Airsoft gun users should aim for safety, protect eyes
TrishaKorioth, Staff Writer
The name sounds safe enough, but if an airsoft gun is on your teen’s wish list, you
should keep a close eye on safety.
These non-powder guns look like real guns and are sold in sporting goods and other
retail stores. Kids use them to shoot 6 millimeter plastic pellets at targets or each
Their rising popularity has led to an increase in eye injuries.
“The name is terribly misleading,” said Eliot Nelson, M.D., FAAP, an injury prevention
expert from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). “Nobody should be allowed to
use these without appropriate eye protection.”
Those who do not wear eye protection are at risk of eye injury, according to the AAP.
Airsoft pellets that strike the eye can cause scratches, painful pooling of blood
inside the eye, lens dislocation or blindness.
The AAP recommends that kids use paintball-style protective eyewear. Look for a label
that says the glasses meet ASTM F1776 safety standards.
Airsoft guns are sold alongside other non-powder guns like BB guns that fire metal
ball bearings, pellet guns that fire small lead pellets and paintball guns that fire
gelatinous balls filled with paint. Air, other gases, springs and electricity help
shoot the ammunition out of the gun. Non-powder guns have an orange tip so they are
not mistaken for a real gun. The tip should not be removed.
Not all non-powder guns are the same.
BB guns and metal pellet guns are not designed to be shot at people. They can kill
small animals, though. “(They) are clearly better described as weapons,” Dr. Nelson
Airsoft and paintball guns are designed to be shot at other people in games. They
can cause welts on the skin but are not supposed to break the skin. “They sting. Use
protective clothing if you don’t want to get stung,” said Dr. Nelson.
For these reasons, the AAP does not suggest an age when airsoft guns are considered
safe. Parents should consider whether their child understands the risks and will wear
“The bottom line is that all of these guns are potentially hurtful,” Dr. Nelson said.
“Parents should be very careful not to think of any of these as harmless toys.”