Category Archives: Entertainment – Articles

The American Disabilities Act

Here is a link to Title III of the ADA – Places of Public Accommodation Responsibilities Under the ADA – HERE

Here are a few excerpts that may be relevant to the BISM vs Route 40 Paintball case:

Who is Covered by Title III of the ADA?

Public accommodations (i.e., private entities that own, operate, lease, or lease to places of public accommodation),

Commercial facilities, andPrivate entities that offer certain examinations and courses related to educational and occupational certification.

What are places of public accommodation?

Places of public accommodation include over five million private establishments, such as restaurants, hotels, theaters, convention centers, retail stores, shopping centers, dry cleaners, laundromats, pharmacies, doctors’ offices, hospitals, museums, libraries, parks, zoos, amusement parks, private schools, day care centers, health spas, and bowling alleys.

What are commercial facilities?

Commercial facilities are nonresidential facilities, including office buildings, factories, and warehouses, whose operations affect commerce.

Commercial facilities are only required to follow to ADA Accessibility Guidelines on new construction and alterations. Other requirements for public accommodations do not apply to commercial facilities.

(Note:  all highlighting below is by 68Caliber)

Public accommodations must:

Provide goods and services in an integrated setting, unless separate or different measures are necessary to ensure equal opportunity.

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Make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, and procedures that deny equal access to individuals with disabilities, unless doing so would cause a fundamental alteration in the nature of the goods and services provided

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Furnish auxiliary aids, when necessary, to ensure effective communication, unless doing so would cause an undue burden to the business or fundamental alteration in the nature of goods and services.

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Providing Equal Access to Goods and Services
A public accommodation may not use eligibility requirements that exclude or segregate individuals with disabilities–unless the requirements are necessary for the operation of the public accommodation.

Safety requirements may be imposed only if they are necessary for the safe operation of a place of public accommodation. They must be based on actual risks and not on mere speculation, stereotypes, or generalizations about individuals with disabilities.

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Modifications in Policies, Practices, and Procedures

A public accommodation must make reasonable modifications in its policies, practices, and procedures in order to accommodate individuals with disabilities.

A modification is not required if it would “fundamentally alter” the goods, services, or operations of the public accommodation.

And, from another section of the site:

Examples of Undue Burden and Alteration of the Fundamental Nature of a Program

Undue Burden

A resident of Any town, who is deaf, demands an interpreter when he comes in to pay his taxes. The ADA Coordinator determines:

  1. Finding an interpreter without advance notice is an administrative burden and unfeasible since interpreters in the area only schedule appointments in advance.
  2. For a simple transaction such as paying taxes, effective communication can be provided by passing notes back and forth.

Alteration of the Fundamental Nature of a Program

Example: A woman who uses a wheelchair has requested that Anytown alter the incline on one of the trails that is part of the City’s Park and Recreation Program. The trail is designed for use by mountain bikes. The Director of the Parks and Recreation Program and ADA Coordinator conclude:

Paving the trail would alter the fundamental nature of the program, which is to provide a rugged inclined terrain for mountain biking.

Note: If a wheelchair user takes part in this type of recreation through the use of a special bike or wheelchair, then he or she should be allowed

A NOTE ON THE ABOVE FROM 68CALIBER

Cases like the present one tend to raise awareness.  They also tend to draw similar cases in other locations (especially if a suit is successful, which is not at all close to being determined regarding the present action).  68Calibers knowledge of and experience with paintball facilities across the globe suggests that owners and managers may seriously benefit from familiarizing themselves with the ADA and any requirements that may apply to their own facility.  It might even be a smart idea to locate the local ADA Coordinator and have them review your facility, with an eye towards implementing any reasonable modifications that are suggested.

FINAL CAVEAT FROM 68CALIBER

It is 68Caliber’s belief that anyone and everyone at or above the legal age and with the necessary desire be allowed to play paintball.  Accommodations – within reason – should be made for those players with disabilities (a practice we know has been in place within the paintball community virtually since its inception.  We know this as fact, having helped carry a wheelchair bound player out into the woods in 1985).  Such accessibility and accommodation should continue.

West Meets East: Training the Lost Boys in Malaysia

by TJ Evans, Team Assault

My name is TJ Evans and I’ve played tournament paintball since 2005. I learned how to play by some of the best players in the world during their time. Tommy and Richy Maliszewski of team Image, one of the most prestigious teams in the history of the sport. Together they taught me how to play like a true stunter at a young age.

Since then I’ve played for many different teams climbing the rankings of the sport. I now play play in PSP tournaments at the Division 1 level. This season I played for team Assault, previously a division 3 team. This year their goal was to be a top contender in Division 1. With myself along with a few other ballers from team Arsenal Predators we were able to help lead the team to a 3rd and 4th place finish in 2 of 3 events in the team’s first year in Division 1.

I was chosen to play in the World Cup Asia event in Langkawi, Malaysia along with David Weinraub of team New Jersey Jesters. Our job was to teach a division 3 team, Lost Boys, how to compete at a top level in their part of the world. I used this experience as a serious way to prove my skill set and help promote the sport on the other side of the planet.

Team Lost Boys had only one year experience in Division 3 and previously played Division 4 with mechanical guns rather than electronic markers. We taught the team a lot about tournament paintball and gave them tips on how to have an edge on other teams in which they are competing against. We showed them things like how to walk a field, treat their paint, hold lanes, wrap a bunker correctly, use their less dominant hand, load while shooting, maintain composure in the pits and win tournament matches.

This team has a lot of heart and they taught me how to enjoy paintball even if you don’t make sunday. We went 2-2-1 in the prelims and missed sunday by 1 point to a team that we had beaten in the prelims, Poison Ivy. Lost Boys tied against team Reaper, a favorite to win the entire event, in a hard fought battle with points teetering to each side. This came as a huge shock to all of whom was there and a great accolade to the team’s success.

I gained many new friends while on my trip to Malaysia and I got to see how people live there and what they do for fun. I did not expect that fun to be spending time on a huge yacht traveling around the island while having drinks with some of the coolest people I have ever met!

I have much respect for the Lost Boys and what they stand for. I can only hope they take what David and I have taught them and practice hard in order to one day become a top level Division 1 team in Asia.

Empire Partners with ProPaintballer for Paintball 101 Video Series

In our pursuit to continue to grow the sport of paintball, we have collaborated with Justin Mason from Propaintball.com to create a 3-part educational paintball video series to help new players understand the basics of the sport, what to expect while playing, and how to play safely.  Below you will find video links that you should use when sharing these new videos with our paintball community.

For more Paintball Rookie 101 information, visit our website at:  http://www.empirepaintball.com/paintball-101-v2/

To watch the video series visit: http://www.empirepaintball.com/paintball-basics-video-channel/. Please use this link when posting on your website.

TJ Evans’ Trip Report for World Cup Asia, 2011

TJ Evans (Team Assault) won a trip to Malaysia courtesy of the World Cup Asia promotional team.  Allan Phang put TJ in touch with 68Caliber (we were offered a trip as well but sadly schedules didn’t coordinate) and he offers his impressions of the experience here.

World Cup Asia 2011

by TJ Evans

Let me start by saying, this trip was an experience of a lifetime. I was able to sight see, meet new people, play paintball and learn about culture in Asia.

 

The first night I was in Langkawi there was an opening ceremony for the event which was a bit unusual for me since we don’t have anything like that here in the states. The king was present with the royal family to help kick things off for the players coaches and event coordinators. It was great to see government getting involved in paintball and promoting the sport for more players to become interested and for events to become larger and more popular. I was astonished by the fact that royalty supports our sport in other parts of the world and made me realize how we could use the support from local government in tournaments in the US.

 

David and I were both put on the roster of the Tune Talk Lost Boys in Division 1. I didn’t know what to expect with these guys in regards to how long they have played, their positions on the field, how well I would be able to communicate ideas and strategy to them before and during play. Turns out, these were the coolest bunch of guys I think I could have ever been paired with for the tournament. They were all openly willing to learn from us and adapt to how paintball is played at a higher level. The team had previously only played at the division 3 level last year with not too much experience yet. With adding two semi-pro players to their roster they wanted to play at the highest level possible. As a team, we walked the field and learned the angles and plays that we would run to try and insure a few wins. The team went 2-2-1 through the prelims, just barely missing sunday by one point. At first, David and I were both a little let down by the fact we didn’t make sunday but the team was ecstatic at how well we did in their first ever Division 1 tournament which gave us some relief. We found, unlike teams in the US when they don’t make sunday they tend to get mad at each other and support is lost. At this tournament, the teams that were out on Sunday showed to field to help support the teams still playing and to see some great paintball. People there seemed a lot more willing to learn and respect one another for how far they had gotten in the tournament.

 

During my stay, Dave, Meagan and I were able to take a cable car ride to the top of the biggest mountain I had ever seen. Once we got to the top of the mountain we found the highest observing deck had been reserved for us with catered food, drinks and nothing but the best hospitality. On top of this deck, we could see Thailand in the distance and large rowboats in the water down below. The beautiful views I could see from atop there will stay with me for a very long time. We then went down the mountain to the suspended bridge. The bridge was about 1000 ft in the air and was suspended only by one beam that stuck straight out of the mountain side. When we walked on the bridge and the wind blew the bridge swayed a little, which was shocking for some of us!

 

The culture there is very friendly. Not everything is so busy and stressful and it seems to be sometimes here in the US. People there are very courteous and more than willing to help anyone. My team was the most generous group of people I think I have ever been around. After the players party, the team came to David and I and asked us if we would like to take a ride on a yacht and see the sunrise. Of course we didn’t wait a second to say yes and we were on our way. We spent the night with team Lost Boys and the Prince of Malaysia on his yacht circling the island and seeing the most gorgeous views I had ever seen. I had an absolute blast on the ride and highly enjoyed drinking whiskey drinks and Tiger beer with the people on the boat.

