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Airsoft Training Inexpensive And Fun

May 23, 2011 by  

Airsoft Training Inexpensive And Fun

As ammunition prices have bounced all over the place and the threat/promise of increased firearms and ammunition legislation has increased, I have started doing more and more of my training with airsoft police tactical pistols or trainers. They have allowed me to train with my wife more often than we could if live fire were our only option. As an added benefit, I know that if it becomes illegal or a serious liability to train with firearms in the future, I have a backup plan in place to stay proficient as well as get new shooters up to speed with firearms.

These are a class of airsoft guns that are made of metal. They are the same size and weight as their real counterparts and have the same controls, including safeties, slide locks and magazine releases. They even break down the same way. In other words, these are not the clear-plastic toys you buy at Target.

Here’s a picture of a real Glock next to an airsoft Glock. (As a note, I didn’t choose the paint job. It came that way.)

The bottom one is a Glock subcompact frame and the top is an airsoft compact frame.

If you have ever picked up a $20-$50 battery-powered airsoft pistol from a gun show, you have probably been disappointed that it didn’t fit in your real holsters, that the magazines were toy-like, and that it wouldn’t shoot accurately past about 12 inches.

Airsoft trainers are a completely different animal. They fit in leather and Kydex® formfitted holsters, the magazines fit in your real magazine holders, and they shoot quarter-sized or smaller groups at 20 feet.

Beyond the look, here are some of the big pluses and drawbacks of using airsoft trainers:

Pluses: (Just The Basics)

Dry fire on steroids: It’s important to note that airsoft training is not a replacement for real shooting. You need to feel the recoil, hear the boom, know the feel of taking up slack on your trigger and the feel of trigger reset on your real firearms. A healthier and more accurate way to look at airsoft training is as dry-fire training on steroids that happens to be a lot of fun.

Cost: High-quality BB’s cost less than $20 for 4,000 rounds. You have to add the cost of gas since airsoft trainer magazines have gas cylinders in them, but it still costs less than a penny per round. Trainer Glocks, 1911s, etc., cost about $150 apiece and extra mags are $30 to $40 apiece.

Frequency of training: I am able to shoot 100 to 200 rounds of airsoft every day because the time/cost barrier of training is so low. I still shoot quite a bit of real lead, but I don’t have the time to shoot every day with my real firearms. Normally, when I go shooting, I shoot more rounds at one time to justify the travel time and range fees, but the frequency that I am able to train with airsoft allows me to build up and retain muscle memory much faster than shooting lead alone.

Variety of training: I practice my grip, presentation, sight acquisition, transitioning between targets, reloads, movement, odd angles, one-handed, off-hand, cornering, drawing-form concealment while seated and more… some of which just aren’t possible at most ranges.

Simplicity of training: I don’t have to drive to a range, pay for time, drive home or clean my guns… I just get up from my desk and take push-up/shooting breaks throughout the day. That’s not possible for most people, but you can shoot down a hallway in your house or in your garage.

Fun: I could do most of what I do with airsoft with snap caps and dry-fire drills… but I never did dry-fire training as much as I do airsoft training because airsoft training is fun. It’s fun to hit targets, make holes and knock things over, even if it is on a smaller scale than with a real gun.

Size and weight: Since the airsoft trainers are the same size and weight of their real counterparts, you can use the same holsters you normally use.

Social proof: The Japanese steel target team trains on airsoft all year, comes to the U.S. and shoots lead for just two weeks before meets, and the team places well each year. Several U.S. military units and police departments are training with airsoft as well.

Recoil/Flinch: Shooting airsoft will expose and cure you of anticipating trigger break and recoil. While big dips of the barrel may be hidden with real recoil, it shows up immediately with airsoft. There’s no need for it with airsoft, and you can train your mind to not flinch with a few hundred rounds of airsoft.

Training wives/kids/newbies to shooting: Since it’s fun and there is no boom, smell or recoil, airsoft is a great way to introduce people to shooting or to start teaching advanced techniques to current shooters. Without the recoil and the boom, you can focus on fundamentals until they are learned and then transition to low-caliber and defensive-caliber firearms.

