Safety kills are a part of airsoft that I understand but don’t fully enjoy. I like that they give airsofters the chance to be honorable, test their skills, and keep the game safe. On the other hand, I dislike that safety kills can create strife in a game and cause issues that wouldn’t arise if they weren’t implemented into the game.
How A Safety Kill Works
In case you are new to airsoft and don’t understand the safety kill, here is how it works:
(Note: A Safety Kill is not the same as a Knife Kill. A Knife Kill involves the player physically touching the enemy player to make a kill (i.e. with a rubber knife, gun barrel, or hand). A Safety Kill does not involve physically touching the player. A Knife Kill focuses on stealth and speed, while a Safety Kill is focused on split second action when another player surprises you.)
Safety kills are used to prevent close range shots that may hurt airsoft players. Often they are used within a Minimum Engagement Distance (MED) (i.e. don’t shoot within 10 feet.), that varies from field to field. So, if the enemy player is withing that MED, you are supposed to offer a Safety Kill.
To initiate a Safety Kill, you say a phrase like “Safety Kill”, “Bang, Bang”, or another phrase created by the field to represent you shooting the enemy player. The enemy player often has the choice of whether they will accept it or not. If they do, they walk back to the respawn point. If they don’t, they can start firing BBs at you, and you can return fire. If both players safety kill each other at the same time, they “Parley” and both go back to respawn.
The Problems With Safety Kills
Although in theory the Safety Kill sounds like a good system, in practice it has several issues which I will go over.
First, your natural instinct in combat is to fire at the enemy, not say “Bang, Bang”. You have to disengage yourself from combat, think about having to make a Safety Kill, and then act upon those thoughts quickly, which can result in some tricky situations. It takes quite a bit of training to pull off a safety kill when an enemy comes around a corner and you aren’t expecting it.
Second, Safety Kills can result in some fairly unsafe situations. If the other player disregards the safety kill, you had better be ready to get hosed down with BBs from less than 10 feet away. It seems like it would be easier (and safer) to just put one or two rounds into the enemy player so he can call his hit and get on with the game, rather than engage in a slug fest in extreme close quarters.
Third, Safety Kills can create arguments on the field. What happens if the other player chooses not to accept the Safety Kill, even though you could have hit him easily if you hadn’t have offered it? What if the other player is sure they Safety Killed you first? What do you do if you accidentally start firing on an enemy player (that you should have Safety Killed) and they become irate?
On the flip side, what do you do about friendly safety kills? Since most fields allow the airsofter to have the option to accept/not accept the Safety Kill, do you or your teammates just have to not “accept” the Safety Kill to be rid of the friendly fire? Or, because a Safety Kill is technically supposed to be the same as putting BBs down range, do those “friendly” Safety Kills count (but your enemies get a choice!)?
Safety Kills are a solution to one set of problems that created another set, but since Safety Kills are a required part of the rules at many fields, you can’t simply ignore them if you’re an honorable, rule following airsofter (like we all should be). Removing Safety Kills from the rule set of airsoft may be a solution to the problems created by it, but this is quite a ways down the road, and will require a change of thought by many fields.
Safety Kills aren’t all bad. They add to the honor system that airsoft is based upon. I’ve had instances where I was able to see first-hand the honorable airsofters that were willing to call themselves out when Safety Killed or make a Parley when the circumstances warranted it.
My solution is to follow the rules and be honorable on the field, even when others are not. By understanding how Safety Kills work, being tactical and honorable, and doing your best to be prepared for the conflicts that arise when using Safety Kills, you can live and battle with them.
I hope that this post has helped you to better understand Safety Kills and to see the advantages, disadvantages, and limitations they have. Let me know your thoughts on Safety Kills in the comment section below.