A little over two years ago, I dropped my son off at a friends house for an afternoon of playing airsoft. He’d had spring powered pistols and shotguns before and played with his friends on occasion and I figured this was more of the same. When I walked him back to the field, I realized this was much more.
Several dad’s were hanging around playing with the boys. The dads were friends of mine and our boys have all grown up together. They politely asked me to stay but I’d already made plans with my wife to spend time together. We talked for a bit and my son left to play with his friends.
When I closed the door of my Jeep, an overwhelming feeling of guilt consumed me. What had I done? Was I one of those dads that dropped off their kid uninvolved in his life? I crushed me as I drove away. I had no idea it wasn’t just for the kids. I checked into this “airsoft” thing and by the time they scheduled another day to play, I was in.
I lucked out and found Black Friday deals on airsoft rifles. I grabbed two decent guns and two face masks for about $200 which is a great starting point to the sport. Rolling into my friend’s driveway with my son and our equipment, I felt a mix of excitement and apprehension. I mean, I was about to purposefully put myself in harms way!
Airsoft, for those that don’t know, is basically playing with BB guns except the guns tend to be replicas of the real ones and the BB’s are plastic. You shoot each other but unlike paintball when you know you’ve hit your opponent, you have to rely on the honor system to determine when you’ve been struck. For the most part, people are honest about it (Cause if you’re not, you’re gonna get over-shot and that sucks!) We’re strict on wearing eye protection. There’s no sense in messing around with that.
In the two years since that fateful day when I drove off after leaving my son behind, we’ve grown as an airsoft team. We’ve gone to different airsoft fields like ACS in Paducah, KY or Bing Field in Edwardsville, IL to play random opponents and regularly play at our home field. We’ve given ourselves a name (the PMC Airsoft Team), we have a Facebook page, YouTube channel, and share our custom patches with new people we meet. We’ve gone on a camping trip to Noob Day at Bad Karma Airsoft just east of Nashville, TN with about a thousand players and played at Nashville Airsoft. Our group of 20 or so guys are friends and we play the sport honestly. We may not like the outcome of matches or when cheaters get away with something (it happens way too often) but we try to be honorable and teach our boys to do the right thing.
I also feel in some ways I’ve grown closer to my son. We can have lively discussions about our latest matches or gear and there’s a bond between us that’s forged over shooting plastic BB’s. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s the truth. When he could be out drinking or doing something illegal, he’s with me and our friends enjoying an afternoon of shooting each other. I wouldn’t miss these times for anything. Soon he’ll be too old to hang with dad and all I’ll have left are memories of our time together.