Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Baca's Mailbag, Dec 21

Today's question was pulled from the mailbag post of Dec 12. I foolishly agreed to respond (in that post's comments) and so now I'm stuck. Unlike the norm, today's answer is not the answer. I'm not sure there is such an answer but it is a valuable topic for conversation and one that competitive paintball will have to answer eventually.

 So, do you see any way for the industry to help make tourney play more attractive to field owners, who can then sponsor and give refuge to more teams (who then buy more high end guns and cases of paint)?

Actually, I do. And I'ma throw in an extra answer besides--consider it an early Christmas present from VFTD. First thing the industry needs to do is stop sponsoring paintball teams. And by "sponsoring" I mean offering direct to teams discounted merchandise. (Did I have you going there for a sec?) Selling direct breaks down the relationships between teams/players and the local field. If the local field/pro shop is the conduit between local/regional/national am teams and discounted product it is a small price to pay to encourage fields interested in supporting competition paintball to do so and builds bonds at the local level between teams/players and their local fields/pro shops. As it stands the manufacturers who go the direct "sponsorship" route are cannibalizing their own grassroots markets.
While a good start that's not enough. In this time of economic contraction and internet sales (and even some big box store sales) the local field/pro shop--particularly if it has nearby competitors--has to offer something more, or at least different. Given that I think the bar has been raised too high for simple entry into the competitive paintball world I have some suggestions; offer and schedule times for basic paintball training; combine that with restricted but informal afternoon (or morning) (or both) streetball style "competitions" periodically and encourage or directly promote the development of paintball clubs based around the local field. The idea is to begin by teaching anyone interested the fundamentals of the game and then give them a place and a way to begin to experience their growing skills in an environment of their equals. You want more and future tourney players? Especially now they don't appear ex nihilo. The club can be an element the local field organizes or it can be an arrangement between those interested in building a paintball club and their local competition-oriented field. The club exists to develop tourney players and provide a ladder of teams on which to compete.And if the local field is the source of discounted gear, etc. you now have a reciprocal basis for the relationship. And in the longer term the most successful clubs will attract more and better players and more attention from would be industry supporters and everybody would potentially benefit.


raehl said...

How many manufacturers still sell direct to teams? Most of the ones I'm familiar with require their "discount" team packages to go through a dealer.

Baca is on the right track with regards to training etc. Go to any golf course or tennis place and they have a Pro - a guy whose job is to teach you how to play golf/tennis better.

If we want more people to make the jump to tournaments, we need more people holding the hands of new players interested in tournaments. Right now getting into tournament paintball is too much trial-by-fire. Manufacturers could help by providing fields a 'how-to' basic training guide similar to those sports like soccer and hockey provide to their youth league coaches.

Anonymous said...

@raehl: I'm not sure if it is direct or through dealers, but Valken is giving out 'sponsorships' (*cough* bulk buy discounts *cough*) to any team that wants to buy enough of their stuff. They 'sponsored' a woodsball team in my area that had only been together a couple months and wasn't that good.

Mark said...

I too like the second part as well Baca, we are going to be offering D6 3-man for CFPS in 2012, but the club idea has merit too. Informal competitions, teaching fundamentals, growing the sport etc. when do you start? ;)

sdawg said...

110% agree with everything.

It seems like what is holding back the training idea is lack of formalization of the skills, outside of Dynasty and Swedish videos. Also, there is no way for potential instuctors to learn what they should be teaching. Just what they've picked up from years of paintball.

So, when are you going to publish your book on paintball fundamentals and advanced skills, Baca?

Baca Loco said...

Started years ago. ;)

As soon as there are more than 12 people who will actually buy it. And it wouldn't be a book. It would be a multi-media thrill ride. :)

sdawg said...

I'll buy it...

There really should be a book on fundamentals for this sport.

raehl said...

I would pay a few thousand dollars for a good set of training material that I could then give away.

Mark said...

"It would be a multi-media thrill ride."
..... and narrated by Matty, right?

Seriously though what if you simply run your team practice side of things like it IS a club? Minus the secret hand shakes and latin greetings.

There was a guy who worked this past Cup as an EMT who never saw paintball before and thought what he saw was pretty damn cool. He's been out to our field nearly every week since cup ended. Bought himself a used high-end gun and has shown improvement (and I mean impressively so) playing against D3-D1 players. I think the difference for him versus some poor shlub starting at most other fields getting it handed to him by 16 yo agglets (by the way that is now the name of a new D4X team in our area) was the fact that we have the owners on the same field as he, who un-mercifully enforce a zero tolerance a-hole policy.

raehl said...

When I was at Illinois, we won something like 5 national championships in a row.

The thing with college paintball is you are stuck with the kids who go to your school. Nowadays, people who are into paintball go to schools that have paintball programs so teams have access to freshmen who already are experienced tournament players, but that wasn't the case back then.

So we coached anyone who showed any interest in playing.

When almost nobody had anyone teaching them how to play better, a combination of practices twice a week plus experienced players teaching the new players how to play better much faster than they would figure out on their own kept us with a constant crop of good players.

And it wasn't just that we made players good - we made it easier for players to be interested, because we set the expectation "We know you're new, but we're here to show you how to play." It's a lot easier to come out to a practice when someone has invited you to be taught than to come out when you think you're just going to be meat for the experienced players.

Mike said...

Baca - 100% agree with the concept of a paintball club associated with a field / pro shop.

Are there any examples of this currently you can think of? I honestly can't think of any of these types of organizations off the top of my head.

Anonymous said...

i agree with this policy 100%

Anonymous said...

I have an OLD email sent to baca several years ago about this. Excellent idea.

Twisted Games Of Texas Paintball said...

Our Div I PSP team, VcK, hosts a monthly X-Ball "FunDay" which averages 85+ players per month. FunDays are designed for a FUN day of tournament style play with a streetball format and geared towards individuals rather than teams. All skill levels are welcome so one line might be comprised of 2 little guys just starting out in a local 3-man series paired with one VcK player, a D2X player and a D4 R2 player. The next time they are up, the combination will be different depending on the next five on the start box. FunDays draw players from all over the area, most who call other fields "home" but make the trip (some drive 2+ hours) for a FUN day of tourney play. It was also developed so that players from numerous fields could meet each other, develop friendships (rather than the "my field is better than your field mentality" which used to frequently result in e-thuggery in local forums) and learn from one another. My number one rule is "If you are found to be sucking the fun out of someone else's day, you will be asked to leave. And you will not be welcomed back to future FunDays". We are starting our 3rd year of FunDays and have had less than a hand full of problems. Players know I expect them to exhibit outstanding sportsmanship, fair play and will not tolerate anything other than a "gosh darn" on the field. Entry is extremely low, byop is permitted and all the proceeds are donated to VcK which contributes to their tournament costs.

Baca Loco said...

Nice, Kim. Sounds like it's working out great.