If you haven't read yesterday's post, Competitive Paintball as Recreation?, check it out before you continue here. (Or don't. Doesn't affect me one way or the other but this one will be better understood in the context of yesterday's post. However, I believe in your freedom to choose. Besides, screwing up here doesn't entail bitter, crushing consequences. Not unlike if you worked for Goldman Sachs apparently. But alas, no six figure bonuses.)
The weak link in yesterday's suggestion is that merely hanging around a paintball field doesn't imbue the average slacker with the skills or knowledge of the game by osmosis. And the principle pleasure in playing a competitive style of paintball is in matching wit and skill against your opponents. Unlike newbie paintball where the big thrills are the unknown, the consequent adrenaline rush and getting to shoot at people (and get shot at) all forms of competitive style play require varying degrees of knowledge and skills.
What? Oh, quit your whining. Yes, sure, woodsball and all the traditional forms of recreational play benefit from player knowledge and skill too but it isn't a perquisite. Don't get me wrong. A group of first timers could play on a speedball field and have a great time but it isn't the field that distinguishes styles of play. The new player plays any kind of field largely on instinct and with the aid perhaps of a few tips from friendly temporary teammates.
(Tangential thought: has anybody considered the possibility paintball loses players to boredom? Here's a separate post topic for you while I'm at it: How Do Newbies Learn To Play Paintball?)
One reason I suggested more optional competitive style play for recreational purposes is because I believe the game has more depth, is more demanding and more satisfying as a player begins to learn more about playing the game. Anybody can play but not everybody can play well. And learning to play well brings with it a whole new level of reward that has nothing to do with winning or losing. It also provides additional reasons and motivations to play. It's okay to feel lost and confused the first time. Not so much the tenth time. Or so it seems to me. But there also needs to be someone (or a number of someones) available and willing to teach new players (or long time rec players who want more from paintball) how to play the game; the fundamental tactics and the basic techniques.
How many fields use their field team as weekend referees? Has anybody ever assigned one or two of them to teach interested regulars more about how to play the game? How many local fields offer free classes? Doesn't need to be an all day dealio or particularly rigorous. How about 2 classes a month? One for beginners and one more advanced. How long would it take before players started showing up because of the classes? And how long would it take before they wanted more?
This isn't a cunning plan to create more tourney players though I think it likely would. But if local fields mixed the idea of educating their customers and offering them a more eclectic variety of play, who knows, it might go a long way towards building a long term, more loyal customer base playing paintball the way they want to play.