We have all been there..the noob, newbie, airsoft v*rgin...call it what you want, none of us started off knowing everything!
At the end of the day, what you buy and how you play is up to you, however, have a wee think about the following:
1 - We wont always sell you the most expensive equipment (WHAT???? A retailer NOT getting as much as possible out of you?) If you spend a fortune, and I haven't at least shown you some alternatives that may be just as good, but a lot cheaper, you are going to feel ripped off and never come back! At least by doing what I do, you know we aren't just out to grab your money, and are more likely to come back and give us more of your hard earned cash! - "repeat business/long term customer loyalty/mercenary shop staff" thinking you see ;)
2 - If you have decided on a rifle or pistol, why do you like it? Have you seen it in a film, game or whatever? Ok so now come into the shop and hold the thing....I have honestly seen people come in with their little hearts set on a specific gun from Call of Modern Warfare Gear Solid 17 - Special Black Ops Warfighter (or whatever its called) and once they hold it they HATE it. Shoulder or hold the guns. Feel the weight. Take advice from other players. At the end of the day you may still go for your original choice, but at least you have looked around.
3 - Accessorise dahling! - What else do you need? If you are a sniper, do you REALLY need that vest with 17 mag pouches, the mags to go with it, torches, speedloaders up the wazoo and whatever else you can carry, or do you need a belt with one extra mag pouch and maybe a holster for a secondary weapon?
A vest with pouches already on it is going to be a bit cheaper, but it is laid out the way someone else thinks is right. They may be an expert in their field, but its YOU that has to hump the gear so MAYBE you should go for the slightly more expensive MOLLE vest and place your pouches where you want them?
Scopes. This is one of those ones where I am in two minds. Scopes are great for spotting at distance, or to make your gun look cool, but for ensuring you hit your target they are useless.
Are you playing indoors? Well if you are, chances are you are going to need a torch of some kind. You dont have to go for something brighter than 1000 suns, but make sure its up to the job.
Lasers...ah lasers....In the right conditions they can look good, but from the other end you are blinding us so switch the thing off!!!
Snipers are the best right? Well yeah in the real world (or a first person shooter game) a sniper will take out a target with a headshot at 800 metres or more (in a game they will be doing a 360 degree forward roll from a tree at the same time) and be almost undetectable. In airsoft its a little bit different. IF you spend money on your rifle...IF you learn your fieldcraft so that small animals will walk past you oblivious to your presence....IF you are a good enough shot...you may be able to take out YOUR target at a few more metres than the guy who just clocked your position and is running at you firing 20 rounds per second and has just closed to less than your minimum engagement distance. But I doubt it! If you really really want to be a sniper thats cool, but be aware that most of the choices of weapon can only fire a little bit further than a good electric assault rifle, cant throw out anything like the same rate of fire and usually have a minimum engagement distance (meaning if you are too close you aint allowed to pull that trigger).
Grunt. Foot soldier. Cannon fodder. Luckily in Airsoft you don't need to specialise. If you want to be part of a squad thats pushed forward into a hail of BBs then go for it. Some people like that sort of thing.
So how about support gunner? Being a support gunner is about more than having a big box mag on your M4/MP5/AK47. Your objective isn't necessarily about trying to hit the enemy, the idea is to pin them down so that your team mates can get into position, take an objective, or wipe out the bad guys you are suppressing.
MEDIIIIIIC! If running about all day helping your mates get back into the game is your thing, then you are a natural Airsoft medic. Grab yourself a light gun, or pistol, and don't expect to be in the thick of the fighting..well not as an active combatant anyway. You are going to draw fire more than most as, in some ways, you are the most important player in your team. If you are a slightly larger fellow (like myself) you probably want to think twice before becoming a medic. Leave if for the fitter, faster folk out there!
Not the US TV show from a few years back, some of us have these people that choose to hang out with us for free. Grab your mates. Make new ones on site. Either way Airsoft is a lot more fun with a bunch of people you know (and like).
Don't take things too seriously. Honestly guys and girls, this is meant to be fun. At the end of the day, we all get to go home for tea and medals, so its not worth getting too angry or upset about. And its DEFINITELY not worth cheating! Be fair, be honest. A good way to think about it is "If someone did that to ME, would I be happy?".
Now to the boring stuff. Protection. You can cut corners on a lot of things, but eye and ankle protection are the two things where I would suggest you don't go down the cheap route.
Eye/face protection - to seal or not to seal, that is the question. I am (at least physically) an adult. I can make a decision to wear ballistic glasses and take chances with rounds entering from the side, or getting shot in the teeth. Of course now that we have our indoor site, my thinking has changed and at least INDOORS I wear a full face mask. Some would say that covering my face is a good idea at the best of times, but they usually get a slap for cheek! All jokes aside though, there is a big difference between playing outdoors and playing indoors. That shot in the head may not be a problem at 30-40m but when you turn a corner and come face to face with the bad guy...its gonna sting!
Ankles - OUCH! Trust me on this, I have broken my ankle twice and its not fun. Both times it could have been a lot worse, but thanks to really good boots, the first time I was able to run on it for several hours, and the second time it held my ankle together enough that I wasn't crippled for too long. If you are playing outdoors, you are almost certainly going to be on rough ground. With trees. And fallen branches. And ditches. You get the idea, its not a place that you can run about without thinking of where you are putting your feet. Get yourself a strong pair of boots with really good ankle protection. Nuff said!
Anyway, its time I got back to work, so I will leave you to think about what I have said, to have your own thoughts, and get into a damn fine game!