Sunday, May 27, 2007

Adult airsoft gun battle slated for Feel Good Saturday

LYNDEBOROUGH — There will be a shootout at Feel Good Farm on Saturday, but no one will die in this battle between teams from Goffstown and Lyndeborough.

The gun battle will mark the opening of Larry Boisvert’s “airsoft” range on his property on Johnson Corner Road.

Airsoft is a combat sport similar to paintball, and participants use realistic guns to fire pellets at each other, and the team that has the fewest members hit wins.

Why do people play?

“It’s the thrill,” said enthusiast Eric Parsons, 42, of Milford, who served with the U.S. Army Rangers and is now the commander of an airsoft team called the Granite State Rangers.

Enthusiasts who have been in the military say the game is becoming more popular than paintball because airsoft is more realistic and less messy.

Currently, there are no legal places to play the games locally except private property, but that will change after Feel Good Farm’s airsoft fields open with set-ups for capture the flag, with logs and brush; an urban setting with building-like structures, and a rocky ridgeline.

Saturday’s opening will include a game between Airsoft Bravo, of Goffstown and Airsoft Alpha of Lyndeborough.

The game is starting around 8 a.m., said Josh Rowsey, of the Olde Tyme Army Navy store on the Milford Oval, who is promoting airsoft for the farm.

Referees and marshals, sanctioned by the Northeastern Airsoft Group, monitor the action.

Members of the Granite State Rangers come from Milford, Bedford, Amherst and Manchester. Parsons’ team has 15 members and hopes it will grow to 36. They train just as if they were in the military and he says this gives his team good exercise and confidence.

Griffith Sellars, 27, of Milford, is a former Marine who received a medical discharge, has a team of military people who have been injured — the Broke Dedicated Infantry Combat Killers.

The airsoft guns are so realistic they have bright orange tips to distinguish them from real firearms, and it’s illegal to color those tips to match the guns.

“This is what actually keeps the police from shooting kids (and) thinking it’s a real gun,” said Parsons, pointing to the orange tip of his rifle.

Being hit by a pellet stings, but it doesn’t bruise as much as a paintball because the round is smaller. Since there’s no paint there’s no visible mark on a player’s cloths, so shooters have to rely on the referees and players’ honesty.

“If you want to talk about being an easy target show up in a white T-shirt and white pants,” said Parsons.

Airsoft guns can range greatly in price and capability. Pistols can cost $15 and machine guns $1,200. Sniper rifles can shoot 300 feet while M-16 rifles shoot 80 feet. The pellets fly between 200 and 450 feet per second. Guns are spring loaded, electric, or gas.

“You’re upgrading constantly with this,” said Parsons.

While some guns look futuristic, others look like M-16s, and World War I and World War II rifles, said Parsons. You can also purchase “land mines” and “grenades”.

Chick Goldberg, who owns Old Tyme Army Navy, says the demand for airsoft skyrocketed just as he was planning to sell the store, so he changed his mind.

• “I wanted to retire,” said Golberg, who sells guns, camouflage, and other airsoft equipment.

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