 

The culture was a bit different there also. I had to get used to the food as they don’t exactly have american burgers like here. On the other hand, the team took us to a local seafood spot where we ate some amazing crabs, fish, shrimp, and even stingray fresh out of the water and cooked to perfection. I was able to walk down the strip where many tourists go to collect souvenirs from the island and chat with the locals. There are no wifi networks there so for internet use we had to go down the street to a local internet spot where you could rent a computer for real cheap and use the internet from there. That was kind of funny to explain to the team that we could use our phones and get on the internet any where in the US, even while driving! (even though we aren’t supposed to)

 

Overall, the tournament was run smoothly and teams seemed to be having a great time whether they were winning or not doing so well. I was impressed with the level of teams there since i didn;t know what to expect. I would say the higher level Division 1 teams could definitely podium finish in a Division 2 PSP event. Paintball is an up and coming sport in Asia and is growing very quickly. The royal family helps to promote the sport and in just six years they were able to put together one of the biggest tournaments ever seen on that half of the world. I am extremely happy that I got to have this experience and overwhelmed at the support that I received in being there. I can only hope to return to next year’s or a future World Cup Asia event.

From the Valut Episode of Behind the Bunker Features Gun F/X Marker

Joe of From the Vault, a series presenting and discussing retro gear that appears on Social Paintball as part of the Behind the Bunker video magazine, discusses the PMI-III and the modifications that Pro-Team Products/Gun F/X performed in order to create the military training weapon, the CAR 68 – the world’s first simulation weapon based on a paintball gun.

Joe does a pretty good job but isn’t clear on two aspects of the history of this weapon:  first, the official name for the gun is the CAR-68;  second, it was not then, nor ever intended to be a “scenario paintball gun”.

In fact, the CAR-68 was not available to anyone other than military units and police training outfits.  (I worked at Pro-Team/Gun F/X for ten years and personally turned down numerous requests from players who wanted a mil-sim marker.)  The philosophy was pretty straight-forward in this regard;  the weapon was designed for training to be as realistic as the then current technology allowed; at the time no one wanted (well mostly no one) paintball guns to be confused with real weapons AND no one wanted paintball, the game/sport, to be confused with military training.

The gun itself has seen service far and wide, being employed for training by the US Army & Marines, various Seal teams, the CIA & Secret Service, numerous foreign military & police units include countries as wide-ranging as Israel and Latvia;  different incarnations were developed for different training needs and ranged from the weapon Joe displays for force-on-force/CQB training to recoil simulators used in conjunction with laser/Miles gear.

Pro-Team also produced an aftermarket kit for upgrading the paintball versions of the gun (VMX);  the gun itself, though heavy and awkward (13 pounds empty) was, for about a season and a half of tournament play, THE gun;  it was extremely reliable and provided accurate shooting out to the kinds of ranges old pump gun players were used to seeing – something that none of the other semi-autos at the time could deliver.

Watch and enjoy:

From Paintball Wars to Real War

On this Veterans Day, the PennLive newssite (PA) brings us a story about Specialist Jonathan ‘P.R.’ Bigley, who recently joined the reserves and will soon be shipping out on assignment in Afghanistan.

I think the article does a pretty good job of showing all sides of the story and how military service affects everyone – kids who once played paintball and now want to serve their country in an honorable way, Moms who must stay at home and worry, sometimes for years, career soldiers who have to train young recruits and send them off to wars and battles from which they may not return.

it presents the story of all veterans in microcosm.  Give it a read while thinking about our Veterans – and their families – today.

Simple First Aid For Paintballers

by William Garrison

 

Disclaimer: I am not a medic or doctor. I did consult with several medics andEMTtechs while writing this article. In no way does this cover every situation that you may possibly encounter. When in doubt seek medical treatment immediately.

Paintball First Aid

Anyone who has played for any length of time has injured themselves on the field bad enough to draw blood or even take themselves out of the game for the day. Simple injuries can turn into bigger problems later if they are not properly cared for. Other injuries, such as bee stings, can be more serious for some of us than for others. By no means should this article be a replacement for proper medical care. It is simply to provide information for caring for small injuries on scene and possibly keep you playing. For serious and life threatening injuries you should call 911 IMMEDIATELY.  Players who have serious health issues should make sure that their friends and the field staff know about them so that they can better inform the paramedics if they need to. People with diabetes, heart problems, allergies, seizures, and other serious problems should wear a medic alert tag or have something on their person informing medical personnel of their issue.

Cuts and Scrapes

If you play in the woods, or play hard at all, you WILL bleed. Things such as rocks, thorns, sharp sticks, trees, bunkers, concrete walls, etc. can all cause cuts, scrapes, or bruises. Unless you get impaled on something, these usually aren’t serious and can be treated on scene. Now, when I say on scene, I don’t mean heat up an Allen wrench with a lighter and press it to the wound like in Rambo. I mean go back to the dead zone, clean the wound, and bandage it. If you happen to cut yourself on a rusty nail, it may be a little more complicated. If you have not had a tetanus shot or booster in the last ten years then you will need to go get one or risk getting Lockjaw. Lockjaw is a bacterial infection that, if left untreated, can cause severe muscle spasms and, though rare, can be fatal if left untreated.

Bee Stings/Allergic Reactions

The woods are filled with insects. Bees, yellow jackets, spiders, fire ants, ticks, etc. all live in the woods and we can come in contact with them on occasion. Some people, such as myself, have a severe allergy to bee stings (for me its yellow jackets). A good field owner will try to make sure that any reports of any nests are marked and dealt with so that it no longer is a threat to the player, however you can’t catch them all, and players should be aware of what’s around them at all times and look before you go diving into a bunker. An insect sting can cause a small swollen area were the sting occurred, or can also lead to more serious problems such as Anaphylactic Shock. If a player is having any kind of reaction that is causes them to have trouble breathing, turn red, or pass out, call 911 IMMEDIATELY. Try to find out if the person has an epinephrine injector, or epi pen.  If they can, allow them to use it on themselves.

Treatment

To treat most cuts or scrapes, clean the area with an alcohol wipe.  Be sure to clean the wound area thoroughly. Next apply antibiotic ointment to the wound. Be sure to cover the whole injury. Next apply a properly sized band aid to the area. It may be easier to use a larger bandage and wrap it with tape so that it doesn’t get loose when you move and start sweating again. When you get home be sure to clean the injury with hydrogen peroxide and reapply antibiotic ointment and a bandage.  Keeping the injury clean and protected will help prevent infection and speed healing. Tobacco juice works well to relieve the sting from an insect if available.  I recommend that everyone carry a pack of chewing tobacco or tobacco plug for such occasions. For insect stings, tobacco juice works well to relieve the sting if available.  I recommend that everyone carry a pack of chewing tobacco or tobacco plug for such occasions.

More Serious Issues

If you have an allergy, are diabetic, or have some other issue such as a heart problem, be sure to let someone know before you start playing. If you have allergies or are diabetic, your friends should know where you keep your epi pen or your sugar pill. In the event that the worst happens, this information about what the problem may be will help the medics get you the proper care.  For broken bones, concussions, snake bites, or dehydration/ heat exhaustion, then obviously you need to go to the hospital.

Simple Player First Aid Kit

Each player should make a small first aid kit that they can attach to their gear. This should not take up a large amount of room and should be rather small. It should include some of the following:

Band Aids

Antibacterial ointment

Tobacco (pouch or plug)

Alcohol pads or wipes

Small roll of gauze or tape

Small bandage pad

Aspirin or Tylenol

Antidiarrheal tablets

Poison Ivy wipes (baking soda andvinegar work well post game at home)

Snake Bite kit

Tweezers (for pulling splinters and stingers)

 

Information:

http://firstaid.webmd.com/

http://www.ready.gov/america/getakit/firstaidkit.html

http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/news/20110616/little-insects-big-allergic-reactions

http://children.webmd.com/vaccines/understanding-tetanus

War Hounds Rock the 2011 Season!

by Matthew R. Smith

During the October team meeting at The Chuggin’ Rhino, our 2010-11 jersey sponsor, when the question was posed to the team “What went right and what went wrong this year?” it was agreed that nothing went wrong. A year ago, in the same location, most of us were meeting for the first time and I’m sure none of us realized where the season would take us.

After a chilly and fun off-season, January day at PSI’s Frozen Tundra scenario, our 2010-11 season began early with an invitation to participate in the Kill-house tournament held at Hornets Nest paintball in Ancramdale, NY. The War Hounds were able to put in three teams. While we didn’t place we were able to walk away satisfied with our showings, particularly because it was the first time a few of us had ever shot together. Passing through this trial-by-fire at the Kill House we were able to walk away with something far better than a cash prize- we were introduced to Bravo Squad, a team of teenage paintballers from our region. Bravo Squad, impressed by how the War Hounds represented themselves, expressed interest in becoming the “young gunz” team of the War Hounds. Bravo Squad’s players can often be found at War Hounds practices and running with us at scenarios.

Taking to the road, the War Hounds were privileged to play against some of the regions best players at Army of Darkness (Poco Loco/TSSOC), West Point Spring Combat Classic, Boondock Saints (Hornets Nest), and the Global Crisis (PSI) scenarios all while running at least one practice per month and conducting a raffle to help cover our entry cost into the Woodsball World Cup.

