Why is there such a heated debate around this subject? What qualifies as a “sport” in the first place? Let’s determine whether airsoft is a real sport and end the debate once and for all.
💡 Airsoft is a popular recreational shooting sport, with approximately 3.4 million people owning airsoft guns in the U.S. alone. Despite its sizable following, many non-participants don’t view airsoft as a real sport. A surprising amount of sports have faced similar criticism over the years, including golf, bowling and NASCAR.
What Makes a Sport a ‘Sport’?
First, it’s important to set some parameters for what qualifies as a “sport.” Sports come in many forms, but they all must possess three main characteristics:
- Skill: Every sport requires players to have a specific skill set. The skill set often depends on the player’s position. For example, goalies, forwards and defenders have extremely different skill requirements in soccer.
- Athleticism: All sports require varying degrees of athleticism. Strength, endurance and agility are just a few necessary qualities. Slow-paced sports like golf and bowling aren’t as physically demanding as other sports, which is why they often receive criticism from non-participants.
- Standardization: Every sport must have a scoring system, a set of rules, required equipment and a regulation playing surface. Standardization is crucial for keeping the sport fair. Different rules and regulations are usually required for youth, intermediate and professional levels.
In every sport, participants must develop a winning strategy based on the three above factors. However, most fans would agree that sports should also have certain ceremonial qualities, such as traditions, rivalries, and unspoken rules. At their core, sports are important social institutions that unite people under a shared interest.
5 Reasons Why Airsoft is a Sport
Now that we’ve established some parameters, it should be clear that airsoft qualifies as a sport. Although it doesn’t have the same publicity as other sports, it still checks all of the boxes. Here are the top five reasons why airsoft is a sport.
1. Physical Requirements
Airsoft has high standards for physical fitness. Although anyone can stand there and shoot an airsoft gun at a firing range, it takes a lot of athleticism to succeed in a real airsoft competition. The game requires strength to carry your equipment and agility to navigate the terrain. Games can also go on for hours, so endurance is another important factor.
Due to airsoft’s physical versatility, it’s a great sport for athletes to develop better overall fitness. Cross-training with multiple sports has been shown to prevent injuries and lengthen careers for high-level athletes.
2. Shooting Prowess
The main skill requirement in airsoft is the ability to shoot accurately. If you consistently hit your target, you will be a successful airsoft player. This skill requires hours of practice, sometimes daily. One of the main criticisms of airsoft is that anyone can pick up the gear and play, but this misconception cannot be further from the truth.
Athletes take great pride in keeping their equipment in good condition, and airsoft competitors are no different. Aside from the weapons and ammunition, they have gun attachments, helmets, eye protection, body armor and different types of camouflage. Airsoft even has projectile weapons that add a whole new level of strategy to the competition.
Speaking of strategy, airsoft involves constant communication between teammates before, during and after the game. Players are always discussing tactics with each other. They need in-depth knowledge of the terrain and their enemy’s strengths and weaknesses. They must also execute complex maneuvers to outflank the enemy and put them in a vulnerable position.
5. Rules System
Just like any other sport, airsoft has a scoring system, rules and penalties for infractions. The honor system is also very important because players need to be honest about when they get hit. However, airsoft leagues in the U.S. and Japan — the two countries that play the most airsoft — tend to have their own rule variations because of cultural differences.
The modern version of airsoft, first known as “survival game,” originated in Japan in the 1970s when shooting enthusiasts created a sport that involved non-lethal weapons. While Japan has kept the game simple and focused on gun collection, the U.S., U.K. and Canada have made their own adaptations and turned airsoft into a similar concept to paintball.
Give Airsoft a Try
If you love sports and love the outdoors, you should seriously consider giving airsoft a try. Shooting accuracy is a valuable life skill that everyone should practice. Airsoft will also help you develop your communication skills, athleticism and sportsmanship. In the worst-case scenario, you’ll end up with a few bruises and a fun story to tell your friends.
If you are curious about how to start, this free course might be exactly what you need:
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