FAQ (Ver. abridged)
H-sama, what exactly is airsoft?
Simply put, airsoft is a combat simulation sport not unlike paintball. The most basic layout comprises of two oposing teams trying to reach a set goal, whether it be by getting "kills" or completing a wide variety of objectives.
You use BB guns, right?
Although that term is technically correct in the grand scheme of things, the proper name to use is indeed "an airsoft gun". Whereas a BB gun can be air-powered and fire metal bearings, the same cannot be said for airosft which are limited to electrical, spring, & gas-powered guns, and fire only 6mm plastic bb's.
Does it hurt? What happens when you get hit?
"Does it hurt" is a hard question to answer due to the sheer number of circumstances that must be taken into account. Generally speaking, no, 6mm bb's do not bruise as badly as a paintball (and hey, they don't stain your cloths either!). However, it depends on the velocity (otherwise referred to as FPS) of the gun, and the material/amount of clothing you are currently wearing. As an example, I wore a light shirt and jacket to a game and got hit by a gun shooting roughly 370 feet per second. It's enough to feel the hits, but it doesn't sting or otherwise break skin. If you were just wearing the shirt, however...
Depending on the scenario, taking a hit is... well, taking a hit. As the plastic bb's don't drench your clothing in sticky residue, airsoft uses an honor system- which admittedly has caused issues and most certainly will continue to do so. When struck by an opposing player (or your idiot teammate), the casualty will stop whatever he/she is doing, raise his or her hand while yelling "HIT!!", then proceed to a designated "spawn" area.
Is there a minimum age?
Generally speaking, no... however, local airsoft groups and fields may opt write a specific set of rules where age may be a factor. From what I hear you guys in the States are much more open to younger players, but Canada is another story. Due to the legality (and the fact that kids tend to do stupid things), most games are played by persons 18 years of age or older. However, I think it's safe to say that as long as you are respectful and mature, people won't give a crap about your age.
What is the ratio of guys to girls in the airsoft fanbase?
Not going to lie, it's a male-dominant sport. Although there are women who participate in games, it's an exceedingly rare sight- at least, in North America.
Would you consider airsoft superior to paintball? What exactly is the difference?
To that first question, my answer is an absolute SPOILER: Highlight text to read: YES.
The biggest difference between airsoft and paintball are the weapons in which you wage simulated war with. As mentioned earlier, paintball uses gas or C02 powered guns labeled "markers". While you can buy accessories that will make it look more similar to a real firearm, it'll still look ridiculous due to the typical marker design. That's where airsoft comes into play, 99% of the guns on the market are true to their "real steel" counterparts- at least, externally. Aside from more realistic rifles, airsoft uses 6mm bb's as apposed to paintballs (but you already knew that), and as a result are much less painful. As for actually playing the game, airsoft seems to have a more serious mindset which goes hand-in-hand with the more realistic guns and uniforms. That's not to say that people can't have fun, quite the opposite in fact, but the general atmosphere might be off-putting to some individuals who just want to run around and shoot stuff without having to deal with objectives and the like.
*Will edit FAQ accordingly.