June really set the pace for the remainder of the War Hounds season. In May we were invited by Pasadena Paintball Park in Curtis Bay, MD to attend their Guadalcanal Scenario as a third entity. The team was admittedly dubious about such an invite. We wondered why they would want to bring in a team from five hours away; was it political? Did they want to shoot some New Yorkers? We just didn’t know. We mustered ten players, which at that point in the season had been our best turn-out, and drove down to Maryland. I cannot stress how wrong we were to be skeptical. We were met with heartfelt camaraderie and had the opportunity to play some hard-fought paintball against some of the most honest, stand-up players any of us have ever encountered. In the end we didn’t end up playing the third entity but played for the American side. After a rough initial break-out, we regrouped and spent the rest of the day pushing the opposing force around the field only leaving the field when we needed paint.

I can confidently say that we surprised them with the game we brought. Ultimately, we walked away from that event with MoFo and Producers awards. Accomplishing that- playing a field that we’d never been to before, against home teams and walking away with awards really brought the War Hounds team together, gave us a huge boost in confidence and set the pace for the rest of our season. Pasadena Paintball Park and Bob Crandall took a chance on us and we took the chance on them. I think we both came out better for it. To quote Bob in a recent post on the War Hounds Facebook page

hey how are you guys this is big bob from Pasadena Paintball Park. We have been thinking alot about all of our games this year and the teams we had I thought I would drop a line see what’ happening and just tell you guys thanks again for coming down to school us in paint ball we really enjoyed your team you play hard and honest much respect to you . Maybe after january we can talk about coimng north and retuning that can of whoop ass you left down here. till then guys stay cool shoot to thrill

Revitalized, while attending ION, Risk-it-all, and the Black Market War scenarios, the War Hounds started working toward the Woodsball World Cup. Things really started to come together for us and in the end it paid off. The War Hounds were able to take home first in the amateur division! Please read the first paragraph again; Yes a bunch of guys, most of who had only been playing together for nine months, won.

We’re not done yet this year either. We will be attending the West Point Fall Combat Classic in October and the PSI Customer Appreciation game in November. We’d like to send a very sincere thank you to all of our sponsors who helped make this an amazing season: Paintball Sports, Inc (2010, 2011)., ZUKOdesigns (2010, 2011), 68Caliber.com (2010, 2011), The Chuggin’ Rhino (2011), Ray’s Paintball (2011), and Ninja Paintball (2011). We hope that you will choose to continue to allow us to represent you next season and would be grateful for the opportunity to represent others.

Look for big things from the War Hounds next year: a clinic with Mr. U himself; a bigger, better raffle; a charity game; the War Hounds defending their WWC title in the HCPL; getting out to new fields and events further from home and everything else we can throw at you!

You can visit the War Hounds and keep up with them daily on their Facebook page – War Hounds Paintball

The Most Important Event in Paintball History

by Nathan Greenman

The word “History” has several definitions.  The one that best fits this discussion is: “A methodical record of important events that concerns a community”.  So the question is…what do YOU think is the most important event that concerns the paintball community?

A well informed scenario player may mention the first known scenario game organized by Wayne Dollack back in 1985. A well informed tournament player may bring up the first ever speedball game played at SC Village in 1989. A pro or veteran tournament player might reminisce about the formation of the NPPL in 1992. Some may even bring up the first ESPN airing of a paintball event in 1994. Some younger players may prefer to discuss the first X-ball game held by the NXL in 2003. I grant you that these are important events; however, they are not the most important events….not by a long shot.

If you talk to an industry insider you will likely hear about historical companies that were “first” in specific product introductions.  Companies like Gramps and Grizzly that introduced the first constant air tank in 1985, or JT and Scott that released goggles made specifically for paintball in 1987. You may even hear about how Bud Orr….wait for it….introduced the “45 round” Ammo box in 1988. That‘s not what you thought I was going to say about Bud was it?  Other key “first” companies that might get discussed could be the first nitrogen (compressed air) system introduced in 1991 by…wait for it….Tom Kaye….again….not what you thought I was going to say about Tom either was it?

There are hundreds if not thousands of important events in our history that could be mentioned and although they are surely important to large segments of the community there is no single event more important than the first ever organized paintball game played in 1981 by Charles Gaines, Bob Gurnsey and Hayes Noel. None of the other events that followed would have happened if this first game were not played. This first game was the “birth” of paintball and THE most important event for all in the community from recball beginner to scenario to tournament players and especially to industry insiders and manufacturers.

This “event” would NOT have been possible without a paintball gun and the gun used for the “birthgame” of paintball was the Daisy Splotchmarker invented by James C. Hale from Pea Ridge Arkansas.  The patent (#3,788,298) was filed on June 19, 1972 and granted on January 29, 1974. I mention this detail because most refer to this gun as the Nelspot which is the name/brand adopted by paintball enthusiasts and product distributors AFTER the first game, however, this gun was introduced to the forest and cattle industry by Daisy under the name Splotchmarker.

If you agree with me in that this was the single most important event in the history of paintball and you want a piece of this history I have a deal for you! I worked for Brass Eagle/Daisy for over a decade and somewhere along the way I acquired several dozen patent prints that were individually signed by James C Hale. These prints were going to be tossed in a dumpster and I wisely saved them from this awful fate.  If you want one for your office, paintball store or just to hang in your bedroom feel free to contact me at nathan.greenman@yahoo.com  I am only asking $100 each.

 

Nathan V Greenman bio:

I was drawn into the paintball world in 1992 when I played my first game at Paintball Atlanta. I quickly became addicted and started playing tournaments mostly MSPA all over the southeast with my team called “The Nobody’s”.  In an effort to gain sponsors I started writing articles for various magazines in exchange for team advertisement. I was completely obsessed by the sport (Just ask my first ex-wife) and quickly started playing national events like NPPL, APL and Amateur Open.  In 1997 I was offered a job at Brass Eagle and so I moved to Arkansas where I could feed my addiction 24/7….er…I mean…become a sales person for Brass Eagle. I was also the captain of the factory team the Brass Eagle All Stars. I also captained the VL All Stars, JT All Stars and (one of my favorite experiences of all time) the JT All Stars Europe team! When Brass Eagle acquired JT (they had a full sales team) I moved to marketing where I managed Field Op’s and team sponsorships. Eventually I progressed to Product and Brand Management. I was eventually “let go” from JT Sports in 2008 during one of many waves of layoffs as the company tried in vain to survive the downturn in the economy.

An Ode To J&J Barrels

Yes, J&J Performance is an advertiser on the site (a loyal, trusted and true advertiser), but that has nothing to do with this article. You’re reading this because I’ve been a fan and user of J&J Barrels since, oh, 1990 or thereabouts.

Let me tell you a little bit about that relationship.

A few years before this all began my team and I had scored a ‘test team’ sponsorship with Pro-Team/Armson barrels.  We got barrels in, tried them out on the field of competition and then reported our findings back – findings that led to many new Armson barrel products.

We loved those barrels (still do) – particularly at the time when they turned out a ‘shorty’ Automag barrel for us – a barrel that made such a huge bark that we chased players across the field shooting blanks.  No one wanted to get hit with what they imagined was a gun shooting in excess of 500 fps.

We were impressed with our ability to shoot the barrel clean (shooting through breaks) and the accuracy.

Along about 1990 I was without a team and pretty much writing articles for every paintball publication under the sun.  I was on a mission to acquire and test as many pieces of paintball equipment as I could get my hands on.

Which meant that I attended a lot of events in my quest for copy.

My requesting product for test became such a regular thing that I even had a bunch of t-shirts made up that said “Be Nice To Me Or I Will Write About You” (which was a serious threat as my ‘acid tongue’ had by this time become legendary).

I got stuff from PMI, from ZAP, from National Paintball Supply (BOTH NPSs), from Smart Parts and a whole host of other companies that have come and gone and most of you have never even heard of.

But one nut I couldn’t crack was J&J.  Joe West – ‘Westie’ as we’ve come to call him.

Westie was one tough cookie – but I strongly suspect that his refusal was based far more on confidence than on any desire to simply frustrate me.  (Well, actually, Joe has a pretty good sense of humor and frustrating me was right up his funny-bone alley.)

He seemed to be engaged in some kind of reverse guerilla marketing;  maybe if his was the only barrel I didn’t have, the thinking seems to go, it would acquire some kind of special significance.

So there I was at the first International Amateur Open in sunny Cranberry PA (the up-coming site of this year’s Paintball Festival), having a grand old time and spending most of it parked smack dab in front of the J&J Performance booth, deliberately blocking paying customers.

(Which you should never do of course.  I can be excused a bit because in this special case, I was merely ratcheting up the contest.)

I pointed out the shirt.  For three days I pointedly displayed that shirt (three different colors too!)  Joe was like a rock.  He smiled.  He wisecracked.  We discussed business and teams and people.

But no barrel.

On the last day of the event I’d pretty much resigned myself to going home empty handed.  I’d already checked out of my hotel and I asked Joe if I could stash my gear behind his booth.  No problem, of course.  (It was my last ditch effort;  with the gear there, I’d be seeing him at least one last time.)

I started making the rounds, following up on stories, chit-chatting, checking the scoreboard, when Joe came pounding up to me.

“Do you have a gun in your gear?” he asked me, nearly breathless from running back from the playing fields.  He’d been asked to sub in some semi-final games.

“Sure.”

“Can I borrow it?”

“Sure. But it’s going to cost you.”

Big grin. “What do you want?”

“I want that barrel I’ve been begging after.”

Ever the contrarian, Joe said “We’ll see.”

“Yes we will.”

So Joe goes and plays, using all of my gear, and he has a great time and as we’re packing up he hands me a barrel.

THE barrel.

A ten inch, .689 diameter, internally straight-rifled, all brass, Automag barrel.

Which is a good thing because I have an Automag.  (Joe even scared up some nubbins for me.)