Drawbacks

It’s a toy: Face it… airsoft is a way to compensate for not having enough time or money to shoot the real thing as much as you would like. It will never be as good as a real firearm. I resisted airsoft, tried it, and now have embraced it as a way to get a lot more trigger time. That being said, it’s better to get a lot of trigger time with an airsoft trainer than no trigger time with the gun you cannot afford or find the time to shoot.

Lack of recoil: The airsoft trainers do have recoil, but it’s nothing like a real firearm. This means that you cannot really practice multiple shots because it’s much easier to reacquire your site picture after each shot. What you can do is transition between targets, shooting each one once, or use airsoft training to develop your speed and focusing on follow-through (reacquiring your site picture) after each shot.

Dropping magazines: Airsoft trainer magazines have gas cylinders in them, which makes them heavy and causes them to break when you drop them on hard surfaces. You basically need padded carpet wherever you intend on dropping magazines during reloads. To clarify, picture a real magazine… it’s heavy when it’s full and light when it’s empty because most of the weight comes from the bullets. With airsoft, the little plastic BB’s weigh .2 grams, so the weight changes very little as it goes from full to empty. What I do is train with a drop pouch.

Authentic trigger feel: While the double-action triggers and single-action triggers work as they should, they just don’t feel like real triggers. The tension builds up different, the break isn’t as precise as with a real firearm, and the reset isn’t quite as pronounced. That being said, the double-actions I have are good enough to practice drawing up the slack during the extension phase of my presentation, and all the airsoft trainers I have shot can be used to do trigger-reset drills.

Precision: With airsoft trainer handguns, you won’t have much precision. My We Tech 1911 will shoot 1-inch to 3-inch groups at 25 feet out of the box. My KJ Glock is slightly less accurate. Both can be modified to shoot more accurately, but that hasn’t been a concern for me. Airsoft trainer rifles are another matter entirely. My Top Tech M4 will hold 8-inch groups out to 80 to 100 yards when there is no wind.

Safety: There is a distinct possibility that you will learn bad safety habits with airsoft. Don’t. You must treat airsoft guns like the real firearms they represent. Never point an airsoft trainer at an object you don’t want to destroy (unless you are doing force-on-force training, which is beyond the scope of this article). Always use proper muzzle/safety discipline so that when you are handling real firearms you won’t have any bad habits creep in.

Another issue that you will run into with high-quality airsoft trainers is what to use for targets. Cheap airsoft targets won’t take the abuse, and BB traps are loud and overbuilt for airsoft.

I have solved this problem by making my own target frame/backstop for under $30 and using full-size targets that are 2 feet by 4 feet. Granted, this isn’t original or rocket science, but it is a great solution for airsoft training.

This is the entire frame/backstop with a target attached.

Basically, I made the target frame out of two 10-feet sections of 1.5-inch PVC pipe. The four vertical sections are 3 feet long, the two horizontal crosspieces are 2 feet long, and the 4 legs are 1 foot long, for a total of 20 feet of pipe with absolutely no waste. I connected all the pieces with two elbows and 4 Ts and capped the legs with four caps. All of the PVC parts cost me about $20.

Here is just the frame. As you can see, it’s very simple and fast to put together.

Home Depot will let you cut PVC in the store with its saws, so you don’t even need to buy a saw.

There’s enough friction on the fittings to keep everything together, and it’s easy to break everything down as much as you want for storage.

As a bonus, 2-feet and 3-feet sections of PVC make great improvised weapons.

For the backdrop, I started out with a $7 tarp folded and draped over the top. It was louder than I liked, so I threw a $7 moving blanket from U-Haul over it. It’s absorbed thousands of focused hits so far without giving out; but when it starts to, all I need to do is slide the blanket up or down so my impact area is different.

When I triple-fold the moving blanket I have, it is just slightly narrower than my target. Two clothespins are all I need to secure targets in place.

I keep a box underneath the target/blanket and it catches 90 to 95 percent of the airsoft BB’s, making cleanup a breeze.

