FPS and the airsoft community: plush airsoft vs hardcore hardball
Being part of the airsoft community for the last decade has allowed me to observe quite a lot of phenomenons and trends, some of them more temporary than the others. As times changed, or people just got bored of the way things were, those ideas were often dropped to allow the airsofters’ minds to attend to the more interesting – for the time being – matters. Just two things never changed – first being that the FPS are the reason for all the evil and cruelty in the world, and the other the idea that the PT2 belt is the absolutely best piece of gear a beginner can get his hands on. Of course, both those claims are downright wrong, but right now I’ll allow myself to dismantle just one of them.
It’s quite natural that each and every airsoft replica generates some muzzle velocity, commonly referred to as FPS. Combined with the BB’s weight, this gives us the replica’s muzzle energy given in joules. The faster the BB goes and the heavier it is, the more joules it generates upon impact. This is what, in theory, translates to the pain factor. Another common thing is that we want our replicas to shoot further and more accurately than those of our opponents, thus we tune-up and tweak our replicas for better effectiveness. Over the years, this has been made much easier thanks to easy access to decent quality, price-effective aftermarket parts, such as those made by the SHS company, which allow us to fulfill our dreams of an orbital cannon. All is nice and pretty up until that not-so-fun moment when someone inevitably gets hurt. Who’s to blame? The soulless thing which generated the muzzle velocity, of course, what else? Or maybe…?
My first replica was a spring-operated one. Those were the times when the most popular replicas out there were the Umarex MP5 models and… Rugers from KJ Works. The latter ones were our dreaded nemesis. They were considered dangerous, as they were capable of generating an initial muzzle velocity of 500 feet per second! That really was dangerous back then. For real. What’s funny, no accident ever occurred which would involve the use of this specific replica, even though a friend of mine has lost his tooth after being shot. With a 220 FPS spring-operated gun. At 20 meters. Wait, what? Lost a tooth being shot at that distance, with so „tender” a gun?
The memory of that experience has never left me, not in the next 10 years of my airsoft-rich life, and surfaced every time someone yelled „FPS is evil! Ban it, ban it!” or sobbed „Mancraft is evil, I got shot by a Mancraft and I’m dying here…”. In my opinion, it’s not the FPS that make people hurt – it’s other people who do that.
More and more, as I read the forums, people elaborate on how they’ve rained a hail of BBs onto a cheating player, never minding the distance. They explain how a headshot is the best way to be sure the guy actually marks himself as hit. I see people do stupid stuff. Irresponsible stuff. I read posts of people who see no problem with shooting another player from a distance of three feet just because they fail to recognize the „bang bang you’re dead” rule as an existing and valid rule of thumb, just to sum the argument up with the oh-so-predictable „this isn’t a sport for pussies! THIS GOTTA HURT! STOP BEING A CRYBABY! HURRRRRR DURRRRRRRRRRRR”. A few days later the same I’m-no-pussy guy cries his eyes out after being hit in the face by a BB fired from that most evil of all Mancraft or HP replica.
First of all, if you don’t see a problem with hurting someone you most likely just scarcely know while being fully aware that you are actually hurting him by doing what I’ve listed above, then you have a problem with responsibility. Moreover, in my personal and humble opinion, it is straigh in the face immature. Forcing theories that „airsoft is a contact sport, it needs to hurt” doesn’t benefit anyone either. Each and every one of us is different, our bodies are built in extremely different ways and each one has his own special spots. Pain thresholds also vary. One will feel pain at being bitten by a bug, another one won’t flinch until he sees his very own broken bone. We need balance here.
Remember this: during a skirmish, we’re all friends here even though we might not actually know each other. We might have very different antipathies and sometimes it might happen that, out in the field, we’ll come across our very own worst enemy. Even if that happens, though, I can’t imagine using my replica to actually hurt the guy. Why? Because that’s what would make me spoil the airsoft experience in my own head and in deed by incorporating meaningless aggression into the sport. I think the guy over there is a cheater? I won’t hurt him for that. Maybe he really didn’t feel it? Maybe the BB never reached him? Maybe he’s just too stubborn and stuffed-up to admit he’s been hit? Well, actually, that’s his problem. Allowing myself to be provoked by such attitude is meaningless. replicas and FPS don’t hurt people. People hurt people. By being irresponsible, lack of trigger discipline, shooting blind. If someone sneaks up on me and says „bang, you’re dead, mate!” I won’t argue. Going down to the resp point is better than hurting someone, even unwillingly and by coincidence. If that happens to me, I’m always bugged by it for a long time afterwards. My concience tends to eat me up. I take the blame. Fully. I do my best to act responsibly while in the field, but on the other hand, isn’t that what everyone says?
What does that prove? Well, actually, nothing really apart from the fact that each and every one of us is responsible not only for his, but also other player’s safety while in the field. As airsofters, we need to remember that. After you pull the trigger – it’s done, the moment’s gone and you won’t be able to turn back time. Sure, accidents can – and will – happen. But remember: if you hurt someone, it’s going to bug you. Possibly for a long, long time.