The word airsoft doesn’t ring a bell when you hear it because you are not really familiar with it – you have seen it rarely in real time or maybe just in the TV or movies.

When you say airsoft, one would also visualize a full-geared manly-built soldier sporting a firearm while enjoying a shooting action in a “war zone.”

But when you take a closer look, you will find out that women, too, are having a great time firing and mastering tactical skills.

Airsoft may sound alien but it’s fast becoming a popular hobby and sports for the Ilonggos.

Among these shooting enthusiasts is 31-year old law student and charming mom to a kid, Andrea Gorriceta, who started playing airsoft in 2009 together with her husband.

She also plays volleyball, basketball and billiards, but not regularly though, only in school like on a sportsfest or Law Day.

Airsoft was introduced in Iloilo more than a decade ago, Andrea notes.

“Now, it is very popular that people from all walks of life play the game. Some are very young. More men than women seem to play it but there are many female enthusiasts,” she says.

“In general, those who like to play airsoft games are individuals looking for an active hobby that involves strategic thinking,” Andrea stresses.

A game of airsoft involves two opposing teams seeking to eliminate all of the other team’s players or to complete an objective such as retrieving a flag or eliminating a specific player by hitting them with pellets fired from gun replicas, she explains.

Just a breather: Airsoft is a combat sport played for recreation and competition. The weapons look very similar to real firearms complete with tactical gear and other accessories used by players.

Airsoft is usually played outdoors where one can engage in a variety of games like organized scenarios and military simulations like war. The players may introduce some special rules to make the game longer and more interesting.

Honor in Honesty

“Unlike paintball, there are no visible marks left on the clothing and so when a player is hit with a pellet, one has to declare himself out according to the rules of the game,” Andrea says.

“It is necessary to follow an honor system where the players admit honestly when they are hit by the opposition. This increases sportsmanship and helps to conduct the game in a fair manner,” she adds.

In terms of the cost of hardware, airsoft is cheaper than paintball. The prices are the same for both when it comes to apparel.

Amazing Sport

“If you’re a type of person that seeks a pure adrenaline rush, mind blowing suspense action, strategy, and tactics, then you’ll get a load of all these in playing airsoft,” Andrea enthuses.

“Airsoft is a lot more engaging and downright fun than other sports. You have to be constantly on your toes if you want to avoid being hit. It is not only excitement fueled by the drive to win, but you also don’t want to get out because it is slightly painful when tagged,” she says.

By incorporating real life skills into a fast-paced game, airsoft can be a good influence for anyone. It’s a great way to build many skills which can be taken from the airsoft field and carried on to the real playing field or life,” Andrea affirms.

“Playing airsoft is my stress-reliever. All the physical activities like running, crawling, bending are more than an hour work out exercise at the gym for me.

It keeps me alert and my mind working as well emotionally challenging. It’s a game that keeps me both physically and mentally fit –a sound mind and a healthy body,” Andrea exclaims.

She only plays during Sundays with her husband and nephew (her younger brother’s son) because she has classes from Monday to Saturday.

Strength in Beauty

“Women are encouraged to see and bring forth the beauty and strength within themselves, to be inspired to be the best they can be.

While most airsoft players are men, it is definitely a sport women can enjoy. It’s easy to quickly dismiss airsoft as violent or dangerous, but that isn’t true,” Andrea clarifies.

“Airsoft teaches women planning, strategy, skill, patience, and a reliance on your teammates like no other sport out there.

Additionally, the proper equipment required for airsoft makes it very safe. Many women who participate in this sport realize that it’s great for both sexes.

Women Power

In fact, many women airsoft players surprise their male opponents as women tend to be more agile and stealthy than men – a serious advantage in airsoft skirmishes,” she affirms.

Another benefit of airsoft is the development of true athleticism and physical endurance. Airsoft players will run, jump, duck, and whatever is necessary to outsmart the opponent.

Airsoft will work muscles you never knew you had. It will get you into shape quickly!” Andrea declares.

“The only one who can tell you ‘you can’t’ is you. And you don’t have to listen,” Andrea borrows the catchy line from a popular sports brand.

She continues: “Believing in yourself is the most important quality you can develop in order to accomplish anything you truly desire in your life and become more successful. Nothing in the world can stop you from becoming what you want to be.

We have unlimited potential and capacity to accomplish great things. However, some of us achieve far less than what we are capable of because of our self-doubts and self-limiting beliefs.”

Holistic Benefits

Playing sports is very beneficial for the development of social skills in a person.

It teaches us to interact with people, act as a team. It fosters collective thinking and develops planning skills; builds confidence and gives a sense of accomplishment. Sports thus play a vital role in one’s social being, says Andrea.

Playing sports serves as an excellent exercise which has a wide variety of health benefits. “I come from a family with a ‘not-so-healthy genes.’ My father has diabetes and had undergone angioplasty. That’s why I am really for the health benefits of playing sports.”

For Andrea, playing sports indeed acts as a beautiful blend of physical activity and recreation.

(This story first appeared in Mezzo Magazine March-April 2011)