Sniping in airsoft is easily one of the most misunderstood roles to fill.
In the Airsoft community, the role of a sniper is revered but one which requires the most research. Everyone you talk to in the airsoft community wants to either become a sniper, is a sniper already, or aspires to become one at some point. However, just slipping into a Ghillie Suit does not make you a sniper.
Take it from someone who’s been playing airsoft since the 90’s – sniping in airsoft takes a lot of work to get right.
Sniping is considered cool, and that’s thanks to a whole genre of movies and video games that have glorified snipers and their role in combat. The good news is that just about anyone with enough time, practice, and knowledge can become an airsoft war sniper.
In this article, we’ll go through a couple of important airsoft sniper tips which should help get you off to a good start. If you’re especially new to airsoft, be sure to read these tips first. Before we start though:
So Why Exactly is it Tough to be an Airsoft Sniper?
There are a few strong reasons why it is difficult to play this role. They can be summarized below:
- Most airsoft war games will not allow you to set up ahead of time – without scouting out the field and setting up in advanced, you’re reduced to rushing to a good spot and hoping that it works out.
- The nature of the game makes it hard to ambush players – most casual airsoft games start off with players only a couple hundred feet away from each other. The enemy team KNOWS that a fight is imminent and so you can rarely catch them off guard.
- The physics of a 6mm spinning BB only gives you so much range and accuracy – check out our article on the max effective range of airsoft guns, but unfortunately even a fully upgraded airsoft sniper rifle will have trouble out-ranging an upgraded AEG or HPA gun.
- 6mm BB’s do not penetrate cover or even concealment well – Even a thing tree branch will deflect a shot. This can be frustrating especially if you’re only firing a single shot.
- Most of the starter airsoft sniper rifles aren’t up to snuff – Unfortunately, starter airsoft sniper rifles will require upgrades before they can start truly hitting targets accurately out to 150+ feet.
- Many players just shrug off long range hits – We can’t count the number of times a player is hit by a long range round and they don’t call the hit (even players on our side!) For an airsoft sniper that can be quite frustrating.
With that said – let’s go into some of the tips that can help offset some of the obstacles:
1.) Practice Situational Awareness
We start our tips for airsoft war sniping with the most important one, i.e., being aware of your surroundings. For the most part, you will need to lay low, observing and exploring the field ahead to get more information before you even think to take the shot or displacing to a new position.
As a sniper, you need to do more than just simple surveillance. You will want to prioritize targets and find out how enemies are positioned, then decide your best approach. However, the most important job for a sniper is to find the most effective target and hit them. For instance, finding and hitting the team leader can lead to disorientation of all the team members as compared to hitting anyone else.
A good sniper will find the target, shoot it, and then leave as soon as they can. That way the enemy is always left guessing.
Another huge benefit of situational awareness is that it’ll allow you to find the best spot to bunker up in. You can then start on building contingency plans and retreat routes to other predefined sniping locations.
The best sniping locations will allow a shooter to cover an important part of the airsoft field while giving them an escape route in case their position is compromised.
2.) Invest in Your Airsoft Sniper Rifle
While all sniper rifle brands and sellers tout themselves as the best, the more expensive sniper rifles generally offer better quality. While this is true in some cases, that does not mean you have to break the bank to become an airsoft sniper.
You can start relatively simple with one of the sniper rifles in our best airsoft sniper rifle list.
Then practice with it. The rifle is an investment, regardless of if it is gas or spring bolt action rifle. Take a target out to various ranges (we recommend a target for each of the following: 75 feet, 100 feet, 125 feet, and 150 feet).
Buy only the best airsoft BB’s
Select a BB weight (we recommend 0.40g or heavier) and then practice hitting those targets reliably. Ensure that you buy only the highest quality BB’s you can. To be honest though, we recommend testing out different brands and BB types in order to find the best fit for you.
For example, it was only after testing out over a dozen brands that we found the Bioshot Bio 0.40g bbs worked the best in our upgraded JG Bar-10. Strange huh? You can get them here:
- Biodegradable .40g 2700 Rounds White - Perfect for Bolt Action, HPA platforms, Polarstar engines and other airsoft guns....
- PACKAGED IN THE USA SINCE 2006 - With over 13 years experience our quality control processes are so fine tuned that only the...
- SEAMLESS SMOOTH POLISH - Our polish exceeds the industry standard - Shoots flawlessly through tight bore barrels and feeds...
You also need to learn how to maintain your airsoft sniper rifle.
Eventually you’ll probably end up upgrading the gun to maximize consistency and effective range. Make sure to grease and oil it regularly. Once you can afford an upgrade, get it!
3.) Practice Aiming and Accuracy
You will want to start with zeroing your scope a little bit, something we’ve explained in our article on how to zero your scope for airsoft. Doing this will increase the accuracy and consistency of your shots.
With that said, marksmanship will require you to do the following 5 fundamentals:
- Control your breathing – some marksman manuals suggest you should draw a deep breath and exhale halfway. Then hold and squeeze the trigger.
- Squeeze the trigger – do not jerk your trigger. Get a good – solid grip and only have the pad of your finger on the trigger. Pull the trigger rearward as straight as you can.
- Follow through on the trigger – continue the squeeze even after the gun discharges.