Of course, you could also accomplish the same thing by draping a blanket over a door at the end of a hallway or over a doorway chin-up bar, but the PVC frame will allow you to practice entering a room and engaging a target, engaging the target behind partial cover, or hundreds of other scenarios that most people don’t have the facilities to practice regularly.

What are your thoughts on airsoft training and/or about transitioning from 100 percent live-fire training to including some airsoft training? How about increased ammunition prices and regulations and their impact on how often you train? Let me know by commenting below.

Dr. David Eifrig Jr.

is the editor of two of Stansberry's best advisory services. One of his advisories, Retirement Millionaire, is a monthly letter showing readers how to live a millionaire lifestyle on less than you'd imagine possible. He travels around the U.S. looking for bargains, deals and great investment ideas. Already his average reader has saved $2,793 since 2008 (documented in each Retirement Millionaire issue). He also writes Retirement Trader, a bi-monthly advisory that explains simple techniques to make large, but very safe, gains in the stock and bond markets. This is a pure finance play and the reason Porter Stansberry loves having "Doc" on the team. Doc holds an MBA from Kellogg and has worked in arbitrage and trading groups with major Wall Street investment banks (Goldman Sachs). In 1995, he retired from the "Street," went to UNC-Chapel Hill for medical school and became an ophthalmologist. Now, in his latest "retirement," he joined Stansberry & Associates full-time to share with readers his experiences and ideas.

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  • bob wire

    there is something for everyone I suppose. ~

    now what are you to do after playing with this toy and then start firing hot loads that require a tighter grip?

    Parlor pistols were very popular a century ago as was steel darts.

    • independant thinker

      apparently you did not read the article very closely. He clearly stated live fire was still important to keep you used to the noise and recoil of an actual defensive firearm. This is just a means of getting additional training in. In fact this is an approved method of correcting bad habits such as flinching, jerking the trigger, etc.

    • Dan Duffy

      I have been shooting off and on for years. Just took Concealed Carry Course on Sat and was surprised at the Things that I Don’t Do Well.

      I can see the value of the quality Trainer Grade AirSoft units – did not know they were available till reading this article.

      Money is always tight and driving to the range is time consuming and expensive, too. (22 miles ea way) I will soon be shooting every day and practicing things that I have not done at the range.

      Thanks for an excellent article.

    • http://www.reformdc.com nax777

      O. K.

      Sorry to keep harping on this but many continue to miss a few points, Recap;
      The US reached a zero population growth in the mid 80’s our leaders increased their yearly appetite for immigration. The legal yearly immigration rate went from 100,000 to 1,000,000. From the years 2000 to 2010 our leader’s yearly appetite for legal immigration grew to 3,000,000. At present levels the US population will swell another 130 million to 442 million by 2040! This is a very conservative estimate. US immigration rate is the sole reason for overpopulation in the US today and tomorrow!

      It is irrational to think that any nation can save more than a hand full of people from overpopulated poorer nation. Especially when most refuse to change their life style and blame the Jones’s for their plight.
      It is irrational to call mom a Nazi A. hole for giving people a ride back home to keep her home from overpopulation. It is irrational to think that any single payer social program will work best. It is irrational to think that nations can tax its way out of poverty. It is irrational to believe that a power convinced that you have nowhere else to go will do your biding.

      No one is going to stand in their way the template to convince people that a rational person is a very sick or stupid SOB must be removed first. And only you can remove yours. The misuse of Negative Theory must be taught to future generations.

      People will not take in grandma, or their disabled neighbor long enough to break the social network of chains that separate us. It does not have to come to that, yet! The working class can be forced to plan for their life without a single payer plan. We must meet with our follow citizens, listen and share ideas.

      A true Conservative and a true Liberal agree on one thing though for different reasons. Any single payer social program is a nutty idea! Now each believes that it’s not so nutty as long as their side is managing it.

      We can destroy their power by replacing them with citizens that can be immediately removed by citizens should they grow a greedy bone and never serve for a life time. We must take control ourselves. Please join with us at Goooh.com you might be able to click on my name. This will take you to my link page that links to Goooh.com, NumbersUSA.com and SBA-list.org.

