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Airsoft club aims to bring new sport to campus

The idea for an airsoft club began before sophomore David Bird was even officially a student. Bird, now club president, found he shared a love for the sport with Rick Faust, instructor of construction management, during the Early Registration Program in 2011.

When Bird arrived in the fall, he worked to make airsoft a recognized University club sport with Faust as the sponsor.

The first event was “Battle for Liberty,” which the group played at the National Guard combat training field at Camp Gruber in southern Oklahoma.

One of the largest events was last December in Fort Hood, Texas. Over 300 players split up into platoons and squads. Each squad had different mission assignments and military roles.

Faust said, “It was humbling to play a game scenario on the same training area that our military prepares to go and protect our freedoms for real.”

Bird, with sophomores Gabriel Rudolph, vice president, and member Caleb Yam, designed the club to accommodate those who do not want a huge time commitment.

In addition to the big games, which are called “ops,” the club leaders host alternative, casual games at New Life Ranch. If you bring your own equipment, it is free. If you need to rent, it only costs $10.

“We are here to facilitate,” Bird said.

One of the struggles of the sport is that the University has a no gun policy, said Bird. The team has solved this by making it one of their goals “to help keep the guns off campus by providing storage and to offer opportunities to play as well as information about playing airsoft.”

Tim Gilmour, assistant professor of engineering, participated with the club recently. He likened the experience to a sort of freeze tag game.

The teams run around alternatively hiding and shooting, but the people that got shot had to stop shooting. Gilmour said they had to stay ‘frozen’ in one place until a team member could tag them and bring them ‘back to life.’

He explained that the tricky part is if the opposing team got to the frozen person first, then they would unfreeze but have to switch team alliances.

Gilmour said he “played primarily because [he] wanted to spend time with [his] students outside of the classroom, to build friendships as part of the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ. But airsoft is also quite fun and it is good exercise.”

Bird said even though the club has kind of gotten off to a slow start this semester, he is really hoping for one more “sweet event” before Christmas break.

He cannot confirm anything yet, but he is currently working with New Life Ranch, and “it looks like zip lining plus airsoft may actually happen.”