How old is too young for Airsoft?

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With story after story in the news about kids running into trouble with airsoft guns, let us look at just what age group should be the minimum for using these devices.

How old is too young for Airsoft? - Editor - airsoft-teens-382.jpg
Photo by NJ Star-Ledger

Why the concern?

As with anything ever invented by man, there are individuals who elect to misuse objects in ways never intended. Do you believe that the team who invented rattle can spray paint did so with graffiti artists in mind? Do you believe that the complex engineering mind who developed the first gasoline-powered chainsaw did so to provide a prop in a series of gory horror movies? Likely the answer is no.

Just like the above examples, airsoft guns (just like real steel guns) are misused every day. That doesn't mean they should be banned or increasingly regulated as a knee-jerk reaction. Just two weeks ago, a 12 year old in Cleveland was shot by police after he displayed a $20 spring gun in a local park. This week two youths, aged 11 and 12 respectively, tried to rob an Iowa Starbucks with airsoft guns.

With instances such as these, let us look at...

Basic safety and responsibility

First off, airsoft guns are not toys no matter how the media classifies them.

As with other projectile devices such as BB guns, air rifles, and paintball guns, adult supervision is recommended if not required whenever they are being used. Tragically, many parents simply buy an airsoft gun and hand it over to a young and inexperienced hobbyist without the proper training, equipment, or mindset development.

These failings, and not the devices themselves, lead to the incidents that are reported in the media which in turn evolve into increased regulation and targeting (no pun intended) of the sport.

How old is too young for Airsoft? - Editor - airsoft-rounds-behind-locked-doors-384.jpg
(There is a reason why many areas and stores lock up airsoft items with the regular guns and ammunition)

-No airsoft gun should be used without the proper eyepro.

-As with any gun of any kind ranging from a nerf gun to a Barrett M82 .50 Cal, always be aware of your muzzle and do not point it at people, cars, or other items that are not a target.

-Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire and above all, treat every gun with respect and as if it is loaded.

-Abide by all local laws and customs in your area that may govern your gun.

-Always transport your airsoft equipment to a proper field in a bag and not openly visible.

-Educate those new to the sport in the proper use, cleaning, maintenance, safety procedures, and manual of operations of the gun in question before turning it over to them.

How old is too young for Airsoft? - Editor - airsoft-safety-383.jpg

- Supervise and assist those new to the sport and remember, you had to start somewhere as well. Think of what you wish people would have explained to you.

So what is that minimum age anyway?

In the end, the mystery of how old an airsofter needs to be to start in the sport is the stage in which they can understand all of the above. This magic age can and will vary from person to person and is up to their mentor, be it a parent, milsim veteran, or sibling, to decide.

Remember, the worst thing to do is to hand an airsoft gun over to someone who has no idea what they are doing with it.

Anything less and you aren't doing the sport any justice.

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20 COMMENTS
Posted: 
December 8, 2014  •  08:03 AM
In my eyes, I say as long as the kid is mature enough to consider and understand the guidelines and the consequences of not following the guidelines, then they are old enough. I personally know some *ahem* pretty stupid people who carry their guns for Halloween. One of those people actually shot me. These are the types of immature kids (he was 15) that don't deserve to handle a replica firearm. On the other hand, I see plenty of younger airsofters that practice proper safety and handling.
 
Posted: 
December 8, 2014  •  10:40 AM
There are multiple problems here and you can't base everything on age.
Right off the bat, I oversaw an employee sell 3 obviously underage kids airsoft guns over the weekend. When the register prompted him to request ID, he simply bypassed it. Me being me, I spoke up and said "I don't think these kids are anywhere close to 18". Of course by then the kids practically threw their money at the employee and ran out the store with the merchandise. If the kids had that attitude in general, you can simply imagine how they were planning on acting with the replica firearms.

Next to that, the parents. We've become a society where parents are practically raising their kids until they're old enough to make a bowl of cereal then stopping and letting the world take over. Well by then, the kids are being exposed to movies of all calibers, the vileness of the internet, and peer pressure; heaven forbid if they live in or near a rough neighborhood where violence is a near daily occurrence. But parents simply stop, and then you get then pompous, arrogant, annoying, holier than thou kids and nothing but problems arise.

This entire situation as a whole, reminds me of the candy cigarettes. Originally the thought was that it was just a simple product for fun that imitated a harmful act. As long as actual cigarettes weren't involved, everything was fine and dandy. Well sorta true, it "activated" a large portion of a generation to smoke actual cigarettes later in life. Well these replica firearms are a step up from that. They're not a gateway to future harm, but more on the lines, they cause idiots to become harmed by the public who's trying to protect themselves.

And please don't get me rant wrong, I love this sport, this hobby, and this pasttime. But there are idiots who are simply taking this the wrong direction, it's just sad they're primarily young idiots. And this doesn't stop with airsoft, this extends to pellet guns (brass BB), and paintball markers as well. I read a story a few weeks ago of a guy who used a realistic looking paintball gun to attempt to rob a store. The store owner was instantly tipped off the gun wasn't real when he took notice of the barrel diameter.

But simply stated, the problem is lack of positive mentors and proactive parents on a consistent basis.
 
Posted: 
December 8, 2014  •  10:56 AM
in Greece to buy AND use an airsoft gun is the age of 18 !!!! I think that this is a good age to use it as an adult !!!
 
Posted: 
December 8, 2014  •  03:28 PM
it is more a of a maturity thing then age but i would say at least 10 12 around their but i have met very nice fair and mature kids younger at my local field.
 
