With the UK Government gradually re-opening businesses across the UK, here at Surplus, we ask the question, is it safe to return to airsoft? Many airsoft sites have already re-opened.

This much-loved competitive game requires a team of people to play it at its full potential, which offers much to consider when deliberating its viability while social distancing measures are in place by the government. There are also other considerations including venue, equipment and contact.

In this blog post, we evaluate how the aspects of the game can and cannot be realistically achieved during social distancing measures when abiding by the government’s regulations.

A man playing airsoft outdoors

Current Government Guidelines

As of 4th July, there were significant changes to the government regulations regarding lockdown in terms of which businesses can open. The re-opening of some outdoor attractions have been included in these changes as well as businesses in the hospitality industry. 

However, airsoft is a unique industry. The safety of participants and employees of airsoft centres cannot always be guaranteed without each person taking a little of their own responsibility for the fight against Covid-19, as we will discuss further in this article.

Airsoft Centres

The government has stated that using an outdoor gym or playground will be permitted as measures ease. Obviously, an airsoft centre is not either of these things as such; however, it is a shared space with people using equipment and being active.

As airsoft requires the sharing of equipment, the need for thorough sanitising each time something is touched will be vital. This will also, in theory, apply to private property if members of different households want to play airsoft on someone else’s land. A lot of sites that have opened are not offering rental AEG packages to reduce contact.

A man hand washing

Onsite Hygiene and Sanitising

One of the most pressing issues of airsoft is implementing an effective system of onsite hygiene. With the sharing of equipment, it would not take much for someone to wipe their nose or cough on their hand and touch other surfaces such as the barricade to spread the virus - not forgetting how we often subconsciously touch our faces too!

Most airsoft masks offer zero CV-19 protection, and it doesn’t take much to wipe away sweat or simply adjust the mask during the game, which is risky during the pandemic.

With limited facilities to sanitise and some centres restricted on the availability of outdoor running water for effective handwashing, airsofters must take their own means to sanitise their hands and must do this at every opportunity.

If you are playing in gloves, remove the gloves and sanitise your hands before adjusting any face protection or touching your face in general, in fact, sanitise your hands every time you take your gloves off. A change of clothes for the drive back is not only a good idea for a muddy day, but it will stop anything that your sleeves or trousers have come into contact with being spread around your car.

As previously highlighted, airsoft is a team activity, which relies on the gathering of numerous individuals. It goes without saying that during times of social distancing, this could cause many problems.

Navigation on a phone in a car

Transportation

Another aspect to consider about going to an airsoft centre or private property is transportation. With people conscious of their carbon footprint, many of us tend to car share. In the current situation, this is ok for those members in the same household but not appropriate for separate houses and could be a problem for employees of airsoft centres. A lot of Airsoft sites have limited ticket numbers and are enforcing pre-book only systems so that they can cope with the extra vehicle load or each bubble arriving in their own cars.

In addition to this, travelling by public transport to an airsoft venue should probably not be considered as public transport is another place where you will be in close proximity to people outside your own bubble. Furthermore, it is also compulsory to wear a face mask on public transport and vital in any other public setting. Remember that carrying an RIF or anything identifiable as Airsoft gear on public transport can present it’s own problems, even outside of the current climate!

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As the foundations of airsoft rely on various players gathering at one site, with the current guidelines, if you want to be 100% safe, airsoft is not advised, any contact with other people wouldn’t be.

What To Remember

But if you take a few personal responsibilities into account you should be able to play in relative safety:

  1. Bring your own hand santitiser and sanitise your hands at every opportunity (make sure it is high alcohol, no you can’t drink it, but alcohol-free anti-bacterial stuff hasn’t been proven to work for Coronavirus).
  2. Reduce your contact with anything anyone else might have touched and sanitise your hands after if you absolutely have to touch it.
  3. Change of clothes for the drive home and (you guessed it) sanitise your hands after changing!
  4. Mask up! We’re not suggesting playing in a medical mask, but outside the game, (or inside if you really want to be belt and braces) or in the safety brief etc. Mask up!
  5. Read your chosen site’s rules and follow them! Most have written, well researched and laid out rules, these are there to keep you safe, if there are one way systems follow them etc.
  6. 2 Metres. Yup, still, keep 2 metres away from people if at all possible, avoid all physical contact, we all have the mates with the “big ol’ bear hug”, there’ll be plenty of time for that once this all blows over…
  7. Knife kills are probably going out the window…
  8. If someone is uncomfortable with you being as close as you are, please be understanding, at the same time don’t be afraid to enforce your personal space and step away or ask people to step back (nicely!). We are all dealing with this in different ways and have a different understanding of the rules. And anyone that’s played with a MED (minimum engagement distance) will know how elastic a metre can be!
  9. If you display ANY symptoms, do not go!

When you are planning to play airsoft, understanding that your safety and the health of those around you are in your hands is paramount. If everyone understands this and takes the few precautions, everyone can be a lot safer! 

Let us know in the comments if the urge to rain plastic (fake) death on your mates has been enough to push you out into the field or if you’re still holding off your return to the field…

If you have spent much of lockdown organising your airsoft equipment and realise you require an update, why not take a look at our selection of airsoft rifles in preparation of your next game?