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by on November 17, 2012 at 3:42 am in Economics | Permalink

The airsoft don’t inflict serious damage but they do hurt. An explainer on the Combat City website explains, “There is a degree of pain associated with airsoft just like paintball.  It is significantly less than paintball and without the swelling.”

A trip to Combat City costs about $150, which includes the cost of the gun modification.

And for added safety, participants are outfitted in a set of protective gear including helmets and padding over sensitive areas.

“There is supposed to be a degree of pain so that you do learn from it,” Kaplan said. “Someone’s trying to hurt you.  You learn how to be as tactical as a civilian can be.”

All of the action takes place inside a former grocery store that has been modified into an indoor combat setting.

From there, customers are broken up into teams and take part in various games ranging from capture the flag to hostage simulations.

And in a move that may shock some, children are allowed to participate as well.

“We get ’em at all ages,” Kaplan said in a separate interview with Fox35, noting that one of the participants on the video was 8-years-old.

A disclaimer on the Combat City site says “all ages are welcome,” adding, ” We can not tell you what you or your child can handle.  There are young kids playing at Combat City on a daily basis, only you can decide.”

Here is more, and for the pointer I thank Daniel Lippman.

1 Anon. November 17, 2012 at 5:41 am

How is that shocking? I played paintball throughout my teens, it’s a great (albeit somewhat expensive) sport. Never tried airsoft, but since they say it hurts less it’s even tamer.

2 Brian Donohue November 17, 2012 at 9:46 am

Versimilitude, as elaborated below.

3 Aldie November 17, 2012 at 5:55 am

Is airsoft anyway special in the States? This seems pretty oridinary from European perspective.

4 Rahul November 17, 2012 at 9:18 am

I think the excerpt leaves out the more unusual and hence noteworthy bits. This isn’t run-of-the-mill Airsoft nor Paintball:

Customers can actually engage in simulated combat against other people, shooting real guns at each other.[…] [Owner Dave Kaplan ] can modify your own gun to fire Simunition rounds. They’ve been used by military and law enforcement organizations in training exercises. […]They recently created a civilian range program and we are probably the only facility doing person on person fighting. We are taking firearm training to a level previously held by professionals.”[…]
People are using real firearms modified to preclude the firing of a live/lethal round.”

So this is not Paintball nor Airsoft. Using a real weapon must be a very different experience. Apparently even the recoil is very real.

PS. That explains the “ridiculous charge ($150)” that @Jeff Burton below is commenting on.

5 NPW November 17, 2012 at 9:42 am

I’ve played airsoft/paintball, and I trained with sim rounds. The only significant difference is the welt it leaves. I’ve had bloody welts from sims through multiple layers of clothes. Sim rounds are easy to load in a normal weapont, but paintballs and airsoft pellets need to be shot out of their respective weapons. The “ridiculous charge” is to the high price of sim rounds.

6 Aldie November 17, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Well that’s a lot more interesting…

7 Andrew' November 19, 2012 at 7:46 am

More interesting. But if you are uptight about guns it’s weird. If you aren’t weird about guns, then it’s not weird. I’m also not convinced that teaching kids realistically about violence is net bad compared to perpetuating violence mythology.

8 NAME REDACTED November 17, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Its not special in the states, its just special to someone as out of touch as Tyler (and many academicians).

9 Jeff Burton November 17, 2012 at 7:28 am

More evidence of how out of touch Tyler is with a lot of American culture. If this article intrigues him, I think the percentage of American middle school boys who posses airsoft guns would knock him out cold.

The only thing weird about the article is how much they are charging. Ridiculous.

10 prior_approval November 17, 2012 at 8:40 am

He is not out of touch at all – MR University does not allow anyone under the age of 13 to access its website at all, at least according to the terms of use – http://mruniversity.com/terms-of-use

Likely because of all the data being captured and retained. 13 years are welcome to access such places as Project Gutenberg any time they wish. Just like they are welcomed into a real classroom at GMU –

‘The purpose of this program is to offer non-credit enrichment courses in mathematics and computer sciences for students who are entering the 6th grade through 12th grade. The courses are designed to provide an accelerated learning environment in a college atmosphere for high-potential students. The following courses are offered: Pre-algebra, Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2 with Trigonometry, Pre-calculus, Calculus, and Introduction to JavaScript with Webpage Design.

So of course there could be an element of surprise seeing that children are allowed into something like Combat City or GMU’s Summer Enrichment Program in Mathematics and Technology for Talented Youth (established in 1994) – http://mason.gmu.edu/~jelin/mty_summer.htm

11 Phill November 17, 2012 at 3:30 pm

I suspect that has more to do with http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Children's_Online_Privacy_Protection_Act than whatever weird conspiracy theory you’re aiming towards.

12 Careless November 17, 2012 at 5:17 pm

His obsession got creepy a while ago. And the site is only a couple of months old

13 DocMerlin November 17, 2012 at 10:50 am

Yep, Tyler, you act as if its unusual. Its just sim rounds.

