Sunday, May 29, 2011

One Gun, One Shot, One Kill

I bought a new marker recently and it was waiting for me at the field this morning. It was actually used, but new to me. It was also the same type of marker that I normally play with, so it didn't even seem that new to me.

I have several personal markers (I don't actually know how many, but let me just say that I have more than I need, by quite a number). All of them are pumps, except one, a PPS Blazer, that I've used only once or twice , and that several years ago. My main marker is a CCI Phantom. Phantoms can be set up in different configurations, but the main part of the marker doesn't really change. Over the years, I've configured mine to the way that seems to suit me best. Nothing really special. It's a modified Vertical Stock Class Phantom with 45 grip, a 15 round feed offset to the right, and a WEVO undercocking kit (same as the ones now available from CCI direct). I run mine off a 13 c.i. air tank, Not really a whole lot different than any other VSC Phantom.

So the new marker I used today was also a VSC Phantom with a 45 grip, 15 round feed but not offset, and a regular pump handle and I ran it off a 3.5 CO2 tank today. It was very similar to what I normally played with, although it wasn't broken in quite as much. It worked flawlessly. it was also very attractive, but the attractiveness factor has never been important to me.

So why am I writing about such a boring thing as a new marker that is barely different from what I normally use? It's because I couldn't hit anything with it. I played the same style of play as I have for years, mostly snap shooting, but I was missing my targets. Not by much, but still missing more than I normally do. The marker was shooting straight, so it wasn't the marker's fault. It was me. And it was because I was using a marker that was a little different from what I normally use.

Thinking about it, it made me appreciate those people who have several markers in their gear bag and switch between one and another and don't seem to be fazed by that. I can't do it. Even small differences make enough difference for me to throw my game off. It's why my Lapco Grey Ghost (very much like a VSC Phantom)doesn't see action very often. It's different enough that my game suffers.

It's like the tournament speedball team that tried using pumps during practice to save paint and concentrate on making that first shot count. In theory it should help, but in reality, they are using a marker completely different from what they are used to and they would have to practice for days like that to adapt well enough to hit anything with their first shot. By the time they've adapted, they would need to relearn how to shoot their regular marker again so they could hit something with their first shot once again. It would be a rather pointless exercise in my opinion and would probably make the team a worse team because of it.

I think even those that can jump back and forth between markers seeming effectively, would actually be even more effective if they stuck with just one.

I did have a lot of fun playing today and I did end up improving quite a bit with my new marker over the course of the day, so that by the end of the day, I was feeling much more confident and was actually shooting quite a bit more consistently. I am still going to be selling this new maker again, which was the intent when I bought it. I mean, who really needs more than one Phantom? I own three now. That's two too many.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Simple Sports

Relatively simple sports that are inexpensive to take part in, seem to be the most universally popular sports. It makes sense. The game of soccer for instance is probably the most popular sport in the world. It can be played virtually anywhere there is some bare land (grass covered preferred, but not necessary), and people have a single ball to kick around. Sure in more organized soccer players probably have special shoes (soccer cleats) and shin pads, but that's about it.
The more technology there is in a sport, chances are that less people are going to take part, especially if the technology cost more money. How many of us drive Indy cars? Bobsled anyone?
When the technology becomes a big influential factor in whether a competitor might win or lose, the technology might become more important than the athlete.
If the goal in competitive paintball is to attract a larger number of participants, are we really doing ourselves any favours by not restricting technology to the point where the competition is between athletes and not technology?
Is there a market for a "pure" paintball athletic competition? A competition that uses very basic technology and provides/allows the same number of paintballs for everyone? A competition where everyone is truly on the same playing field playing with exactly the same marker with exactly the same amount of ammunition; a small amount of ammunition so that even the "poorest" teams could afford to practice regularly? Or is everyone so in love with the technology in our sport that we cannot give that up for pure athleticism? And how many potential competitive players are we leaving out because they just can't keep up? My guess is a LOT more than are currently taking part.
What would happen if we started over; if we scrapped most of the technology from competitive paintball? If every player had to use the same basic marker with the same basic barrel, loader, and air system. If every player had the same number of paintballs on the field? Would the game die? Would no one want to play paintball because it would no longer be fun? I don't believe paintball would die. I think some would throw up their arms and leave, but I think the true "competitors" would still compete. The "athletes" would hang around. And I think more would join the ranks once the "arms race" was taken out of the equation.
Almost everyone I know that has tried to get into competitive paintball has dropped back out because competing was too expensive. Yet I know lots of people that have played soccer for many, many years. They love the competitiveness of the game. They can afford a new pair of soccer cleats every once in a while. They can afford the game they love. Why can't paintball be more like that?