Letter Re: Airsoft and Paintball Groups for Small Unit Tactics Training?

Gidday Mr Rawles,
I was just wondering whether or not it would be wise for me to join a tactical Airsoft club in the future. Due to the current political climate in New Zealand training with live firearms, and so forth is frowned upon and could get you labelled as a “terrorist”.
However there are a lot of Tactical Airsoft/Paintball groups throughout the country and I was wondering whether it would be a wise move for me to join one of these clubs to gain some tactical skills/experience? Or is it better to avoid groups all together? – S.S. in New Zealand

JWR Replies: I can’t speak to the potential OPSEC or legal issues, but I can talk about the value of the training. In my experience Airsoft and paintball are fine for learning some aspects of camouflage and small team tactics. The fatal flaws of both, however, are that:
1.) Since paint balls and Airsoft pellets have hardly any penetration beyond five yards, people start to subconsciously equate concealment with cover.
2.) Because paint balls only have limited range, people start to subconsciously think of anything beyond that range as “safely out of range” (for maneuver in the open.)
If you can regularly remind yourself about those shortcomings and adjust your training regimen accordingly, then you’ll find that they provide somewhat worthwhile training. But it is essential that you integrate high velocity ballistic realism. This means declaring anyone that blatantly stands up in the open at 50+ yards “dead meat.” Ditto for anyone that mistakenly takes “cover” behind bushes. Again, concealment is not cover!