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The weapon of choice is the BB gun: an air operated 'weapon' that fires small plastic 'rounds'. Largely harmless, they can, however, inflict massive damage to an unguarded testicle when fired from a distance of 6 inches.
Whilst paintballing has some air of respectability (though not much), airsofting is seen by many as a step too far in the direction of sadness, and as a result is often met with derision, laughter, contempt or all three at the same time.
Airsofters fall in to two main categories: specific and non-specific.
Non-specific airsofters are those who do not pretend to be, or allude to any particular unit. They fall in to two sub-categories:
- The beginner. Has some of the gear but is rather bewildered by it all and (to be honest) quite embarrassed by the whole thing. Often an ex-squaddie who's been talked in to it by a bloke he went to school with, he'll leave the 'club' within a few weeks.
- The old sweat. He's been at it for a year or two and is dangerously close - if not well on the way - to falling in to the next category.
Specific airsofters are those who identify themselves with a particular unit. They fall in to two sub-categories:
- The enthusiastic beginner with money to burn. Eager to become accepted by 'the lads' he is impressed with what he's seen. He's even more impressed at how easy it is to become a paratrooper without doing anything remotely strenuous. Time to choose his unit. Pound to a penny he won't badge himself up as a REME 'Tiffy' and content himself checking the boys' tyre pressures under a hail of plastic. Oh no. It's a maroon beret off eBay and the rot has set in. Next will be the DZ flash, the smock, the trops. '58 or PLCE? The merits of each are discussed in minute detail on many on-line airsoft forums. It's imperative that the look is bang on... and it's all downhill from thereon.
- The old sweat. This bloke is nails. The attention to detail is incredible, right down to the tour 'tache and sideys. He's better kitted out than the real thing and the epitome of allyness. CBA, kneepads... the full ish. All vital kit in a Berkshire wood. He's spent thousands on chest rigs, pistol holsters, ballistic reinforced bollock protectors, boots, Gucci smocks and whatever else a salaried Assistant Manager at Tesco can afford. All ideal kit for extensive recce patrols, CTR and FIBUA in the harsh, unforgiving climate of the Home Counties.
Airsoft offers the walt the ideal environment to perfect his skills and provides for many a perfect photo opportunity. These are great for general bullshitting and wowing the canteen girls with at work and many suspect that this the prime raison d'etre for airsofting.
Airsofters come under great scrutiny from the denizens of ARRSE, and many a big-timing walty cnut has been outed, or had their life ruined after going large on Faceparty. Their exploits have to be seen to be believed.