Airsoft originated from Japan in the early 1970s, where Ichiro Nagata thought about making model guns, or guns that do not shoot and are made for modeling purposes, shoot real projectiles that could not kill. These “guns” were trademarked as “soft air gun“, tailoring to the needs of shooting enthusiasts while conforming to Japan’s strict gun control. The name “soft air” referred to the compressed Freon–silicone oil mixture (later replaced by a propane-silicone oil mixture known as “Green Gas”) that was used as a propellant, which was significantly weaker than the carbon dioxide used in proper airguns (pellet guns and BB guns). Originally designed for target shooting, their plastic pellets can be shot at humans without causing injury and this became popular for casual wargames, which the Japanese called survival games (サバイバルゲーム, sabaibaru gēmu). Airsoft guns spread to the UK in the late 1980s and early 1990s with a company called LS. The guns were sold in pieces and had to be assembled before they were capable of shooting pellets. Airsoft equipment was designed to closely emulate real guns. Since the mid-1980s, airsoft guns have been adapted with a purely recreational application in mind, and the sport is enjoyed by all ages. Airsoft replicas are produced globally, with the majority being manufactured in Asia. Many law enforcement agencies and military units within the United States now use Airsoft for force-on-force training drills.
Information obtained from Airsoft – Wikipedia