Airsofting for those with the need…the need for speed
Airsoft has been growing in popularity over the years, and as its player base has expanded many different types of airsoft games have evolved.
From milsim to bomb, from hostage rescue and other CT scenarios to simple capture the flag games, these days there seems be a game to suit just about any type of player and interest.
With its faster paced, high action gameplay, speedsoft has become quite a popular type of airsoft game in recent years and has brought a lot of new players to the hobby.
If you think that a more high speed airsoft game is up your alley, then read on and find out all you need to know about speedsoft.
What is Speedsoft
Speedsoft is a style of airsoft play, typically played indoors that is characterized by its high-speed, high action gameplay, with organized teams of players moving quickly and aggressively through a field or arena in several 4-5 minute rounds, usually as part of some kind of tournament game.
The overall point of the game is to eliminate opponents and reach an objective as quickly as possible, rewarding efficient and effective team communication, on-the-fly tactical thinking and rapid action and reaction.
Pickup games aside, there are a couple forms of speedsoft that tend to stand out:
SupAir is a type of speedsoft that, at first glance, seems very similar to paintball.
Players move around a field (usually indoors, sometimes outdoors) that is filled with scattered inflatable barriers and obstacles that are designed to provide cover.
SpeedQB is a form of speedsoft that has become quite popular recently and is played indoors or outdoors and uses wooden barriers as cover, rather than inflatable ones.
SpeedQB has become a popular and competitive branded sport of its own, with their own tournaments, rules, fields and even branded speedsoft equipment and clothing.
A point-based system, teams in SpeedQB race to accumulate 100 points (to a maximum of 125 or so with bonus points).
Playing out very much like a competitive sport, teams start with touching a wall on opposite ends of the field. When a horn blares, they take off down a safe zone tunnel and towards a flag planted in the middle of the field.
Capturing the flag first earns 25 points, eliminating an opponent nets 5 points each, touching the opposing team’s breakout wall with the flag is another 25 points, and so on.
There are also an assortment of penalties that reduce the overall points that a team has and can lead to disqualification, such as not calling a hit (-25), blind firing (-25), false starts (-25) and so on.
As can be seen, SpeedQB is a far more standardized, structured and organized sport within speedsoft (and airsoft) compared to many other forms of play.
Generally speaking, only two teams take to the field at the same time and winning teams climb up an elimination tournament ranking by eliminating challengers until one takes the game.
Other speedsoft styles
As speedsoft continues to grow in popularity and interest, there are any number of smaller speedsoft tournaments and styles popping up.
Some, like SpeedQB, have more formal rules and organization, while others are more freewheeling and more like pickup games.
There are even niche groups and tourneys that try to blend other airsoft styles with the dynamic gameplay of speedsoft, most notably SpeedSim (Speedsoft Milsim),
Speedsoft gameplay and style
With speedsoft, players need to eliminate their opponents and reach their objective as quickly as possible.
Speedsoft gameplay can be very intense, highly offensively-oriented and far more physical than traditional airsoft games, with opponents moving fast and decisively, hopefully with some level of coordination and grace.
It’s not uncommon to see speedsofteres running and gunning, sliding, or even diving through the arena, focusing more on snapshots and delivering aggressive fire rather than accuracy, so players should expect the BBs to fly fast and fly often.
As a result, speedsoft is not a game for airsoft snipers and designated marksmen since it’s usually played in close quarters (either indoors or outdoors, similar to CQB games) with lots of obstacles scattered throughout, and there just isn’t the time (or really the incentive) to properly set up and line up shots.
Usually (but not always) played indoors, a typical speedsoft field is very similar to airsoft CQB.
That is, it takes place usually on smaller fields, with lots of broken cover and even enclosed areas that players will have to navigate in, around and through as quickly as possible in order to eliminate other players and win the round.
Effective Speedsoft tactics
Much like airsoft CQB games, speedsoft rewards speed and, perhaps more importantly, violence of action.
This is not a game style that rewards careful shots, stealth and patience.
With the clock ticking and BBs flying, the overall idea is to overwhelm and dominate opposing players by maximizing the use of speed, strength, surprise and aggression.
Some tactics that would-be speedsofters might want to work on are:
Team tactics and communication
Speedsoft is ultimately still a team sport and one that takes place in more high-speed conditions than your average airsoft game.
Without effective teamwork, there isn’t much chance of success no matter how good the individual players may be.
Brushing up on some CQB airsoft tactics can be an effective way to improve team coordination and performance, especially when under the stress of time and aggressive enemy fire.
Of course, it’s important to note that these tactics will have to be modified to fit the high speed nature of the game, but overall they can still be quite sound given the nature of a speedsoft game.
Make sure you and your team practices: team roles, team communication and hand signaling
When you inevitably encounter the opposing force, you’re going to want to move to engage with as much speed and aggression as you can muster while suppressing their ability to do likewise to the best of your ability.
As part of a team, you also don’t want to end up shooting each other in the back as you move.
Learning to effectively assault the opposing force in a somewhat organized way – that is, with members moving forwards while others offer suppressing fire – can be one of the more effective tactics in this high speed, sometimes chaotic battlespace.
Make sure you and your team practices: suppressing fire, team communication, rapidly identifying targets and moving to and from cover.
Close quarters team maneuvering
Depending on the field layout, in a speedsoft game, you can sometimes find your team needing to move through hallways or some other enclosure.
The last thing you want is for you or your team to stand lazily around just waiting to be the victim of an ambush, but you also don’t really want to expose yourselves to friendly fire by suddenly running in front of each other’s barrels.
Knowing how to effectively and quickly move through a confined space, and change positions without compromising team security, can sometimes make the difference between success and failure.
Make sure you and your team practice: Taking point, wall shifts, wall-assist, T-Shape
While most speedsoft games don’t involve rooms and enclosed spaces as much as traditional CQB and milsim games may, you’ll still need to scout out and fire from around corners and move tactically around obstacles of different shapes and sizes before moving into an area.
Practicing the fine art of slicing the pie, that is looking and firing around corners while exposing the least amount of yourself to your enemies, can help speedsofters see and engage targets and opportunities before overcommitting and potentially being eliminated.
And you’ll need to do it fast.
Unlike airsoft CQB games, time is a big factor here and so you’ll need to pie your corners a lot faster and probably a little more sloppily and aggressively (with the saving grace being that the opposing team will be equally sloppy).
It’s not uncommon for the team element to break down or to be separated from the team.
Practicing individual skills can not only help you survive in this quick tempo game but can make you a more flexible and effective airsoft player in general.
Finding and firing from impromptu cover
The BBs are going to come fast and hard in speedsoft, so you’ll need to be fast on your feet and move to impromptu cover quickly.
Seen from above, speedsoft fields often look like little disaster zones, with segments of walls and other bits of shelter scattered throughout.
You’ll want to train yourself to scan what’s in front of you and more or less identify objects that can effectively protect you from incoming fire while moving you to where you need to go.
After all, you don’t want to end up being stuck moving sideways or being pushed backwards.
You’ll also need to work on having a general sense of how to fire your airsoft weapon right back at them, which means practicing shooting from low and high cover as well as from different angles and positions.
Depending on the field, there may be enclosed areas as well, necessitating practicing (highly) dynamic entry techniques.
Fast target identification
You’ll be moving through the field quite quickly in speedsoft and with not a lot of time to pick out the human form of your opponents as you go.
Consequently, you’ll want to practice scanning an area and taking snapshots at various predetermined objects as they enter your field of vision so that you can minimize the time between identifying a threat and firing an airsoft BB at it.
Especially important to practice for airsofters who prefer precision shots, such as those who typically take on the role of airsoft sniper or DM, being able and willing to deliver snapshots and other rapidfire action is critical to speedsoft.
Players will, at times, need to fill the air with BBs rather than waiting for an impressive shot, so you’re going to want to practice your trigger finger speed and dexterity here.
In some cases, players may need to “retrain” themselves to care less about accuracy.
If you’re spraying BBs as you go it stands to reason you’ll run out soon enough.
The rapid pace of speedsoft gameplay tends to limit the amount of time you can spend fiddling around with magazines during reloads.
If you don’t want to be stuck behind cover kneeling while a hail of BBs heads and exuberant players heads your way, you’ll need to work on your reloading time, especially under stress.
What’s a typical speedsoft loadout look like
Everything in speedsoft is really about speed and rapid maneuverability.
Players will be under a time limit and will spend up to 5 minutes or so moving from cover to cover running and gunning.
Unlike milsim or even more traditional airsoft games, speedsoft loadouts need to be built for purpose with a maximum of utility and function and an absolute minimum of hobbycraft.
There’s no room in these kinds of games for standing on replica accuracy or realistic tactical loadouts.
Speedsoft clothes: What to wear when speedsofting
If you’re going to be playing some speedsoft, you’ll want to leave your boots, hats, uniforms and other cool airsoft apparel and tactical accessories at home.
The name of the game here is speed and agility.
You’re going to want to dress in a way that is comfortable to run in for extended periods and that will give you the freedom of movement to sprint, jump, slide and even dive for cover as quickly and as effortlessly as possible.
So think athletic gear rather than jeans and olive drab.
For optimal play, you are going to want to look at wearing comfortable and light running shoes, as well as stretch-friendly athletic clothing such as track pants, tshirts, jogging pants, or even shorts if you feel bold and particularly BB-resistant enough.
Given the intense and dynamic nature of play, where players may suddenly need to hit the ground or quickly kneel behind cover, flexible knee pads might be a good idea although they can chafe and restrict knee movement.
Speedsoft Gear: Speedsoft loadouts for fun and profit
When it comes to speedsoft gear. the overall idea is very much as it is with clothing.