At the time, brass was the rage.  It was, in fact, the original barrel material.  It doesn’t rust, it’s pretty easy to work with and it’s ‘ductile’, which, for our purposes,  basically means that it expands and contracts with changes in temperature (without ill effect).

A lot of us believed that this ductility helped our accuracy.  When it’s cold, paintballs shrink.  So did our barrel.  When it’s hot, paintballs expand.  So did our barrel.

To this day I don’t think anyone has tested this rigorously. (Let me know if they have.)

Anyway.  Suffice to say that brass barrels, even though they were fairly heavy, were the shiznitz of the barrel world.  And of course, Joe made the best ones out there.

Now straight rifling is a different matter.  I was very familiar with spiral rifling (which is what the Armson’s had back then and still do, along with straight).  We all knew internal rifling in paintball barrels didn’t spin the ball for stability.  We figured that air channels inside the barrel – gas going around the ball was controlled as opposed to chaotic – was what gave them their accuracy.

But straight rifling in the J&J’s case meant four grooves only, arranged in a cross or ‘X’ pattern.

Perhaps it did the same thing as spiral rifling.  We would soon see.

The following week I was able to conduct a torture test.  My practice field had acquired the entire output of paintballs from a company that was merely experimenting with the possibility of manufacturing and decided not to.  The field ended up with a lot of cheap paint.

And I mean CHEAP paint.  We called it Brand X, the field sold it at a steep discount and we were all happy when we got three or four shots out of the gun without breaking one.  (Hitting something?  Right.)

I tuned up my Automag, put the J&J in,  stepped out onto the field and shot ropes.

Laser beams. Darts. One shot – one kills.  With amazingly crappy paint.

‘Wow’, I said to me. “Wow”, I said out loud to my teammates. “Check this out”.

And they did.

They shot darts and laser beams and….

It shot crappy paint accurately.  It shot decent paint way accurately. It shot really good paint way, way, way accurately.

A little while later I was playing in the second-ever NPPL tournament near Boston with a pick up team.  By that time I had learned to trust my little ten inch, .689 id, internally rifled, all brass, J&J Performance barrel.

In fact, that barrel had turned my Automag into what I referred to as a ‘fire and forget’ weapon.

Here’s what I mean.  Standing still or on a full tilt boogie, if I was on a target within 75 feet, when I pulled the trigger I didn’t even have to look to see if I’d gotten a hit.  Not having to confirm the hit made me all that much faster, and, during the tournament, helped us win a game.

Because of fire-and-forget, I was able to run through three opponents, taking out all three with one-shots, and doing that allowed me to take out the other two follow-on players.

Now I’m sure that being alone on one whole side of the field during a major tournament game had a little something to do with that special adrenaline-zen you’re sometimes gifted with that allows you to perform miracles, but I’m also pretty sure that that barrel had at least a little something to do with it too.

Seven years later I took it with me to Thailand.

Now, by this point, barrels had really arrived at the peak of their development: we had aluminum and stainless steel and titanium and cermaic lined and glass lined and internal rifling and external rifling and porting and whatever.

Most people playing the game had never seen a brass barrel and brass, when you don’t polish it, gets this really nasty greenish patina all over it. (Oxidation.)  Since I never polished it (no one wants a gleaming reflector in the woods), it looked way gnarly and I was always getting asked “What the heck is that thing!?”.

Which is a nice way of saying the words that were actually used.  And my answer was always the same: Here. Shoot it.

And their response was always. “Wow.”

Which is a nice way of saying what they really said in approval.

So out at the Thailand tournament (the first one ever, hosted by good friend Dan Colby, then of Air America) we’ve got teams from the US and the UK and France and Russia of all places – not to mention the Thai teams – and here I am at the target range letting all these guys shoot my gun at tennis balls hanging from strings.

See, there were 6 of them, I’d say at about 60 feet from the firing line, and when I was testing my gun I walked that line of tennis balls with single shots several times in a row, and one of the Ironmen players there said like “Wow, let me try”, and he did the same thing and then ran off to tell his buddies and one of the Brits stepped in and took his turn and he said “Wow” and talked it up with his mates and….

Just about a decade after that I was coaching a team down in Florida and they got caught short a player and I had to step in. I decided I was going to use the ‘Mag, and I hooked up the ten inch, 689 id, straight-rifled, all brass, J&J Performance barrel, and the kids I was coaching all said “OMG, you’re not going to use THAT thing are ya?” and I said “Yes, I am and if you know what’s good for you, you’ll do your job and it won’t be an issue.” and they all mumbled and kicked the dirt and made faces at me.

We won that game, but only after a three-on-one that I won.  (Apparently my guys didn’t listen to me.) Yep. Fire-and-forget.

I STILL have that barrel.  (I still have my Armson Shorty too!)

I’ve also acquired J&J’s barrel kit – The Edge, and even though it’s aluminum, it obviously shares the same genes.  Somewhere down inside there where you can’t see, that barrel kit’s great-great-great-great-great granddad was a

ten inch, 689 id, internally straight rifled, all brass, J&J Performance barrel.

Thanks Joe!

Hartford Courant Giving Airsoft Some Love

The Hartford Courant (CT) has an excellent piece this morning describing an airsoft game, a field and the players. You can read the full piece HERE

Highlights include these interesting tidbits:

In recent years, Airsoft has emerged as a strong rival to paintball, a similar game that uses guns firing paint capsules instead of plastic pellets. Fields and competitive teams can be found across the country, with large events drawing hundreds of players.

Airsoft guns are frequently in the news, but not for their intended use. Several incidents involving Airsoft guns have been reported in recent weeks, including one in Oxford where four teens allegedly shot the home of an off-duty police officer and were subsequently arrested and charged with weapons violations.

The most powerful guns, which can shoot upwards of 500 feet per second, have been reported to imbed pellets under the skin at close range. However, at most fields, including Ground Zero Airsoft, guns aren’t allowed that shoot more than 400 feet per second.

Even at that speed, the pellets can still draw flecks of blood, as Thomas Goad of Waterbury explained. Moments before he had taken a round to the cheek in an incident described as “friendly fire.” The hit raised a purple welt that oozed red.

So much that is so familiar…it reads like something out of early 90’s coverage of paintball, doesn’t it?

The PAINTBALL FESTIVAL REPORT

(This is going to be a long one folks, so grab a cuppa, light up whatever, get comfy and enjoy my grandiloquent grandiosity!)

I have a one car family and as a result of personal schedules and other whatnots, Karen was unable to attend.  Husbands will appreciate that this meant that the car remained at home, which of necessity meant that I ended up taking buses, trains and automobiles on a ten+ hour journey from my home adjacent to paintball’s birthplace in New Hampshire out to another historical venue – Three Rivers Survival Game field, hard on the shoulders of Pittsburgh, PA.

I hooked up with Kevin Donaldson and Chris ‘Doobie’ Dubois of the Master Blasters for the drive out;  fortunately they actually picked me up at the train station in Jersey that they’d told me to get off at – (hey, with those guys you’re always wondering….).  The Blasters were entering two teams into Tommy Cole’s Ultimate Woodsball League event and, among many other duties, I was along to take pictures of my team in action.

The drive out was long and very negatively affected by construction on Route 80 (America’s Longest Hiway);  instead of arriving late Thursday evening or early-early-early Friday morning, we didn’t get out to the site of the Business Conference until around noon Friday.

On the other hand, it did give Doobie, Donaldson and Davidson plenty of time to formulate the ultimate take-over of the industry, which plan has now been fine-tuned to a razor’s edge, dotted and crossed and detailed to the nth degree.  Industry Peeps – we’ll be talkin to ya.

After checking in we all put in an appearance at the Business Conference where Gio of SC Village (and other killer paintball venues), Debra Dion, host of the event and Tom Cole (UWL, formerly sales for Kingman and now ‘something-something’  for PALCO, the airsoft manufacturer and distributor) were laying out the future regarding paintball and airsoft.

Which prompts me to suggest that you take a break from the narrative at this point and skip on over to some words on the  airsoft-paintball thing, of which I have been very critical over the past several months.  If you care to read about it, check out this piece, then come on back for the rest of the low-down.

To continue with the festival reportage –

Rather than jumping into the meeting and disrupting the proceedings, we remained in the lobby area outside the meeting rooms and, after waving at Deb & Tom through the door, we all sat back and ambushed folks who were taking a bathroom break.  (Hint:  talk to them AFTER they’ve gone to the toitie, not before).  Utilizing this method, we were privileged to say hello to and chat up such attending luminaries as John Dresser of PBN, John Amodea of Paintball X3, his wife Brenda, Jessica Sparks, Josh Silverman & Jennifer, Jim Lively, Tom Kaye and of course, the guest of honor, Bob Gurnsey.

‘Gurns’ is looking pretty good, was thrilled to be at the event and was eating up a lot of heart-felt attention from everyone.  A visit by one of the founder’s of our sport (especially one who is having health issues) really gave the industry a chance to show what it’s all about and they did not disappoint.  It is moments like this that make me proud to say I’m a part of it all.

The Blaster’s got the call they’d been waiting for while we were all jawing in the lobby, the call from Mark Sutton that our Nelson Paint (bright pink Hemorrhage) had arrived, so we exchanged more hugs and kisses and bade our farewells, making our collective way over to the hotel loading dock to transfer the paint.  Most of us were meeting Mark, the (relatively new) Nelson rep and his assistant – the brainy – and lovely – Christina – for the first time.

And now a moment from our sponsors.

Nelson totally supported the team this past weekend.  The paint performed marvelously all weekend long despite some of the worst weather conditions you can subject paintballs to – hot and moistily, dampily, sweatily HUMID.  Mark and Christina were on a sharp learning curve as the team introduced them both to just about everyone in the industry (their heads must still be spinning), competition paintball, the UWL in particular and, perhaps most difficult of all to wrap your head around, the Master Blasters way of life.

