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Bite The Bullet

Back to Basics Vol 1 - Goggles & Specs (2010-08-10)

So you are a recent recruit / convert to our beloved culture world that is Airsoft, congrats!
You know the basic safety and facts, congrats. So now you are in the early grey area time between discovering Airsoft and starting to get your act together; thats right, that first research phase every new guy goes through to get a handle on specific information and those first decisions like what gear to get or which gun to buy.

If you are this person, or know someone like this, then you are probably fed up of those super-basic 'Airsoft 101' articles floating around our world and you are OH so ready for lesson 2 and onwards but instead all you can find is article after article about specific guns or your first gun which is great but hardly everything you need to know. So Redwolf Airsoft proceeds to do our best in giving you a brief yet broad set of ideas to give you a peak at the big picture. This article is not suppose to give you answers but rather for making sure you are asking the right questions. The first part in our miniseries, this article talks about the essential protection of masks and their alternatives.

Eye and face protection often not the first thing new recruits think of, instead rushing onward and upward in search of that first gun only to settle for any old thing for basic protection. Indeed, any basic facemask or pair of goggles is effectively enough but a pause for thought is worth your time and money all the same. After all, the new guys wear those distinctive plastic masks where as the older players will have traded up to either tactical goggles, more expensive masks or the daredevil operators choice of ballistic spectacles so there must be something to it.

Masks stop pellets from obliterating eyes and wrecking teeth which is the most important thing so as long as you have any kind of protection then you are good to go. If you push the thinking a little harder however then you will find a few more questions; many players do not think about it until after they have been playing a while or even until the discover the problems that arise in the field.

One of the biggest tactical FUBARs that pop up when using masks can often occur after you have bought your first gun and have started using your first mounted optic. When holding a weapon correctly, one should achieve a proper cheek-weld and whilst this is critical when shooting real rifles which actually buck, in Airsoft its more about establishing good habits to maintain a cool, realistic aesthetic to your play behavior. In Airsoft, a proper cheek weld is not actually necessary so often the position of the new guys head while firing is a balance between getting his head low behind the sights as easy as possible but kept away from the stock by the bulky mask.

Without even realizing it, a new player may be establishing a bad habit of an incorrect cheek weld due to the mask he is wearing and right off the bat no one bothers to correct him because it does not matter all that much. Having established this basic habit, the new player then purchases and begins using his first optic (often a simple red dot sight) and when he proceeds to use it he now finds it damn fiddly to line his eye up with the scope with his mask getting in the way. New players become frustrated and so start looking at higher mounts or changing their masks.

So, our main point in this article is to stop and consider this point. Arclight and many of his teamsters, along with countless players around the world, prefer the choice of ballistic specs. They offer no more physical presence then a pair of shades and so this option allows the proper cheek-weld position allowing comfortable lining behind an optic even when mounted low on the weapon. Specs have the added advantage of being more comfortable then masks with the minimal contact with the face allowing for less irritation and superior air flow. The clearance also allows sighting right down to low mounts and iron sights which means you do not have to compromise your aiming setup by using a higher mount bracket.

That said, at the price of freedom comes exposure. Specs protect the eyes great but they offer nothing for the rest of your face. Face shots hurt a whole lot and unlucky shots to the mouth can crack and even knock out teeth. This is rare enough that many players operate with specs as they consider its worth it but still there are cases of spec wearers taking that one in a million shot, breaking a tooth. Some spec wearers combat this by adding face coverage like a shemagh or a lower face mask (and even gumshields) but of course this begins to combat the comfort and freedom issue and partial masks begin to cause positional issues again. So, give it some thought; some players wear masks, some wear goggles, some wear specs.
Which one are you?

Written by Arclight