Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Are New Players Tougher Today?

Anyone that knows me understands that I’m an advocate for low volume shooting while playing our beloved game. Therefore, I get into a lot of discussions with people about ROF (Rate of Fire), in person and on paintball forums. Much to the dismay of some, most of my writing has in some way to do with lowering the amount of paintballs shot.

ROF has obviously changed over the years. It took a fair amount of talent to shoot even 1 bps (ball per second) with one of paintball’s original markers. Due to advances in technology the ROF has been increased to astonishingly fast rates (astonishing to me anyway). I don’t really know at what point technology is at now and honestly I don’t really care, but I believe it somewhere about 30 bps.

When I started playing paintball years ago, pump markers were still the norm, but semi-autos had been invented, they just weren’t seen very often at the paintball fields I frequented. When one did show up and the owner blasted of half a dozen balls at what was probably about 6 or 7 bps, it was quite mesmerizing. As a fairly new player still using rental gear, the thought of going up against the guy shooting that fast was very intimidating. I avoided those guys like the plague. I was scared. I’m not ashamed to admit it. If I had not started playing paintball when pump markers wee still the norm, I probably would not be here today writing about paintball, a game I am still quite passionate about.

But I often wonder what the new players coming out to play today think about this game? The first time player, standing in the Safe Zone, hearing strings of paintballs being rattled off by multiple players, what is he/she thinking? Sure I tell them it’s fun. I tell them it doesn’t hurt that much. But looking back and remembering my first paintball experience, I probably wouldn’t believe the stuff I’m telling my own customers these days.

Am I a hypocrite? I don’t think so. I truly believe those people will have fun and I know that getting hit with a paintball is not all that bad; that the fun outweighs the potential pain. But that doesn’t change the fact that some of these new players are probably scared out of their wits.

When I look back and think about how the prospect of someone shooting 6 or 7 bps at me was absolutely horrific, what do today’s new players feel about the prospect of someone shooting 10,12, or 15 bps at them? These rates are all relatively easily achievable today. With ramping mode, they are very easily achievable, even by a first time player. Although not that common at our field (we don’t allow any ramping), those rates are commonplace at many field across the world.

Many have started playing the sport with those speeds. For them, they are normal. When you ask someone that plays at 15 bps (or higher) regularly, what the ROF should be when playing with new players, so they are not so intimidated, they’ll often say something like, we shouldn’t go higher than uncapped semi-auto. Uncapped semi-auto for many players is probably around 10 or 12 bps. Some will consider really handicapping themselves and say that gravity feed hoppers should only be used. Gravity feeds paintballs at approximately 12 bps. Sure, without agitating the hopper you will only shoot about 4 balls in a row, then need to shake for ½ a second before you can shoot another 4 balls in a row, but is that really slow enough for a new player? I am quite sure it would not have been slow enough for me when I first started playing.

Yet we expect it to be slow enough for today’s new player. They must be a lot tougher than I was. Or are we just keeping the ones that aren’t tougher than I was at home? That’s a sad thing for me to think about. Because if that’s the case, there are lots of people sitting at home who will never fall in love with this sport as I have done.

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