Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Comments are welcome

I’m relatively new to this whole blogging thing and I’m not very techy so I have no idea how many people are actually reading this stuff. There’s probably a way to track all kinds of stuff on here, but my limited brainpower hasn’t been able to figure it out yet. Both my sons are computer whizzes (one is taking computer science), but the old man got left behind in the 20th century I think.

I am always amazed when someone comes up to me at the field and tells me they’ve read my stuff. I also get the odd pm and email from people commenting on something I wrote. Why they don’t post a comment on here, I don’t know. Maybe they are even less techy than me and don’t know how, although I doubt that.

Anyway, I’m going to share a couple of excerpts from a couple of pm’s I received lately (mostly cause I can’t think of anything new to write). I’ll keep everyone anonymous since I assume they didn’t want their identity made public in the first place.

The first one is from a fellow field owner that runs a small field in a fairly small city. He stopped running his field for a few years for personal reasons and then got back into it. He says:

“Last summer I started back up again, and seeing how paintball had changed a bit, I bought a 5 man speedball field to try to get the ball rolling again, to get some attention on the field. Well long story short, there are a few players who like the speedball, but they are the same ones crying about paint cost, crying that its FPO, crying about anything, AND pissing off my rec players. The whole speedball idea cost me around 6 grand, and Im basically just using my woods field now... pretty expensive mistake, but the woods field is attracting at least twice the people that the speedball does.”

Since I too went down the speedball road alongside the woodsball road when we first opened TNT Paintball, I can relate. We were fortunate enough not to have gotten to the point of spending the money on an airball field (they were more expensive back then). We learned fairly quickly that the two kinds of players don’t mix well together and it hurt our business when we tried. Since I was into the speedball thing myself then, I played speedball at other fields instead of my own. Some people couldn’t figure out why a field owner that liked speedball didn’t set up a speedball field (we had the space). Sometimes you need to keep your personal life out of your business life.

From an economist who is a confessed high volume shooter:

“Hey, I just started reading your blog and wow, it is great!!!

Is there any explanation why ALL fields aren't FPO? The fields around me that are FPO are always packed while the BYOP ones are almost always empty...

Granted, the ones with FPO have nicer facilities, better staff, etc but is that cause or effect???”

I answered his pm with this: BYOP is just the ultimate step for fields that have over the years lowered their paint prices trying to be competitive to attract more players. I'm going to guess that the reason in your area the better fields are FPO and the not so nice fields are BYOP is because the less nice fields feel that low prices is the only way they are going to attract players, since their facilities can't match the nicer ones.

This of course only attracts those that feel the need to shoot high volumes of paint and don't mind sacrificing the other services and better facilities. Those types of players are only a small segment of the paintball market. Most often, the field owners that do BYOP, are also of that type of player (shoot lots of paint).

It's a downhill spiral for those fields most often because they have fewer customers, with less profit per customer, so they never end up getting enough extra income to upgrade their fields. Eventually they get tired of working for free and either close down or sell to some other unsuspecting sole. In rare cases, if the rent is cheap enough or free, they'll linger on for years with a few customers every once in a while.

Please post up your comments if you’ve stumbled onto this blog. Whether you agree or disagree doesn’t matter. Without conversation, we’re not going to be able to make the paintball world a better place.


  1. I don't think the airball bunkers are the problem.

    Set up an airball field and charge $100/case. Maybe cap the rate of fire at 8 BPS.

    All the PITA "customers" should stay at the airball fields with the cheap paint, and hopefully you'll grow a new group of players who like airball but don't feel like playing on the river raft field means they should be 'sponsored'.

    I have some evidence of this - at the high school events where we mandate hopper ball and no prizes, we don't seem to get any problem players. I get phone calls from people who tell me there is no reason to play if the prizes are trophies and that a hopper isn't enough paint, but they don't seem to go to the events, so it seems to be working.

  2. I agree, airball bunkers are not the problem. We set up a set for our annual West Coast Pump Weekend and have a one day "fun" pump speedball tournament with them (1st through 3rd prizes are engraved beverage glasses). Nothing but good times and we've never had an altercation between players or players and refs.

    The problem is creating a competitive environment and encouraging high paintball usage and trying to mix that in with recreatioanl players just coming out to have a "leisurely" day of paintball.

