Thursday, May 27, 2010

Poll: Unlimited Paintballs

Look at this. Reiner's trying a poll. First time on the blog, so encourage my expansion of my own comfort zone by voting, and hopefully commenting.

Here's the deal. In a hypothetical situation, if recreational paintball fields could somehow provide unlimited amounts of paintballs to their customers, how would this affect participation. Now I say hypothetical, because paintballs cost money, even at the wholesale level, so to provide unlimited paintballs would also mean a field would have a limitless expense on it's hand, so they would have to charge through the nose. So for this hypothetical situation, I'm going to state two criteria that would need to be in affct to set this up.

First, the cost to play would be moderate, about the same per day cost as players spend today. We'll say about $50 for field fees and rentals if needed. Air would be included and all the paintballs a player would want to shoot are included. Whether they want to shoot 100 or 20,000, it wouldn't matter (players can't take any home though).

Second, ALL recreatioanl fields would have to offer unlimited paintballs. So this wouldn't be just one field in a city where the other four fields are charging for extra paintballs as they do now. All five fields would have the same deal. One cost, no limits on paintball use. Players could get a bag or case, use it up and then come get another bag or case, and when those are gone get more. As often and as many as they wanted to.

So how would this affect the industry and participation in paintball. Don't worry about the paintball manufacturers. They are in on the deal and found a way to produce paintballs for free. Like I said, this is a hypothetical situation.

It would be great if you told us why you think the participation would be the way you predict it would in the comment section. Thanks for playing.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Base Jumping or Comfort Zones Part 2

I know very little about base jumping. What I do know is that it’s got to give you an awesome adrenaline rush. Yet very few people take part in base jumping. Much fewer than play paintball for instance. Why is that?

I’m sure most people will know what base jumping is, but if not, Google is you friend.

I constantly see posts on forums where players are saying that if people can’t take getting hit multiple times with paintballs they should just GTFO. It’s part of the game. I sort of understand where these people are coming from, although I don’t agree. I’m more a Live and Let Live kind of guy. These people are obviously into a higher intensity kind of paintball that others may be into. And that’s OK. What bothers me is that they expect everyone to be into the same thing they are into. If they are so much into a high adrenaline rush, why aren’t they jumping off tall buildings or high bridges (it’s cheaper than paintball)? I’ll tell you why. It’s because it would scare the hell out of them. It’s outside of their comfort zone. Yet they see no problem dictating what other people’s comfort zone should be. Hmmmm?!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Comfort Zones

People are all different. Early on as children we start to develop levels of social comfort zones. Some of us are outgoing while others are not. Some kids need or want very little assurances from parents while others can barely leave their parents’ sights. As we grow up and learn that the world is not necessarily as scary as we thought it was as young children, we expand our comfort zones. We slowly learn what the world is about and what is normal and acceptable social behavior.

As teenagers we struggle with this (some more than others). The “unknown” can be both frustrating and intimidating, and maybe downright scary. Even as adults, once we’ve discovered most of the secrets of life, we are still different. Some people want to climb mountains and jump out of airplanes, while others think twice about booking a flight on a commercial airliner. We all have different levels of comfort zones.

In paintball, there are people who can’t get enough of an adrenaline rush. Skilled athletes shooting 15 balls per second at them don’t faze them. Others cringe at the thought.

I’ve mentioned before how I turned down my first two invitations to play paintball, many years ago now. This was in the days when pumps were the norm at recreational fields. Of course that didn’t mean anything to me. It was an unknown to me. I had never seen anyone play paintball in real life or even on TV. It was out of my comfort zone. It was easier for me to say “no thanks” and stay home where I was in my comfort zone than to agree to participate in something I knew very little about (I knew enough that getting hit by a paintball might hurt). Of course I have expanded my comfort zone now and although I would most likely get my butt handed to me on a platter if I were to step onto a field with high level competitive players, I wouldn’t hesitate to do so, if the situation was called for.

One of the biggest challenges a field owner faces is getting people to step out of their comfort zone and onto their paintball facility. I haven’t figured out how to do that yet. But there is a huge market out there for the paintball industry to tap into, should we figure out a way to do it effectively. But I think it needs to happen in small steps. We can’t expect someone with a very narrow comfort zone to automatically enjoy taking part in a relatively extreme activity. We would make them withdraw right back into their narrow comfort zone again if we try to do that. And yet over the years, as paintball has evolved, the experience, even at a relatively mellow recreational paintball field, has become much more extreme. It’s very difficult for a first time player to “ease into” paintball in present times.

It’s no problem for those outgoing, mountain climbing, skydiving types, but most people aren’t those people. I think many of the people involved for any length of time in paintball tend to forget that. Their comfort zone has always been big or has expanded after much participation in paintball and they don’t remember what it is like for those that aren’t at the same level of comfort zones. It would serve us well to remember that we are not all the same.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Tournament Teams

Earlier this season I mentioned that some members of our staff had formed a speedball team. By the time I had caught wind of it, more than a half dozen of our staff had been recruited. I have to admit that I panicked a bit. The busy season was starting and a good portion of our staff were committing to be at practice every Saturday (our busier of the two weekend days) plus they would be gone several Sundays during the season for tournaments. We had no choice but top look for some new staff to have on call so we wouldn’t be caught short.

Well, it’s been a few months now and the staffing shortages were short lived. It didn’t take long at all for some of the newly formed team to opt to work at our field and skip practice. Apparently when practicing speedball regularly, you need money constantly, even if the paintballs are dirt cheap compared to our field. Today I had a conversation with one of the team members and asked how things were going. I see them wearing their customized jerseys when playing at our field all the time, so I get reminded (it bugs me by the way when speedball teams come to a rec field and wear their jerseys). He told me that they hadn’t had a practice in about a month and even before that, the practices were always short of players. He told me he is not too interested anymore. It’s hard to get everyone to come out and it’s too expensive. Shooting a case or two every week really adds up he says. Then he asked me if I needed any help next weekend

How many times over the years have I heard and seen the same scenario play out; gung-ho wannabe speedball players with glory in their eyes, only to be defeated by shortages of funds and lack of commitment from team members. When are tournament league organizers going to come to realization that they need to find a format that is manageable for regular folk to get into and stay in for any length of time?

The fellow I was talking to also said that the BCPPL is looking to have a 3-man Pump Division and that might be something he wouldn’t mind getting into. 3-man is manageable and pump is fun and affordable. We’ll have to wait and see if it’s sustainable for the league though.