After spending 19 years driving taxis, local man Samuel Brayshay has branched into a new career - running one of Northern Ireland’s newest airsoft sites.
Airsoft - for the uninitiated - is a combat game similar to paintball but with a few crucial differences.
A real life version of the ‘Call of Duty’ computer game is a description often used.
Samuel has been operating Lagan Airsoft Club based at Railway View in Dunmurry since the summer, offering budding Action Men the chance to play soldier in a safe and secure environment.
It’s a sport based on honesty as an airsoft rifle or pistol can only fire a small (6mm) plastic BB at low velocity which leaves no mark on clothing so players are required to honestly declare when they are hit - making it a very different experience to paintball.
The ‘weapons’ are completely non lethal, although players are required to wear eye protection as the BBs could damage the eye. Younger players are also asked to use full face masks to protect their teeth.
Samuel’s site is an indoor arena set up for CQB - Close Quarter Battle - and he built the game area with his father Alan over a period of just three and a half weeks.
The game area has been divided into rooms and corridors which provide a battleground packed with fun for novice players and suitable challenge for more experienced airsofters.
Players can come along and rent the gear required to play, including the rifle (otherwise known as Airsoft Electric Gun or AEG) and face/eye protection.
The site is also open to walk-ons - experienced airsofters who have all their own gear.
Games at the site are typically fast paced, time for a single game is seven to ten minutes with a number of games played in a session with players presented with a variety of scenarios - usually based on teams completing certain objectives, such as capturing a flag.
When a player is hit by a BB - anywhere from head to toe - they must declare it by shouting ‘hit’ and raising their hand, they are then required to go back to a respawn point before rejoining the game (some scenarios have slightly different rules).
Being an indoor site Lagan Airsoft Club adds a few wrinkles on the typical airsoft experience as they are able to play sound effects or music over the sound system, the lighting can be varied and games can be captured on CCTV.
It’s a sport for all ages, generally 12 and up (and there are a lot of older players who release the inner kid on a regular basis).
Samuel himself came to the sport as an adult: “I went for a day’s airlift and I was hooked. It was awesome. Everyone at the site was dressed up like Action Man.”
With Type 2 diabetes Samuel was keen to get some exercise and it was the perfect way to do it.
He has tried to open a site of his own near Lisburn in around 2010 but there were issues securing the ground.
Now with the indoor arena he’s been happy to welcome novice players and experienced airsofters to the site.
However, Samuel has branched out further, now offering nerf games as well as airsoft. Nerf could be described as airlift’s baby brother using nerf guns to fire foam ammunition - even lower velocity than airlift and open to players aged eight and up.
For more information about Lagan Airsoft Club find them on Facebook.