In the past, we have talked about the effectiveness of training for practical and competition shooting with realistic airsoft replica firearms platforms. Now, hear an expert opinion on the matter from USPSA Grand Master and 3 Gun Competitor Chris Andersen:
Personally, I have been shooting competition matches seriously since mid-2014, and while I am not an experienced nor seasoned veteran, I have made some very interesting discoveries about the intersection between playing with airsoft guns and shooting competitively.
Pitfalls and Benefits
One extremely important thing to keep in mind is that in order for the skills trained with airsoft replicas to carry over into shooting, you must keep mind on form. Like lifting weights, if form is ignored you will benefit negligibly, or will end up with detrimental habits. For example, if you are practicing stance, but allow your stock to rise above your should while using an airsoft replica, your muscle memory will dictate similar actions upon your transition to competitive or tactical shooting with firearms. For this reason, I always concentrated on doing my best to ensure I would not fall into the pitfall of bad habits. Every shooter must be conscious of the nature of airsoft replicas when cross training– generally lighter triggers, occasionally more distinct trigger resets, lighter actions and recoil (pistols specifically), and of course the lack of flash and bang. These “negative” elements are not necessarily detrimental, however, if the shooter keeps in mind this difference, and are far outweighed by the positive elements reflected upon in this article.
I think it is extremely important, however, to say that anyone looking for a cheaper alternative to spending time and ammunition on the range has found it. With innovations like recoil systems/bolt stop mechanisms being developed by multiple manufacturers, the lack of recoil or feedback is no longer an issue . These recoil and bolt-stop systems require the user to develop proper stance & grip to mitigate muzzle movement and preserve sight picture. Magazine capacities can now also realistically reflect the amount of ammunition in a real magazine, with some even offering the option to hold a round count reflective of magazines used for competition. Last but not least, the cost of $12 for a bottle of 5000rds of mid weight BB’s is far more affordable than $300+ for 1000rds of .223 for practice. This is especially true, as many shooters do not have the financial ability to spend thousands on rounds for training. BBs offer a low-cost alternative for a system which can be instrumental in developing muscle memory.
Everyone is familiar with Revision Military. The Vermont-based, U.S. made brand is known for its high quality ANSI Z.87.1 Rated Optical Protection devices; otherwise known as goggles, sunglasses, and more recently their BATLSKIN project. Revision’s reputation as such a high-quality domestic brand would later carry on Revision’s Desert Locust Goggles to be the choice for the U.S. Army’s standard-issue eye protection, and to this day remains in the same position.
Reputation aside, and all things taken into account (price, lenses, etc), I personally love Revision’s goggles. I’ve taken my goggles onto the range and onto the airsoft field for over 5 years now, with no plan to ever switch to another brand of eye protection. There is simply no other system I find as comfortable nor as well designed as Revision’s Desert Locust Goggles because of their fit, their protective ratings, and Revision’s dedication to QC and simply creating the best system out there to protect both users in the civilian market as well as on duty with LE/MIL.
Well, many people had heard that Revision Military would be bringing out a thermal lens in Q4 2014/Q1 2015, and I can proudly report that I, in fact, have a set of Revision’s Extreme Weather Goggles in my hands. While these goggles haven’t strayed from the crazy comfort that the Desert Locust Goggles nearly perfect, Revision has made some welcome changes to these new EW Goggles to ensure they will maintain visibility even in harsh conditions and disruptive environments.
The most interesting feature added is definitely the thermal lens. Maintaining ballistic protection properties while finding a system to prevent fogging in weather like blizzards and tropics is by no means an easy task, but Revision has done so by using a very thin sheet of polycarbonate along with a rubber seal, much like we have seen in most paintball masks that have done the same. This thermal lens addition also still maintains an extremely low profile, rising only about 1mm above the normal lens surface. Second, a felt-lined foam layer has been added to the already godly-comfortable rubber seal, creating a more insulated space when the goggles seal with your face. I can also see this being a huge improvement in climates at which things like sweat and water will make goggles stick to your face without a fabric seal… OUCH.
All in all, these improvements are great for extreme weather, and guys playing out in the Midwest and North-East U.S. will likely find these features an absolute must. For California and desert climate players, night games just got easier; I cannot tell you how many times my goggles have gone foggy on me on a sub-40 degree night out at Code Red or in Victorville for Op: Lion Claws Night Ops.
If one thing has evolved in the last year within the firearms industry more than anything else, it’s been slide customization and frame work. So many companies now have their own way of cutting slides and stippling frames that it’s easy to find a company that can make your slide look cool and your frame handle like its glued to your hand. What’s not easy to find is a company with work as solid as ATEi guns.
Known first and foremost for their aggressive slide serrations, ATEi guns has a solid reputation for “turning good guns into combat systems”. ATEi guns has given JRAK Industries (the same geniuses behind Murder Oil for GBB Pistols) their Official License to begin producing a line of out-of-the-box customized pistols, Available now for Preorder in both Black and Dark Earth/Tan.
To start off with, these pistol feel crisp. The first thing I noticed about the function of the gun was that the slide returns to battery very quickly. Even though you would expect that to mean that the slide is extremely light (like the Tokyo Marui’s plastic slides), the whole gun jolts as the slide rams home with a very satisfying CLACK!
The second thing is that the trigger breaks cleanly and has a distinct reset which will never leave you guessing whether or not you are ready to fire again.
The Third feature is the trademark that comes with the name; of course the most obvious features of this gun are external. Being the ATEi is known for their slide work, the slide serrations show a high level of attention to detail, with every place important to the manipulation of the handgun fully covered in deep serrations. In addition to that, JRAK has gone the extra mile to create a mold that has out-of-the-box stippling which makes the gun feel like it just got back from a plastic surgeon with a soldering iron; this creates a pistol that doesn’t feel like your standard issue soap-bar-slippery polymer-framed handgun (say that three times fast).
The final thing that I think is really worth going into depth on is the fiber optic iron sights. JRAK went above and beyond the standard white three-dot sights that we find on so many modern pistol designs, and included two-color fiber optic dot sights on their Combat Pistols. These sights are bright, easy to use, and very much a welcome addition to any GBB Pistol out of the box.
In conclusion, the JRAK Combat Pistol Series present a welcome change to the airsoft market. Hopefully other brands will follow in their footsteps, including phenomenal features for every gun out of the box, and seeking out brands which have more than earned recognition in the world of airsoft being used as both training tools and recreational toys.
Airsoft GI is proud to announce BB Wars, a new nationwide event series that continues the Tim vs Bob storyline. The outcome and storyline is directly affected by YOU, the players. Fight for the Empire, or fight for the Rebellion. Which side will you choose?
Stay tuned for the full cinematic web series coming soon. Game tickets now available for BB Wars Episode 1: A New Dawn happening on Sunday, March 29th at D14 Airsoft in Sanger, Texas. More game details coming soon with events from coast to coast!
Game Ticket: http://www.airsoftgi.com/product_info.php?products_id=19803