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Airsoft Guns Bring a Realistic Feel to Deadly Force Training

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Jeremy J. McClure
  • 185th Air Refueling Wing
With tighter budgets, Air Force units are looking to get the most out of every dollar spent on training. For the 185th Air Refueling Wing (ARW) Security Forces, airsoft guns provide an answer for realistic training that does not break the budget.

Manufactured to look exactly like their real counterparts, airsoft guns are gaining popularity with law enforcement agencies and the military for training. They fire a small plastic BB and operate like a real weapon. Because of this, training for deadly force encounters can be made more realistic by having a "target" that shoots back.

"The BBs can sting a bit when you are hit by them," said Tech. Sgt. Brad Rose who participated in the training. "This helps reinforce the importance of cover in a gun fight."

Security Forces members participating in the airsoft training had to employ many of the skills they had been taught to include marksmanship, operating the weapon, and tactics with the stress of having to fight against an opponent that was trying to shoot them.

"We want our training to be realistic," said Master Sgt. Michael Scmidt. "This training is meant to help them survive in combat and win."

Paintball had been used for years in training and airsoft guns are comparable in price, $100 to $250 per gun, but paintball has higher costs associated with it in the long run. Paintballs cost about $20 for a case of 2,000 compared to airsoft BBs that run around $15 for 5,000. There is also more maintenance required for the paintball guns as the paintballs break often in the gun or barrel and require cleaning. Airsoft guns require less maintenance and experience fewer problems.

"The airsoft guns were way better than the paintball guns," Tech. Sgt. Sarah Hinrichs said. "People treated them like real weapons too, not paintball guns."