When I first started playing airsoft, I wore (as most of us newbies did) a full JT paintball face mask that was integrated into my goggles. After a couple of games I began to notice that none of the uber-cool-elite-hard-as-fuck vets were wearing masks, so I ditched the mask and ran with the paintball goggles alone. I did this for about a year or two, dismissing mouth/lower face protection as being strictly the domain of the noob, together with a G&G clearsoft M4 and a Condor chest rig.
I had a few close calls along the way – over the years I took a couple of shots to the face that left bruises that had to be covered up with a band-aid and dismissed as a “hockey high-sticking bruise/cut” at work the next day (because explaining what airsoft is to your supervisor isn’t always easy or worth it). But I had never sustained any permanent damage. No teeth knocked out or embedded BBs to mar my (not really) perfect complexion.
But lately I’ve started wearing a mask again; specifically, one of the lower face mesh masks that are designed for just this purpose. Perhaps it’s the close calls and full-on accidents that fellow players and teammates have had (and the accompanying medical/dental bills) that has led to me donning the mask. Perhaps it’s the growth of the sport and the accompanying noobs, with a spray-and-pray attitude and blatant disregard for MEDs taught to them by hours fighting digital terrorists in Battlefield 4.
But I think mostly it’s because I’ve realized that all it takes is a split-second of crappy luck to ruin your day and a good chunk of days to come. Your teeth, like your eyes, don’t grow back, and you wouldn’t dream of stepping onto the field without a good set of googles protecting your peepers. And in the end, taking that risk to look uber-cool-elite-hard-as-fuck just isn’t worth it.