Thursday, November 15, 2012

Florida gun range lets customers shoot at each other

UPDATE: This story has been modified from an earlier version.

Combat Shooting Sports, a Florida gun range, has taken the concept of target practice to a whole new level. Customers can actually engage in simulated combat against other people, shooting real guns at each other.

However, as local affiliate WKMG explains, the customers aren't using live ammunition. Owner Dave Kaplan gives visitors a choice: He can modify your own gun to fire Simunition rounds. Simunition rounds are filled with compounds similar to those found in paintball rounds. They've been used by military and law enforcement organizations in training exercises.

"General dynamics created Simunition decades ago for the military and later law enforcement," Kaplan said in an email to Yahoo! News. "They recently created a civilian range program and we are probably the only facility doing person on person fighting. We are taking firearm training to a level previously held by professionals."

And while most customers are going for fun, Kaplan says a growing percentage of his visitors are women who show up to improve their personal safety skills and knowledge.

"Most women walk out of here very empowered, and that's the key," Tiffany Chapin, who teaches one of the safety courses targeted towards women, told WKMG.

"We are insured, certified, and [use] proper safety gear from the Simunition corporation is always utilized," Kaplan told Yahoo! News. "People are using real firearms modified to preclude the firing of a live/lethal round."

A trip to Combat Shooting Sports costs about $150, which includes the cost of the gun modification.

After receiving their modified guns and donning protective gear, customers are broken up into teams and take part in various games ranging from capture the flag to hostage simulations. Games can last from about 10 minutes to more than an hour. But customers are allowed to stay for the entire day, according to the company's website.

For more recreational shooters, Kaplan also owns Combat City, which offers customers the chance to engage in target practice and simulated fights using an Airsoft gun from the store.

The Airsoft rounds [airsoft bb's] don't inflict serious damage but they do hurt. An entry on the Combat City website explains, "There is a degree of pain associated with Airsoft just like paintball. It is significantly less than paintball and without the swelling."

And for added safety, participants are outfitted in a set of protective gear including helmets and padding over sensitive areas.

All of the action takes place inside a former grocery store that has been modified into an indoor combat setting.

Children are allowed to fire the Airsoft guns, but are put in situations where they are themselves on the receiving end of fire. (An earlier version of this contained a link to another story that inaccurately implied that the children were taking part in simulated combat exercises).

A disclaimer on the Combat City site says "all ages are welcome," adding, "We can not tell you what you or your child can handle. There are young kids playing at Combat City on a daily basis, only you can decide."

"We get 'em at all ages," Kaplan said in a separate interview with Fox35, noting that one of the participants on the video was 8-years-old.

Monday, November 12, 2012

University students create organization to play airsoft

Jacob Werner discovered airsoft in sixth grade, started playing and one by one, his friends joined and started playing also.

When Werner, a sophomore, and his friends enrolled in the University in the fall of 2011, they wanted to take their love of playing airsoft with them to college and started The Screaming Falcons the summer before attending.

"We hadn’t heard of other campuses with an airsoft group, but we grew up playing together so we thought this would be an opportunity for us to play in bigger events," said Chris Wegman, University sophomore and secretary for the group.

The Screaming Falcons started with 10 members, but used Campus Fest last year and this year to recruit new members. The group now consists of about 30 members.

"We know a lot of people play in their backyards, so we just want to consolidate that and get them to play with us," Werner said.

The Screaming Falcons took their name from the 101st Airborne Division, known as the Screaming Eagles, an air assault unit, Werner said.

"We play airsoft purely for sport, but our name is sort of for our admiration for the military," Werner, president of the group, said.

University sophomore and vice president of the group Nick Rafferty said airsoft is similar to paintball with the type of game play, but a more realistic version.

Two or more teams will play for a common objective, such as capture the flag or take out a team, but the main difference between the games is the realistic sense, Rafferty said.

"Airsoft guns don’t fire paint; they fire plastic pellets, which makes it more realistic," Rafferty said.

Werner said that this led to him playing airsoft in the first place.

"My brother was really into paintball, but the guns weren’t cool enough, so I played airsoft instead," Werner said.

University sophomore and treasurer of the group Jacob Feeney said he was in seventh grade when he first picked up an airsoft gun.

"I figured my best friend is playing, so I should start too," Feeney said.

Feeney said that he has continued playing just because he enjoys the overall experience.

"I like it because I’m out there all day with buddies and we get to joke around, but we have to be serious at times too," Feeney said.

Werner said he enjoys playing airsoft mainly because of the friends and camaraderie, but also for the reenactment part of it and the fact that it’s an active sport.

"You get an adrenaline rush that you don’t get when you play video games," Wegman said.

Rafferty also said that he gets an adrenaline rush when playing airsoft and just enjoys going out with his friends to play.

"It gives me something to do on the weekend and it’s fun to play as a team," Rafferty said. "I’ve played paintball before and it turns out that we never play well as a team, but with airsoft we do."

Werner said his favorite part of playing airsoft comes from the team aspect of the game.

"Working with people can really influence the game," Werner said. "One person can influence the game, but not as well as a group working together."

The Screaming Falcons meet every other Thursday night in Business Administration 1009 from 7 to 9 p.m. to discuss upcoming events.

The group usually plays two or three times a month when at least five members are available to play.

Any student can join The Screaming Falcons by going to one of the meetings or by contacting one of the officers of the group. The only requirement the team has is that members have goggles with full seal eye protection for safety reasons and the other gear, the team will help members find or loan their own.

"We’re always looking for new members," Werner said. "If you have anything or have nothing, we can incorporate you in as a team and help you out. It’s all about having fun."


Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Parents urge Benson council to change law

Parents angered because their kids were cited for the use of Airsoft guns in the Benson City limits came to Monday night’s council meeting to ask that the city law be changed.

Janet Johnson told the council that her son was playing with airsoft guns with six other boys around the Goff bin site at the southern edge of the city recently.

The kids were witnessed playing on the property by an off-duty officer who called it in to the Benson police, she said. Benson officers arriving at the scene citing the boys for the firing of prohibited weapons within the city limits.

Johnson told the council that the parents did not want the kids shooting the airsoft guns in town. They were aware of the incident that had happened last year where the kids playing on school property had gotten in trouble for firing Airsoft guns. School was out at the time.

"We told them to go to the Goff site," Johnson said. "The boys did not know that the Goff bin site was in the city. They were doing what their parents had told them to do."

The boys cooperated fully with the officers and were respectful, Johnson said.


For more information regarding another law (SB1315 in California) that has passed regarding airsoft: