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Definition: The hobby of collecting realistic, non-lethal, shooting replicas of actual firearms either for display or for the purposes of skirmishing in friendly competition.
History: The sport of Airsoft started in Japan during the early 1980s. It was illegal to own firearms in Japan but there was a significant interest in them, so a company started producing spring-powered replicas of firearms that fired 6mm, plastic BBs. There are some people who insist that Airsoft originated from the early days of paintball, when there were paintball guns that fired .22 caliber paintballs, but we will not delve into that subject. During the latter part of the 1980s the sport migrated to neighboring countries such as Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines. Airsoft started appearing in North America and Europe during the middle of the 1990s but it is only during the last 2-3 years that the sport started thriving in these venues.
The Guns: This is essentially what attracts players into the sport. Airsoft guns are 1:1 scale replicas of actual firearms that fire 6mm, round, plastic pellets commonly called as "BBs" which are propelled out of the guns by compressed air. In most cases, Airsoft guns mimic the looks and functionality of it's real-steel counterpart. By that, I mean Airsoft guns look, feel, weigh, and functions similar to the actual firearm. Often, the only way you can tell apart a "real steel" firearm and an airsoft gun is when you pull that trigger.