- Brace your rifle – ensure your rifle is resting on something to minimize movement. A bipod helps here, but isn’t needed.
- Learn your sight holds – this means to know how you need to look down the sight properly. Are your eyes aligned correctly and is there enough spacing on the sights. Is the target in the right place?
Here’s a tip to keep your rifle steady: ensure bone meets meat when bracing your arms. So don’t put the bone of your elbow into your knee, for example.
However, you might have the best aim, but there are other factors that affect accuracy, like BB weight and strength of the wind.
To be consistent, you should tune the hop-up with a BB weight of your choice and then keep practicing until you are used to the rifle. Start with a more achievable distance, say around 75 feet, and then progressively increase it as the accuracy of your shots improves.
4.) Keep a Side Arm On You
While the primary weapon of choice for a sniper will always be their rifle, you should carry a secondary of some kind. Most of the airsoft sniper we play with will at least carry a gas pistol or compact SMG.
Sniper rifles are very powerful, capable of shooting at 500 FPS, and airsoft field regulation may not allow you to use it in close quarters. That’s why you need a sidearm that can shot at around 350 FPS or within 50 feet.
We recommend picking up the best airsoft pistol you can. However, you can choose any other weapon you’re comfortable with or have practiced with earlier. Like any other airsoft equipment, the idea should be to buy something that you feel comfortable playing with and won’t snag on anything.
Lastly, make sure you practice transitioning between your rifle and sidearm.
We once saw a guy transition to his pistol, only to drop his expensive Tokyo Marui VSR-10 on the concrete. Ooooff.
5.) Invest in a Ghillie Suit
Learn how to use your ghillie suit (if you end up with one). You always want to ensure that your camouflage gear is comfortable to wear in the field and especially when in concealment. The gear needs to fit well and not restrict your movement; after all, it’s going to be used in tough situations that require time and patience.
The last thing you ever want is for the gear to snag on the environment or needless make noise. When you first get it (camouflage gear), try walking, crawling, shooting, and running to see if it is comfortable.
The camouflage gear should match the setting that you’re in. You will want to adapt to the season and the setting. To make sure that you use the suits correctly, practice moving stealthily.
Stick to the ground, i.e., keep low and move very slowly through any undergrowth. Additionally, know the difference between concealment and cover (see this article). It may be the difference between a good route and a terrible route to safety.
If you’re playing outside in the sun, stay in the shadows. Sometimes, being in the shadow of a tree will conceal you better than behind a lit bush.
One thing you’ll notice, especially if you play airsoft in the woods, is that sound is likely to give you away just as much as sight. So, you will also want to keep silent to maximize effectiveness. Avoid areas with noisy underbrush and if you must move through it, consider minimizing the contact with the floor as much as you can.
The idea is to fire in a way that does not give your position away.
6.) Thinking like a Sniper
Out of all the airsoft sniper tips, the most important one is to practice think, moving, and escaping like a sniper. Really just fall into the role.
Try to have an escape plan for every situation and know when to fall back. Create contingency plans in case your position is discovered or you suspect you’ll be overrun. Plan your routes and how you plan to traverse them.
Have a plan. Then, have a plan in case that first plan fails.
Sometimes, it’s better to move slowly and quietly, at other times, it’ll be better to move quickly. Additionally, understand the difference between concealment & cover (see this article). It’ll be the difference between a safe route vs a dangerous one.
How successful you are will depend on how well you move without revealing your position. You also want to be stealthy when scoping out the area, to know where the enemy is, and base your next move on that.
Learning the art of escaping should be a major part of your practice. Have more than one escape route, and plan ahead what you’re going to do if compromised. In many cases planning your next move, several moves in advance can ensure a successful operation against the enemy.
Know when to shoot
You have to ask yourself these questions and make a risk assessment each time you choose to open fire:
- Can you hit your target – are you certain that your shot can hit the target? Did you account for windage, movement of the target, distance, flight time, and other outside factors before making your shot?
- What are the repercussions of firing – will opening fire reveal your current position? Do you have an escape plan if it does?
- When is ego, emotion, or excitement affecting your decision making – frankly, it’s exciting laying low and getting that sweet one shot one kill is great. However, don’t let those feelings get in the way of being an effective marksman.
7.) Communicate with Your Team
If all else fails, remember that you aren’t playing airsoft by yourself. Your rifle optic is highly likely to be magnified and so you may have intel that your teammates won’t have.
Talk to them! Let them know that the majority of the enemy forces went left, or that the main bulk of their forces are setting up an ambush at that building 200 feet to your 11’o’clock.
In this forward scout capacity, you’re serving as the eyes and ears of your entire team. Use it to help win the overall airsoft war.
We once spent a game just relaying information to our team. The intel we gave helped our side fire and manuever into just the right positions to win the game.
Becoming a sniper isn’t going to happen overnight. Many players invest hundreds of hours practicing various maneuvers and skills before they even get into a real game. So, the key here is to practice both alone and with your team members before you start sniping in a real game.
You will also want to play with an experienced sniper on the team. A mentor here will be great to show you the ropes in movement, marksmanship, and more. Many players in the MILSIM space will be more than happy to talk about the effectiveness of airsoft sniping.
We’ll see you out on the field.