Airsoft training tips?

This is a discussion on Airsoft training tips? within the Defensive Carry & Tactical Training forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; In preparation for a class that requires it next year, and because I really want to step up how many shots I'm putting downrange, I ...

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Thread: Airsoft training tips?

  1. #1
    Distinguished Member Array brocktice's Avatar
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    Airsoft training tips?

    In preparation for a class that requires it next year, and because I really want to step up how many shots I'm putting downrange, I ordered an airsoft replica of my M&P 9mm, with blowback (WE Toucan Big Bird from Evike).

    Before the Newtown craziness, I used to practice for my 1911 using a GSG 1911 in 22 LR, but at this point HV 22 LR seems to be the one thing I can't find, so airsoft is a nice cheap alternative. Plus, I can shoot it in my backyard. I don't live in a very populous area but even 22 LR would still be a nono (~1 acre lots).

    I searched the forum and saw a few discussions about airsoft, but nothing in depth. I know some people here do train and/or play with airsoft equipment.

    Got any tips for once it arrives, particularly as it pertains to training? One suggestion I got in another thread was to load the airsoft mags to the same capacity as my carry gun. Carry gun holds 17, airsoft holds 22, so downloading by 5 is not a big deal. I ordered 2 spare mags and a speedloader to match my carry/IDPA setup.

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  3. #2
    Distinguished Member Array TSiWRX's Avatar
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    Modern airsoft GBB (gas blow back) pistol magazines are their supply for both BBs as well as propellant gas. You'll want to take care of those magazines and not drop them onto harder surfaces - that's counterintuitive to most of us who train, as we typically "eject/rip-and-forget," but it's a concession that you'll likely want to make given the nature of your training tool.

    The magazine may seem sturdy, but the base-plate is often of a much lesser material than their real-deal counterparts and thus are prone to chipping/cracking when dropped. As with their "real-stee"l (airsoft term for firearms) counterparts, the base-plate typically holds the magazine spring in-place. In many cases, the magazine base-plate is replaceable and may match the configuration of their real-steel counterparts, making their replacement even earlier.

    But the concern does not stop there - airsoft "metal" parts are made out of what we in the West would term "pot metal." Their composition makes them unlikely to rust and affords the parts some extra mass and heft, but it's far from the metals that are used in firearms. Typically, the magazine's plastic BB feed-lips are bonded to the metal, and an inopportune drop will either dent/chip that critical component and cause persistent BB mis-feeds or may even crack/bend that area, with the same unfortunate results.

    At $20 to $40 a pop, you may wish to perform more realistic reload drills only at actual training events (if you are using your own gear) due to the expense and likelihood of damage.

    In terms of the four stoppages encountered by modern autopistols, the airsoft's physical differences in terms of its function will mean that you're not going to see likely any such issue. A FTF from the slide being out-of-battery remains a possibility; ditto a FTF from a magazine that's not fully seated (in which case the chambered BB will *NOT* fire and the gun will not cycle, as the gas supply is interrupted by the magazine being displaced - the replica's "firing pin" will be unable to strike and open the magazine's main gas outlet valve). But the others - double-feed and stovepipe? - nope.

    The "external ballistics" of the 6mm plastic BBs - typically between 0.20 to 0.30 grams, are less than stellar. But honestly, you don't need much - resist the temptation to juice up the gun, as that may make your replica unable to be used in FoF classes. Those plastic BBs don't hurt much at all at less than 1.5 Joules of muzzle energy, compared against a .68 caliber paintball hit from the local paintball park or the other favorite civilian-accessible training FoF training tool, the rubber balls of the RAP4 line of devices. In airsoft skirmish gaming, where participants often don gear that replicate their real-world roles, most of us tend to listen for the distinctive hit of the BBs on our gear rather than to use any measure of pain as a reliable marker of whether or not we've been hit by incoming BBs. Even against bare skin, unless at extremely close ranges, if you're hopped up on adrenaline from the scenario (and you should - more on this in a minute), you likely may not feel any hits at all.

    Yet, this doesn't mean that you should not wear protective gear. In my years of skirmish gaming, I've seen airsoft do some weird things. I've seen lacerated knuckles, lips, nostrils and ears, and I've seen chipped teeth and even a broken finger. All this from replicas that were verified to be of a safe muzzle energy. A lot of this is just cosmetic and an inconvenience, but good protective gear is an absolute MUST when it comes to eyewear. Just because your shooting glasses wrap around your eyecup area and leaves less void space than a 6mm BB doesn't mean that you're safe: in the early days of airsoft here in the Midwest and on the Eastern Seaboard of the US, I actually personally witnessed an instance where the BB struck an obstacle behind the player so that "from behind," the BB hit the outer edge of the inside portion of the lens of his shooting glasses and then skate along that inner bowl and directly into his eye. Luckily, the journey that BB took to get there sapped most of the energy out of it and the hit resulted in no lasting damage to that player's affected eye, but he was still doubled-over in pain at the time of the incident.

