All across the world, civilians enjoy using Airsoft guns to play at military combat or reenact battle scenes because of Airsoft’s realistic look and feel. For these same reasons, military forces and law enforcement agencies have begun to use Airsoft guns as a substitute for real weapons as part of their training programs. Armed with Airsoft guns, military forces can carry exact replicas of their weapons, engage in live combat, and save funds in the process.
Why Use Airsoft Guns
With the availability of paintballs and blank rounds, some wonder why the military training bases and law enforcement agencies use Airsoft guns. In truth, Airsoft guns have numerous advantages over these other training alternatives.
While soldiers receive complete training in weapons handling and marksmanship, they still have to adapt to live-combat situations in the field. Many training units have begun using Airsoft guns to bridge that gap, providing more realistic simulations prior to their first combat situation. While combat simulations are a regular part of training, in the past, trainees have been armed with guns that only shoot blanks. By replacing those guns with Airsoft guns, the officers can use weapons that perform similarly to their standard equipment, and they can fire non-lethal bullets during training sessions. That means that when a trainee makes a mistake, they will actually be hit by a BB, allowing for more realistic training without the risk of injury.
Paintball guns offer a similar advantage of actual fire during training situations; however, paintball guns are further from reality because of their different style and performance. Paintball guns look and feel nothing like the normal weaponry of a unit. With a CO2 canister for propulsion and a hopper for paintballs projecting from the gun, the weapon is far from behaving or appearing like a real gun. In addition, paintball pellets are large and easy to see in the air, which is very different from a bullet flying in real combat. Finally, reloading a paintball gun involves pouring pellets into a hopper, rather than changing a magazine, making the combat simulation even more unrealistic.
Airsoft guns have none of these disadvantages. Propelled by gas or a loaded spring, Airsoft BBs are fired using the same basic mechanism of a gun, which makes the shooting more similar to a real weapon. Airsoft guns are practically indistinguishable in the outer appearance from their counterpart weapons, and they are reloaded by magazine, allowing for a simulation that is as close to reality as possible. Finally, the cost of Airsoft guns and their BBs is significantly lower than blanks, with one blank round costing the same as 32 Airsoft rounds. All in all, Airsoft weapons are an ideal training weapon for all any military or law enforcement agency.
Airsoft Guns in Training
In 2009, the military began experimenting with Airsoft weapons as part of their training programs, and after joining this pilot program, Fort Jackson, South Carolina found great success in their training routines. The 187th Ordance Battalion used Airsoft guns to train soldiers to cope with real-world combat situations, conduct forward operating base simulations, and practice force protection. Soldiers were able to practice skills like reflexive fire while armed with Airsoft replicas of M-4s, M-9s, and M-249s.
During tactical movements like clearing rooms and exiting vehicles, the soldiers practiced while under the fire of real (but non-lethal) ammunition, and when they made mistakes, they could feel the shot that would have killed them in a real-life situation. The training cadre of the base found that these Airsoft guns added a new level of sophistication and realism to practice situations that is so valuable for keeping new soldiers alive in the field.
As training programs have experienced success with Airsoft guns, more and more forces and agencies have begun to incorporate them into their training. In addition to live combat situations, Airsoft guns have become useful for other aspects of training as well. Gas-blowback Airsoft guns are being used for marksmanship training. With the same feel and recoil of a real weapon, gas-blowbacks allow soldiers to practice their firing anywhere with limited risk. Additionally, because Airsoft guns use magazines, they are also great tools for weapons handling training and tactical reloading practice.
In short, Airsoft guns are excellent training weapons, and while they are not exactly the same as using a live weapon, manufactures continue to make advances to Airsoft technology to bring it closer to a real-life experience, which means improvements for military use and for civilian enjoyment.