And now a moment from one of our other sponsors.

Chris Cole and Kevin Hefferle were eager to see the results of the very hard work they’ve been putting in on the new Zodiac Marker, as the Blaster teams (two, one in the Open division and another in the Tactical division) took the field armed with Zs.

I don’t know what their reaction was but mine was ‘whoa!’  What. A. Gun!

Frequently when we talk about how a paintball gun shoots we say things like ‘shootijng darts’, ‘on a rope’, ‘laser beams’.  Folks, the term to describe how the Zodiacs shoot has not yet been invented.  When some genius comes up with a phrase that accurately describes the awesome accuracy (aided and abbeted by the Nelson paint) these guns are capable of, I’ll edit this piece to include it here.  Until then, suffice to say be very careful about testing one out because you’ll have no choice but to buy one.  (Check out this video of the gun shooting by PaintballDelivery.com

And finally, the last word from yet another sponsor.

Allen Paintball has some awesome gear, headlined by the new Paintball Jerry Can (no, it’s not named for that guy living in New York), which they introduced this weekend.  It’s a paintball caddy and pod-filler, shaped like a WWII ‘jerry’ (gasoline) can.  They’re shipping now with pods and a pod holder, but beyond serving as a filler, they’re going to be doing a lot of duty as paintball game prop.  I also fell in love with their mini-pods (designed to fit into an M16 ammo clip pouch) and their new Barrel Blockers.

And Valken.  How can I not mention Valken!?  Probably because Valken gear is EVERYWHERE. And it is ALL great.  Pants.  Jerseys. Packs, and more.  The guys are covered in it and under it (thanks for the tent!)  Truly great gear that the team could not have done without.  (Now I’ll go whap myself upside the head a few times.  All that time spent talking to Carmen ‘the angry’ Borgia.  I’m watching for his car out the window now….)

And now back to our show.

The remainder of Friday was spent field walking the UWL, hobnobbing with conference refugees and getting settled into the hotel.

Saturday morning saw the usual tournament grind – up too early, breakfast too rushed, mad scramble for gear and all the rest – tempered by the fact that the Blasters teams weren’t scheduled for early games.  The first game though (tactical) did give us a foretaste of things to come as the game ended with the Blasters believing that they’d lost on points (not a great way to start an event), only to find out about a half hour later that they’d WON on points.  This kind of thing would come to a head at the end of regular play when it resulted that there was a three-way tie for who would advance to the finals, a decision that the Blasters won, but only on technicalities.  The Misfit Militia was right in there and lost on the decision.  (Don’t read that as a critique of the UWL – tie-breaking rules are well published by the league, it was just that this was, due to scheduling and game results, an unusual and awkward situation.  What it really means is that three teams played equally well and played an event they can be proud of.)

Saturday also saw the kick-off of Mission Master’s Guns-n-Gold scenario game, headlined by that red-headed submariner, Greg Hastings. When first encountered, Greg was bouncing all over the festival grounds like some insane rubber ball that someone had painted a huge, toothy grin on.  He was having a blast and so were the rest of the game’s players.  (Sunday saw this entire group, some two hundred strong, bow their heads for a moment of silence for the soldiers lost in the weekends downing of a helicopter in Afghanistan.)  Scenario attendees outnumbered the tournament players on this occasion, so give them their props.

I spent most of the day shuttling between the UWL event (where I was hustled onto the field during play to take pictures of THE LEADING LADY OF PAINTBALL – Jessica Sparks – playing with the Failure to Flatline team.  Jess has been playing since, oh, god invented paintballs I think, and she was showing fine form this past weekend, working the bushes with her trusty CCI Phantom)  The attending teams at the event were:

Master Blasters (Tactical)
Master Blasters (Open)
Misfit Militia
Reservoir Dawgs
Failure to Flatline
Henchmen (Chuck Hendsch’s team with a lot of former AA players)
P4 Posse
Gothic Serpent
No Clue

I didn’t get the final results (available or should be on the UWL Site), other than being selfishly concerned with where the Blasters finished – 2nd in the Tactical division and 3rd in the Open. (It coulda, shoulda, woulda been 1st and 1st, but I will admit to a little bias in that regard.)

I will say that Tom Cole has become my favorite promoter (sorry Deb!);  he’s been around so long, dealt with so many issues as a team captain and league organizer over the years that his methods of dealing with things just make me fall over and laugh.  His responses to questions are so fraught with double meanings, shared history and just plain old ‘can you believe I’m hearing this argument from the other side’ irony that it’s an enormously fun show to watch him operate.   I expect that YMMV – unless you too have spent 25 years knocking around the paintball tournament scene (in which case you’ll get the joke).

Over on the trade show side of things (up and down a VERY annoying hill that I’d forgotten all about over the past seven years or so – the last time I was out at Three Rivers) we had – Allen Paintball, displaying their aforementioned latest, Valken (who I think provided pop-up tents for nearly every single team playing the UWL), Tippmann with a very cool trailer and their usual arrary of indestructible guns, Empire Paintball showing off their demo deal concept, AKA LMP, PALCO, Cool Stuff by L&M and The Paintball University – of which I am proud to say I have now joined as a ‘kee contributor’.

I spent quite  bit of time with Bambi Jo Bullard of PBU (Coastal Paintball, ACTS tournament series), talking about this and that but of course also going through the university’s curricula to see where I might fit in.

Field and store owners will be able to obtain an encyclopedia of information, best practices and inside tips from some of the best and most experienced people in the biz from PBU and I’m looking forward to helping out where I can.

It’s been several hours in the writing here and I’ve yet to get any pictures up, not to mention the fact that I’ve not begun to talk about things like the Friday Night Cocktail hour (always a highlight), info on other products, the other people I hooked up with (howdy again to Dre Wolf of drewolf’s vido channel!) and a whole host of stuff that I remembered to not forget to remember, so I’m going to cut this off here and promise that I’ll get more up on the site tomorrow.  (Gotta do the dishes now – they’ve been waiting since Thursday!  Don’t it suck when mundanity interferes with all this paintball stuff!?!)

Well – almost done for now.  I need to include two other things of great import to me and hopefully of some little import to you all:

First – I’m very pleased to announce that Jim Lively and Tom Kaye have both stepped up to the plate with donations to the Historic Marker Project (a roadside marker commemorating the location of the first paintball game) and several others have promised support but need to get official permission from their respective companies.  Response to requests for donations at the event was overwhelmingly positive.

If you would like to do the same (no amount is too big or too small), here is how it is being handled at the moment:  since I do not yet have finals costs from the state, simply let me know (email facebook, etc) that you would be interested in supporting the project.  When I have all of the details nailed down, I’ll get back in touch, fill you in and we’ll proceed from there.  (Full accounting and credit to donors will be made via the website.)

The other thing is that I now feel comfortable in announcing a new book that will be forthcoming from yours truly.  The book is going to be called –

THE GREATEST PAINTBALL STORIES EVER TOLD

and I’ve lined up a fantastic group of paintballers from all walks of the industry for this.  They’ll each be contributing a GREATEST story about the game and, based on the response and the reception, it’s going to be a hoot!  Issued as an e-book (maybe print in the future), the book will contain multiple stories from all walks of paintball, each story relating an interesting situation and the lesson that it taught.  We’ll be seeing tales from people like Tom Kaye, Bambi Jo Bullard, Jim Lively, Wayne Monteleone, Jessica Sparks, Josh Silverman, Kevin Donaldson and many more.

Once the book is out, there will be a website for others to share their stories and each month I’ll be picking the ‘best’ story;  the author of that story will get a free copy of the book and their story will be included in a future volume of THE GREATEST PAINTBALL STORIES EVER TOLD!

More & pics tomorrow folks!

Some Thoughts On Field Operations

What with the field conference coming up soon (Paintball Festival, Aug 5-7), I thought I’d offer you all a few observations, based on the reports of 68Caliber’s Secret Paintball Shoppers, that have been coming in over the past 6 weeks or so.

From what I am hearing these days attendance is decent to better than decent (it could always be better, yes) – and most field owners are still not even beginning to approach efficiencies in their market and seem to be failing at increasing their business.

What are you all doing wrong?  Number 1 – CUSTOMER SERVICE.

Let me explain why running a paintball field is just like running a restaurant:

When you go to a restaurant, the ONLY things you are paying for are convenience and SERVICE.  No one – no one! – HAS to eat at a restaurant.  People only do so when they have made the calculation that paying for something they normally get for free (well, free if your mom makes dinner, but it did cost her for the raw materials) is worth doing so for whatever reason – time, fun, experience, whatever.  (Cooking for yourself costs about one quarter of what it does to microwave processed foods and those cost about a quarter of what they’ll run at a restaurant.)

No one HAS to visit a paintball field.  In fact, unlike eating, there is no biological requirement for paintball.  I know, I know, many of you would just die if you couldn’t play.  That’s just a feeling though.  Trust me, you won’t really die if you don’t play.

When you go to a restaurant, you are paying as much for the service as you are for the food itself.  Both the wait staff and the cook staff only have one job in life: to make you happy to pay up to twenty times more for something you could have stuck in the microwave:  At home -a place you didn’t have to drive to. Where you can eat naked if you want. In the comfort of all of your surroundings and possessions.  Where there is a TV and a game player and a computer hooked to the internet.  (Gee.  Why do we eat at restaurants?)

Sure is beginning to sound like a paintball field, isn’t it?  No one has to go there.  Even if they want to play they don’t have to go to your field.  They can – stay at home with the comfort of all of their possessions; they didn’t have to drive – they’re already there! And they still have the TV, the game player and the computer hooked up to the internet.  Gee.  Come to think of it. What do they need you for?