14 Slocum November 17, 2012 at 8:05 am

We had an absurd case here (in Ann Arbor) about 5 years ago. Some teenagers stopped at a party store to get snacks and somebody spotted an airsoft gun in the car when the door was open and called the police, who came and made an arrest. For quite a while, the local prosecutor was trying to press weapons charges based on the ‘logic’ that the ‘caliber’ of the plastic pellets was large enough to qualify as a firearm under state law.

15 TMC November 17, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Good thing he didn’t see our water balloon fights. Those balloons were huge.

16 Bill November 17, 2012 at 8:10 am

Sounds like a great wedding anniversary present.

17 Brian Donohue November 17, 2012 at 9:43 am


18 Rahul November 17, 2012 at 10:02 am

I’ve heard they had emacs versus vim battles at Linux conventions. Don’t remember who won.

19 DocMerlin November 17, 2012 at 10:50 am

That sounds like a lot of fun.

20 Claudia November 17, 2012 at 9:12 am

a few random thoughts…1. too bad George Zimmerman wasn’t packing Simunition when he met Trevon Martin 2. love the female empowerment bit in the article, there are less violent ways to build your confidence 3. Bill, I can think of a different place in the marital arc that this might make a good gift or maybe as an office holiday party? More seriously, I don’t have a problem (to a point) with combat-related play, but I am little uneasy about real guns being transformed into toys.

21 NAME REDACTED November 17, 2012 at 10:51 am

“1. too bad George Zimmerman wasn’t packing Simunition when he met Trevon Martin”

Because if he was, George Zimmerman would be dead and Trevon would be in jail? I don’t follow what you are trying to say.

22 Rahul November 17, 2012 at 2:35 pm

More likely, George Zimmerman would be dead and Trevon would be nowhere to be found?

23 Claudia November 17, 2012 at 6:13 pm

I am probably out in left field again, but the ‘stand your ground’ law seems to be a piece makes this post a Florida thing. I am not making an anti gun argument, simply suggesting that one dead and one on trial might not have been the Pareto optimum here. Maybe a bloody-welt-causing fake munition would have gotten the point across too.

24 Cliff November 18, 2012 at 10:25 pm

Not sure if this is what you mean, but the stand your ground rule actually had nothing to do with the Zimmerman case. That is only for when you have an opportunity to retreat from an aggressor without danger, and according to Zimmerman’s story that was not the case.

25 Andrew' November 19, 2012 at 6:40 am

The pareto optimum is probably the cops show up on time when people are on the phone begging them for assistance. People just performing the basic expectations of their job is just another of my hobbyhorses.

26 DK November 17, 2012 at 6:49 pm

George Zimmerman disagrees with you. He does not want to be dead.

27 YetAnotherTom November 17, 2012 at 9:45 am

Simulated hostage situation in a grocery store? I probably wouldn’t let small children experience it. That said, I think I would thoroughly enjoy it.

28 Daniel Francis November 17, 2012 at 10:49 am

We played airsoft from the age of ~10 and paintball starting a few years later. I don’t see the big deal.

29 Peter November 17, 2012 at 11:31 am

Law enforcement people who’ve been in actual gunfights with criminals almost always say the gunfights are completely chaotic situations in which all their training goes right out the window and counts for nothing.

30 Jeff November 17, 2012 at 11:53 am

SEALs, however, would likely disagree. Maybe law enforcement training isn’t up to par?

31 NAME REDACTED November 17, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Law enforcement training is crap.

32 TMC November 17, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Peter, then maybe having kids there is appropriate.

“completely chaotic situations in which all their training goes right out the window and counts for nothing.”

33 DK November 17, 2012 at 7:10 pm

That just says that the training is a joke and the trainees are incompetent. During the real war, people learn the “kill or be killed” logic very quickly and become very good and rational about it. (At least that’s what my grandpa who fought four years in WWII told me).

34 Andrew' November 19, 2012 at 7:50 am

I think this might be confusing two kinds of training. The kind of repetition using a firearm that uses all the same controls and handling of your firearm (because in this case it really is your firearm) and that simulates as much as possible the adrenaline of a real fight is probably as good as you can get.

Otherwise, what? We just don’t train? Then what about the idea that law enforcement are qualified to do what they do ‘because of the training’?

35 RM November 17, 2012 at 6:34 pm

Maybe this is unique because they are modifying real guns, but play-fighting with air soft guns have been around for a long time. There is even in the huge Discover mall north of Atlanta. Other people in the mall stop an gawk and people of all ages shoot at each other. And — despite what the say — it hurts like hell.

36 Mike November 18, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Don’t understand the, modest, concern about using modified “real” guns. Has anyone here ever seen a high-end airsoft gun? Most people would have a hard time distinguishing them from the real thing; the good brands pay licensing fees to H&K, Glock, etc.

37 Andrew' November 19, 2012 at 7:47 am

It’s (to me) a two Americas thing.

38 Finch November 19, 2012 at 10:34 am

FWIW, it does introduce an element of danger. You better make darn sure no real bullet ever makes its way into the facility. That strikes me as an easy enough error to make that I’d be a little nervous about it. There’s something to be said for airsoft guns that look real but can’t possibly be mistakenly used lethally. I’d accept that that makes them less useful for training purposes.

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