WHAT ARE TAGSOFT SPORTS?

TagSoft sports encompass the sports of Gelsoft and the sport of Airsoft. The sport practitioners use TagSoft sports equipment (Gel Blasters or Airsoft devices) that shoot small pellets (6-8 millimetres in diameter) made of plastic of silica gel.

These sports have three main disciplines that have been recognised and practiced worldwide:

  1. Practical Shooting;
  2. SpeedSoft; and
  3. Re-enactment.

Practical shooting

Practical Shooting represents the competitors running an established course and engaging targets with TagSoft equipment. The competition is usually based on the shortest time required to complete the course, with various associated time penalties.

Practical Shooting has a number of different competition formats and includes international events such as:

Speedsoft

Speedsoft is a fast paced competition that takes place on a small field (usually indoors). SpeedSoft is similar to the SpeedBall competition that uses Paintball markers. Two teams of 3 to 5 players engage against one another for elimination or capturing a middle flag. One of the most preeminent competitions is organised by SpeedQB and has a global outreach, including Australia.

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

Reenactment

Reenactment is the activity in which competitors, using TagSoft equipment engage against one another for elimination or against set objectives such as capture, hold, transport, observe, deny, defend, etc. TagSoft reenactments usually take place on large outdoor fields with team of hundreds even thousands of players competing over the course of up to several days.

GELSOFT? AIRSOFT? PAINTBALL?

TagSoft sports and Paintball

The differences between TagSoft sports and Paintball are substantial. TagSoft sports are:

  • Cheaper, primarily due to the lower price of pellets and venue infrastructure (i.e. no need for high-pressure air);
  • Safer: the muzzle energies are a lot lower primarily due to the small and lighter projectiles;
  • Environmental friendlier: TagSoft pellets are biodegradable. Paintballs leave reside behind and have been designed for wetter climates to be washed off by the rain;
  • Expanded competition formats: paintball does not easily lend itself to Practical Shooting and Reenactment type competitions.

The difference between the sport of GelSoft and Airsoft is in the pellets the discharge of the device:

  • GelSoft uses gel balls that are required to be hydrated in water before use, also referred to as Orbeez. The diameter ranges between 7 and 8 millimetres diameter; and
  • Airsoft uses round plastic pellets of 6 millimetres diameter, called BBs.

Minor differences (approximately 5%) exist between Gel Blasters and Airsoft Devices in order to allow for the slightly different pellets.

WHY WE LOVE TAGSOFT SPORTS

Top ten reasons TagSoft sports are great!

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 TagSoft sports offer us.

Physical Exercise

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TagSoft sports are a very enjoyable activity, usually performed outdoors with friends, requiring good stamina and endurance. The sport provides for full body workout: running, crawling, kneeling, jumping, etc. The usual competitions go on for 3-4 hours and large events go on for several days. The weight of the average TagSoft kit carried by a sport practitioner is between 5-10 kilograms.

Stress Relief & Flow

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Complete detachment from reality and everyday worries coupled with outdoor physical activity surrounded by friends and family (i.e. flow).

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi comments on his definition of Flow as: “…being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.

Safer, Cheaper and more Convenient than Paintball

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Safer: the muzzle energy of TagSoft devices is 10 times lower than a shooting paintball (average of 1.4 Joules). This 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, in the case of paintball.

Cheaper: about 3.5-4 times cheaper, mostly due to the lower cost of projectiles.

Environmentally friendlier: TagSoft projectiles are biodegradable and do not leave residue behind such as paintballs.

More convenient: no attached air tank, no magazine on top, smaller size of projectiles.

Expanded competition formats: paintball does not easily lend itself to Practical Shooting and Reenactment type competitions.

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

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

TAGSOFT SPORTS AND THE LAW

There is no specific legislation regarding TagSoft sports. TagSoft sports are generally accepted, just as similar sports such as paintball and laser tag are accepted.

There are however specific regulatory requirements applicable to TagSoft equipment.

Airsoft devices are a controlled item under the Federal Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 and cannot be acquired or possessed by clubs or individuals anywhere in Australia.

Gel Blasters are regulated in Western Australia under the Weapons Act 1999.

GEL BLASTER LEGISLATION

Overview

Gelsoft, as a sport, originated around 2015 in China as an alternative to Airsoft devices, which were not allowed. Gelsoft was permitted as the pellets are softer and broke on impact, in comparison to plastic Airsoft BBs which don’t readily break on impact. The sport developed from the use of gel blasters, sold as children’s toys, into a competitive sport with numerous players attending organised events.

