The best part about airsoft is that it allows you to shoot others without them suffering serious damage. The worst part is that it allows others to shoot at you without suffering serious damage. As your goal should be to escape from the experience with as little damage as possible, there is some minimal equipment a beginner in airsoft should have access to when playing.
The Extreme Basics of Airsoft Equipment
The obvious caveat is that you should check with the airsoft range itself before you begin; some ranges will have minimal requirements for those using its fields. Obviously, you should go with those requirements when doing airsoft.
That said, the minimum set of equipment that you need is a mask that covers your eyes, a good beginner airsoft weapon of some sort, and enough ammunition to last the encounter. Anything beyond that is just icing on the cake; you should invest in more equipment, especially if you are trying to keep up with the other players and do as much damage as possible.
Looking Beyond the Basics
As noted the minimal equipment you need is usually just eyewear good enough to protect your eyes, some sort of weapon in order to attack and defend yourself, and enough ammunition to have some fun.
Of these, bear in mind that you will need to purchase ammunition each time you go into battle, assuming you maintain the other equipment. You should also add a hydration system so that you always have something to drink at any time and a barrel blocker to prevent the weapon from firing accidentally.
You will need some carbon dioxide cartridges, although you can purchase refillable cartridges. You can also purchase the cartridges in bulk. If you want to add to your basic paraphernalia, a good pair of gloves, a set of safety pads, and possibly a helmet are well worth the extra protection.
A good pair of boots are well worth the investment. Again, you are likely to escape the game with minimal damage, but this extra protection is good for preventing welts and bruises, while the boots will protect against sprained ankles. You should also invest in kill rags to let others know when you have been hit.
The Really Advanced Options
Let us consider the weapon. Most airsoft players default to a rifle; it is easy to maintain, parts are easy to find, and it has the best range. However, pistols and shotguns are also available, as well as grenades and claymore mines.
However, check to make sure that other weapons are legal in any given match. Also, while most airsoft weapons use CO2 cartridges, electric and spring-powered options are available, as well as weapons made of plastic or full-metal construction. You can also use weapons that look realistic but must have an orange tip.
You also have other options to make your weapon do what you want. Holsters and slings make it easier to carry your weapons while you are on the move or just resting. You can also purchase all sorts of external upgrades, such as rail systems, different stocks and grips, lights, and sights. Internal upgrades allow you to make it more powerful to play with what it can do, or even allow you to use high pressure to power the weapon.
In short, any sort of modification you want for your weapon is possible and is only limited by local rules, the type of weapon, and your needs.
These are just the beginning of options. We provide more information in our post on: beginner airsoft loadouts. Ammunition comes in different sizes, depending on how far you want it to go, and either biodegradable or not. There are also a variety of different bags and cases for your various carrying and storage needs. You can also buy hydration packs and food pouches to carry your water and food, keeping you in the field longer. Clothes can be modified with patches, and you can also wear tactical gear to be better prepared or a ghillie suit for the maximum stealth option. In short, your airsoft experience can be modified to whatever degree you need it to be and what your pocketbook can afford.
All of this equipment should help you to not only survive the encounter with minimal damage but also possibly win, especially when there is some sort of arms race. It should be noted that you can win with just eyewear, a weapon, and ammunition, just that you will do better the more prepared you are.
Again, consult the location you will be playing at for their minimal requirements and then build on those requirements. The idea is to have fun, so keep that in mind whenever you are looking at equipment; do not feel forced to buy more equipment than you feel comfortable with and that allows you to have the most possible fun.