Growing our sport/Saving our sport
Depending on your point of view, paintball is either badly in need of an new growth spurt, or is slowly dying. The late 90s and early 00s saw paintball nip at the mainstream, but as the economy slowed the sport has been going the way of BMX. Kept alive by a small core of devotees, with some newbs replacing those who quit, but no growth. I think there are a number of things everyone inside the sport NEEDS to do in order to turn around this trend.
1. Stop targeting children. I NEVER want to see another basic cable show depict paintball as a family fun time. Where a group of 5-10 friends play on a massive field with crap markers. Shoot once or twice, take off masks while running, and the other bull****e we see from our sport on TV. Our sport has allowed this to dispel myths about the danger, risk, and nature of our sport. We want to play up how safe it is, how team building it is.
But do we have to act like it's family fun time? Do we have to make 240FPS the top velocity at our woodsball fields? Do we ban milsim users from the bursts that allow them to keep up with speedball guns?
Right now we do. Many fields cater to younger players. The problem is younger players were more interested when it was hard to participate in. Back in the day when it was seen as an adult game children wanted to play. Now it's seen as a children's thing, and many children think it will not be the fun they imagine. I hear this from tons of younger kids, who know people who play and such. They are not that interested because their peers "play", and have pricey markers and such, they feel like it would be too hard to get into the sport.
Its great to have younger players, but they are a hard demographic to target. Also they just don't have the money. If parents stop supporting the habit then they can no longer play. Markers, paint and such all comes down to the parents willingness to put up funding.
Further teching markers takes a lot more skill. Teenagers and older are much more ready to say "this is for me". And realize the money and time paintball will take. They are more able to pick a marker they can use and tech, and not break or ruin. These are important aspects of paintball that ruin the sport for some. Kids buy pricey guns too young, and spend 100s with airtechs trying to fix problems their misuse has caused.
Not saying kids can't play, but we need those who force their way in. We can't leave the door open for the children while shutting it for the adults, or making it less fun for adults.
2. Pump Play needs to explode.
A. This takes multiple people to work, first are the marker companies. They have already done their job when it comes to paintball. They have created an amazing group of pump and semi markers in all price ranges. A few years ago there was nothing like the current Azodin Kaos Pump. For 200$ a user gets a Upgraded sniper cocker style pump BRAND NEW. The Tracer is a cheap pump, and a huge upgrade on the ACI Maverick/Hornet in being user friendly. Further there is plenty of eye candy in the Pump world now. Bob Long has created a high tech work of art as a pump, CCM/CCI have always done sexy work.
B. Fields need to make pump profitable. Field owners I know don't love us pump players unless they have fond memories of their own early paintball years. One field owner I know comes from the days of playing only with Nelson Pumps and has spend tons of time thinking about this. He sells decent Evil paint at a 100% markup from whole sale for players on his field (60 a case). Pump players use almost no paint each match, so there is a lot less cash flowing. What he has done is increase field charge from 15-25 for pumpers. He also sells Marbilizers and first strikes for pumpers (or semi players). Marbs are 100$ a case, FS are like 165$ a case. Some semi users buy the marbs at the higher cost, pumpers have too (but most I talk to don't mind, I personally don't. Its way better paint and I don't shoot much of it.
C. Fields need to always have Pump-Only games goin when there are enough people. These are the best games for kids to learn to "play" paintball. These are the games people learn to slide, snap shoot ect when they are new to the game. Pump allows so much more learning, and a slower paced game with more thinking involved. Many younger kids would rather start with less paint flying across the field. During rec ball I prefer the challenge of knowing its skill vs skill, not marker vs marker.
D. Popularize Pump/Stock Class Speed Ball/Air Ball/Hyper Ball
Speed ball is better with a pump IMO. Moreso then woodsball, semi and speed have ruined speedball imo. A game of angles and movement has become a game of spraying paint and "shooting lanes". Its somewhat hard to compete with the guy shooting his Ego11 on PSP ramping, and has ENDLESS paint with my Kaos Pump. Sometimes it's fun to try, depends on how dick mr.Ego wants to be. Lets put it this way, when Mr.Ego decides to shoot suppressing fire at Mr.Stock Class or Mrs. Pump IT SUCKS. WE GET STUCK, UNABLE TO MOVE EVEN TO SNAP, BECAUSE TOO MUCH PAINT IS INCOMING. Look I'm not saying get rid of semi, but focus on pump only games as well.
I know in certain places (CALI) this is more typical then others (THE AMERICAN NORTHEAST).
3. International Paintball World Cup (IPBWC)
I think an independent international paintball world cup (to combine and replace current PSP, EPBP, Asian World Cup, ect) world help the sport a lot. We have a number of smaller "pro" leagues, but aside from PSP being the best known, none stands out as the definitive official league. I think the major companies need to come together, and help found a non-profit PB league funded by the companies. The league is cheap advertising because it could generate most of its own operating cash selling tickets and such, but will need backing. Dye seems well suited to be a major player in something like this, but KEE is the company that stands out.
KEE owns enough of the sport that any growth for the sport can almost literally be seen as growth for KEE. KEE might be the one company who sees a large enough potential profit in rebuilding the pro-paintball world to attack PSP. I think each company should sponser one major competition within the leadup to a world cup (example, Dye pro-Tour, Empire's Gladiatorial Games, GOG em!, ext.)
There would be two leagues, IPB Speedball, and IPB Woodsball. Within each league would be three sections, Open Class, Open Class Pump, and Stock Class. In each section would be three divisions, Professional, Tournament, and Competition (Professional amateur). The lowest division is pay to play with cash prices for podium spots. Unlimited entry, round robin style single eliminations for losing teams. Those who win in any division get a bid to go up a division, any team with three bids before the world cup can move up the next year.
Speedball would include all styles of speedball (hyperball, airball, SC village style maps) as well as all team sizes (from 3 - 7 man toureys). Each tourney may have its own rules about team size and playing fields. No ramping, 14BPS cap on all markers. The game needs to be about skill and not at all about the speed of the marker a sponsor gives a team. Teams need to have a strong enough roster to field at least 7 players at times.
Woodsball would be the same basic idea, but with a diverse group of crazy woods fields world wide. Allowing things like first strikes would be a good idea. Play switch side objective based games (attack/defend, but both teams play both sides and there are ways to score points in game).
I'm just giving a rough sketch of a new PB league. The most important aspect for me is running semi, pump, and stock together. Letting people see the options and how similar they are. Letting people see the benefits of each. I think a lot of new players think they would be limiting themselves with a pump. I think watching how much more strategy and movement (and communication, and ticky things) go into stock class play (when played right). Players are more about to run around as there are not hails of paintballs flying overhead at all times. Stock class is more fun to watch as one can actally follow the action.
Whatchall think? Posted here because my vision of PBs future is pump/stock class, and PBnation would hate that haha!