Airsoft is an enticing hobby for more and more people these days – with physical, mental and social benefits, it’s a great sport to get into!

However, with all the gear, terminology and new skills you’ll need to pick up, the world of airsoft can seem daunting for beginners first stepping onto the field.

Whether you need a quick refresh on how to play the game or a low-down on regulations surrounding airsoft guns in the UK, our guide answers all the questions you may have regarding airsoft rules in the UK.

A guide to choosing your first airsoft gun

Airsoft Game Rules

In all of your excitement choosing the best airsoft rifle or BB gun, you might not have gone through the game’s rules with a fine-tooth comb, and it’s a little more sophisticated than point and shoot.

What beginners might not know is that there are various different ‘modes’ you can play in airsoft. Different airsoft game modes may refer to the style of game or scenario (CQC, domination, woodland, capture the flag, etc.). The precise rules of your airsoft game will depend on which mode your group is playing, with any house rules being made clear at the beginning of the game.

No matter which type of game you’re playing, there’ll still be some basic rules you'll need to follow to ensure you and the other players have a safe and enjoyable game.

Men playing airsoft in the woods

Basic Airsoft Rules to Follow

Even if you have a good grasp of the game, it can be worth going over the rules and regulations of the airsoft site before your first game to minimise the risk of injury or damage to your gear.

Each airsoft centre may have slightly different rules, but generally, you should:

  • Wear proper protective airsoft equipment, including eye and face protection
  • Respect safe zones – do not fire on people in them and make weapons safe before entering them
  • Respect the border rules and don’t continue playing past the designated airsoft area
  • Don’t shoot at close range (3m) – instead, shout ‘bang’
  • Avoid headshots
  • Avoid physical contact
  • Be honest about when you are hit by shouting ‘hit’ and return to the designated re-spawn area
  • Keep language pleasant and don't hurl verbal abuse at other players
  • Ensure you are using guns and ammo that comply with the airsoft site’s rules
  • Listen to the marshalls and inform them of any misconduct
  • Do not bring real firearms to a game

Failure to follow the rules will likely result in you being banned from the game or airsoft event, so make sure you pay attention.

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Airsoft Laws in the UK

So, which rules around buying airsoft guns do you need to know?

The Violent Crime Reduction Act (VCRA) makes it illegal to buy a realistic imitation firearm (RIF) unless you fall under the defence categories – being a registered airsoft player is one of these defences, allowing those who meet the requirements to buy RIFs.

Read our guide for a more in-depth look at BB guns and UK law.

Who Can Buy an Airsoft Gun?

You can only buy a single colour RIF if you are 18 or over and are a registered airsoft player at an insured skirmish site.

If you do not have a UKARA membership but are 18 and over, you can buy two-tone imitation firearms. Two-tone airsoft guns use bright colours like blue, green and orange that mark them as obviously imitation guns rather than real firearms.

Please note that repainting these to look like real firearms is a criminal offence. You can, however, paint a RIF with brighter colours, marking it as an IF and allowing non-registered airsoft players to use it.

How Do You Become a Registered Airsoft Skirmisher?

To become a registered player, you must play three games in a two month period at a UKARA registered airsoft site. This means you can then be added to the UKARA database and get a membership.

Your unique UKARA number can be used to prove that you are legally allowed to buy a single colour RIF.

A man holding an airsoft gun

Who Can Play Airsoft?

Although anyone under 18 cannot purchase any kind of airsoft gun, someone over 18 can gift a two-tone airsoft gun to someone under 18, meaning parents can purchase them for their children.

In terms of how old you have to be to play airsoft, this will depend on the airsoft site you visit. Some sites will allow players as young as 10, provided anyone under 18 is accompanied by a guardian. Make sure to check the requirements of your local airsoft site to find out their minimum age to play.

Where Can You Shoot Airsoft Guns?

If you want to enjoy airsoft safely and legally, it is best to save the shooting for a licensed skirmish site.

Staff at airsoft sites can also teach you how to safely use your gear and give you a couple of useful tips to improve your technique.

You should now be ready for your first airsoft game! If you’re just getting into the sport, you can find everything you need to lead you to victory on the field right here at Surplus Store.

From air weapons and accessories to protective gear and clothing, we’ve got it all.

For more airsoft tips, tricks and advice, you can also browse through our blog, which is full of helpful guides.

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