The Student News Site of Saratoga High School

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Junior pursues airsoft as hobby

Two teams face off from opposite sides of the Fort Ord Airsoft Field in Marina, a community near Monterey. Each team consists of about 40 players, each clad in a unique combination of personalized gear — camouflage outfits, tactical vests, painted helmets.

“Three,” the game administrator says. “Two. One.”

The whistle blows.

Junior Matt Victoria takes off running, gun in hand and ready to shoot. The game has begun, and he is well aware that the other team is on the move as well. His focus is on keeping himself — and the teammate beside him — safe.

Often compared to paintball, airsoft is a strategy-based sport in which players use plastic airsoft guns that shoot airsoft BBs, nonlethal spherical projectiles made mainly of plastic.

Objectives in airsoft can range from basic capture the flag to military simulation (“MilSim”), which mimics real military situations such as hostage rescue. Specific game setup and rules vary from site to site and game to game. Games typically last 45 minutes to an hour.

Victoria’s passion for airsoft started four years ago. He was introduced to it by his older brother. After acquiring cheap airsoft guns, the two of them spent some time engaging in “generic backyard” airsoft. He now follows several airsoft communities and Facebook pages and goes airsofting once or twice a month.

As he continued to play, Victoria became interested in what he calls “actual, serious airsoft.”

“I started to watch YouTube videos of real people who turned this into a full-blown hobby,” he said. “I spent days on the computer watching videos, reading forums and talking to my friends about it. We knew it was an expensive hobby, but we ended up loving it.”

Admission to a playing field can cost $100 in the Santa Clara and San Jose area, he said, since all the anti-gun sentiment in these areas has made it complicated and expensive for fields to acquire all the proper permits. By contrast, fields 40 to 60 minutes away charge only $25. Airsoft guns can cost anywhere from $20 to $200, with extra costs for ammunition and additional parts.

“Anyone who has [equipment] can do what they want to it, so of course some equipment has personal touches to it,”  said San Lorenzo Valley High School sophomore Tommy Hogye, one of Victoria’s teammates. “I’ve painted helmets in camo fashions or in other colors to make them [better fit] my personal views.”

According to Victoria, many airsofters treat their guns as if they were real firearms. Players are cautious about how they carry and store them, as they look similar to regular guns. In order to prevent a mixup, players customize them, often with brightly colored paint.

Airsoft teams usually consist of around 50 people per side playing on the same field. They can range from recreational to highly competitive teams. Victoria enjoys playing non-competitively with his friends.

He said that during a game, he has to focus on not only trying to complete the objective, but also making sure he and his teammates are not eliminated by their opponents.

“[Victoria] is very strong in his use of tactics [employed] in the military forces; he thinks [quickly] and follows directions very well, [and] also gives directions well,”  Hogye said.

Victoria added that airsoft has given him the opportunity to meet “so many new people from so many different backgrounds,” many of whom have become his good friends.

Though airsoft is not a conventional hobby, Victoria enjoys every minute he spends on it.

“It gives me that adrenaline rush,” he said. “[I love having] the camaraderie and the ability to shoot someone without actually killing them.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Saratoga Falcon Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *