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UPDATE: ASTM discusses standards in airsoft - May 16th, Toronto Sheraton Centre

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Old May 15th, 2006, 18:39   #1
MadMax
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UPDATE: ASTM discusses standards in airsoft - May 16th, Toronto Sheraton Centre

IMPORTANT:

The realm of airsoft outside of Canada is not typical of the usual airsoft discussed here on ASC. The ASTM develops safety related standards which apply across North America so the total market view they address is much wider ranged than the one typical of ASC. Do not fill this publicly viewable post with the usual softair bashing endemic to this forum or this thread will quickly become as informative as the other threads in the trash.

The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) is meeting in Toronto at the Sheraton centre on Queen street starting Tuesday:

http://www.astm.org/cgi-bin/SoftCart...hedulemain.frm

Most of the confrence deals with standards relating to sports other than airsoft, but they will be discussing some safety related aspects such as eye protection. I can't say I'm sure what will happen as I have never attended a ASTM meeting. I hope it's productive.

I think you'll have to join ASTM to attend which costs $75 on their site. I don't know what the CAD fee will be for an on site membership. I note that membership is free for students so I recommend experienced airsofting students to attend especially if they're studying engineering.

The ASTM is a voluntary standards association who defines safe requirements for various fields. I don't think they have any real regulatory power, but I think insurance companies can determine rates/requirements from ASTM standards.

I find myself interested as I somehow ended up in the field of airsoft manufacturing. I'll be attending to see how new airsoft standards are being developed. Shoot, I should get a haircut in case I have to say something...
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Old May 15th, 2006, 18:42   #2
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Cool, and LoL at having to get a haircut.
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Old May 15th, 2006, 18:55   #3
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you should have seen me attending ShotShow. Fresh haircut, dress pants, good Italian shirt and tie taking apart SA80's and AUGs.

I think the weapons dealers weren't prepared to handle a 130lb asian who was definitely not an operator, but would rapidly field strip anything he could get his hands on.
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Old May 15th, 2006, 19:03   #4
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lol now that would have been fun to see.

Bubba: So you think you can field stip this Aug eh

Carl: Hell Yes!

Bubba: Sure thing sweet cheeks if you think you can

Carl: What I'm already done, you should keep your barrels cleaner

Bubba:............
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Old May 15th, 2006, 19:25   #5
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Hehe, sounds like a time when I was going to the US and had to show Canadian Border guards how to 'make safe' a loaded handgun they had just seized.
Let's say they were impressed.
I was... surprised at their lack of training.

MadMax, you should go to that thing if you can. I bet there will be much to learn or say.
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Old May 15th, 2006, 22:21   #6
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I am going.

I actually just got my haircut. I just drift through life getting shaggier and shaggier until I suddenly have to look a bit credible.

No idea what to expect. I'm attending anything airsoft related and bringing some stuff for show and tell in case I found out it's a discussion without good show and tell.

I bet if anyone screams out that I launched the propane adaptor all safety concerns regarding eyewear of pellet fabrication go flying out the window. I think they're pretty stuck on their agenda though.
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Old May 15th, 2006, 22:34   #7
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Applied for student membership, haven't received an email back yet... Unfortunately, not going to be able to make the meeting tomorrow.
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Old May 15th, 2006, 22:40   #8
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There seem to be two meetings centred on airsoft issues. One on tues, the other is on wed.

I think the task group on airsoft on Wednesday is an early meeting for the airsoft group. Currently, airsoft is rolled into pball until it develops enough members to bud off into it's own segment. Last I heard, they were still deciding to call it Softair or Airsoft. I hope they choose the latter. Softair is a trademarked term and it'd suck to have to be categorized as a SoftAirer, although the term SoftChairer might be more fitting than Chairsofter.
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Old May 17th, 2006, 03:17   #9
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Interesting discussion today.

American goggle manufacturers JT and Brass Eagle were in attendance to discuss safety standards for airsoft eye protection. Unfortunately the parties deciding on safety standards are not airsoft players themselves. They're doing the best they can, but without a solid appreciation of what's appearing on the fields, it's tough to appreciate the range of muzzle velocity and bb weight out there.

There needs to be a more concerted effort amongst the airsofting community to particapate in these standards discussion or they may find themselves unable to play at pball fields because the existing standards are written to cover lower grade guns than we're used to seeing (e.g. Tippmann rebranded products).

I think I'm the most experienced airsoft player at the table and I've only been playing 5 or 6 years now. Good chance for me to contribute though. I raised some eyebrows when I said that 0.2g is where Canadian airsoft bbs generally start at in terms of lowest weight. 0.25 and higher are fairly commont too. It appears that .12-0.2g is the norm in the US. Really raised some eyebrows when I said it's not too uncommon to see a 450fps sniper rifle firing 0.43g pellets either.

If the North American airsoft community is unable to attend these confrences on a regular basis, we may find ourselves having to play under soft air style regulations because most of the people determining standards market mostly softair style ASGs.

What happens at ASTM will have some reprecussions here in Canada. While ASTM standards are voluntary, they often end up being used as minimum safety standards for the insurance industry. If a field wants insurance, they may have to adhere to ASTM req's even here in Canada.

Tommorow I attend a more general meeting on airsoft safety. If anyone has any particular concerns in the next few hours, post them here and I'll see if they fit into the discussion today. Gah, I have to attend a 8am meeting just under 6hrs from now.
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Old May 17th, 2006, 07:33   #10
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Just give them facts (weights, velocities, etc). Let them decide after that.
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Old May 17th, 2006, 19:23   #11
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What's the outcome, Carl?
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Old May 17th, 2006, 21:31   #12
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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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