The title is probably a little overwrought. Nor am I certain the subject merits the melodrama but it was the best I could come up with. (Even worse I just ended a sentence with a preposition. That's a grammar no-no but I say if ethics can be situational so can parts of speech. But I digress ...)
What has captured my attention, at least for today, is the condition of our balls. Paintballs, that is. One of the issues with the Small Ball Revolution is that they are, you know, really small. The downside of small being is generally inferior performance compared to the standard 68 cal paintball. Mostly 'cus it's lighter. It doesn't have the same range, there are concerns with flight & breaking characteristics. Old news. (But there's more.)
Do you remember when candy bars got smaller? It wasn't too many years ago. Some manufacturers repackaged their products and briefly offered them at slightly reduced prices. Others simply put smaller candy bars on the shelves for the same price as before. (Mars is about to do it again as part of a "healthy" candy bar initiative. Yeah, right.) The same began happening to all sorts of packaged products on grocery store shelves all across the country not long afterwards. In every case it was a cost savings effort. Paintball has seen the same thing happening for some time too.
A couple of weeks ago some sample cases of HydroTec waterballs were made available to the public and at least one enterprising baller made a video examining the HydroTec paintball primarily with respect to claims made by the manufacturer. Turns out the shells don't dimple and don't absorb water--a selection was left in a water bottle for a couple of days with no ill effects. He froze them, or tried. Cut them open. Shot them. Weighed them. Etc. Some of the paintballs showed a tendency to curve as they lost momentum at the edges of their range. And they were light. Compared to other 68 caliber paintballs. The maximum ASTM weight allowed is about 3.5 grams. Impact energy exceeds the "safe" limit at 300 fps if a paintball weighs more than 3.5 grams. But when it weighs less, depending on how much less, it also alters the flight characteristics and ultimate range. With the small ball that's relatively easy to see. Turns out among the HydroTec samples tested they varied in weight from around 2.6-2.9 grams. Well off the max standard and enough to make some difference. Remember the candy bars?
Have you noticed paint rolling out of your barrel lately? It seems the major paint manufacturers have been producing smaller--and lighter--paintballs for a while now. I'm not certain for how long but it's become ubiquitous in tourney grade paints. It seems that before the shrinking began the heaviest paintballs were usually around 3.3 grams. With some of the smaller ones currently being produced the numbers are falling to around the 3 gram mark and below. (I don't know if this is fairly universal or not.) So while some in the paintball geek community had questions about how much the HydroTec paintballs would weigh compared to "normal" paintballs and what if any differences that would make normal paintballs have been shrinking in both size and weight.
How far can the manufacturers take the rather less than amazing shrinking paintball before standards of performance aren't just diminished but completely compromised?
If nothing else it's just another reminder how reliant we all are on technology to play this game and how little we often know about what and where technology is going.
For those (six) of you waiting patiently for more Basic Tactics I'ma have a new one tomorrow and another for later in the week while I'm at the MAO. (fingers crossed) (MAO coverage will be an after-action report this time.)