Ever wonder how PBIndustry plans to change their current economic struggle? Did you expect they would simply tighten their belts, hold on and hope to ride out the hard times? Rumor is starting to coalesce and whispers are escaping from windowless smoke-filled rooms. Personally I don't think even the paintball industry has the brass cojones necessary to pull this one off but the best conspiracy is the one nobody believes could possibly be true, right? Interestingly, this isn't anything new. The idea has been around for some time but has lately become a front burner topic and there are some big players in the loop.
Some of you will object to the term, conspiracy. After all, corporations in other fields aren't in the habit of doing business in the public square either. Just so, but if the course under discussion is adopted it will demand a nearly unified front and prearranged agreements. At a minimum that could be called collusion and when you discover the target of this plan I suspect most of you will agree that "conspiracy" just scratches the surface. Do I have your attention yet? Funny thing is the word has already leaked onto the paintball internet (and beyond) but the few who have commented don't seem to understand all the ramifications.
One simple move, if accepted industry-wide, could lay the groundwork overnight for an enormous change that could reinvigorate a massive chunk of the industry. (Of course, somebody will have to pay a price.)
Let's call the plan the .50 Caliber Solution.
That's it. That's all there is to it. A brand, spanking new paintball as the accepted industry-wide standard. (It may not actually be .50 caliber but that is number bandied about most of the time.) Doesn't sound like much at first, does it?
Focus first on the necessities if there were a new paintball and then on the possibilities.
No, VFTD has not morphed into a fringe whacko black helicopter NWO site. (I do that one over at Bombthrowinganarchist.com) And it may be the idea doesn't get any further than some quiet conversation or a trial balloon or two before it disappears. Who knows? But Dale over at The Ford Report references the rumor along with a not-exactly-a-denial denial "...There's another rumor flying about that ProCaps is leading the charge to force a changeover to .50 caliber paintballs. Romanian Terminator Sorin Voinea of ProCaps thinks this is hysterical ..." in yesterday's latest edition of The Ford Report. Hey, he said it, not me.
Let's What If? starting with paint. A smaller paintball is materially cheaper to produce, package, and most importantly, to ship. The margins that are killing paint manufacturers saddled with debt suddenly provide more profit at the same prices. In a market with a flat player base and glutted with perfectly good used guns capable of new gun performance how do you turn sales around? A .68 caliber breach and bore gun and barrel won't be much use shooting a dramatically different sized paintball, will it? Perhaps hoppers wouldn't need to be changed but who can doubt retrofit internals to maximize performance wouldn't be a part of the change over? Would every pair of goggles need a new lense manufactured to a different standard because of the decreased impact area? I don't know but I can easily see it happening. How's that for a start? New paint, new guns, new barrels--lots of new stuff. Beginning to see the brave new paintball world that features a new universal paintball standard?
Sure, there are obstacles but desperate times call for desperate measures and if you do not believe these are desperate times for some of the manufacturers you're head has been buried in the sand. Most of the complication--assuming all the major players end up in agreement--is in how to work the transition period and how to sell it to you, Joe Paintballer. My guess is cheaper and safer with a 'for the good of the game' thrown in for good measure.
Impossible? Overblown? Just plain crazy? Probably, but the talk inside the industry is for real. At this point I guess the next big question is--will they actually pull the trigger on the .50 caliber solution?