Whether you’ve been playing airsoft for a week or a decade, you can always improve. There are always new techniques, tactics and movements you can learn to make you a better player who can get more kills, stay alive longer and have more fun.
The absolute basics
Alright, the absolute basics of being a good airsofter (depending on which type of airsofter you are, sniper, ground support etc) are:
- Stay on the move and don’t make too much noise: Lots of people make loads of noise when moving around which is very easy to hear in a quiet forest where you’re listening out of the enemy
- Make sure you have good airsoft gear: If you’re a beginner you’ll need different gear to an advanced airsoft player but the point still stands, bring good gear with you and don’t be afraid to invest in a good airsoft rifle and decent ammo!
- Try and learn from your mistakes: If you always get killed when you try and flank the enemy by running up near that shed, try going somewhere different, maybe you’ve become predictable? Don’t make any of the really common airsofter mistakes!
- Ask other players: Don’t be afraid to ask other players what you’re doing wrong or why they think you’re dying so often, usually it’s something obvious like not looking before running out of cover or not moving at the right times
So that’s the basics, which you should really already know if you’re playing airsoft. Now we’ll look at some specific and easy to implement tactics for becoming a better airsoft player. Strap on your ammo pack, grab a coffee and lean in, grasshopper.
How to be a better airsoft player
1: Constantly move around
Unless you’re a sniper in which case, find a good spot and get dug in. Usually airsofters get shot because they stay in one place, defending or attacking from the same position. That’s great but as soon as the enemy works out that you’re all there, it’s only a matter of time before you get flanked or someone throws a grenade over the wall at you.
Get ahead of the curve by running into new and difficult to get to spots, going round the enemy and always trying to get behind them. This will let you survive for longer, and get shot less. It’s also sometimes good to split up from the rest of the group. Not only will that help you stay quieter, but you’re less likely to be found alone.
Some of the best games I’ve had have been where I’ve split up from the entire team and gone off either on my own or with 1-2 other people anf formed a minin squad. We’ve been able to hide more easily, and move around faster and easier because there were less of us. The ideal group size for that sort of game is about 2-3 people.
2: Learn from the dead!
Lots of people for some reason sit around the deadzones not talking to anyone. This is bad for a number of reasons, but mainly because you can’t learn from them! You’re all dead in that zone, so ask them how they get shot! Ask if they jumped out of cover too fast or WHERE they get shot so you can avoid the same sniper hiding in that tree over there.
3: Get some training
Although this isn’t seen as ‘needed’ by a lot of airsofters who would rather you just started playing ‘like they did’, it can help. There are lots of places willing to give you personal training and tactics on the days there aren’t normal airsoft matches on. Just ask around, and if there aren’t any training centers or programs near you, you can always drive to where there are!
Just like any sport, you can never know everything, and there will always be someone around you who’s that bit more experienced and skilled. Learn from them and get training from them. This leads nicely on to my next point:
4: Stick with the good players
Now don’t overdo it and annoy them, but you’ll always learn much more by sticking to the good players and watching what they do. Just like the best way to improve at a video game is to play the hardest setting you can manage without throwing the controller at the wall, sticking the good players will boost your skills fast.
Now I should mention that for this, it’s not for complete beginners. Beginners trying to stick to a veteran will very quickly get shot, lots, and not want to play again, so avoid that. But if you’ve played a few games, maybe even a lot of games, sticking to the best players can show you what you’re missing.
5: Do some target practice
Often, it’s not the shooting part you’re bad at, it’s the not getting shot. That being said it’s still good to get some practice with hitting targets (especially moving targets or small, distant ones). So if you have a big enough garden or backyard, set up some targets and go for it! Just don’t bring your gun out in public, the police and people won’t like it!
Most airsoft centers actually have target ranges for you anyway, so spend a bit of time there just getting used to hitting small targets in the distance. For extra points, try and ‘quick aim’ at the targets, just like you might have to in a real game.
