft devices

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Airsoft devices are non lethal copies of firearms which shoot 6 mm biodegradable non destructive round projectiles called BB’s.

Airsoft devices cannot be converted to fire real bullets, mostly due to their design and weak construction.

Gel Ball Blasters

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Gel Ball Blasters, of a very similar appearance and functionality have recently been allowed for unrestricted importation at Federal level, sale and use in all Australian states. They are currently being sold in toy shops and online without any restrictions or Government control.

South Australian Paintball

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The South Australian Police allows purchase of paintball markers with military arms appearance. The Paintball Marker above is available for purchase in Australia.

Imitation firearms

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Imitation firearms with a more realistic appearance than most Airsoft devices are freely available for purchase in Western Australia. The ones in the picture were being sold in Perth at the SupaNova convention, June 2017.

EQUIV. PRINCIPLE (FUNCTION)

Airsoft Electric Gearbox

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Airsoft Devices are constructed of plastic, pot metal or aluminium, use similar components as remote controlled toys and are predominately powered by electricity. Springs and compressed gasses are also used as a source of propulsion

Gel Ball Blaster Gearbox

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As can be seen, the freely available Gel Ball Blasters have identical appearance and means of propulsion and construction as the not regulated Airsoft devices.

BENEFITS OF OUR SPORT

Mental Health

 

There are a number of ways in which the sport of Airsoft can help improve mental health.

Stress Relief: complete detachment from reality and everyday worries coupled with outdoor physical activity surrounded by friends and family.

FIFO WorkersThe age, gender and educational profiles of WA FIFO workers show demographic matching with those of Airsoft players. Furthermore, ‘80% of FIFO employees are male and the stigma adjoining mental health is a barrier to men discussing this topic’. As one of the main reasons / benefits for people engaging in the sport of Airsoft is mateship, the relationships that are built within a team foster a trusting environment for difficult conversations to be had and for people to open up.

PTSDThere is proof coming from the US and the Netherlands that the sport of Airsoft helps managing Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) in military personnel.

ExpatriatesWhen talking to migrants that have enjoyed the sport of Airsoft in their home countries, a significant number advises that not being able to undertake their favourite hobby in Australia is demoralising, makes societal integration more difficult and is also one of the main reasons for wishing to go back to their home countries.

International / Inter-States TourismThe largest Airsoft event to date drew in about 6,400 players over the length of 3 days.  Australians are currently travelling to New Zealand to enjoy the sport of Airsoft in the range of 100 players / event at least twice per year. This represents an increase of over 100% compared to 2016. The cost of such a trip is in the 1500AUD price range (flight, game fees, rentals, food and accommodation).

As it usually happens, apart from the actual game and costs previously quoted, players also explore the country when making the journey, thus further contributing to the local economy through cost of accommodation, food, entry fees, vehicle hire, etc.

Given the very different WA environment and culture, our State would surely draw in players from Asia and New Zealand for this kind of events. The great weather we are having would also permit the sport to be played outdoors for 10 months of the year. Furthermore, there are currently 3 global Airsoft target shooting competitions which WA has the capacity to host and draw in international competitors

Local TourismExperience from countries that enjoy the sport of Airsoft shows there is great opportunity in clubs organising local events and drawing in crowds from the metro area to more remote regions and vice versa.

Furthermore, the landscape and flora variety of WA definitely represents an advantage over other countries.

Physical Exercise

 Australia has an obese and overweight population. According to the World Health Organisation`s Global Health Observatory data: ·

  • For obesity in 18+ males, Australia ranks 17th overall and is 7th among the more developed nations after Qatar, USA, UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and New Zealand or 3rd within western-culture countries.
  • For overweight in 18+ males, Australia ranks 14th overall and is 4th among the more developed nations after the USA, Kuwait and Qatar or second of western-culture countries.

Furthermore, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare:

  • Almost 2 in 3 Australian adults (63%); and
  • 1 in 4 children are overweight or obese.

In Australia, overweight and obesity is the second highest contributor to burden of disease, after dietary risks. Smoking is the third highest. The sport of Airsoft is a very enjoyable outdoor activity with friends, requiring good stamina and endurance.
The sport provides for full body workout: running, crawling, kneeling, jumping, etc. The usual games go on for 3-4 hours and large events go on for several days. The weight of the average Airsoft kit carried by a player is around 10 kilograms.

State Revenue

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  • The UK government estimates 60,000 Airsoft players in the UK and the UK Airsoft Players Union advises of yearly turnover of 40 million pounds (equivalent to 69 million AUD / year), not including revenue from tourism activities, events and field entry fees.Furthermore, a recent study for the European Union estimated annual revenue of 320.000.000 Euros and a job market of 5000 people within the Airsoft sport and Airsoft devices markets.

International Airsoft Competitions

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Environmentally Friendly

BBs

Airsoft is more environmentally friendly than other similar sports.

For example NERF darts are made of foam and paintballs have been designed for wetter conditions, where they would be washed away by rain.

Biodegradable BBs have been proven to degrade to 85% of their size within one year.

THE AIRSOFT SITUATION IN WA

Australia is the only Western society and part of only 7% of worldwide countries where Airsoft is currently not regulated and the only Western society to have done so. There are significant benefits to be gained from regulating the sport. This is further supported by the recommendations of the WA Law Reform Commission`s (LRC) review of the Firearms Act.

However, some of the LRC recommendations come with great regulatory burdens which seem not to be worthy of evidence based legislation, do not follow current international legal practice in the field and also seem contrary to the Government`s current agenda of red tape reduction.

Some of these evidently absurd recommendations are about treating Airsoft devices the same as real firearms, requiring a firearm licence, strict storage requirements and not permitting technical modifications.

Solution for the Sport of Airsoft in Western Australia

The Western Australia Airsoft Club Inc. is in the position to provide a solution that would allow the State and community of Western Australia to fully capitalize on the benefits that the sport of Airsoft brings.

Our solution is based on trialled international regulatory practice from the European Union, United Kingdom and New Zealand and ensures effective, evidence based and proportionate Regulations.

What can you do to bring the sport of Airsoft to WA?

  • Understand our sport
  • Sign our petition
  • Join us on social media
  • Support our activities through membership or purchasing merchandise
  • Write to your local State Member of Parliament and tell your own personal story on why Airsoft is important to you and why change is needed.

DOWNLOAD

Material to help you understand the sport of Airsoft and help in raising public awareness or discussing with politicians or the media.

Factsheet on the Sport of Airsoft in Australia (pdf)

Why we enjoy the sport of Airsoft (pdf)

The Case for the Sport of Airsoft in Western Australia (pdf)

Updated 5 August 2017