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Kids and Airsoft Guns

July 7, 2008 Kids and Guns No Comments

I have recently received a lot of questions about kids and Airsoft guns. The general gist of most questions is: “My kid wants an Airsoft gun since all his friends have them. Should I allow him to have one?” Most of the kids are under 16 and their parents are genuinely conflicted about what to do. As a parent myself, I can completely appreciate their situation.

Here’s the deal with Airsoft. They fire a 6mm plastic pellet. It is about the size of a pea. There are gas powered, spring powered and electric powered versions of both rifles and pistols. The velocity of the pellet varies with the quality of the gun and can be between 100 and 300 feet per second. Accuracy of the better guns is usually quite good, although because of the materials used in construction of the guns, even the more expensive ones will not stand up to hard use.

Here are a couple of things to consider that your kids probably won’t like. First, an Airsoft pistol is not a toy. It is a real, functioning gun. It simply shoots a plastic pellet. At velocities of 130 fps at relatively close ranges (25 ft or less) the plastic pellet will bruise or break bare skin.

I’m trying very hard not to sound like my mother, but the fact is anyone using an Airsoft gun without full eye protection is asking for serious eye injury.

If your child wants to use it for target type shooting and you are willing to get or give him some proper instruction in firearms safety, it possibly wouldn’t be too bad.

More likely I suspect that his friends participate in “skirmishes” or “mock warfare” and shoot at each other. For a 12 y/o that is probably a bad thing. For most kids in the 10-14 y/o age group, they just haven’t figured out that things like this involve potentially hazardous outcomes. It just isn’t “real” to them. Getting them to rigorously follow the safety rules on their own isn’t realistic. This is assuming that they don’t have constant adult supervision.

If you do decide to let them have one, make sure that is has a blaze-orange barrel tip. This is a federal requirement, but lots of kids break them off as it makes the gun look less ‘real’. This is exactly why it needs to be there as otherwise, airsoft guns can look almost exactly like the real thing, causing a lot of confusion potential if law enforcement ever gets involved.

I cannot stress the importance of full face and eye protection. Safety glasses are NOT enough. There is a reason that serious paintballers and airsoft warriors use full face protection…despite the fact that it isn’t “cool”.

In training that I give, I use airsoft in ‘force on force’ drills and require that everyone wears a full face paintball style protective mask, long sleeved garment and gloves. With all this protection, people still end up with small bruises and the occasional case of ‘pellet bite’.

For safety info, I have provided you with a link to the NRA website that has some good info for both children and parents. You should look for the link to “Parents Guide to Gun Safety”. Please visit this link as I am providing it so that I don’t have to retype this very complete discussion of firearms safety. Here’s the link: http://www.nrahq.org/education/guide.asp

I guess the final factor to consider is the level of maturity and responsibility of your child. If they are level headed and willing to accept guidelines and responsibly adhere to those guidelines, they might be a safe user of Airsoft. I would only point out that no retailer will sell Airsoft guns to anyone under 18. There is a good reason for that and it generally has to do with maturity and responsibility.

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