As a field owner/operator, you have ONE job in life.  To make your customers happy with spending up to twenty times more for something they could have popped into the microwave.

Apparently a lot of you don’t know how to do that.  Let me explain.

No, that would take to long.  Allow me to sum up:

You have got to appear as if you know each and every one of your customers personally.  Like you just finished trading comments on Facebook.

You ALWAYS have to take the time to listen.  Obtaining feedback and dealing effectively with issues ought to be your highest priority task.

Dealing effectively is the key.  You’re not actually trying to ‘solve’ whatever comes up.  What you are actually doing is: making sure the customer feels that you appreciate them and their ‘contribution'; offering meaningful compensation when the issue was your responsibility (which could mean anything from a heartfelt apology to a refund); making sure that issues stemming from misinformation or communication breakdowns are resolved (by correcting or communicating); making sure that what you are offering is perceived to be worth what the customer is paying.

Let me give you just ONE example.  It took place at a tournament I was hosting, but the lesson is appropriate.  About five minutes into a game I discovered that two teams not scheduled to play each other were actually playing.  I had the ref stop the game as I ran down to the field.  The captains were irate – wasted time, wasted paint, wasted risk of injury, throwing the book. I listened, let them wind down a bit.  I apologized and explained how the mix up had occurred.  Then I handed each team captain a case of paint and told them that they would have extra time to prepare for their next game.

No more problems.  In fact, two teams that were genuinely impressed and had learned that they could trust the business to do the right thing.  (And of course every other team attending soon learned the same thing second-hand.)

Players do not have to like the answer they get, so long as they accept the explanation.  (Yes, I’m sure you’re right and you did hit him before he hit you, but I couldn’t see it so I had to send both of you off of the field.)

You should give them a reasonable amount of time to vent.  After doing so, they’ll actually listen to you.  (If you don’t, they’ll just vent to other customers, and to former potential customers and to anyone else who’ll listen.)

Valid compensation.  The teams had lost paint and time.  That’s exactly what I gave them back.  Maybe they got a bit more paint than they’d actually shot, but you know what? I’d rather lose a few pennies and have them happy than thinking I was a faker trying to buy them off with an insulting bribe.  Ultimately the mix up fell on my shoulders, so I should be the one to work at adjusting the new schedule.  Fair is fair.

There are always going to be times when you can not satisfy a customer no matter what you do.  (Dealing effectively with customers does not mean becoming a push-over.) What you really have to do is come up with a way to gently de-customerize them.  They’ll still moan and whine to all of their friends, but if you’ve been responsible and done right, you can safely ignore them.

You HAVE GOT to find out what your player’s experience levels are.  Totally ignoring a first time group is an absolute sin.  ‘Letting’ the experienced pros shoot up the newbies is a sin.

And another thing:  luring some players in on a slow day with the promise of more players at the field is a sin too.  What little those players bring in is not going to help your slow day at all.  What’s going to hurt it and make for lots more slow days is word getting around that players showed up and “there was no one there”.  Don’t turn the business away though.  Be proactive.  Find out who, when, where and what your players are looking for.  Build up a stable of people you can call and invite out to build up your day.  Schedule special days for small groups (like families) and try to push your callers towards those dates.  This is one major reason why you need to know your customers.

STOP allowing anyone to take the field willy-nilly against whomever/whatever mix they choose.  More generally – STOP giving away the organization of your games to the players.  Your staff should be organizing, monitoring and managing with one goal in mind:  EVERY SINGLE PLAYER SHOULD LEAVE YOUR FIELD HAVING HAD A GOOD TIME.

If that means switching teams up mid-way through a session – do it.  If that means telling your regulars that ‘no, they can not all gang up on the Jones family that is playing for the first time’ – do it. If it means a referee parked behind a new player on the field, giving away pointers and tips – do it.  If it means you have to take the field and let yourself get shot a few times by the ten year olds at the birthday party – do it.

Most fields do not have the luxury of being able to pick their customer base.  They’re faced with the unenviable prospect of a typical day that sees four newbies, six regular rec-ballers, three woodsball die-hards, seven so-called tournament players ‘practicing’ and a private party of 12 that have paid to do their thing by themselves.   The regular rec-ballers won’t play the tournament guys. The party of 12 (newbies all), would prefer that they have their field to themselves. The four lone newbies aren’t going to last long playing two-on-two. The woodsballers don’t understand why no one else wants to join them in the woods.  It is going to be a bad day – and a bad year – if you don’t have a plan for keeping them ALL happy, and here’s why:

The four newbies will most likely never play again.  Thank you Mr. Field Owner – you just cost the entire industry untold thousands of dollars.  The private party will remember that you tried to turn them into a non-private party. At best, you’ll have to guarantee them a private experience if they come back in the future. At worst, they’ll go somewhere else where they can ‘get what they paid for’. The three woodsballers will leave frustrated and will communicate to the entire woodsball community in y9ur area that there’s no woodsball play at your field.  And you’ll be left with the team ‘practicing’ and the only reason they’re at your field is because of the breaks you cut them.

No money. Bad word of mouth. Diminishing returns.

The first thing you need to recognize is that you can not make all of your customers happy all of the time.  The second thing you need to realize – if you haven’t already – is that the new player is where you want to concentrate your happiness efforts.  And the third thing you need to realize is that you’re going to have to develop some hard and fast policies for handling these situations.

Why concentrate on the new player?  Oh, tons of good reasons.  First – better prospects for future sales (they have no gear).  But perhaps more importantly, new players are players that YOU can educate.  Over the course of a couple of seasons you can build up a home-grown customer base that you have influence over and can market to. A trusted information resource (would you guys prefer to be able to order pizza or hoagies for lunch?  How’s the Brand-X paint doing for ya?) and a word-of-mouth marketing engine.

Customers you can build a rapport and trust with.  Players you won’t lose if you tell them not to bother to come to the field this weekend because nothing is happening; players who’s temperment and skills you’ll get to know (and which you can put to good use – recruiting field staff, being willing to ‘go easy’ on the new newbies, etc.)

Time has amply proven that each and every field faces a unique situation, so I can’t say what your policies for dealing with different types of player ought to be, except for a few broad concepts: you need to offer some minimally rudimentary form of introduction/training for new players.  You can’t just throw them to the sharks.  At a minimum, a really good rules briefing, a gun familiarity session, a practice shoot at the target range.  If you can, give each ‘team’ a referee that can help formulate a game plan – but a ref who understands the difference between suggesting and commanding.

Do not EVER let your newbies watch high-level play before having played their first game. (Can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the inexperienced regretting having paid the field fee after watching a high-speed, ramped-electro game played by rabid competition players.  Their anticipation and mild apprehension morphs into abject terror and they play their first games believing they are going to die.  They don;’t have fun.  It kills the experience for them.)

And for gosh sakes please stop letting players sit around grab-assing and scheduling their own games.  Or at the very least set that kind of thing up for one field for the regular kibitzers so you can keep their lazy butts away from people who want to play.

Teams – especially the ones I cut a break to – need to be confined and controlled.  Set up a day, a field, whatever, but keep them isolated from everyone else. Give them their team practice day deals, but make sure they understand that on every other day of the week, IT IS NOT TEAMS RULE DAY.

Why do teams get breaks?  Seems that according to most teams, they get breaks so they can break you out of business.  Many field owners fall into the trap of thinking that if they get a couple of teams attending their field regularly, they’ll attract even more teams and somehow make a profit on volume.

Why they haven’t yet figured out that the relationship is all on-sided in favor of the team, that 90% of their headaches come from team-related issues and that 99% of the annoying requests for lower prices and MORE servicing from the field comes from teams is beyond me.

(Disney may cut a break to corporate groups, but if the average ticket buyer shows up and demands a lower-cost ticket, that customer ain’t gonna be seeing Mickey any time soon!)

Teams should be, and can be, a resource for a field – but they need to be managed. Give them their day – in exchange for good behavior at other times.  In exchange for setting a good example. In exchange for being (RELIABLE) targets on days when you need filler players.  In exchange for being educators and trainers.

Keep the players/teams that will hand a new player a pod of paint, offer a little instruction, properly reinforces the rules, picks up their trash. Dump the prima donnas, the newbie bashers and the foul-mouths.  You’re looking for experienced players who understand, viscerally, that new players are their bread and butter also.

If you improve on one thing only this year, let it be customer service.  All other good things will follow from that investment.

If you want to learn a lot more about field operations and pick up tips from some of the most successful business people in the biz, why not attend the Paintball Festival, coming this August?

68Caliber Launches THE VALKEN REPORT

Paul at Valken, the guy responsible for all that social networking stuff, opens up VAlken’s weekly report – right here on 68Caliber – with a bit of news about the new Valken Corps website.

Each week, Paul and his pals over at Valken HQ will be bringing us all inside tidbits from the world’s fastest growing paintball distributor. m Take it away Paul!

by Paul Miles

For the last few months a couple of us here at Valken have been working on a community website for scenario players.  It’s an extension of our Valken Corps, which is a rewards program specifically for scenario players and mil-simmers and is online at http://www.valkencorps.com.

The vision behind the ValkenCorps.com website is to build a site specifically for scenario & big game players and give them a forum to communicate with each other.  It’s an open, player and team driven site.

Several Valken employees like myself, our IT guy Chris Bozek and our gun tech Adam Riendeau are on the site, but less as administrators and more as community members.  Already several teams have joined the site, and we hope more decide to use the ValkenCorps site as their official team message board system.

We’ve divided the US and Canada into several regions, and we’re adding Regional Commanders (RC’s).  The RC’s are players with leadership experience, like Wendell McInnis from North Carolina’s Team Boxer (http://www.teamboxer.net), who volunteer their time to help organize their local paintball community.  They will be responsible for helping to organize rideshares so teams can get to games that otherwise would have been too far to attend.  They will also work with field owners to make sure all our Valken Corps teams can pit and camp together.