In Australia, Gelsoft only saw a real growth after 2017, following a court case in Queensland against the Australian Border Force for classifying gel blasters as firearms. The judge decided gel blasters are toys, regardless of a firearm appearance or not, based on the soft pellets they discharge not meeting the definition of a firearm.

The court case established the legality of gel blasters in Queensland and the sport grew to an unprecedented scale with fields and vendors establishing businesses. As it were to be expected, Queensland vendors sold gel blaster outside of their State, to States and Territories with less permissive legal frameworks, thus promoting Gelsoft all over Australia.

ABC News estimates the size of the Queensland Gelsoft industry to be 200 million AUD / year.

Western Australian Legislation

Gel blasters are Controlled Weapons

  1. Gel Blasters, with the appearance of a firearm (i.e. the majority) are defined as Controlled Weapons under the Weapons Act 1999 (i.e. imitation firearms).
  2. A “lawful excuse” is required in order to carry or possess a Controlled Weapon (i.e. a Gel Blaster with the appearance of a firearm). The practicing of Gelsoft and participation to Gelsoft events and / or membership to a Gelsoft club and / or being a genuine collector is likely to meet this requirement. Legal penalty: imprisonment for 2 years and a fine of $24,000.
  3. A Controlled Weapon shall not be “carried or possessed it in a manner that could reasonably be expected to cause someone

(a) to be injured or disabled; or

(b) to fear that someone will be injured or disabled.” Legal penalty: imprisonment for 2 years and a fine of $24,000.

  1. When not at a Gelsoft venue treat all Gel Blasters as real firearms: always keep them hidden / covered, do not fire them and have them at all times in safe custody.
  2. Do no use or show your Gel Blasters around the house, at your school or place of work in a matter that may cause fear with your neighbors or colleagues or persons that are not aware that your Gel Blaster is not a real firearm.
  3. Do not engage in any other activities that may cause fear such as shooting at unexpecting members of the public / persons that have not provided their consent.

Age Restrictions

  1. A person commits an offence against the Weapons Act 1999 if selling a Controlled Weapon to a person under the age of 18. Legal penalty: imprisonment for 2 years and a fine of $24,000.
  2. The supply of a Controlled Weapon to a person under the age of 18 is allowed if done is accordance with a “lawful excuse” or for “committing lawful acts in the course of a sporting or recreational activity”. Practice of the sport of Gelsoft and participation to Gelsoft events is likely to meet these requirements. Legal penalty: imprisonment for 2 years and a fine of $24,000.
  3. Parents / guardians purchasing a Gel Blaster for persons under the age of 18, without having themselves a “lawful excuse” (e.g. sport practitioner, collector, etc.) are committing an offence. Legal penalty: imprisonment for 2 years and a fine of $24,000.

The above legal requirements and associated penalties have been developed from professional legal advice contracted by the Club, which can be downloaded here.

"MY BLASTER, MY RESPONSIBILITY" SAFETY CAMPAIGN

The Club has launched a safety campaign targeting the safe use of Gel Blasters both on and off the field. The campaign aims to educate current and future players on the legal requirements, associated penalties and the safe use and storage of Gel Blasters. The campaign aims to replicate the success of the Queensland Police “STOP and Think” campaign and:

  • minimise incidents where Gel Blasters are portrayed in public; and
  • minimise the risk of injury whilst competing.

The campaign has been embraced by the community and is supported by both Gelsoft venues and retailers. More can be found out here.

The Club is the only not-for-profit organisation in Western Australia lobbying for TagSoft sports. Established in 2017 in conformance with all Government regulations, We work hard to advance, promote and safeguard these awesome sports so you can enjoy them with your friends.

Government and the wider community expects an organisation such as ours to govern, educate and regulate the sport in order to permit its future presence. We are here to prevent the South Australian case where Gel Blasters were effectively banned overnight and business and hobbies ruined, as well as to expand the sport of Gel Ball.

By becoming a Club Member, you:

  • Are able to demonstrate the “lawful excuse” legal requirement needed to own a Gel Blaster;
  • Access exclusive member discounts with specialised vendors and Gel Ball fields;
  • Become part of a great community;
  • Support us in achieving our objectives to advance, promote and safeguard the sport of Gel Ball and Airsoft in Western Australia.

DOWNLOADS

“My Blaster, My Responsibility” Safety Campaign Flyer, A4 landscape (PDF)

Updated 22 February 2021