Perseverance paid off for founders of airsoft club

For years, the Norwich University board of clubs denied students permission to start an airsoft club for years because of safety reasons. Finally, the Norwich University Airsoft Division was successfully granted permission and formed by students two years ago.

It was started by a small group of seven students, six from the Corps of Cadets and one civilian student, and has rapidly gained members. “The club grew from seven to about 70 students in only two years,” said Andrew Port,, 20, a political science major, from Albuquerque, N.M. Port is also a training sergeant for the Norwich University Airsoft Division (NUAD).

The game or sport known as airsoft had been banned from campus for decades and was originally frowned upon by the board of clubs due to safety concerns. “The game, or sport, is similar to paintball, however the rifles/ guns, ammunition, and specific gaming tactics are different,” explained Port. The main reason why airsoft clubs were denied and banned in the past was due to the fact that the fake guns, or rifles, looked like exact replicas of actual assault rifles.

Airsoft guns tend to look and feel more like real weapons, compared to paintball guns. Also, the ammunition magazines that carry small six-millimeter, plastic BBs also “look exactly like real mags,” said Port. The gear used to carry magazines and other relevant equipment is tailored after, and replicated to look like current military gear.

“The whole issue with airsoft, in general, compared to paintball, is that everything looks real, and can be easily misinterpreted as real military equipment,” said Port.

The original founder of the club, who started it just two years ago, is currently an academic senior and the highest enlisted cadet non-commissioned in the Norwich University Corps of Cadets. Jarrett Cavanagh is a 22-year-old senior mathematics major from Carlisle, Pa., who took on refuting all the objections to the airsoft game.

He started researching, and presented methods for safety and logistics to be able to overcome all of the safety issues that the club board had addressed. The safety rules presented to the board of clubs stipulated that all equipment relevant to airsoft is kept in a locked locker storage, outside of dorms, to avoid confusion about whether they are real weapons.

The other rules proposed were in regard to personal safety and location of playing or training. The major safety concern was how would club staff stress the priority and enforcement of eye and facial protection, along with items to cover and block barrels, to avoid any misfire. The practice location is strictly reserved on location on Paine Mountain and Dole Hill, at a specific time on weekends.

After these rules were presented two years ago, the club passed through the board and was formed. The original seven students “shaped everything, the chain of command, logistics, specialty positions, rules, training, etc,” said Daniel Almueti, 22, from Oklahoma City Oklahoma, one of the original seven students involved. Over two years, the club has grown to more than 60 members.

“The club’s number and capacity will probably continue to grow every year,” said Almueti, “club fundraising and other group efforts will allow that to happen.”

“The Norwich University Airsoft Division has quadrupled in size and strength,” said Brennan Mulvaney, 20, a criminal justice major from Leominster, Mass. He has been in the club for over one year, and is the training sergeant and squad leader for First Squad.

“Airsoft is growing popular at Norwich because it is a sport based off of military tactics,” said Mulvaney. “NUAD is using these replicated rifles and gear, along with real military tactics, to better train and compete against other teams. Because we are a military university with different military branches, the team has also been able to mix and combine different tactics,” said Mulvaney. “This keeps us a step ahead of other teams, made up of civilians, that we may face and compete against in the future.”

“Although the club has grown exponentially in only two years, logistics and equipment is still going to be a challenge to keep the club running smoothly,” said Samson Faccon, 20, an architecture sophomore from Cornwall, N.Y. Faccon is also currently enlisted and serving in the United States Marine Corps Reserves’ technical field. “I have only been in the club for about one year, but I already see it as one cohesive unit,” said Faccon. “Although it is not yet up to par with the actual military, it is still one well-rounded team.”

“It’s pretty cool using combat tactics and skills that I have actually used in the U.S. Marine Corps, and implemented them into a sport,” said Faccon. “I have also used those military tactics to teach other new players on the field how to be a step above our future opponents.”

“I have seen the team grow from a dozen students, to over 70,” said Garrett Louth, a 22-year-old academic junior, majoring in history, from Philadelphia, Pa. He is currently a training sergeant in NUAD.

Although the safety rules are demanding, the club will be able to keep those rules in check, no matter how large it becomes, “due to our discipline, safety rules, and respect for law and authority at a military college,” said Louth.

“Treating the airsoft guns like real firearms increases the whole safety aspect, if anything, the team, or club, will only grow stronger in skill and numbers,” said Louth.

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