Why Do You Play?
Up - APG Column
by Ron "Captain Ape" Christensen
The time necessary to be good at paintball is huge, and money to compete at the national level is, for most folks, pretty steep.Competing in the NPPL, PSP and PanAm tournaments can cost thousands dollars per circuit.
You have to practice at least once every two weeks to get anything accomplished. That's roughly 20 practices, and at least four or five competitive events (mostly out of state) with all the joys of taking paintball gear through modern airport security.
You will likely never make any money "playing" paintball. Even if you sell your prizes, you rarely break even for the cost of the trip to get it. So, forget making a fortune. Paintball has been around since 1981, and as yet has produced only a handful of people who are able to make a living "playing" the game.
LOVE THE SPORT
Play for the sole fact that deep down you love the sport. Take it from someone who's played tournaments extensively. If you play under the delusion that you're after wealth and new gear, you are making a big, frustrating mistake.
There is always someone, somewhere in your area, willing to offer you a "deal" or to "sponsor" you to some degree. Many will likely require you to sell your soul to their store or ref 132 games a month. If you're willing to jump through the hoops, you may just get that "free" barrel, but what if you already have all the gear you need?
Why do you want to play? For free stuff? I play because I want to build a competitive team with longevity and ethics. I want to captain multiple teams at different levels of competition, and do well. More importantly, I want to do this with people I like; no some "flavor of the month" hothead!
Most people will take anything that's free, whether they like it or not. Choose wisely. Use and play only with products you believe in. Why advertise for somebody that has a mediocre product?
My team has been together for over eight years, and we have expanded to include a rookie team and a 10 man team. It didn't happen overnight, and it's tough to stick together and not "go join them because it's a better deal today."
Sponsorship that is genuinely helpful and mutually beneficial is a good thing! But that can be tough to acquire, and most of all, teams need cash. Money is the hardest thing to get from any sponsor, but it gives you the most help. But are you playing only for cash?
Nothing compares to the juice you get playing 10 man at a major tournament! Find good people, and once you do, keep them together. It's much more fun to play with good people than jerks. You can turn new players , who are willing to work, into great players. Jerks don't change; ditch them! Do not waste time, or bring down your team's fun or image by harboring a jerk, a cheater, or other low life.
To have more fun, and help your team image and publicity, go to local newbie fields and be paintball goodwill ambassadors. Don't bash newbs, but instead hang out and offer advice or lend a hand with a kid's marker. Loan your own marker, for a game or two, to a newer player while you get theirs up and running again. It's seriously fun, too.
Paintball can be expensive and a time sink, and you likely won't ever make a dime doing it. So why do we keep at it? The answer has always been the same: fun, bragging rights, and the occasional new wonder-tool.