Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Low Impact, Low Intensity Paintball

The launch of the newly released JT SplatMaster (you can read about it here if you’re not aware of it yet, http://www.pbnation.com/showthread.php?t=3840774 ) has got my mind churning.

From a business perspective, KEE/JT has aimed selling these to kids playing in their backyard and that is what their promotional videos clearly demonstrate.  I’m sure kids will have a lot of fun doing just that (I’m not so sure mom and dad will have as much fun cleaning the paint stains off their siding and their SUV in the driveway though).  The market KEE/JT is aiming at is huge.  I’m sure they will sell quite a few of these.  The novelty, like any toy, I’m sure will wear off, but like the Hoola Hoop, hundreds of millions will be sold to kids all over the world before the novelty wears off.

The whole thing has got me thinking though about how I could use something similar in my business to provide fun to smaller groups of younger and timid players, players that just aren’t quite brave or tough enough to play our current format of paintball.  That market is also very big.  I know from being a field owner that I could get lots of younger players’ (9 to 12 year olds) birthday parties at our field, if the impact of the paintballs and the intensity on the field were considerably milder than what it is now.

But the JT Splatmaster doesn’t quite cut it for me, from a rental point of view.  The upside of the marker is that it needs no air or power source other than that of the user compressing the spring with a pump handle.  That’s awesome.  No CO2 or air needed.  It’s also inexpensive.  The downside is, it’s made of plastic.  Also, shooting 50 caliber paintballs at 100 to 140 fps, although creating impact that hurts very little, seems to be just a little too slow.  I’d have to do some testing, but I think I would like a marker that shoots a 50 cal paintball more in the 175 to 200 fps range (adjustable velocity of course).  I’d also like it made of aluminum.  Without an air source needed, a simple aluminum marker would still be plenty light enough for the 9 to 12 year old crowd.

I realize that to shoot even a 50 caliber paintball at 175 to 200 fps would require a much heavier spring that that in the JT SplatMaster.  That now becomes an issue with strength needed to cock the marker.  I’m not an engineer (nor have I ever played one on TV), but I’m thinking that something with a lever action cocking mechanism could overcome the strength that would be needed issue.

So, are there any engineer/designer/machinists out there up for a challenge?  Assuming you do it right, I’ll take 40 right off the bat and I have a feeling there would be many other field owners out there that would want something like this.  What I’m envisioning is something light, 50 caliber, easy enough for the average 9 year old to cock, removable barrel, spring powered, adjustable velocity (I assume this could be easily accomplished with an adjustment knob at the back to compress/decompress the spring), and a detent (probably a simple wire or rubber one that’s easy on paintballs).  Also, since I am envisioning low intensity games for younger players, the feeder would not have to be large at all.  A “stock class” tube running parallel with the barrel would easily hold plenty of 50 caliber paintballs.  Kids could be given one or two tubes with another 15 or 20 paintballs in them.

So who is in?  I have a feeling there would be a big market for something like this for the “outlaw” crowd as well.  Cheap 50 cal paintballs and no air needed.  Sounds like that would make for a fun weekend up at the cabin.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Odd Day

Today was an odd day at our field.  It was the first day of our 2 for 1 Wednesdays, we are hosting every Wednesday during July & August.  It came just two days after a big sale we had this past long weekend (It was Canada Day July 1, so virtually the whole country had Monday off as well), so we had a feeling it would be a slow day.

We were right.  Only 15 people showed up, not one of them renting.  That’s very unusual for our field, although the gear owner numbers having been increasing over the years, with a smaller percentage of our customers renting (the number of renters is not decreasing, just the percentage).  I’m not overly concerned about the small numbers and the fact that we lost money today.  We’ll make up for it on other days.  That’s just the way it works in business sometimes.

I did not actually work today as I had overseen Monday’s and Tuesday’s games, so it was my business partner’s turn today.  But I did take a look at the pictures that he posted to our Facebook page tonight.   You can see them here:  https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.411769118858710.79310.160099750692316&type=1   What stood out for me was the number of pumps the gear owners were using and how many of the gear owners that weren’t using pumps, were using 50 round hoppers, with no visible pod packs carried.  Yeah, there were two or three players there with 200 round hoppers and look like they had pod packs as well, but the vast majority didn’t.

It makes me proud to know that with our policies we have created a field where most people choose to shoot lower volumes.  We have no rate of fire restrictions other than no full auto or ramping.  We don’t limit the amount of paint players can carry on the field (except our refs who are not allowed to carry pods of extra paint as they get paint at a discount and it would not be fair to others who do not get the discounted price).  But people choose to shoot less paintballs.  People also choose to come to our field more than any other field on Vancouver Island, by a good margin.   It’s not because we are the cheapest.  We’re not.  It’s because of the atmosphere.

When own gear players choose to take out only 50 paintballs in a 15 minute game, you can be reasonably sure they are not going to go hog wild on other players.  It’s rare when you hear strings of high ROF paintballs during one of our games.  I hear it when I play at other fields all the time, but at our field, I only hear it occasionally and only for short durations.  Because of that, our customers tend to have fun, on any given day, even on days when there are no renters around.