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Real or Airsoft?

Okay, gang… let’s talk airsoft safety.  No, I don’t mean on the field; I mean everywhere BUT the field.

I came across this story just a few minutes ago, and really it hits home, for a few reasons:

      • No one is teaching these people about gun safety. No, it doesn’t matter if it’s airsoft or real steel.  Absolutely every firearm needs to be treated like it’s capable of taking a life.
      • If people aren’t taught firearm safety with airsoft guns, there sure as fuck aren’t being taught firearm safety with real guns. And we wonder why there’s a gun pandemic.

When I teach people gun safety, regardless if it’s an airsoft replica, or a real steel, I teach that there is zero difference in the safe handling between the two.  If someone wants to learn how to properly shoot and handle their 9mm Sig, they get the same exact lesson as someone who wants to learn how to properly shoot and handle their 6mm (airsoft) Sig.

This article is going to start before you get to the range or field.  It’s going to start at home.

Gun Storage

All firearms should be stored unloaded and secured.  That means locked away from curious little fingers as well as larger sticky fingers.  No, I’m not saying you need to store your airsoft replica in one of those massive $4000 gun safes, just keep them away from where they can be fondled, mishandled, or stolen.

For real steel, I would add that ammunition should be locked away separately from the guns.  My realsteel gun cabinet has a locked door and two locked drawers.  Guns are locked in the main compartment, ammo is locked in one of the drawers (separate keys).

Transporting a Gun

The best thing you can invest in is a hardshell case to transport your gun.  Yeah, the soft-side cases will do the job, but they offer zero protection, except from scratches.  You don’t need the expensive flight cases with custom cut foam inside it.. get a cheap Flamberge case with standard eggshell foam in it.  Those work great, plus they don’t cost a lot, so you can afford to get multiple cases as needed.

Another advantage of the hard shell cases is that you can put stickers on them!  Can’t really do that with soft side cases, although you can sew some loop fastener to the soft side case for patches… but you can also glue/bolt/rivet loop fastener to a hard shell case.  So another “pro” for hard shell.

If you WANT that fancy $200 Pelican case, GO FOR IT.  Seriously.  Get whatever case you want.  My point is that you don’t NEED a really expensive anything for your airsoft hobby.  If I was going to travel (fly) with any of my gun, then yes, I’d probably get something more robust than Plano, but I have zero plans on flying anywhere, at least in the foreseeable future.

This applies to handguns as well.  Typically, you should be able to fit your pistol in your rifle case, but if you’re headed out to “pistol club” or whatever, then you should definitely have your pistol(s) in a case.  Everything I said above regarding rifle cases applies to pistol cases.

Once you have your gun(s) all cased up and loaded into your vehicle, LEAVE THEM THE FUCK ALONE.  Seriously.  Don’t lovingly caress the case, or crack it open so you can fondle the contents.  If you want to get all weird and freaky, keep it at home behind closed doors. that guns are like a penis:  it’s fine to have one and be proud of it, but don’t whip it out in public and start waving it around.  That is just so bad on many levels, regardless of penis or gun or airsoft replica.  Also, maybe don’t get too amorous with your armory.  That’s just really fucking creepy and weird.

If you are pulled over by law enforcement, don’t wait for them to find your gun(s)… again, it doesn’t matter if it’s airsoft or realsteel.  After the cop introduces themselves (you know, the whole “license and registration” thing), tell them calmly that there is a case in your back seat/trunk/wherever that has an airsoft replica firearm in it.

So if I get pulled over on my way to one of Harris Airsoft’s WWII games, I would tell the officer: “Sir, there is a case in my back seat with three airsoft replica guns.  I do not have any real firearms on me or in my vehicle at this time.”  Depending on the cop, you may find yourself sitting on the side of the road in handcuffs while they poke through your stuff (perfectly legal), or the cop could just say “okay, cool”.  No matter what happens, it is your job to stay calm and cool.  If you start getting panicky or smart-assy, you’re going to be late to your game.

Now, if you’re going hunting and have real steel guns, same thing.  “Sir, there is a case in my back seat with a shotgun and pistol.  Both are unloaded.”  (They’d better be unloaded.)

The key to this is to let them know.  If they find it upon a vehicle search, there’s a damn good chance they’re going to be cranky about it.

At Your Destination

You’ve made it to your destination, now what?  Unload the case from your vehicle and walk it to the designated area to remove the gun from the case.  Don’t take it out in the parking lot.  Don’t take it out at the Wendy’s drive-thru so you’re “more ready”.  You’ll get fry grease on it.  And probably the cops called on you.  And if they’re twitchy, you could wind up irreversibly dead.  They’ll get administrative leave, a life of PTSD occupational therapy, possible broken homes just because you decided to be a dumbass.  It’s not worth it.

I guess a good TL;DR-> for this section would be “keep it covered up.”  This is a common courtesy for the people who may not like guns and get all panicky when they see one.  No, it’s not your fault they’re “overly sensitive” or whatever, so instead of stirring the pot, just keep it hidden away from public view until you’re at the firing line or other designated unloading spot.

Handling Your Firearm

I’m already on page three, so I will summarize this section for now.

  • Treat all guns as if they are loaded (and real).
  • Keep the gun pointed in the safest possible direction.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
  • Know your target, its surroundings and beyond.
  • Know how to properly operate your gun.

Airsoft and Halloween

NEVER take your gun(s) Halloweening.  Real steel, airsoft, paintball, it doesn’t matter.  Probably the only gun you can safely get away with would be that obnoxiously colored NERF blaster, but even then, maybe just don’t.  Sure, you may have a perfect Navy Seal loadout, but to most people, you’ll just look like you’re ready to start some shit, and you’ll spend the entirety of your Halloween talking to local law enforcement, or dead.  Then you’ll miss a lot of Halloweens, and lose out on that sweet, sweet haul of candy.  Plus, you’ll be dead.  If you want to dress like Master Chief Hayes, do it on an airsoft day, at an airsoft field.

Common Sense

I’d like to think that the article is all common sense stuff, but not everyone is able or willing to think things through.  If a cop sees someone pointing a gun at them, it’s not really their responsibility to discern whether it’s real or airsoft.  FFS, some cops can’t tell the difference between a gun and a cell phone, so do you really want to gamble that they can see that “Made in Taiwan” stamped on the side of it?  Or the orange tip, assuming it’s not been removed?  Fun fact:  some hoodlums are thinking to paint the tips of their guns blaze orange to make it even more confusing.  While you can’t control what “Shifty” or “Lefty” from NYC do, you CAN control what YOU do, and the easiest way to live through an armed standoff with law enforcement is to not get into the armed standoff with law enforcement.  You do this by keeping your shit squared away and secured.

The people that don’t follow basic tenants of safety and courtesy are the ones who will get our hobby regulated into oblivion.  Australia has completely outlawed airsoft.  Most European countries require airsofters to belong to their nation-wide registry: UKARA in the UK, NABV in the Netherlands, BSV in Germany, and AAB in Belgium, as examples.  Canadian Parliament is still working on C-21 which will effectively outlaw airsoft as airsoft guns are being lumped in with real firearms.

The key takeaway of this article is to be smart.  Be courteous.  Be safe.

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