Our mission was to build a site that was easy to use, and had familiar functionality for members.  A news feed like Twitter or Facebook, a simple to use message board system, private messaging, photo galleries and even unlockable achievements like video games for participating in scenario events and big games.

After we got the shell of the site together, we asked a couple of our sponsored teams to jump onboard to help us BETA test the site and get it ready for the public launch.  And after about two months of modding our WordPress install, the site is finally ready for everyone to use.

Quickly, I’d like to thank Cerberus Hellhounds
(http://www.ctopaintball.com/Cerberus-Hell-Hounds.html), Undertakers (www.undertakerspaintball.com),
Hellbent (www.teamhellbent.com),
Boxer (www.teamboxer.net),
42nd Legion (www.42ndlegion.com),
Delta Paintball Team (www.deltapaintball.com),
Steeel Reserve (www.steeelreservepaintball.com),
Sons of Vengeance (www.sovpaintball.com),
CT Commandos (www.ctcommandos.net) and
WCP Clan (www.wcpclan.com) for helping us get the site ready.

~~~

Paul Miles is a woodsballer from Philadelphia PA currently working for Valken Sports as a social marketing specialist, meaning if you visit http://www.facebook.com/valkensports and talk to Valken, you’re probably talking to Paul.  You can catch Paul playing at Picasso Lake Paintball in New Jersey.  He is also heavily involved in the mixed martial arts
community, and recently took a position working for Locked in the Cage (www.lockedinthecage.com), Philadelphia’s longest running MMA promotion.

Are Those My Balls On Your Face? Paintball Smacktalk Takes on New Meaning

Over on the Psychology Today website there is an interesting article concerning a study done regarding homophobic men.

It seems that during viewing of a mixed bag of pornography (hetero, lesbian and gay), the men who tested out as MOST homophobic were also the men who were MOST aroused by the gay porn.

What’s that quote from Shakespeare?  “Methinks thou doth protest too much?”

Seems that Dr. Freud might have gotten something right after all.  The good doctor posited that ‘people often have the most hateful and negative attitudes towards things they secretly crave’.

Makes ya wonder, considering all the smacktalk and grabass going on out at the field….

Read about it here – if you dare.

Reflections on the Purported Death of Paintball

by Matthew R. Smith

I am writing this in response to the numerous videos, articles and commentaries I’ve viewed or read over the past few years regarding the perception that paintball is a dying sport.  Furthermore, I am coming at this from the prospective of a historian and information scientist; both fields in which I hold degrees and have practiced. I started playing paintball in 1989.

In my first decade of play, I witnessed the sport shift away from the un-mowed fields and woods where it began and move to maintained turf lawns or warehouses with standardized layouts and inflatable bunkers.  I saw the styles of play evolve with that shift.  National leagues were born. The sport got televised.  The technology of the game rapidly improved as new brands entered the market and competed for player dollars.  Players began to be recognized nationally.  Two of my three local fields, all in the woods, closed when paintball was approaching a supposed peak in the early years of the last decade.  Even though our local fields had closed and people didn’t seem interested in playing the game as we had, it never occurred to us to think of the sport as dying.  Simply enough, paintball was changing.  Now, nearly another decade later, I’m hearing how the sport is dying.

Unfortunately, my access to paintball market data is limited so I can only draw conclusions based on what I have.  One of the biggest indicators of the success or decline of a sport is the number of participants.  The Outdoor Foundation’s Outdoor Recreation Participation Report (2010) gives us some very useful data pertaining to the number of players in the sport.  The US population data comes from the Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rico: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2009 (NST-EST2009-01). I calculated the percent of the population which plays paintball.

Year
Number of U.S. Participants age 6 and older
Total US Pop. (est.)
% of Population
2006
4,547,000
287,803,914
1.6
2007
5,476,000
301,579,895
1.8
2008
4,857,000
304,374,846
1.6
2009
4,552,000
307,006,550
1.5

From 2006 to 2007 we see in increase of 929,000 players and from 2007-2009 a decrease of 924,000.

According to the SGMA’s 2007 Sports & Fitness Participation Report*, in 2000 there were 3,944,000 players and by 2006 4,960,000 players, a 26% increase.  Furthermore, this report states that 18% of all paintball participants in 2006 were first-timers.  The two sets of data make an interesting comparison.  We can see, based on the SGMA’s report, that it took six years for the sport to grow 26%.  Then, quite suddenly, based on the Outdoor Foundation’s data, we see ANOTHER 20% increase in a single year.

Is this unprecedented?  I don’t have the complete data set so I can’t say.  I can say that a 20 plus percent increase over one year in most any sport would be considered astronomically high.  We can also see that we lost some 924,000 players since that peak in 2007.  What also occurred in 2007?  The start of the economic recession (National Bureau of Economic Research).  I find it very interesting that over that last year of an economic high (2006-2007) the sport gained some 929,000 players.  Post-recession, we are more or less back to pre-peak levels.  Again, in one year we gained 929,000 players and in two years we lost 924,000 players.  I would derive from this data that, due to peak economic conditions of 2006-2007, we temporarily gained a high percentage of first-time players that were never really going to stay in the sport.  In investment terminology, I would call the observed decrease in the number of players from 2007 to 2009 a market correction.  Additionally, in 2009 the SGMA reported that developing sports, of which paintball is classified, have gained appeal and attracted athletes from other sports (U.S. Trends in Team Sports 2009, SGMA).

So, are we really losing players?  Based on the data, I don’t think so.  In fact, I’d say we are technically gaining players; the percent of the total population that plays paintball is staying relatively flat, while the total population increases.  I don’t think we can reasonably expect paintball to appeal to a more than a few percent of the population.

*Please note the discrepancy in numbers between the SGMA and Outdoor Foundation for 2006; a difference of 413,000 players.  The different organizations use different measurement criteria to define participation.

What does concern me about the future of the sport:

Brand and distribution consolidation.  No formal data on this topic exists that I know of.  However, with out naming names, the writing is on the wall in terms of brand acquisitions and distribution rights.  I will state simply that I can not think of one occasion in history where the consumer, or industry, benefited from such brand consolidation as we see in paintball.  Two examples of brand/distribution consolidation that hurt both the industry and consumer, that are prominent in my mind, are the auto industry and beverage distribution industry.  That statement may be a bias on my part.

Other thoughts:

With the advent of the UWL and the re-inception of the Woodsball World Cup, and subsequent Woodsball World League, a shift toward rate of fire caps, increased semi-auto only play and some really creative and innovative scenario writers and game runners I see a lot of changes occurring in the sport.  With these changes I see less barriers to entry into the sport, i.e. more variety of play to appeal to a larger set of the population.  I wouldn’t consider any of those indicators of a dying sport.

Furthermore, I’d like to comment on human nature.  If those respected members of a community voice an idea, the members of that community will use that idea as a basis to form an opinion.  Propaganda, if you will. It is time for those with loud voices in the paintball community to stop talking about how the sport is dying, to stop planting the seed of that idea in peoples heads, and to get some perspective.  If all you see is decline then you aren’t looking at what I, and many others, are seeing. Technologies may advance and methods may become obsolete, but rarely does anything totally disappear.  Paintball isn’t dying, it’s changing.  I, for one, think this change is good.

~~~

Matthew R. Smith started playing in 1989, played pump exclusively until the mid-nineties, and was perfectly satisfied as a rec-ball player until three or four years ago when he took an interest in improving his game and both giving back to and getting more out of the sport.  He has a soft-spot for the Smart Parts ION and built a mechanical version for play in the Woodsball World Cup.  Matthew is currently  on the lookout for a working F1-Illustrator, which he firmly believes is the most accurate marker he has ever shot.  He now plays for the War Hounds (warhoundspaintball.com), where he is known as Agent Smith. He also believes the sport worked just fine when everything was semi-auto and encourages everyone to visit his End Ramping in Paintball page on Facebook and asks that you join if you agree!

Patent Watch: What’s Happening With The Smart Parts Patents?

Seems like a simple question to ask, right?  What’s up with the Smart Parts patents?

Well, the background to that question is pretty darned complicated and convoluted, but we’ll try and give you a brief summary:

Smart Parts Inc was one of, if not the, largest holder of intellectual property in the paintball industry.

The company declared bankruptcy; as a result, a bank ended up being the primary (virtually sole) creditor and took assignment of the patents

White Hats LLC came into the picture and eventually bowed out, determining that the assets available were not worth the necessary investment.

Key Smart Parts personnel have moved on, with a new company (GOG), products that look an awful lot like former SP brands, even using some SP brand names.

The disposition of the SP assets is undetermined at this point in time.

The IP (when last we saw it) was in possession of the banking institution that made the loan to Smart Parts that played a large part in their bankruptcy.

In order to keep IP (patents) in an enforceable status, maintenance fees need to be paid over the 21 year course of the patent.

If those fees are not paid, the patent lapses into limbo and is essentially in an unenforceable state.  If a patent does fall into that status, the owner can make application to petition it back into a good standing – but a check of court cases relating to that action make it pretty apparent that the PTO and the courts are VERY reluctant to allow such things to happen.

And specifically, the courts seem to be in almost 100% agreement that if a third party, temporarily holding ownership of a patent, allows the fees to lapse, someone purchasing that patent is going to have an extremely difficult (and expensive) time getting them reinstated.

A check with the PTO website should suggest to the discerning reader that several SP patents are coming up on their fee dates (or, in some cases, have already passed their due date).

