Airsoft guns, as we know them today, began in Japan during the 1980s. Ownership of guns by public citizens was banned and residents wanted legal replicas that fired realistically in lieu of the handguns and rifles they could not longer own. To meet this need Airsoft came into being.
Airsoft weapons are powered with compressed air, providing the shooter an experience so much like shooting a gun with traditional ammunition. These weapons became quite popular and sharp shooter competitions began.
Airsoft guns have relatively low power so that they are safe to use in confined spaces. This was perfect for the Japanese market since space is at a premium there. These weapons were also designed to be affordable, flexible and very realistic. The ammunition was also quite affordable, making sports shooting something anyone could afford to do on a regular basis.
Airsoft remains popular in Japan and many other Asian countries but other countries around the world have discovered these guns that can be used in training and skirmishes safely and today the United States and Europe are quickly becoming great fans of Airsoft weapons.
Law enforcement and military training is frequently performed using Airsoft weapons. The realism of an encounter is second to none yet the safety of the personally, always a top priority, is much higher than with any other training tool previously used.
Paint ball was quite popular in the past for hobby shooters but that practice is quickly being replaced by Airsoft. The feel of the battle is much more realistic and the feel and heft of the weapons are much more like the real thing. Paint ball guns are bulky and cumbersome, feeling very unnatural to the combatant.
Target practice with Airsoft weapons is quite popular. These weapons are much safer to use in any situation where hobby or sports shooting is being performed. These guns are not made to kill or even hurt anyone or anything. They are simply for learning the art and science of shooting accurately, hitting targets, competing against other accomplished shooters and having fun.
Airsoft weapons are quite affordable. Most anyone who loves to shoot for target practice or in simulate battles, or even in airsoft competition can afford to own several of these weapons. Unlike handguns or rifles that fire dangerous gunpowder ammunition, the small rubber pellets fired by Airsoft weapons are inexpensive and anyone can afford to send a day firing without worrying about the expense of the ammunition.