How close? As close or as far away as needed. At extreme close range (less than twenty feet), I try to mercy, but you can easily hit a players gear at this range. If I feel the shot is unsafe, I'll try like hell not to shoot. This may include backing up, getting killed, trying a mercy, or just backing off. Unless they shoot first, or don't have that same respect; the. I don't mind sticking a BB in their cheek. Bottom line, if anyone is concerned it is their "responsibility" to wear a face guard, goggles, helmet, and neck guard to protect themselves.
Outdoors (depending on your weapon), you'll engage anywhere from right close to far away (two hundred feet plus). At far distances your accuracy starts to suffer, and you may end up just dumping BBs. Try to keep an opponents head down and move up, or flank. Airsoft is about maximizing your kill potential, try to be unseen, and to get kills without expelling a lot of rounds. At larger games with larger players, you can use numbers and BBs to advance position, and put the enemy on the defensive.
We've had players lose a tooth, or had BBs stuck in their cheeks (extremely rarely). The fault lies with the player who got shot, rarely with the shooter. Unless he blind fires you, or does it on purpose. I've seen accidents, players startled, mercys gone wrong, etc. it's the risk of the game; same goes for your gear.
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BC & YUKON MASTER AV REPRESENTITIVE