Dec 272012

Paintball has been around what now, thirty some odd years. In the early days fewer manufacturers existed as it was essentially National Survival Games that steered the ship. National Survival Games under the direction of Bob Gurnsey also weathered the storm as far as dealing with mass lawsuits and via these actions saw paintball persevere and continue to exist to this day.

In a recent video interview with Bob it was mentioned that paintball on the whole has missed numerous marketing opportunities. Bob cited one of his personal favorite marketing initiatives while racing cars at the Toronto Indy. Basically he raced a 140mph vehicle and turned it into a “Play Paintball” car, a speeding bill board. Further still he invited all the competitive manufacturers including Tippmann and Brass Eagle to name only a couple and had them participate in allowing those in attendance at a big race to fire a paintball marker in a controlled tent … the plan reached anywhere from 20K to 100k people. Thinking outside the box marketing, an awesome way of reaching out and introducing people to paintball.

The point being is that the initiative was one of cooperation between manufacturers to bring paintball to the attention of the masses and see it thrive, another effort to see to the longevity of the game. It worked, paintball at that time flourished as many picked up a paintball marker, Gurnsey and others succeeded in popularizing the game through “cooperation”

So on to the main basis and inspiration for this article. In our video interview with Bob he mentioned a distinct need to organize from the players right on up to the manufacturer level.  The necessity for all parties to set aside their differences and look to the formation of “associations” with active participants helping to make decisions that only benefit the game. Baseball …. Soccer, even Hockey all have player and industry associations, why not paintball? …

An excerpt from a soon to be published article is a great case in point as follows. “To start, the martial arts world some 20 to 30 years ago was large but disorganized and starting to fracture. It got into the Olympics. There used to be many tournaments, however due to in-fighting, lack of unity and consistency, the tournaments started to become fewer and fewer. ATA came in and created an association with fairly strict rules that it took to get out of this. Today it has hundreds of thousands of members around the world, and provides a very specific marketing plan to all its member schools and hosts many successful tournaments. Even schools that did not join the association borrow a lot from what they see.” Kelly Wical

Unfortunately for all of us, none seem to get along long enough to hammer out a single thing. Field owners schedule games the same day as competing fields. Most industry are cutthroat and are always looking for one upmanship  and a way to increase market share over the competition.

Long have I called on fields to work cooperatively, I am quite sure I could take Ontario, Canada as a good example where field operators do look at calendars and some try to avoid scheduling games where competing fields have scheduled an event, but not all the time. If we had field and player associations we could avoid some of these issues and why not create little leagues all the way up to the pro level , I am talking Scenario as much as Speedball …. I am addressing “Paintball”

I do believe in the possibilities and challenge the powers that be in industry, distribution and fields as much as the people that play the game. As Bob put it, in context people have told him “we tried that and it did not work” … “yes ” said Bob “a lot of people have tried a lot of things that did not work until others made them work”.  Paintball as an activity has seen a decline in recent years,  bottom line it all comes down to marketing. If paintball is down than the overall marketing is flawed. Good marketing programs yield good results. Tippmann dropped a half million dollars on a TV advertising campaign not altogether long ago, Shoreline Paintball spent $$ to create a 6 episode Paintball TV show that aired through Europe. If all the top dogs were to get together and work cohesively as a single entity as opposed to these singular efforts, I strongly believe so much more might be accomplished with the end result being seeing paintball ultimately achieve a “sport” status as opposed to an extreme recreational activity. I am referring to companies such as KEE Action Sports, Valken, Tippmann Sports, G.I. Sportz, Dye and Planet Eclipse to name only a few.

As part of this challenge I will be tagging the big names in the game whom I believe could and should be essential participants in seeing anything like this work. I will implore all of them to communicate, open dialogue and explore the possibilities for they are endless. The end result being taking the game to the next level .  Will they heed the call to cooperate and organize? … never know until you ask I suppose, here’s to hoping that something good comes of this!

Ships will rise with the tide ….

Below is the original video on which this article is based …

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  2 Responses to “Paintball needs to organize!”

  1. Come on everyone, i want to see this sport grow into a sport that it deserves to be. If the company’s that are tagged have read this, then please consider it, start talking, the only way this will grow is if we work together, evidence of this can be seen through so many sports, so lets just add paintball to the list! come on!

  2. From a field operator’s perspective an association is something long overdue. Paintball field owners would be better served to see themselves in the entertainment business. Instead of competing against other fields paintball is actually in competition for the consumer’s entertainment dollar.
    Paintball fields should not be competing against each other but rather competing against movie theaters, mini-putt courses, go-kart tracks, batting cages and splash parks.
    A national certification program for referees, to ensure a consistent paintball experience would be one example of a step in the right direction. Having certified and trained field staff lets customers know that they can expect a great playing experience whenever they play at a field with certified and trained staff.

    Unfortunately paintball fields are for the most part run by entrepreneurs who struggle each year to keep their business going. Outdoor facilities suffer through the winter months, indoor through the summer. The challenge also becomes with hiring and keeping a trained staff. Like many other small businesses focused on customer service, it is hard to recruit, train and maintain staff when your limited profit margins make it difficult pay more than the minimum wage.
    The other challenge is self-destructive business practices like BYOP. It sounds very attractive to the player, but for an owner how can you pay your staff, your rent, and yourself if you let the customer come with their own paint? How long do you think a restaurant or bar could afford to stay open if patrons brought their own meals or drinks?
    As a business we need to charge a fair price and offer an exception facility, exceptional staff and a memorable experience worth paying for.

    Most owner operators have little if any time to champion and lead an initiative to create a field owners association, but if we are to grow it needs to be done.

    Andrew Halstead
    Marketing Manager
    Georgina Paintball & Paintball city

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