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Old May 17th, 2006, 20:31   #12
Delierious Designer of Dastardly Detonations
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Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: in the dark recesses of some metal chip filled machine shop
Looks like I'm going to become a voting member as the airsoft task group is in need of reasonable players with a technical background.

While reasonably community minded players occasionally show up to try to drive the development of airsoft standards, they end up disappearing for awhile leaving importers with vested interests, but little direct experience carrying the process along. Most of the major importers in the US are concentrating on the lower cost young airsoft crowd starting at the age of 14 which leaves much older enthusiasts with interests in high quality airsoft not well represented in standards discussions.

Normally I would have excused myself from a discussion of low grade airsoft (as that's not where my interest is), but I was concerned that the first existing standards of airsoft would only consider low power 0.12g ASGs as safe. A standard like that would prompt pball field insurers (Canadian ones too) to require that operators adhere to very low energy standards so I stuck around and tried to make others aware that a significant number of higher power enthusiasts also existed.

The presence of older extra 1337 players make young paintballers eyes go big and consider airsoft as a cool alternative. It would be in the interests of the entire airsoft market (low to high end) to allow higher powered airsoft play to be insurable. If a low powered not too reliable airsoft gun was the upper limit on the insurable airsoft market, there wouldn't be much to aspire to. Young airsofters would buy a low grade ASG, eventually wear it out and not have much higher to go. A field of only kids playing airsoft with low grade AEGs would not be as exciting to watch and perhaps join either.

Airsoft is still in a very early stage in terms of safety standards. At the moment airsoft falls under the paintball category until it manages to pass it's first one or two safety standards and bud off into it's own category. The first standard being worked on is very basic, perhaps to help the early airsoft committee (CTE) cut it's teeth on an easy standard. A standard for warning labels for ASG boxes is nearly worked out. I think the draft we left with was acceptable to all attendees and will go to ballot.

If the ballot passes, it gets published as a standard and retaillers in North America would find it advantageous to adhere to the standard as a defense in legal actions.

In progress is a pellet definition and a gun definition. It looks like CTE particapants are going to allow the inclusion of 6mm and 8mm pellets and pellets from 0.12g to 0.43g in the pellet definition. I don't think anyone else thought that 0.2g was actually the bottom end of the weight scale for more serious airsofters or that the whopping 8mm pellet calibre existed.

Once the pellet definition is passed, the next major work is to develop a goggle specification. The goggle specification will probably closely mirror the paintball goggle specification with adjustments made for the differences in projectile diameter. I strongly expect that Bolle style tactical goggles will not meet the ASTM specification because of the gap at the bottom of the lense and the general flexibility of the frame. While Bolle's are quite capable of stopping a front on pellet, a fast pellet can enter through the bottom. While players would dismiss the possibility as negligible, the ASTM is not in the habit of passing eye protection standards which allow direct unimpeded lines to the orbital (eye) regions. I can show that a 6mm straight probe can be inserted to contact the lower eyelid with little effort. Safety glasses will also probably be excluded for similar reasons. It will be very difficult to convince the CTE that an upwards shot cannot occur. Already one paintballer has been blinded by a freak shot from behind while laying prone. He wore a face shield which had an open bottom similar to a motorcycle helmet. The pellet entered unimpeded through the bottom and nailed him in the lower eyelid.

I'm pretty sure the mesh style Sensei masks will be right out. It is doubtful that they can stop pellet fragments from passing through the mesh and it has been noted that manufacturing quality of them is not consistent. Point blank testing from batch to batch has shown that some lots do not stand up to many shots from not hugely powerful ASGs. Additionally, it has been shown that sometimes the black paint can fragment off from a close hit into the inside of the mask.

Unbeknownst to me, we have been using pball goggles incorrectly. Specifications for pball goggles REQUIRE that the lower face shield and upper visor be attached for compliant use. The reason for the lower visor is to prevent pellet entry above the cheekbone in case of poor fit or direct hit. A direct hit at the cheekbone and goggle line can force significant pball fragments into the eye. A downwards at the forehead-upper google line can force fragments thru the foam. While top down shots seem unlikely, they do occur especially while pointing a gun down over the top of a bunker. I hadn't realized all the extra attachment stuff had been considered necessary.

ASTM spec's will not magically come together and fully outline the safe limits for airsoft. It took a couple decades for pball to progress to the point that it's at now. They're still refining propellant bottle definitions and burst disc assemblies. The beginnings of ASTM standards on airsoft will help pball field owners be more secure in allowing airsoft onto their fields. It'll also keep out some of the dangerous eyewear crap coming in from China.
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