We’ve collected some data from many different fields to determine what the average field does as far as safety rules are concerned. Below are a few charts containing my findings. The list of fields used is available here.
The charts above show the muzzle velocity limits and minimum engagement distances (MEDs) for most airsoft guns at different fields. While a simple majority have set their muzzle velocity limits to 400 ft/s, there doesn’t seem to be any agreement over what the MED should be. This could be because of the difference between indoor and outdoor fields (where the outdoor fields use longer MEDs) but that wouldn’t explain why some of the indoor fields set their velocity limit to 400 ft/s.
These graphs show the same data as the earlier charts for the “sniper rifles” – the highest power airsoft guns allowed. Some fields don’t sort airsoft guns into categories like this, so there aren’t as many data points for these charts. Many fields that allow “sniper rifles” set their muzzle velocity limits to either 500 ft/s or 550 ft/s, and most of them use a 100 ft MED. They seem to be a lot more unified in these standards compared to the normal category shown above.
So what can be inferred from this data about safety rules? It appears as if the safety rules aren’t based on any objective criteria. In many cases, Airsoft fields use the safety rules dictated to them by their insurance companies and if asked cannot say why their limits are set to what they’re set to. Even when looking at the limits at face-value, the velocity difference between normal airsoft guns and “sniper rifles” (a 23% increase, on average) is inconsistent with the difference in MEDs (a nine-fold increase, on average).
A significant portion of The Ultimate Chairsofter’s Handbook discusses this problem (amongst other safety problems) and offers a solution to fix it. We’ve developed a new way to determine if an airsoft gun is safe, which can be applied to any type of airsoft gun, in any field type, and scales with any muzzle velocity/projectile weight. If a single rule-set were applied across all (or nearly all) fields, it would make following safety rules easier since one would not have to remember different rule-sets for different fields. Players could also use their airsoft guns at any field, provided it follows the rule-set. This would be a major improvement over the existing rule-sets that are in place now.