      P.S. Have you heard of “you cut”

  • Raggs

    This is a gvreat idea… I own several guns but I have never thought of training with an air gun… My first gun was an air gun…
    Now where I live it is impossible to practice without driving 50 miles to a range… An air gun is a good idea….

  • April

    I like the idea of being able to practice, keep up, and learn more skills even while watching my granddaughter. This is a good and safe way to teach and instill throughout her life sensability about weapons, especially awareness,and safety habits; respecting life, and rights. FACT:Gun control only sets the stage for more crime. We cannot allow society to brainwash our kids into becomming a victum of gun control.

    Thankyou David Morris for sharing this wonderful idea and including the pros and cons of this type of training.

  • Brad

    I belong to an Airsoft team that’s open to all, boys anf girls 13 and up with the proper safety equipment. We also welcome police and military personnel wanting to keep their skills sharp and their costs down. I own five airsoft guns and yes they look and feel just like the real makoy, but the only draw back when firing these airsoft guns, recoil as stated in the article. The vast majority of airsoft guns either use CO2, propane, green gas, batterys and finaly springs for their power source. Since these airsoft guns are made from softer materials they can not be converted to fire live ammunition. By federal law all airsoft guns shipped are required to have a blaze orange muzzle tip that covers the first two inches of the muzzle. As for the rifles and pistols available for purchase, most are upgradeable, ie; stronger springs, better gear’s, bigger battery’s, tight bore barrels and the list can go on.

    These airsoft guns can fire only 6mm or 8mm BB’s made of either plastic and or biodegradeable material and purchased from various manufactures, the weight of each BB varis from .12 grams to as heavy as .48 grams. The lighter the BB the faster it will shoot, the heavier the BB the slower it will shoot. My team trains as we play and we play to win, but first and for most we take safety very seriously, we don’t push any type of gun onto anyone, it’s entirely voluntary. Check out youtube theres plenty of airsoft groups and various sites that are utilized for campaigns, scrimmages and competition between teams. Airsoft has become the new paintball with a few benefits, no paint marking, doesn’t hurt as much and finally is extreamly fun.

    Now, not every person is going to agree and I understand your position, but when a state takes measures to curtail the airsoft industry and try to mandate color over realism, I take issue on that point. We strive for realism and have had younger members of our team join the military, thanking us for providing an atmosphere of Honor, Courage and Commitment to our team and our country.

    • Joey Biden

      Brad, I highly commend you for your comment and what you do with the team. It is extremely important to educate our youth in safe and proper firearm use while having fun at the same time. Our youth are our hope for the future. If they grow up to be a well armed militia there may a chance for this country to be great again.

  • http://www.personaltrainercost.com Dave

    Hmm…Never thought about training with an airsoft gun, however it’s a good article with a creative idea! Thanks for sharing!

  • Jerry

    Where can I get one of the Airsoft Glocks? I would like to have something that feels like my Glock for cheap practice for my wife and me. I don’t want to buy crap. Thanks

    • Brad

      Jerry,

      Do a google search for airsoft guns/glock, there are numerous sites dealing with any type of airsoft gun.

      Evike, Airsoft GI, Airsoft Megawarehouse just to name a few stores that sell airsoft guns.

  • Ghost

    I wish I could get people around here to be prepaired, even with firearms, and training. But they are scared of even a toy gun. The sad fact is, that I’m blind physically but not mentally, and I can see through the lies of the demonic servants. Everybody here where I live will believe that gun control is the answer, when it isn’t the answer at all. It is a way for the tirants to have their way with us. I would rather die fighting these demons, instead of going along with their evil planns.
    Ghost Patriot.

  • Daniel

    Where can I get one of this?

  • efred

    Does anyone make an airsoft version of the XD line of pistols? They (the real XD’s) seem to be very popular, but I can’t find anyone who makes an airsoft version.

  • Ronin65

    We’ve been alternating between airsoft and live fire for a few years now. One thing I have noticed is that our band of friends accuracy has increased. One piece of advice is not to buy the cheap $10 guns. On a pistol you need to spend at least $50 for a quality airsoft pistol and $100 or more for a rifle. The better ones are made of mostly metal.
    These are great for CQB training too. We were able to cut our training cost almost 2/3.

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