At present, the law places the responsibility onto the seller/vendor to ensure that you, the customer, are legally entitled to purchase a realistic imitation firearm.
There are a few different defences/defence schemes that are available for skirmishes to use – the one we should be primarily interested in is the “permitted activity” defence.
The easiest way to become eligible to purchase a RIF is via the UKARA scheme – although other schemes may be available based on location/franchise.
The rules of the UKARA defence scheme are simple – play no less than 3 times, in no less than a 2 month period, at one site to become eligible for site membership. You can fulfil this requirement either by using the site’s “hire guns”, using airsoft replicas owned by people that you know, or by purchasing what are colloquially known as “two tones” – which are available to purchase by over 18s only.
Something to bear in mind is that a fair amount of sites charge for this UKARA membership number, sometimes it is purely an administration fee to cover the sites’ costs – and sometimes it is only available with a full, with-benefits package with a high price-point to boot.
There are other ways to demonstrate being an active skirmisher, one of them being a skirmishers’ diary.