Airsofting: from the field

One thousand bullets per game, up to $300 per gun 一 it’s definitely not an inexpensive hobby. “Airsofting,” as it is commonly called by insiders, is a game in which participants recreate military-style combat and shoot each other with replica guns. The game originated in Japan in the 1980s and has spread worldwide, reaching even the United States (sources:,

Ever since the fourth grade, sophomore Justin Lau has been airsofting at local shooting parks, often playing until the parks close. With roughly $2,000 spent on his airsofting gear, Lau has come a long way from when he first started.

His interest in shooting, once limited to the screens of video games, became a reality when he bought his first airsoft gun, a pistol. Soon after browsing the web, Lau began investing in cheap guns, masks and vests to build his collection of shooting equipment. With the help and support of his parents, he started climbing his way up his airsofting career.

“When I first started, me and my friends played with Nerf guns and played video games. I played with a really good team and they taught me the basic strategies and techniques. I kept practicing and playing with them until I knew my own mistakes and played solo. I really enjoyed airsofting for the first time because it was so exciting and with the adrenaline coming, I just wanted to get out there and shoot the enemies,” Lau said.

Lau normally practices his shooting techniques for four hours a week at either Tac City or SC Village Paintball and Airsoft Park. With his friends, Lau practices strategic moves that he can’t perform during solo play.

“I use different tactics to overcome my opponent. When I play with my friends, adrenaline always pumps hard for me because we have plays scheduled out. When we start attacking, I bring one guy with me and the rest goes to distract. Afterwards, me and my partner come around and flank them so we can keep pushing. For solo play, I usually go with my team, then slowly branch out to the middle,” Lau said.

Lau has traveled to San Francisco to participate in competitions, such as Operation Black Shield and Assault on Antia. While playing in the airsofting events, competitors face more difficult conditions, such as moving tanks and artificially-created fog that blinds the players. Competing in these events allows Lau to earn raffles, which are used in draws to win guns.

“The best experience I had while airsofting was when I went to San Francisco and played at a field called Gamepod [Compact Zone]. In the game, it felt like it was kill or be killed because our squad was separated from our main force, and we were cut off by enemies. The adrenaline was pumping in hard and it motivated me to pick the opponents off one by one,” Lau said.

What started as a casual pastime six years ago has grown into a $2,000 obsession. Lau looks to continue racking up the hours spent at shooting parks and to add more prize guns to his collection through airsofting events.

“I go airsofting sometimes when I’m stressed or upset about something to get it off my mind,” Lau said. “You also get that adrenaline rush and that just makes the game more fun.”

By Albert Law, Staff writer

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