Now hold on there skippy.  Before you rush out and start building that whatever you were working on before an SP patent was issued all those years ago, and before you think that the current situation means that ‘nothing in the paintball industry is covered by patents anymore’ make sure you’re aware of a couple of other things:

First – Smart Parts, as a company, was extremely effective in working with the PTO and the courts.  EXTREMELY EFFECTIVE.

Second – all of the information related above is subject to change

Third – if you are planning on doing something with tech that you think might be covered by one of the existing SP patents – go find yourself a REALLY good patent attorney and get his opinion FIRST.

Outlaw Play Hell

by William Garrison

This story is from around 5 years ago. I used to play outlaw with a group of guys on a regular basis. We had all played at our local fields and we modeled our outlaw games around that. We had an old church property that we played on that the main airport owned and we had permission to be there since it was technically termed as “police training”. We would chrono everyone, and check speeds several times throughout the day to make sure everything was within safety limits. Players were handpicked for their safety and honesty, and we never had a problem (other than having to search the buildings for crack heads first). We would hold a safety briefing and then it was game on. We played safely, we put some fields to shame and we still had a blast.

One day one of my friends called me up and said that he was going to play with some guys in Rock Hill SC. He invited me along and I grabbed my stuff and followed him out. The area that we were going to play was in a wooded area in a new construction site. The woods sat between the construction site and an established neighborhood. This should have been a red flag but at the time I didn’t realize just how close it was.

The “regulars”, which consisted of several fathers and their kids, welcomed us and invited us to come on in and see the field. The field was very cool, and consisted of 3 old farm buildings and stables. The stone walls were still there and were grown over with trees and vines.

It was a very cool place to play. Anything positive I have to say about that day ends there and goes downhill from there. As we were putting our gear together I asked the group what speed they shot at. One dad looked at me funny, and then said they just open them up all the way.

This was definitely a red flag. I produced my hand chrono and diplomatically convinced them that shooting wide open would increase their chance of a barrel break and waste air, and that by setting them between 280 and 300 they would be more efficient and more accurate as well. For some reason this made more sense to them than “it’s safer” did, so they reluctantly agreed to let me set their speeds for them. I was trying to teach them good habits for playing.

After chronoing all of the guns, they announced that they were ready to play. One dad said that he would ref, and proceeds to put on a pair of sunglasses and jump up on top of a small rock wall RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FIELD. I politely suggested that he might want to put on a mask to protect himself and he told me he would be fine. I offered him my spare mask again trying to suggest that he might want to keep both eyes and he refused.

At this point I could sense that the regulars were becoming annoyed with this know-it-all outsider. I should have left at this point but I didn’t.

The first game went fine, and the second as well. The kids were having a good time and I was trying to teach some of them some tricks since they had attached themselves to what they perceived as the “pro”. After around three games, things proceeded to quickly go downhill. The neighborhood that I mentioned had a road that dead ended into a cul-de-sac.

During the third game some kids from the neighborhood came up into the woods and started taunting some of the players. The player’s response was to open up at the kids with his marker. Luckily the kids ran and none of them were hit. I asked the guy “What the F— was that about?” He just looked at me and shrugged, then went back to playing.

For some stupid reason I was still around for the fourth game when a stray shot had struck a man who was walking his dog on the sidewalk. The man had heard the noise and walked into the edge of the woods to see what it was. I saw him walk in and just as I am about to yell at him to get out of the woods he gets hit in the neck. I ran over and shielded him with my body and walked him out of the woods. I checked him out and luckily he appeared to be fine other than shocked from the surprise and pain of the hit. I told him he was going to be fine and that he had been hit with a paintball in the neck. (I made sure I did not remove my mask with the mirrored lens). After I got him calmed down and assured him that it was non-fatal, (he took it in good stride), he went on his way.

I didn’t even bother to pack my gear. I tossed everything in the trunk of my car, told my friend and a few other experienced players what had happened and I got out of there. On the way out I let one of the dads have it about their safety practices and how him or his kid would soon end up with an eye patch and a law suit. I have never gone back. I have played outlaw since then, with the same attention to location, safety, and detail that we used to use.

This story is true, and it’s also a great example of why players should not use public parks and land to play on. I have no problem with outlaw games or players providing that they play safely and use common sense. The problem with public land is that it is PUBLIC. You cannot control who will be in the area and who will walk up in the middle of a game. In my opinion it is just plain stupid to play in a public park.

Care should definitely be taken when choosing a location to play. Is it really worth it to possible injure someone, get sued, or get arrested? Compared to that, a field fee at a proper paintball field really doesn’t seem all that bad.

The lesson learned from all of this for me was this: be extremely careful when playing outlaw, never play paintball with someone who has no respect for basic safety, and when you start getting that feeling that something isn’t right and that little voice starts screaming in your ear to leave, listen to it. It’s there for a reason.

As always have fun and play SAFE.

The Top 10 Paintball Guns for Milsim & Woodsball

from the editor of 68Caliber – the list of markers compiled by Hitman and Greyops paintball was provided to 68Caliber as the beginning of a cooperative effort between this site, Hitman video reviews and the GreyOps paintball blog.

All three of us have additional content that will be rolling out on our various sites (and jointly as well) over the course of 2011, and hopefully beyond.

The Top Ten selected were drawn from markers that have been introduced to the market since about 1988 or so, extending right up to the present. You may not agree with the selections, but you can’t argue that each and every gun has made its mark.

Why not use the comments to suggest your own and see how well you track, over the course of the next ten days, with the selections offered here?

by Hitman & Greyops

Woodsball has come a long way over the years, and is after all, the absolute origin of paintball. However, for a long time woodsball was dismissed and neglected by most of the industry until about 6 years ago when there was a Milsim BOOM. Milsim (meaning military simulation) allows players to compete in a myriad of “scenario” games with realistic or just plain cool gear. These new woodsball or “Milsim” markers have been where it is at for Paintball lately.

But what are the best of the best? Through this article we will show you our personal TOP 10 Milsim/Woodsball markers as of 2011.

To qualify for this list markers had to be:

Woodsball/Milsim oriented

Made by a legitimate company

Markers could NOT be; pump, handgun, special edition, limited run, or custom made.

#10: Tippmann SMG 60

This .60 caliber bad boy was a real game changer when it was first released in 1987. It boasted fully automatic firing and a clip fed loading system. This first mass produced marker to break the pump/single action barrier. It had the ability to fire in both semi auto and full auto. It was also one of if not the first marker to emulate a real military service weapon making it the grandfather of all Milsim markers. Unfortunately it suffers in the performance department from the use of stripper clips which were cumbersome and not very fast or easy to reload compared to other markers. Also it may be worth to note it was banned at many fields due to safety concerns and Full auto mode (which was viewed as unfair and unsafe at the time).

Cost when new: $250

TOMORROW:  #9

This article is a cooperative effort by GreyOps Blog and Hitman Paintball Reviews.

You can find out more about these authors at:

greyops

HitmanPaintball

This article and its content reflect the opinions of the authors and is not affiliated with any commercial entity or publication. This list was intended for entertainment purposes ONLY.

Thanks for reading and happy holidays!

*All images obtained through limited license to modify and display as per Photobucket’s Terms of Use (6.1).

About the Authors:

Stan Boudreau – Hitman Paintball

Stan Boudreau has been playing paintball for over 10 years and has competed in several speedball tournaments, countless scenario games, and will be entering a third season of ATWL (Atlantic Tactical Woodsball league) this summer. Stan is the former owner of Milsim oriented paintball Proshop called Hitman Paintball, which was a located in Halifax, Nova scotia Canada.

Today, Stan studies for his Bachelor of Arts degree at Mount Alison university and runs Hitman Paintball as an independent review show you can see on his youtube channel. “Hitman Paintball Reviews” aims to bring a high quality unbiased look at gear to players who want a more in depth approach that doesn’t have industry strings or agenda attached. Stan has been entrusted with products for review from 17 companies that are (in alphabetical order)  A+ Machine Paintball, BT Battle Tested, Custom Products, Deadly winds, Exalt, Extreme Rage, FLASC, Goblin Micro Launchers, Hammer Head, Invert, Milsig, Palmers Pursuit Shop, Planet Eclipse, Rap4 Real Action Paintball, Redz Comfort Paintball, SITE Manufacturing, and Trinity.

You can keep up to date with Stan’s video media at the Hitman Paintball youtube channel:

http://www.youtube.com/user/HitmanPaintball

You can also check out the official Hitman Paintball blog for written reviews, pictorials, articles, and upcoming reviews:

http://hitmanpaintball.blogspot.com/

If you would like to contact Stan please email Stan_the_hit_man@hotmail.com

Connor & GreyOps

Connor is a relative newcomer to the paintball scene, calling Canada’s national capital, Ottawa, home. Having played for the first time in the summer of 2007 in a dinky little indoor dungeon, he’s since found a home in the milsim niche. Currently a student studying Chemistry and Arabic at the university of Ottawa, he divides his time between blogging, sleeping, drinking and being poor. Having just finished a 5 year run of municipal employment, Connor is currently unemployed and looking to expand his resume.

Connor’s labour of love is Grey Ops (www.greyops.net), formed in the winter of 2009. It currently consists of Connor and Mike, Grey Ops’ resident tactician, gear reviewer and author of the popular “Mike’s Rant”. Grey Ops was designed as a resource for those ­interested in milsim paintball, camouflage and less lethal paintball applications. In fulfilling this goal, it has published many reviews, interviews, videos and divisive bouts of rambling. Grey Ops has since expanded across social media and into various other online presences.

Connor can be reached via email (Connor@greyops.net) and can be found on various paintball forums under the moniker Sandbox Fedaykin (and variants thereof). If you find yourself in the Ottawa area, be sure to look him up for a game at one of Ottawa’s many local fields, or just a beer or two.