There’s usually no real set rule to what type of airsoft gun you can bring to the field, but given the gameplay, your best bet is to stick with airsoft weapons that have a shorter overall length for easy maneuverability, and that have a rapid rate of fire for mercilessly spraying your opponents with BBs.
In terms of models, speedsoft isn’t really the type of airsoft game that you’re going to want to get fancy and exotic. The idea is functionality over form, as hard as that might be for some fans of airsoft replicas, and it is quite likely that you’ll need to further modify your airsoft gun for performance regardless with mosfets and programmable ETUs (if the mosfet doesn’t already come with one).
Carbines and rifles
Due to their jack of all trades nature, high rate of fire, and effectiveness at different ranges, an airsoft rifle is always a popular option.
Depending on the field and its size, you may prefer to look at carbine versions of your favorite airsoft rifles as their lighter weight and shorter overall length will make them better suited to moving into more confined spaces and work well with CQB-based tactics, while still maintaining an adequate ROF and range for the job.
As with other indoor, CQB playstyles, configured properly, pistols can be a good option in speedsoft.
Their very short length, extreme light weight and maneuverability make them quite well suited for moving around barricades and closed areas quickly.
With the aggressive, spray and pray nature of speedsoft, make sure that your pistol can handle the rate of fire needed and can hold enough BBs so that you’re not constantly reloading.
Think hi cappas with 32+ round mags.
Drum mags can be an option here for extra capacity, but they do tend to be bulky and unwieldy and prone to developing (or having) feeding issues.
The downside of pistols is range and FPS, obviously, but these can be overcome with better hop ups, buckings and barrels.
Machine pistols and airsoft SMGs
Machine pistols and SMGs can be a great alternative to a pistol.
Although longer than your standard pistol, they are still quite easy to handle when moving in and out of cover and have a higher rate of fire and larger magazines that are naturally better suited in our opinion to the aggressive gameplay of speedsoft.
For the most part, precision aiming isn’t really a key skill in speedsoft.
Most players should be able to get away with firing from instinct or using stock sights, but if you are set on optics, red dot reflex sights can help with hitting your snapshots and getting your BBs on target a little quicker as they can help you figure out roughly where shots will head at a glance.
Lasers, while potentially annoying to other players, can also be a great tool in speedsoft for both aiming and marking opponents.
Not so great speedsoft options
Although given the importance of suppressive fire in speedsoft heavy weapons, like an airsoft LMG, might seem like a natural fit to gameplay, especially those fitted with high torque gearboxes that can send out 30+ RPS.
But their size, bulk and heavier weight means they can weigh you down and will probably get in the way more than they’ll help your team.
Similarly, the specialized magazines necessary to throw down enough BBs to make carrying one worthwhile – box magazines and drums – will only add to the bulk, and that’s not counting time consuming jams and feeding issues that these types of airsoft replicas are known (infamous) for.
Sniper and DMRs airsoft builds
Speedsoft is, at its core, a high tempo/low accuracy skirmishing game style and so it almost goes without saying that airsoft builds designed for precision, stalking and care aren’t necessarily a good idea and are best left at home.
While airsoft shotguns can be a valuable addition to a CQB game, with speedsoft their lower overall rate of fire, slower loading and relative unreliability put their users at a far greater disadvantage than their even trishot models can make up for.
HPA vs AEGs
Many players do try to go for HPA airsoft loadouts when they get serious about speedsoft, and they are a common sight in speedsoft games due to their improved trigger response, rate of fire and easily adjustable FPS.
Keep in mind that they are more expensive and do add weight and complexity to your loadout that can slow you down. Similarly, some players dislike their lines and find them cumbersome.
HPAs can also inexperienced players to overshoot and shoot hot, which can incur severe penalties or even be a disqualifier for certain games, including SpeedQB, so you’ll have to be careful and you’ll probably want to have some experience with HPA rigs before stepping into a speedsoft game.
Players who are not comfortable or don’t want to buy HPA tanks can go with an AEG, which will deliver relatively consistent performance and the ability to easily deliver a high volume of BBs.
That said, you don’t want to enter a speedsoft game with a sluggish trigger response (something that often plagues AEGs), as even a slight delay between pulling the trigger and your first volley can put you at a severe disadvantage.
So if you are considering an AEG, make sure it is upgradable since you’ll want to add a good MOSFET and probably want to upgrade the barrel, motor and hop up at the same time to improve performance.
To Sum Up
With a focus on eliminating competition and achieving objectives in a matter of minutes, speedsoft does require a distinct change of thinking and gameplay for the average airsoft player, as well as a completely different loadout.
Focused on speed, aggression and maneuverability, it may not be the game of choice for fans of milsim and traditional airsoft equipment and play.
That said, for those interested in more fast and furious airsofting, and who don’t mind a more casual airsoft loadout, speedsoft can be an interesting change of pace that’s worth giving a try.
Ted Clark– Hailing from Florida, Ted has been an avid airsoft enthusiast since he was in middle school. When he’s not checking out and reviewing airsoft guns, he enjoys picking off his enemies one by one on the field as a sniper.