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Airsoft Pistols for Tactical Training
What if there was a better way to both introduce gun safety and shooting skills (especially to women)?

What if it could also aid in developing Tactical skills, yet was safe, quiet, inexpensive, and legal?

    Well, if you hadn't guessed by now, the answer to all these is the AirSoft Pistol.  By the very fact that it is "not a gun" it will put people at ease in handling it, yet it is enough like a gun in the way it looks, loads, and chambers that important firearm safety skills  may be taught with it.  This can be done nearly anywhere, indoor or out, since the plastic 6mm pellets will not break glass or damage walls.

    Though firearms are outside the context of the kobudo arsenal people imagine when they hear "martial arts", they are as much a staple of training for the modern day stylist as the bo and sai were to the student of the classical Okinawan schools.  A style can not really speak of being modern without relating to firearms even if just because they are common today, and no matter what the law is, criminals will have them (even if the rest of us do not).  A well rounded practitioner should be able to fight with and against them, just like all other weapons.  The question arises, then, how does one train safely, consistently, and legally while at the same time developing the specific skills needed for close range drawing, shooting, and disarming?  One solution we have found is using AirSoft pistols.

    Well, first off, let me state that this is not a new idea.  These have been used by professionals to hone their skills for years now.  If you watch James Keating's Unarmed & Dangerous video, you will notice that is what they are using, and he makes a statement to this effect as well.  Gabriel Suarez, the noted tactical shooting instructor and author of a number of books for Paladin Press also feels that the AirSoft pistols have their place in learning close range wok.  "There must be some consequences for not doing the technique right" says Suarez, who uses these as trainers for his pistol disarming course.

    Some might suggest that these are not good because you aren't "really shooting bullets", but though I enjoy firing live ammo at the range (and in the backyard, since we're in the country) I also feel in the larger scope of close quarters engagements that the shooting skills honed at the range are only one part of a complex equation.  To give and analogy, you need to know math to do engineering, but it is only one component.  The AirSoft pistols allow us to examine other aspects of training, many of which are impossible (or incredibly dangerous) to do with Real guns.

    Far from being toys, these are spring powered and fire a 6mm plastic pellet with surprising force.  They sting about as much as a BB from the old "Red Ryder" guns, like in the film A Christmas Story, and yes "You can put yer eye out with it" so be smart and put on some eyewear.  Don't shoot 'em at your training partners.  Unless they tell you to.  Then only if they have at least a helmet or full facemask on.  No point in getting hurt while learning to stay safe!

   This is about safety, both your own safety on the street and people's safety in training.  To hand a novice a large caliber hand gun, point them at a target, and let 'em blast it is a recipe for failure.  It crushes the person's confidence, reinforces their own fears, and and turns the experience of shooting into a negative one.  Many people today would not even consider handling a gun for the social stigma they feel is attached to it, and an experience like that would certainly "prove" to them that their beliefs were true.  AirSoft can give someone the sensation of shooting (and all the fun) as well as provide another tool for realistic training.

Let us examine the guns themselves:

Picture of Glock 17 Airsoft Pistol

Size & Shape

Very realistic, could easily be mistaken for a real gun


Too light, though the magazine has a better weight to it


Very good at the close ranges you will be shooting


Slide is solid and realistic on the Glock, but less optimal on some other models with moving hammers.


Manual safety is poor, but the safety is never used in the Shooting to Live course.  The Glock has a working trigger safety just like on the real pistol.


Magazine holds 12+ rounds and the release works smoothly

   Out of all the models we have worked with , the Glock 17 look alike has been the consistent favorite.  Some of the other models have moving parts to add to the realism, but they make the guns feel even less sturdy when used in disarming work.  Since the Glock has no extra moving parts it feel much more solid overall.

    For purposes of training, since the AirSoft guns are the same size as real handguns, they can use the same holsters.  This means that you can either pick up some cheap $5 holsters or use your own carry holster.  This facilitates the skills acquisition in the initial Draw, Chamber, and Shoot drill.

    Work through the exercises in the classic Shooting to Live (available from the
Marine Archives as zip file FMFRP1281)  Learn the Point Shooting method as described - this should only take you a couple of hours to get the basics.  The book is very straight foreword about the course of instruction, so you just need to "follow the directions."  For targets, a large sheet of foamcore insulation is hard to beat, but even just a chunk of old styrofoam is fine.  Pellets will imbed in it pretty well while remaining visible, and are recoverable later.

    One large sheet will provide enough material to make a number of targets.  You can make your silhouettes different sizes to simulate targets at farther rages while shooting indoors.  Remember that the only limitation to your training is your imagination.  Since you can train with AirSoft safely indoors, this opens up a world of possibilities.  Try going to different houses and working clearing them.  Set up the BG targets for each other and then follow along as an observer and time keeper.  That way it will be random and more "alive" than just standing there, at the line, shooting.  Remember that since you aren't going to blow your foot off accidentally with a live round, you can safely practice falling and shooting or rolling and shooting; both interesting and valid skills dangerous to practice otherwise.

Drills and Concepts

Work through the entire Shooting to Live book chapter by chapter, following the lesson plans.
Draw, Chamber, and Shoot
Shoot, Change Magazines, Chamber, and Shoot
Hanging Swing Targets
Small Targets
Shooting at a flash of light (training partner stands behind you with a flashlight and projects beam to random spot on target)
etc. etc. etc.

Fall and Shoot
Roll and Shoot
Kneel and Shoot
Squat and Shoot
Stand Up and Shoot
etc. etc. etc.

Counters to the Close Threat - front, back, side, kneeling, lying, mounted, in car, one in one out of car, etc.
Counters to the Draw - IWB, SS, CS, RWB, Shoulder harness, from a distance, in close, on the ground, in a car, etc.
As above but you are also armed (Folding knife, pistol, etc.)
As above but with multiple attackers - only one has weapon and attacks from surprise
etc. etc. etc.

James Keating's Unarmed and Dangerous Video Set
Universal disarming concepts applied to pistols, rifles, sticks, and knives

RedWolf Airsoft
Great source for all your Airsoft needs, from pistols to rifles, shotguns and electric full-autos.

Gabriel Suarez Web Site - Tactical Shooting Training Books
Training from one of today's top authors on real world gunfighting

Vladamir Vassiliev's Gun Disarming Video
Many unorthodox and powerful disarms from the Russian martial arts

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