Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Playing Elsewhere

A little over a week ago I played paintball locally, but not at our facility. We have a group of players on the island here that play several times per year at various locations. The players come from all across the island. One of the great things about living in these times is the ease in which to communicate and organize such events with people from various geographic locations.

Many of the areas that these players come from don't have commercial fields, therefore there is a fairly high percentage of what I call renegade players. Many others come from areas where they play at commercial fields that I will just say are less than optimally run. These are commercial fields that are run by paintball enthusiasts, but in all honesty, are only a small step up from the amenities found at most renegade games. The owners are obviously not supporting themselves with the income derived from their fields and the safety standards at some of these fields is known to be less than great.

The group has managed to talk one of the local commercial field owners into providing paintball for them at prices closer to what they are used to paying when they play renegade paintball. His regular prices are normally closer to ours. One of the organizers of the united island players is an old time friend, and I'm sure that he convinced the local field owner that if he provided his facility to the group, it would expose them to his business and it would do his business good in the long run. He was however providing his facility and paintballs at less than half the price that he normally would charge (I still heard some grumbling about the high prices by the way - cases of paintballs were $48 CAD including the 12% tax).

The group is made up of paintball players. Obviously. I wanted to see what one of these events was like, so I joined in at the last event at the local field. Because it's a recreational paintball player group, I found the players to be great in general. Many of the local Victoria players were and are still regular players at our field, so it was nice to see a few familiar faces. The play was typical of paintball and nothing really unusual other than a higher volume of paintballs shot, at least compared to our field. After three games in the morning, I had shot about 150 paintballs (playing modified stock class) but I overheard someone parked next to me tell his friend that he had shot over two cases already (I can see why even $48/case would get expensive if a player were inclined to shoot that many paintballs).

The cover on the field was great, with lots of ridge lines to play and I quite enjoyed playing modified stock class against players that were using mostly full auto. The second game of the day (Attack & Defend)I used a whopping 85 of my paintballs (only had 10 left at the end of the game) but was able to eliminate 2 of the opposing players and keep two more at bay for the entire 15 minutes due to being able to move back and forth behind the ridge line and snap shooting before the opposition could get a fix on me. Overall I had a good time.

But the game definitely felt different than what I was accustomed to from our field. With only two referees (the owner upped the field fees slightly for this game because he insisted that he needed to have referees, something they apparently did not use to have) and a large area to cover, not all rules were being followed. I found one player with his mask on top of his head just before a game was about to be started and did not see a referee at the exit of the field to check for barrel socks during all the time I was there (although I never saw anyone without a barrel sock off the playing field either, which apparently is a big improvement from previous events the group has had).

During a one hour long reinsertion game, players were to go to the resurrection area after being hit, wipe clean, and then return to play. On one of my visits to the resurrection area, I hung out to rest for about 5 minutes and did not see a single player from my team come into the area, nor did I ever see a player make it into the area while I was playing near it. I guess my team mates, other than myself were so good, they just never got hit. In their defence, I did not monitor the area for the whole 60 minutes, but probably only about 10 minutes of the 60, so I'm sure they were flocking in the other 50 minutes. It's no secret, given the opportunity to cheat, many players will use it, and opportunities were plenty that day.

Overall I had fun, but I wouldn't recommend the experience to new players. The lack of good supervision and high paintball volume being shot would not make for a great first time experience. The local field owner that hosted the event is kidding himself if he thinks this will increase his business in any way. I hope he didn't turn away any of his usual business to run the event. I know he won't be getting any competition from us to host these events. There is no way we could provide the level of service we provide at the prices he was charging. Since these are regular paintball players that are used to these low (and even lower) prices, there would be little value in providing "sale prices" knowing that these players would just choose to play renegade if need be to keep their costs down.

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