The following post appeared originally in Baca's Blog over at the Big Bullet.
No, this piece isn't about some new manga fad or a fantasy combat game posted here by accident. It's also not about some new scenario game or the latest spec ops gear intended for the mil-sim crowd. It's about tournament paintball, sort of. But maybe it has applications that are bigger than just tourney ball. So you can either surf over to the next page or site or kill a couple of minutes and keep reading. What could it hurt? (Don't answer, that was a rhetorical question.)
Some of the big players in industry and tournament promotion have become concerned that the base for future tourney players has been shrinking and high ROF guns have received the lion's share of the blame. One of the "answers," though not aimed at tourney play, is Billy Ball which revolves around using a gun with very limited ROF capability. I'm not altogether convinced that high ROF is hurting paintball but I am convinced a failure to properly control high ROF is a significant danger to paintball.
Lately, the tourney world has seen a growing, if still relatively modest, interest in pump events. The PSP, which promotes a national series and hosts the World Cup, has resorted to incremental limits on ROF at their competitions in an effort to make introductory play less intimidating. The league is also hopeful that their changes will trickle down to regional and local events and encourage regular recreational players to be satisfied with something less than the ultimate performance of the modern electronic markers. Will it work? If ROF is the core issue maybe it will. Some have suggested bringing tourney play back to the woods as an alternative solution and that's just what SPPL and the new UWL (Ultimate Woodsball League) are doing. The UWL has gone so far as to offer a separate division of play based on limiting the number of electronic markers used. So how about a mechanical marker only tournament? If tourneys can go back into the woods and be played by pumps again, why not? If the biggest, most competitive league in the world is restricting the ROF of the almighty electros, why not?
This is hardly an original idea. I read a comment somewhere a week or two ago talking about using mechanical markers and I liked the idea but dismissed it almost immediately. Players buy and shoot what they want and even with the recent resurgence of pump and the Old Skool interest in some of the classic markers the mech guns aren't going to supplant the electros in the foreseeable future. And organizing a whole event around the hope that enough tourney-oriented players who want to play with mech guns would support it sounds like pie in the sky to me. But there is one way it might work in the current environment. As a separate division of play. A few years ago the PSP was talked into adding the Masters Division of play at World Cup. (Their only error was insisting it be xball instead of 5-man but even so it has continued every year since its introduction.) What if the PSP offered divisions of play with the only restriction being the use of mechanical markers? Say an Open division and an Amateur division. If available in conjunction with a massive event like World Cup if nobody wants to play mech warrior there's no harm done. Even the current PSP rulebook addresses the use of mechanical markers so that wouldn't be an issue. And who knows, it might get a new group and an old group back into the tourney game.
Could a move to encourage mechanical marker play in competition then spread to other parts of paintball?