Before I start, I want to say that I know this article might be considered 'controversial' and there is a risk that it could be taken entirely the wrong way, so if you are offended, please accept that this was not my intention. 

Women are the fastest growing demographic in shooting sports from Archery to Airsoft to Practical shooting. Women around the world are proving that the shooting game isn’t just for the boys anymore and although women in Airsoft are still heavily outnumbered by our male counterparts, we are slowly but surely growing in numbers. I started my blog (Femme Fatale Airsoft) in November of 2014 after noticing a gap in the information available online for women in our sport and thus, the mission was born - to get more girls into the game by making Airsoft more accessible to them through information available online. This is something I and my battle sisters are hugely passionate about! Thanks to social media and female content creators more and more women are getting involved, but because female Airsofters are still a rare breed, we do face some incredibly varied reactions from the Airsoft community as a whole.

Airsoft is accessible to anyone and the beauty of our sport is that no matter your age, gender, sexuality, religion or political orientations you can play and make friends with like-minded people that are brought together by the love of one sport. So as long as you are taking your hits and you play the game fairly, does gender matter? It would be naive to say that gender in Airsoft does not matter at all. Let’s get the negative out of the way first (as it would be unfair to pretend that this doesn’t exist at all as much as we would like to) and I would like to stress that most of our community is exceptionally encouraging of women taking up our hobby but there are still some players who haven’t quite come around to the idea of women on the field and I think this is one of the main reasons that some women feel intimidated. Over the last two years I have experienced (what I would imagine is) every reaction possible from my male peers that includes being underestimated because of my size and gender, being told to ‘get back in the kitchen’, accused of cheating because there is no possible way I could be a worthy adversary, being told that I am simply ‘not good enough’ to be someone’s IC at a MilSim Op and possibly the most irritating – that I am only successful in my field because I am female. Women are faced with two very distinct stereotypes in this industry - the stereotype of women being weak and on the other end of the spectrum: the stereotype that female Airsofters are 'manly' and unfeminine. It is my belief that these stereotypes stem from the ‘traditional gender roles’ which put immense pressure on women to be ‘traditionally feminine’ and men to be ‘traditionally masculine’ but thanks to the rise in female Airsoft content creators and the women who are putting themselves out there in the world of social media and the industry these stereotypes are being challenged.

One of the terms I have heard the most frequently is ‘You shoot like a girl!’ and it’s fair to say that I do everything like a girl - fight like a girl, shoot like a girl, and drive like a girl, because I am a girl but there's nothing wrong with that. I've said it before, and I will say it until I am blue in the face: I’ve had the pleasure to play with a lot of my fellow female Airsofters and they are tough as nails and play just as hard as the guys. We're not just girlfriends being dragged along to games in our boyfriend’s kits, we are players in our own right - getting those kills, taking those objectives and generally kicking ass! And this is recognised by a lot of our community – I have heard fantastic feedback from players, site owners etc about the level of play women dish out and it is so encouraging and this coupled with the countless post in online forums where players offer support and information show that women have become an integral part of our sport. The industry is also recognising my battle sisters with brands such as 5.11 Tactical leading the way with female tactical clothing, Worldwide brand leaders choosing to sponsor notable female players and using them in their advertising campaigns, and if I can be so bold to mention Airsoft Action – being the only UK Airsoft publication with a female contributor on their staff. Our industry is moving forward with us and this is only a good thing. Do not misunderstand me though, I am not suggesting that we get special treatment because we are female, in fact we want to be treated like any other player, ‘but why are you writing this article then? Why are you drawing attention to this?’ I hear you ask, that is because I believe the rise in the acceptance of women we are currently seeing is integral to the narrative of our sport.

Although my experience of Airsoft as a whole is very different to the average player, Airsoft to me means meeting and playing alongside like-minded individuals who have become lifelong friends, travelling the country to play sites and experiencing different aspects of Airsoft and also pushing myself mentally and physically at MilSim Ops.

I asked some of my Slaydies why they love Airsoft and what being a women in Airsoft means to them and here’s what they said:

Lene Rider says:

‘For me, it’s about having a great time with my Airsoft family. We aren’t just players, we have all become an extended family. Airsoft allows me to instantly create a bond that only we as Airsofters experience. Playing gives me such an adrenaline rush – the excitement of gearing up and going hammer and tongs at the opposing side. Being a small hobbit sized female in Airsoft hasn’t fazed me, in fact, it’s pushed me to do better than the fellas. In short – family, honour, play and unity. That sums up Airsoft for me’

Kayleigh Kavanagh says:

‘What I love about Airsoft is a chance to meet friends and have fun. Being a female Airsofter means to me that it shows that Airsoft is not just for men – anyone can take part!’

Charlotte Coombes says:

‘As a newbie to Airsoft, to me it’s about having fun, the thrill of the game and forgetting the stresses of the outside world’

Kate Mills says:

’20 months after my first skirmish I’ve attended 3 night games, been every month and made some of the best memories. I’ve met the best people I will ever know and laughed harder than I’ve known possible. Airsoft isn’t just a sport, it’s a lifestyle I’ve fallen in love with and couldn’t get out of even if we wanted to’

Sarah Minarcik says:

‘When I was in high school I shot my first Airsoft gun, it wasn’t until later I found out Airsoft was its own culture. It was intimidating at first, but I quickly adapted. For me, it’s about the brotherhood of the team and the friendships you make whilst doing something you enjoy with like-minded individuals’

Tarra Walker says:

‘Playing Airsoft is just plain fun. I love the bonds formed and the challenging nature of ‘MilSim’ (my favourite). There’s such a stigma that it’s a boys hobby and that it can be incredibly intimidating for women. To any ladies toying with the idea of playing: Do it and have fun!’

Sarah Gudgeon says:

‘I love Airsoft because it pushes me to outside of my comfort zone and grow as a person and a player. Being a female Airsofter means that, for whatever reason, I have to prove that girls can keep up and kick ass just as much, if not more than the dudes’

Tamara Green says:

‘Finding my team was the greatest thing for my self-esteem. As long as you can keep up with the guys, there is no difference if you are a boy or a girl, fat or thin. While finding Airsoft I found friends for life and a way to be who I truly am’

My message to ladies out there thinking of trying Airsoft is: take the plunge and go for it! Or for any guys who would love to get their partners into the game, take her along! Thanks to the worldwide web, there is more information than ever out there for women in our sport so if you’re looking for advice or recommendations on kit, sites etc there are some really supportive female only Facebook groups such as ‘Women of Airsoft’ and ‘UK Ladies Airsoft Group’ that are a couple of my personal favourites, if YouTube is your thing definitely check out YouTubers such as Unicorn Leah, Airsoft Hasmeen and Adella Relentless for awesome content ranging from reviews to vlogs and gameplay! Or if you’re into Instagram, check out these accounts for great content: @thetacticalunicorn, @P90_Girl, @airsoft_hasmeen, @adella_relentless, @themilsimmedic5, @sisumilsim and @airsoftaddict.princess.

See you on the field!

Hardwick, K. (2016). The Rise of Women in Airsoft. Airsoft Action. 64 (August), 48-51.

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