Before we started an adventure with them, they asked us not to understand them as people seeking war and blood. This is above all, they emphasize, an adrenaline sport, socializing, entertainment, the reason more for staying in nature and relaxing from everyday obligations.
We are talking about airsoft, simulation of military struggles and actions that is extremely popular due to its realism, security and accessibility. Airsoft “weapons” are true replicas of real weapons, equal in size, detail and almost the same weight. The difference in comparison to the real weapons is in a pneumatic mechanism that throws a plastic ball six millimeters in diameter and much less dangerous than conventional air guns.
– Airsoft was created in Japan in the 1970s, where it has been developed as a fun game, and it was flourishing in America. We started airsoft in 2009. Our members have been dealing with adrenaline sports before and airsoft has united us – says Adi Kebo, a member of the Sarajevo Airsoft Club.
According to him, if someone wants to do airsoft, except for the desire for adrenaline, love for the army, history, strategies and nature is needed.
– That’s really handy. We play, go, and throw out the negative energy. As you can see, we are equipped from head to toe with military equipment. There are replicas (weapons), protective clothing, helmets, walkie-talkies, GPS … We call this a cardio sport, because our GPS shows that after a game that lasts 24 hours, we move up to 40 km of hilly terrain – highlights Mirza Hodžić, second member of Sarajevo Airsoft.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, there are currently about 500 airsofters and most important things in this story are gatherings and making new acquaintances.
– The whole story is a bit sensitive, given that we all know what happened in our recent past. However, in this sport, there is no difference or nationalism, and we are all like one. We spend fantastic time in B&H, as well as in Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia. Wherever we go we are welcome, and so are all the players who come with us – says Adi.
The expansion of this sport in Europe is incredible and our interlocutors consider this ideal for attracting tourists and guests to our country.
– We play on forest and mountain terrains, and we all know what kind of natural beauties our country is offering. We host people from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Slovakia and all are enchanted by the terrain we have – says Mirza.
Adi says they need the support of the relevant institutions to raise the whole story to a higher level.
– With the help of airsoft, Croatia promotes tourism potentials, municipalities, cities, and smaller towns. For meeting of airfsofters municipality gives money from the budget, they invite players to come and hang out. Wherever we go after the game, we are obliged to go on a sightseeing tour of that place – says Adi.
Local authorities and the tourist communities see potential in airsoft. The fact that during one of the games in a small Istrian, the old part of the city was given to us for the purpose of the game only, and local people was included in the game, they were acting to be in this “war zone”.
In Croatia, they got the entire island next to Šibenik, and the Croatian air force, which included the airplanes and helicopters that flew over the island, was included as well, so the atmosphere was complete.
– In addition to modern ‘fighting’, we also included World War II and we are working with Croats and Slovenes. We have equipment from that period and the whole thing is that simulations are extremely realistic. To experience this, it is necessary to know some historical facts. The last meeting related to this story was in Slovenia, in Pivka, where their museum gave us tanks from the Second World War to use. The hosts have subordinated it all to us and have provided us with the atmosphere as if we were in 1942. No modern things. The local population taking part in it is in old clothes, music is played with turntables, cars from that period are being driven from that period – says Mirza.
Code of Conduct
What is important to note is the fact that the police is familiar with the whole story, so they do not make any problems.
– We have rules that we respect, and that is that we can only play in the places foreseen for that. We must not, for example, use equipment to go to the city or abuse the replica, and we strictly adhere to it. In the beginning, the police and the army were weird and they thought that replicas were of dual-use. However, replicas cannot be converted into real weapons, because special materials are used for their production. Now it’s quite common and they use replicas for their training – says Mirza.
Since the equipment is more than realistic, we asked them how they cross the border when they go abroad. Adi says that at the beginning, while this sport was still in its infancy, there were some difficulties, but now there is no problem.
– When we go abroad, we make a list of the equipment we carry and cross the border with ATA carnets or passports for goods. The state benefits from us as well, because every year we pay couple of hundred marks for ATA carnets – says Adi.
At first glance, the equipment looks extremely expensive; however, Adi and Mirza say that this is only at first sight and that this is not really a big deal.
– Are cycling or skiing expensive? To be able to play requires up to some 1,000 BAM. It can be expensive or cheaper, it’s individual. Good boots cost about 300 BAM, replica about 500, uniform about hundred BAM. Here, the security aspect is extremely important, which requires protection goggles. People take bicycle goggles, and we emphasize that military ballistic goggles cost about 120 BAM. Now, someone wants walkie-talkie, an extra pistol, a knife, a water bottle … that additionally costs, – says Mirza and invites all people who want to try airsoft to contact them and try this sport.
Airsoft is being played on a fair basis, that is, when a player feels the shot says he is hit and returns to the base with raised hands or some other, agreed marks. The rule not to shoot at a distance of up to five or ten meters, but only say “you are hit” so as not to cause an unwanted injury to the player.