6: Get dug in
If you’re not ready to go on the offense and move around like a pro, get stuck in a hiding place! The best hiding places are the high up well sheltered ones like outposts or machine gun turrets. If you don’t have those, then a really big tree with a hole or split in the middle is the best cover! Make sure you watch your back though because people who get dug in and ‘camp’ there ALWAYS get flanked sooner or later.
Getting dug in will however, let you get used to firing at targets and hopefully you’ll get a good bunch of kills while you’re defending that old tree!
7: Learn to crawl and crouch!
It’s a very common part of airsofting to crawl across the floor to reach cover, or to crouch down and stay there waiting for the right time. But for some reason it’s not very common to practice those things. Practice your crawl at home, and get used to quickly dipping down into a crawl and moving a quietly and quickly along the floor as you can.
Also crouching down and staying crouched down is a very normal part of airsofting but if you’ve not prepared for this it can hurt your legs! Do some leg training as you progress at airsofting so you can crouch easier and for longer.
8: Aim down for what!
This is a physics based tip, but think about how far away you are from your target. The further away you are, the higher up you’ll need to aim to actually hit them because the bullet will naturally curve down over time. You can also experiment with your hop up system to get the bullet to curve up or down (or even side to side with more advanced weapons).
9: Practice shooting while moving
It goes without saying that you’ll need to be able tio aim fire and hit a target while also moving yourself. Although most airsofters prefer to stay still, it’s better to move. By moving around while shooting, you make it so much harder for the enemy to hit you, and they’ll panic and probably just get shot!
10: Always use your sights
Your sights are how you’re going to get kills. Sure, you can still sort of aim by firing from the hip, but it’s just nowhere near as reliable and accurate. Make sure you tune your gun so that the sights are actually accurate, and you can do this at the firing range before the game.
Don’t just aim blindly and hope you’ll hit something. This is a common tactic among beginner airsofters, but it doesn’t work and you’ll end up doing nothing more than peppering the floor with wasted ammo young grasshopper!
11: Grip your gun
This goes more for the powerful airsoft guns but you should always grip your gun firmly. Not so firm that you tense up and shake around, but right enough that you can accurately direct the fire. When you open fire with a powerful gun with a high rate of fire it can be tough to keep it aimed at the right target unless you grip it and keep the stock in your armpit.
12: The snipers mistake
A REALLY common mistake airsoft snipers make is they’ll aim their shot, fire, and then stay up, out of cover to look and see if they’ve hit anything. While it can be useful to know if you’ve hit someone, by staying out of cover, you’re more likely to be shot by one of the enemies friends.
Think about it, you’ve just released a shot that probably made a noise, and the bullet went hurtling past (or into) the person you aimed at. It’s very likely the people near them that you might not have seen, heard or saw the shot and are now aiming at you.
What you should try and do instead is take aim, take the shot and then instantly duck back into cover. This makes it much harder for people to know where your sniper shots are coming from, and the best sniper is a hidden sniper.
13: Wear the right clothing
Airsoft clothing is a big one. By wearing too much clothing, you’ll get too hot when playing and you’ll start missing all your shots, or taking risks you otherwise wouldn’t have. Make sure you don’t wear so much clothing and protection that you can’t move or don’t want to move. A good idea is to just wear a shirt and a very light jacket.
14: Calm yourself down
It’s easy to get angry and stressed before a macth or even during a match. Calm yourself down and you’ll become a lot more accurate and skilled. The best players are the ones who think about what they’re doing, carefully take their shots and don’t get angry. Of course, it’s hard not to get a bit angry (called ‘seeing red’) when you get shot at point blank range from behind, but try and keep your cool.
15: Increase your range
If you can only fire and hit targets at say 20m, try and push yourself to hit targets at 30-40m away. Over time you’ll become more accurate and you’ll get used to the gun and how it feels to hit a target at that distance. Soon enough you’ll find closer targets a lot easier to hit because you’re used to hitting targets 50m away. the more accurate you are the more confident you’ll feel.
