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.