One of the questions I get asked most often by people interested in playing airsoft (other than “Does it hurt?”), is “What do I need to begin playing?”.
Knowing how big a money hole airsoft can be, I always say the same thing… Go play a few times at a field using rental equipment to make sure you want to continue playing before you spend any money on equipment. This gives you the chance to hit and be hit, run, fall and experience all the joys and pain of playing. The best part is you get to meet players and talk to them about their equipment. What works and doesn’t work. You may even get offered used equipment for cheap or to borrow equipment to try for yourself.
“I’m hooked! Now what do I need?”
The bare minimum that all field should require are:
- Full seal eye protection. Not straight work eye protection, but glasses or goggles that have material to create a full seal around your eyes.
- Face protection. These come in many options from half helmets with integrated goggles to masks that can be worn with separate goggles to cloth or neoprene face masks.
- Barrel bags. These are usually a nylon cover for the barrel of your rifle when you are off the field.
- Rifle, pistol or both.
Now none of these items have to be high dollar. Usually the most expensive item will be your rifle. Do not purchase a cheap one from Walmart. You will not be happy with its performance or durability when compared to a quality beginner rifle from G&G, Cyma, Classic Army… etc. My first rifle, that I still use today, is a G&G CM16 that I purchased for about $160. It has held up to abuse, is LIPO ready and has been quite accurate. For eye protection, I have found many quality ones from $15 to $50. You do not need to drop $200+ on Oakley M frames with Helo kit to start playing (unless you just happen to have plenty of disposable income!). Face protection can range from $10 to $100+ depending on design and special features (Want to look like a Titan Fall pilot?). Some are full head helmets with integrated eye protection or wire mesh eye protection that you would have to wear full seal eye goggles underneath. Others are simple wire mesh half face masks that protect your nose and mouth. Unfortunately, eye pro and face pro are items that are a personal choice. What I like and am comfortable wearing for an entire day or more, may not be what you are comfortable wearing. My choices in both change as I try new products.
Beyond the basics…
Once you have the field requirements, you may be asking what else should I have? While most of this will be my personal choices to keep me comfortable on the field, I cannot stress the importance of good shoes/boots! Nothing will ruin your day (and possibly the rest of the year’s gameplay) more than a badly twisted ankle. Indoor events, I would recommend a quality high top basketball shoe to provide support and good grip on indoor surfaces. Outdoor events, my choices vary depending on weather, field conditions and length of play. Regardless, for outdoor play, I use a sturdy, high top or 6 to 8 inch hiking boot or combat boot. Something durable, comfortable and providing a high ankle support. I will not recommend a specific brand and leave it up to you to find what works for you in your price range.
Other than boots, I would recommend wearing a long sleeved shirt and pants. I have played multiple times wearing a tee shirt and have come home looking like I stepped in a bee’s nest from all the welts! A long sleeved shirt will help lessen the impact. Same holds true for the pants. Especially in outdoor games. Getting cut up on briars in shorts is no fun at all! I also prefer to wear gloves and knee pads to play. The first game I ever played, I was hit several times in the left hand. I had bloody welts and bruises for several days. I went out and bought a pair of Mechanics brand gloves the next day! The gloves are amazing and provide good grip even in muddy, rainy conditions. The knee pads are a must for me. I am not as young as I used to be and bashing my knee on a rock or a barricade will put me out of a game or sometimes the entire day of play.
These are all suggestions and take from what you will. You must meet the field requirements for wherever you play. Other than that, wear what you like. Use whatever equipment you want. Don’t let people razz you about using cheaper equipment (unless it is the Walmart gun, sorry but you are on your own if you brought that POS to a game!). You do not have to be wearing the latest Crye Precision BDU’s or running a $1200+ HPA (high pressure air) custom rifle to have fun in airsoft. Be safe. Follow the rules. Make friends. CALL YOUR HITS!