Posted: 
December 8, 2014  •  04:40 PM
@ibob4tacoz

@wolf253

Thats why there needs to be a say $5.00 fee for an airsoft license. You take a test, and if you pass you get your license. You need a license to buy an airsoft gun or ammunition. After 1 year your license expires. Problem solved.
 
Posted: 
December 8, 2014  •  05:31 PM
@p2skater1 That's actually not a bad idea. The thing is, they would then have to establish official tests, and make sure the places selling/administering those licenses abide by those standards. It'll help, but it won't completely stop the immature "airsofters".
 
Posted: 
December 8, 2014  •  08:31 PM
I started playing at 13, simply because I could. But I have always (even back then) firmly believed that the sport should be 18+ only.
 
Posted: 
December 9, 2014  •  01:15 AM
The title is getting me confused...

Nonetheless, I have run into folks on the field who are around twelve and have more common sense than the people who drove them there. It's hard to measure maturity by age group, because as said earlier, it's the parents that play a big role in how a child grows.

To skater's proposition with licensing, I have a feeling that if something like this were to be implemented, just like tacoz said, it would be extremely hard to regulate. I think it would turn out like the GMRS license controversy, where people go out and buy GMRS enabled radios without purchasing the license to operate it. However, the proposed license fee is exponentially lower than the GMRS license fee. If a license should be put in, I feel like it should cost $10-15, and be renewed either every two or five years (kind of like a driver's permit idea).
 
Posted: 
December 9, 2014  •  05:06 AM
It would be nice if fields had a mentoring program where they take they take people of all ages who are new to airsoft and run them through the basics of how to transport your guns, simple maintenance, where it's appropriate to show your guns and have back yard skirmishes and to go of your firearm safety.
Also I don't think an uninformed parent has any more right to buy an airsoft gun as a child does. Perhaps just make it so anyone that wishes to buy an airsoft gun also has to have taken a hunters education course. That way you wouldn't have to set up a new course for airsoft and people would also know proper firearm safety and how to transport weaponry. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people don't have a case for their airsoft guns because a cop and others will probably think it's a real gun and will treat it the same way.
 
Posted: 
December 9, 2014  •  02:01 PM
I draw a hard line at 18, unsupervised. It makes sense for CLOSELY SUPERVISED use and play under that age, but supervised usage and unsupervised usage are two very different things.
 
Posted: 
December 10, 2014  •  09:23 AM
I think that maturity isn't measurable in the ways people today want to measure it. It has to be compared and observed but there isn't a way to measure it you just have to judge it and hope you did right. I mean I am only 15 but i have been taught the does and don'ts of guns since I could talk (My grandfather is an avid hunter and has many guns around his house) so I would vote that I can handle an Airsoft gun. However I know some kids 2 years older than me that I wouldn't trust with a water pistol for fear of being blinded. ok the rant is over now.
 
Posted: 
December 10, 2014  •  01:33 PM
If they have trigger and muzzle discipline and aren't idiots then go ahead
 
Posted: 
December 11, 2014  •  06:12 PM
It really ends up coming down to not only how old or mature a person is, but also to how concerned that child's parents are about the game. The child can be very mature and have common sense, but if the parent or legal gaurdian assumes its just a toy and treats it like a nerf gun, the child likely will as well. Even though the child may be smart enough to understand, if someone who you respect and trust is doing something it will seem more like a good ideal
 
Posted: 
December 11, 2014  •  06:51 PM
I'm 14. My parents originally didn't want me to own a gun (airsoft). I had convinced them that it is 100% safe, as long as you have triiger/muzzle discipline. They mentioned the airsoft shootings. I objected with the fact that I'll have a gun bag, etc. etc. As long as people understand, they can play, no matter what age.
 
Posted: 
December 16, 2014  •  08:35 AM
I think it depends on the kid. I know kids that are 8 and 9 and are really good with air soft guns and learn a lot while out with the older guys. They don't get mad that they got hit and they understand that they will be able to play again in the next match. There are other kids that are around the same age, some older even 15 and 16 year old's that can't handle it. When they get shot out, they throw a fit or try and hunt down the one that shoot them to get revenge, not realizing or ignoring the fact that there will be other matches. I think it depends on how the kid is raised and how mature he/she is. I think that air soft guns are really good for people to have. My father used air soft guns to teach me gun safety before taking me to the gun range to shoot real guns. I have also learned how much a 1 degree can throw you off when aiming and how wind takes effect too.
 
Posted: 
December 18, 2014  •  01:51 PM
Yes I agree that you can't just put an age limit on it, the maturity level is the biggest factor, for example I am 16 and am always mindful about the safety being on, barrel cover on, finger off the trigger, pointed in a safe direction etc, while some adults I see are very careless about these things.
 
Posted: 
January 1, 2015  •  09:39 AM
This 11 year old with a Polarstar took me to town one day... Ripped me so many times, helluva player.
 
Posted: 
January 2, 2015  •  12:09 AM
Being a lower age than most players, I'm one of the players that respects what people think in terms of oh, I shot you. I say sorry, and try to regain trust from the other player, so no future conflicts happen. We just misuse so many things in this country or community etc.
 
Posted: 
January 8, 2015  •  12:28 PM
Teach them gun safety and adult supervision.
 
Posted: 
March 22, 2015  •  06:30 PM
In my opinion, you can't just say "only adults" and eliminate all the problems. I think that they first of all need to learn gun safety. if they know how to use a real firearm and respect even the airsoft guns,it could help with some of the problems. p2skater's idea of a permit could also help. Some kids are really mature and honest. And some adults can't handle airsoft guns. If a kid can respect and properly use an airsoft gun, i don't have a problem with them.
 
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