INTERVIEW: UK Airsoft Sports League -
We talk to the project leaders behind UKASL to find out exactly what they are up to and how they plan to do it.
We want to know more about your motivation in developing a section of Airsoft into a competitive sport?
We all play airsoft regularly and decided that we wanted to form a team. Shortly after forming, we realised that there was no platform where we could play other teams from around the country. The problem was that we were up against the same teams every time. We pondered and did some research to see if there were any processes or leagues available but we came up with nothing noteworthy.
This is when we decided that airsoft needs something like this and it’s been missing from our sport for a long time.
Are you considering making UK ASL an officially recognised sport? There are quite a few hoops to jump through!
This is something that we will be looking into in the future, although we realise it’s an epic undertaking. We understand that other individuals are pursuing this route, so we are hoping to liaise with them to bring a unified front to the cause as so far no one has any real traction – that’s what we need to address.
For now we are sticking to the simple competition format and promoting the competitive game play aspect and by doing this, were hoping to take it one step closer to being a recognised sport. We obviously need a strong following and grounding to give us a stable base From here we can start to look into growth and recognition for the format.
Naturally, with any form of progression or paradigm shift you have the doubters; what would you say to people that think making Airsoft into a competitive sport takes away what most Airsofters hold dearly such as, a greater sense of teamwork, fun, realism?
Competitive airsoft isn’t for everybody. There are some individuals that enjoy the larger group play, skirmishing and having a day out with friends. We’re not trying diminish that but merely give an additional option. Some also don’t like mil-sim, which is arguably a different branch of the same tree but there’s still a market for that which is catered for. Ultimately, to any negative comment; we understand your concern, but remind you that participation isn’t compulsory. Neither is competitive driving, or competitive golf or competitive pie eating!
Due to the very nature of Airsoft being an ‘honour sport’, do you feel that a competitive league game will be open to the same sort of abuse but with the possibility of worsened repercussions?
We feel that there is potential, if not monitored correctly that people could abuse–what is essentially–the very sport for personal gain. With that in mind, we are making this a priority area of development.
A lot of extra measures have been put in place that you won’t see on regular skirmish days, to ensure sportsmanlike conduct and to retain the professional nature of the league..The rules that we will be running have been carefully thought out, but will be thoroughly evolving through our trial period.
You’ve mentioned, cameras and marshalls; so basically more eyes to watch and a relatively low amount of players. Will you be utilising any retrospective refereeing based on replays etc?
We have in place all of the measures you would expect from your skirmish day, but on top of that, were taking on far more marshals and tech to help the monitor the games in a more efficient way.
We’re looking into advanced tech to help monitor games, such as automated and manned drones, special camera technology to allow us to see “tracer fire” that will be invisible to players, making it much easier to spot hits as well as the ability to remotely shutdown guns. This will give us the ability to monitor not only the action from the ground, with our marshals, but also from a control centre with the ability to instantly and accurately shut down players. This access to multiple video feeds and communications allows a small number of the team to cover a massive area.
We also have a policy to continuously update our terms and procedures to make sure were on the cutting edge of sportsmanship and professionalism and make this a truly fair arena where we can give people the opportunity to match their skills, not their ability to cheat.
It’s been mentioned that if Airsoft was to be recognised as an official sport, there would be little need for realistic imitation firearms – some feel it imposes risks towards those who are not interested in sport side and more into skirmishing and milsim. How would you reply to such a complicated issue?
There really is no question there. While a certain section of the sport would undoubtedly be turned into a defined sport, this doesn’t diminish its counterparts. Professional baseball hasn’t killed softball and race car driving hasn’t taken 500bhp cars off our roads.
I can see how some reactionary people may use this as a spring board to promote their own personal agenda, but there’s nothing to be done about that really. It’s also worth noting that adding a recognised, regulated, publicised and professional sport to the “airsoft world” goes a large way to legitimising it, rather than bringing it into disrepute.
A wholesale banning, policing, regulation, redesign and reinstatement of new items with the same purpose and end seem’s highly unlikely in our opinion.
In terms of other players the same applies. Having an airsoft league doesn’t mean that skirmishing and mil-sim becomes anything less or more than it already is. We’re adding to the sport; not taking away.
Tell us a little more about what you have planned for a typical league match and whether typical military tactics or themes come into play?
The game modes will be set so that teams can prepare tactics and practice tactics in their own time. It’s the same as any recognised sport. People will train based on the situation. Unlike other sports though, there is no set way and correct situation which makes it much more dynamic. Far more important than the quick mag changes and team formations will be the ability to adapt on the fly which is something that only comes with dynamic situations. As the old adage goes “no plan survives first contact”.
The key is to have a multitude of game modes for any given day so teams don’t know what to expect in any given match. This adds the need for tactics over specific strategies. We will also be including snags and changing environments that will challenge both teams equally, but force them to rely on their skills, rather than their plans.
Teams should be creating their own tactics and strategies to be dynamic entities on the field… It will be interesting to see how teams develop their structure to work to their own strengths or limitations.
How will you run the UK ASL? Non profit organisation, member based association, incorporated company?
This is still mostly undecided as we have some big ideas in the pipe work which require funding. Game enhancements and staff cost money as will promotion to give this the momentum it needs to be a real and recognised set of events. We would like to run our venture non-profit but we will have to look at the financial side of this.
The idea is to create a competitive platform that is available to everyone. We do not want to turn this into a corporation and take the fun out of it, but we do want this to be successful and sustainable. The member based idea is something that we are looking into, but initially, we want to encourage as many people as possible to try out competitive airsoft. How that grows and the route it takes is very much based on the players. Without them, we have nothing so we need to make sure were listening to them.
How do we keep up with your progress?
There’s sites being rebuilt after the beta was tested with a small focus group and social media will play a big part, as it always does with this sort of thing. We’ll be running various events to raise our profile and looking for the community to embrace and share our progress.