PEOPLE running around an enclosed battle field, complete with camouflage suits and tactical gears, while blasting sounds from the rifles cover the arena. A real military combat exercise?
No, it is the fun-filled shootout of airsoft enthusiasts, where “dead guys” walk off the field after getting “hit.”
An online encyclopedia, wikipedia.com, defines Airsoft as a combat sport similar to paintball in which “participants eliminate opponents by hitting them with 6 mm plastic balls launched from Airsoft guns that can be powered by CO2, green gas, or electricity powered gearboxes actuating a piston.”
In plain terms, it is a game where men—and not a few women—get to relive their Indians vs. Cowboys days, this time as terrorists vs. counterterrorists.
The game was developed in Japan in the early 1970’s to provide an alternative for gun hobbyists since local laws prevented individuals from privately owning firearms. However, instead of goofy looking paintball guns, a heavy emphasis was placed on making accurate replicas of real firearms
Local enthusiasts had the chance to dust off their combat gears and play soldier during the 1st Philippine Airsoft Club of Mactan (Pacman) Airsoft Close Quarters Battle (QCB) Competition held last weekend at Mactan Central School, Lapu-Lapu City. Ten teams with at least 15 members each joined and showed zest in playing the sport.
A closed battle field with obstacles all around it and a killing house at the center was prepared for the airsoft game.
“The obstacles are there to make the game realistic,” said Joe Barquero of Team Pacman. Single walls and blue drums, where the players positioned for defense—or ambush— were scattered all over the arena.
In each airsoft game, two teams got inside the fenced arena to fight each other and raced for the game’s objective—a “bomb” locked inside a box which was placed in the killing house right at the middle of the field. The first team to unlock and diffuse the “bomb” wins the match.
However, unlike any other game, coaching isn’t allowed and killing a “dead guy”—an opponent who has already admitted to being hit—is also considered a violation in the game.
To make sure everyone follows the rules, game marshals are scattered around the arena to look for violations and to identify players who got hit. Airsoft players who have been hit by an opponent or unintentionally by a teammate’s friendly fire, will no longer be allowed to continue the game.
And getting hit, or admitting to have gotten hit, is where the gun-toting, adrenaline rushing sport finds a parallel with that of the gentleman’s game of golf—there is a premium on honesty.
Barquero emphasizes that honesty among airsoft players is important since no one could really monitor everything that is happening on every player in the field.
On the other hand, for another airsoft player, “shooting someone” is an enjoyable form of stress management.
“The game gives the airsoft players discipline, camaraderie and team work. It’s also a means of anger management,” says Rudy Patalinjug, a senior player of Team Pacman.
Pearl Ann Balajadia, who has been hooked in Airsoft due to her husband’s invitation, now treats the sport as a form of exercise, source of real fun and adrenaline rush.
For another airsoft enthusiast, getting the chance to play soldier is a lot of fun.
“It is a fun game wherein we are like real soldiers deployed in Basilan,” expressed senior criminology student Leoncio Pescador.