All Geared Up With Nowhere To Go…
This is a reality for airsofters across the country. You’ve bought a bunch of amazing airsoft guns, stocked up on tactical gear and have nowhere to play. While there are certainly way more fields across the country than we had even five years ago, very large portions of the American landscape are still without any organized places to play airsoft. Does that mean that you’ll be stuck with a closet full of gear and nowhere to play? Not necessarily. There are still plenty of ways that you can engage in the sport of airsoft legally, even if you don’t have a regular weekend spot to hit up with your friends! Today, we’re going to cover some tips for starting up your own local skirmishes in lieu of a regular field to play at.
Step one is pretty easy. You need to get a group of players organized and ready to get involved. This can take many forms, but with the advent of social media, we have seen the best results by utilizing Facebook groups or Discord. The best way we’ve found is to set up something geographically relevant to your area. Some groups like this may even exist already within your city, county, or state that you can utilize for this purpose. If none exist, try to set one up for yourself, and consider joining or searching out a few other similar groups to get an idea for some easy-to-follow group rules to make sure everyone stays civil and manageable.
From here, the important step is to start a dialogue with your fellow locals. Figure out what kinds of gameplay people are into. Does your local community want close quarters? Do they crave the hard core MILSIM game types? If you’re dipping your toe into being the community’s new event guy, you need to start figuring out what people want, because it’s going to inform a lot of choices in step two.
Learn Your Local Laws
This is the boring part, but it’s necessary. Call your local police station up (not 911) via their informational line. Many departments have someone specifically to answer community questions. Ask about your local laws regarding brandishing and discharging airsoft guns. Figure out if there are restrictions on being within city limits or county lines and make sure you aren’t going to be breaking the law setting up an event.
You obviously can’t play in public parks, housing developments or other areas where you can’t control the entry and exit from the property to prevent unintended parties from being caught in the action, but you’d be surprised what other strange laws exist on the books that can make your search for airsoft nirvana a little harder to achieve. Do as much research as you can here in this step to prevent some kind of unexpected surprise later on.
Find a Location
This is going to be one of the hardest parts of the process. As we all know, you can’t just show up somewhere and start slinging BB’s. In most of America, it is illegal to brandish your airsoft replicas in public, and even if it were legal, it still isn’t a very good idea for safety purposes. Here’s some places you definitely need to avoid.
Don’t Play At:
- Public Parks
- In The Middle Of The Street
- Public Land
- Places where you do not have explicit permission
- Any Place Used For Hunting
You’ll need to find some private land and get to work getting permission to play. The land you are looking for can take many forms. Some players had success finding an old warehouse, getting permission from the owner to use it in exchange for money or other help, and using that for their events. Often times, this land takes the form of one of your local player’s privately owned property that has enough room to start having fun with larger groups of airsofters. The key here is to get the legal permissions you need to play. Once you find the property you want to try and play on, you need to contact the owners, and get their permission in writing to prevent any issues.
Does one of your players have a family member with a lot of country land? Ask them to put you in contact, and see if you can work something out, and get permission.
Did you see a cool area that looks like it’d be a fun place to play? There are city and county records you can use to find the owner, and strike up a conversation. You may strike out, but you definitely won’t get a yes if you never ask.
Is there some private ranch belonging to someone you know? Ask them if you can use it.
Permission, Permission, Permission.
The important goal here is to have PERMISSION. Get permission IN WRITING and have it with you on the day of the game. This will help you avoid any kind of issues or possible legal action if someone decides to interfere with your airsoft game. This is VERY IMPORTANT and something you absolutely have to have!
You then will want to take it one step further, call the police station again, and speak with someone in charge. Don’t call 911, but that informational line again. Let the police know what is going on, and get the name and phone number as well as any other contact information you can possibly get of the officers you speak to. Let them know you are running an airsoft game, what is going to go on, and that you have permission, this way if someone still calls the police despite your best efforts, it can prevent any unnecessary hassle or stressful police encounters, and the police can focus on doing their jobs where they are really needed.
How Do You Know It’s The Right Fit?
This is where knowing who is interested, and what kinds of games to run comes in. Is your community full of guys with AK’s and Russian MILSURP gear? You’ll want an outdoor space. Is your local group a bunch of SpeedQB loving fast movers with HI-capas? Find some controlled indoor space. Make sure there’s enough space for everyone, but don’t try to acquire more space than you really need. Look into donations for setting up the next event, or to help the property owner with any damages/clean up from your events. The important thing here is to have a realistic idea of what you can and can’t get away with in terms of size and space and game types, and make sure you secure the right location, or your game is toast before it even starts.
Set the Date and Send It!
Once you have all the preliminary work done, it’s time to start planning your event.
Hop back in your discussion group and start asking about good dates. Once you find a common date that people will attend at, it’s time to make it happen.
Start planning your games simply enough. Basic game types that don’t require a lot of prep, planning, or props are best when you first start out, especially if you do not own the land you are playing on yourself. Here are some great places to start:
- Team Deathmatch
- Capture The Flag
- King of the Hill
- VIP Games
These are all simple games that do not require much in the way of props or set up, especially if your field has good natural terrain and cover to make for fun engagements. Start small, see what people like, and adapt these modes as you see fit to keep your new airsofting buddies happy.
If you haven’t picked one up yet, we do also recommend picking up a chronograph, so you can make sure everyone is within safe limits to shoot at each other. If you’ve never played at a field before, check out some popular ones from around the country, and adopt their rules for the time being for safety. Typically, in the USA airsoft guns are required to shoot below 400 FPS at most fields, but this can very based on a few stipulations. As with the rest of this process, simply do some research to find what is going to work best for you.
We also recommend some signage along with the other precautions. Make some simple signs that say “Airsoft games nearby. Realistic replica guns being used. Please call this number” and place your number below the text so that you can helpfully solve any issues before the police have to become involved as well. These signs were common place when airsoft was still a much less popular game than it is today.
The Important Thing Is to Get Out And Play, Safely.
It’s definitely no easy feat to set up a game in an area where fields are nowhere to be found, but it isn’t hard either. You have to understand the herculean task ahead of you if your plan is to take this job on for your community as the volume of work is large. This is how every local airsoft community to ever exist in the USA has started though, to some degree, but now you can use these tips to help bring the airsoft community to your local community in a positive and safe way.
Make sure whatever it is you are doing to get out and play, you are following all of your local laws, playing with integrity, and keeping safety for yourself and your fellow players and bystanders at the forefront of your mind when your on the field and doing all of your planning. It isn’t worth setting up some renegade game that causes more harm to the community than good. We are all in this together, and who knows, if you build a big enough following, bigger and better fields may start popping up before you know it!
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This article is not legal advice. Airsoft GI is not responsible for the actions of any person or persons utilizing this article as legal advice. Follow all local laws and regulations when utilizing your airsoft guns in any capacity.