16: Retreat properly
If you’re running away because you’ve decided you’re not able to hold the enemy off, don’t fire back at them as you run! Unless you’re able to do this accurately while still running, it’s just not worth it. All it will do is slow you down and make it that bit easier for them to shoot you and win the game. If you have to make one last effort as you retreat, try and run to cover, then suddenly fire back from the cover, while your team retreats.
17: Use the right gun for the right situation
If you’re popping up form around a corner, don’t use your massive assault rifle, because it’ll be too slow and difficult to move around. Instead use your pistol or shotgun which is a lot faster and easier to move around and bring up to aim. You want to be as agile and quick as possible, especially in close quarters and inside, so don’t rely on a big heavy gun to go around a corner!
18: Use silence to reload
If there’s a sudden break and everyoe stops firing for some reason, use that time to reload. That being said, sometimes people stop firing JUST so they can force people to reload and then they rush them, so if you’re going to reload, do it as fast as you possible can. This is where you’ll be very glad of a speed loader or spare mags.
19: Take care of your guns
Make sure your guns are always properly charged, working properly and there are no jams in the barrel. The worst thing is getting really into a game and then finding your gun just runs out of battery or doesn’t work. This means you have to run all the way back to the safe zone IF you even have a spare bettery or gun. Always charge everything the night before, and check it in the morning before you leave your house.
20: Ask the pros questions
One of the best things you can do to improve your airsoft game is to ask the pros what they’re doing that you’re not. Ask them about tactics and ANYTHING you’re not sure about. They’ll usually be glad to help you out and tell you what you’re doing wrong. Don’t pester them so much that you become known as the beginner with all the questions, however.
21: Be careful with corners and points
The most common places to get shot in airsoft are going around corners, and at what I call ‘points’ which are the very front lines of the troop. As you’re advancing towards the enemy, don’t try and be the person on the front line. In chess, the pawns go first and often die first. Hang back a bit and assess the situation, and then when the beginners have run into the distance, follow them and look for opportunities.
22: Learn to shoot with both hands
Don’t develop a strong hand or arm, because there are situations where you might not be in the right position to use it. Make sure you can fire just as well with both hands and arms. One of the most annoying situations is when you’re in a tight space with a big gun, and you can’t hod it properly with your strong hand. Then, when the pressure builds and people start firing at you and moving towards you, you often can’t get a good shot and just die.
23: Amplify the sounds of the enemy with these!
This might not be allowed on EVERY airsoft field, but if you don’t make a big deal about it no one will be able to tell the difference between these and a pair of ear protectors or headphones. These AMPLIFY the sounds of the enemy in the distance, so you can hear distant walking, taking and movement. This is very good for snipers and also protect you from getting shot in the ear!
24: Reduce your size
No, not your physical weight ,just your outline based on your clothing. The more baggy your clothing, the bigger your outline and shadow will be on the ground so make sure you’re as lightweight and ‘ghostlike’ as possible.
25: Never peak at the same position twice
This is a BIG tip for becoming a better airsofter, and one that most people don’t even think about. When you bop your head out of cover to take a look around, if ANYONE saw you, the first thing they’ll do is aim their gun at where your head was and keep it there hoping you’ll pop up again. And what do 90% of airsofters do? They pop their head up again and get shot.
Never expose yourself in the SAME location or level more than once. Always look from a different location especially if you think there are people around that could have seen you. People playing airsoft usually have their vision on high alert and will be constantly looking for movements in the corner of their eye.
Improve your game while at home
26: Play a few online games like Call of duty and Halo
Although this is cliche and you might be thinking ‘I’d rather get out in real life’, it will help your tactics. Why? Because you’ll learn tactics that work in real life and in the game, and usually they’re fairly similar. In the game you’re still all trying to outsmart the enemy and not get shot. Learn to survive in an online game of Call of duty and you’ll have a much easier time staying alive on the airsoft field.