GARDEN ROUTE NEWS & VIDEO - Airsoft is serious business. Apart from the fun of getting kitted out in real-feel military attire and equipment, make no mistake that this competitive team shooting sport thrills all its participants, whether they are "rentals" playing for the first time or those already committed with passion.
Developed in Japan in the 1970s, airsoft entails participants shooting opponents with spherical plastic projectiles launched via replica air weapons, called airsoft guns.
Last weekend, local airsoft players made history by participating in the first night game hosted in the Southern Cape.
Called Operation Lights Out, the teams met up at Valkyrie Airsoft Field on the outskirts of Oudtshoorn. Participants from Jesters of War and South Cape Airsoft engaged in battle, but the team selection was randomised to keep the game interesting. In airsoft, game play varies in style and composition, including short-term skirmishes, organised scenarios, close-quarter battle, field, military simulations (MilSim) or historical re-enactments. Combat situations on the battlefield may involve the use of military tactics to achieve objectives set in each game, which was what the night game was set to do.
As the airsofters arrived, camp was set up. Then the arduous process of gearing up for battle began, with the utmost care being taken regarding safety on the field. The mission, played out in three games from Saturday to Sunday, 20 to 21 April, was laid out and soon the action started.
As the sun set, after a quick break for a gourmet meal prepared on location in the veld, the "soldiers" resumed their mission until about 23:00 - a night game not soon to be forgotten as it was a first for quite a few.
"Airsoft gives a real feel on the field. During a night game, you have to rely on your other senses. You have to be super quiet because any movement can give you away. It raises the adrenaline level dramatically," says the host, Francois Pretorius of Valkyrie Airsoft Field. Anyone, male and female, aged 12 to 65, can play.
"It is a great team building experience as well as excellent family fun and diffuses conflict. I prefer airsoft because it is cleaner and also much cheaper than playing paintball."
Watch a video below:
Michael Marais of Jesters of War in George, a chef by trade, provided the food. "It started as a hobby, then became a sport and now it is therapy after a long week in the kitchen." He says the catering was a first, but definitely something to develop in future. "People get hungry. Instead of people saying 'I am hungry; I want to stop playing', rather feed them and play longer. That's why I decided to cater."
Ettienne de Kock, also from Jesters, managed to coax a girlfriend into playing airsoft. "The first time you play you're hooked, regardless of your shape, size, gender or age."
The youngest player on the field was young Sebastiaan Rautenbach, aged 11, who joined in battle with his father, Kobus (42) and brother, Bruce (14).
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