    Having said that, airball fields are a PITA to set-up and maintain and are more expensive in the long run, so if you are going to cater to the recreational crowd in paintball, you don't need airball bunkers. Sure an airball field is cool to play on, but it's certainly not a necessity.

    Airball bunkers can help get a new field up and running fairly quickly though. Buildings, forts, cars, helicopters, and such are more interesting for "most" recretional paintball players.

    Your high school event story is interesting. I know a lot of people don't agree with me, but to have a successful paintball field it's just important to understand who you need to keep away as it is to know who you want to attract.

  3. Quite frankly, Reiner, reading your Blog is a bit scary for me. We were either separated at birth or cloned from one another. I could not agree more with your thoughts and observations. With no feedback or comments you might think you are shouting into the wind but be assured, people hear you and are starting to see the light. Blog on - I'm listening (And shaking my head in the affirmative!).

  4. I know what you mean Mick. Mick's blog is here in case anyone is interested.

  5. I made the blog!

    Raehl brings up another good point that has always bothered me: Why are there cash prizes/items in paintball tournaments? I can understand for professional and semi-pro teams, but for divisions 5-2, it makes no sense.

    No other sport has cash prizes for a recreational activity.

  6. Prizes are offered for one reason and one reason only; to attract participants. Since tournaments in paintball are a money making venture for most who put them on, they need to compete for participants. However, those that play paintball (and tournaments) only for the joy of playing, for the most part don't care about the prizes. They would play anyway, so the only participants it attracts are those that would otherwise not play. And if those participants aren't playing for the joy of playing, it means they are playing mostly for the prizes. If they are playing for the prizes, their attitude about the whole event will be completely different. They won't be playing for bragging rights to prove that they are best. They wil be playing to win, however they can. It changes everything about the game.

    So I agree, it makes very little sense. It trains up and coming players that winning at any cost is more important than winning with honour and fair play.

    What's worse, is those players/teams that don't want to go down the road of winning at any cost, end up getting p'd off and leave the game. Then all you've got left is the highly competitive, win at all cost players/teams.

    Prizes have in part contributed to the decline in speedball participation. That's why I like the direction the High School League that Raehl plays part in has gone.

    I don't play speedbaall anymore and we don't have speedball fields at our facility, but I still have a vested interest. As a recreatioanl field owner catering to participants who play for enjoyment only at a low paintball volume rate, I need the speedball players in the area to have a place to go to. Without a venue, they are going to start showing up at rec fields more often. That's not bad in itself, it's when they bring their win at any cost attitudes with them, that it becomes a problem.

  7. You, my friend, are a sage.

  8. I stole everything I know about paint pricing from Reiner.

    But he totally ripped that no-prize stuff off from me. ;)

  9. "I can understand for professional and semi-pro teams, but for divisions 5-2, it makes no sense."

    While I agree prizes are over done I think you might have a tough time selling most Division 5-2 teams that what they are doing is "recreational". Some of them spend a considerable amount of time and money to participate.

  10. Spending considerable time and money does not in any way reduce the recreational nature of an activity. Just ask Scenario players.

  11. "
    But he totally ripped that no-prize stuff off from me. ;)"

    Actually I offered no prizes at our turnaments before I ever heard of you. I made sure everyone signing up knew they were playing for fun and bragging rights.

    But I'll give you props for making the no prize thing clearer for me. You do have a way of stating things so they are clearer to see.

  12. Mick said; While I agree prizes are over done I think you might have a tough time selling most Division 5-2 teams that what they are doing is "recreational". Some of them spend a considerable amount of time and money to participate."

    I've got to agree with Raehl on this. Hobbies and sports almost always cost money. I used to spend a small fortune back when I flew radio controlled airplanes. There were competitions to of various sorts, but there were never prizes other than medals. plaques or small trophies.

    Golfing wasn't cheap either. I won a $25 gift certificate for some house paint as a door prize once at a golf event.

    Don't even want to think about what waterskiing cost when I was much younger. Never got a dime out of that one.

  13. Just in case it wasn't clear, I was mainly just trying to give you some crap....

    I've been involved in lots of sports - some expensive, some not - and never won anything of value in any of them except paintball. That's just not the way sports work.