    In going back to the external ballistics of the 6mm plastic BB commonly found at between 0.20 and 0.26 grams, propelled at typically around 1 Joule of muzzle energy or less, you should expect an effective range of no greater than 25 yards, with the Hop-Up properly adjusted. This is more than sufficient for Force-on-Force training, but what you'll notice is that this is not that great of a tool for you to practice your marksmanship. You're already familiar with sub-caliber training thanks to your .22LR GSG-1911, but you'll notice with the airsoft that the inherently unpredictable external ballistics of the 6mm plastic BBs at this muzzle energy really will translate into a need for you to shorten the range-to-target to get reasonable groupings. Expect non-"match" grade GBB airsoft replicas at this muzzle energy to achieve no better than a 2-inch grouping at approx. 15 to 20 feet. Is this really all that disappointing? - I'd like to pose that it's a non-concern, given the usual training context of Force-on-Force...similarly, if you are using airsoft as a marksmanship training tool, you can always also scale down the target size in order to simulate target-at-distance (here, take a look on YouTube of Far Eastern BB-IPSC leagues: search Tatsuya Sakai and Muneki Samejima).

    As a recoil simulator, though, airsoft GBB pistols will fall FAR behind that of what a .22LR trainer can offer, so you will need to be honest to yourself, there.

    And it's that honesty that really matters. What's really important is not the "hows" of using the airsoft, but the "why."

    With the exception of very few airsoft replicas, your trigger path will not be the same. I've also yet to feel an airsoft GBB give the amount of kick that even a .22LR trainer like the GSG-1911 or the ISSC Glock clone can offer.

    But this goes beyond these easy-to-see/feel physical differences.

    I've said before that any Force-on-Force training has a mental component. "Game" the scenario, and you'll come away having learned much less than you should have. The goal is not necessarily to win, but to learn, and just about every instructor who teaches FoF has probably seen guys with "train(ing)-itis" com through. You might as well be playing a *game* of skirmish airsoft, then. Pain is subjective. Your "tactical thinking" will sharpen. Getting your heart-rate up and that adrenalin flowing should stem from your imagination: think about that 5-year-old kid who genuinely believes that the couch with its cushions removed and a blanket draped on top is an actual princess castle or pirate ship. In the words of The Boondock Saints, "You've got to visualize the end result! You've got to force it into reality! Believe! You've got to ****ing believe!"
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  4. #3
    Distinguished Member Array brocktice's Avatar
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    ^ Wow thanks a lot! I plan on probably mostly training with it at around 10-15 yards and worrying more about technique than marksmanship, given my (limited) experience with paintball. My back yard is all sand, so I may be able to get away with dropping mags from a blunt force damage standpoint. However, that may gum up the works with sand grains instead. I'll have to think about it and see how it goes a few times.

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    Senior Member Array A1C Lickey's Avatar
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    TSiWRX made several awesome points and summed it up rather well. The only thing I would add, is in FoF training wear a cup. I can tell you from experience a close range low shot will hurt and will leave marks that your spouse will question.
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    TSgt. Lickey

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  6. #5
    Distinguished Member Array brocktice's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by A1C Lickey View Post
    I can tell you from experience a close range low shot will hurt and will leave marks that your spouse will question.
    OUCH

  7. #6
    Distinguished Member Array brocktice's Avatar
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    I am considering also getting the kids out of the house one day and practicing home invasion scenarios with my wife, using appropriate protective gear.

  8. #7
    Distinguished Member Array tcox4freedom's Avatar
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    You do need to be careful with Airsoft. Wear face & eye protection at the very least when doing FoF. Though there is the word "soft" in the name, the pellets can hurt pretty bad or even penetrate the skin. I have used AS guns to practice safe room defense, carjack defense, house clearing and disarming techniques.

    One of the things that makes AS good for disarms is the fact you can have a BG participant cocked & locked w/finger on the trigger and demonstrate a disarm can still be done under "the drop" conditions.

    You can buy guns with various velocities and there is also a variety of pellets available. Harder pellets perform better. But, they are dangerous to work with in higher velocity guns. (They can make you BLEED at close distances, even through lightweight clothing.) My son has an Airsoft AR15 that can kill small birds. His friend has one that can kill a squirrel. Gas powered guns usually generate higher velocities than spring operated guns. (So just be careful while having a lot of fun.)


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