I have been into paintball since 1989 and over the years I have been apart of some really great historical paintball moments. I witnessed pump guns go from 12 gram CO2 and ten round tubes to constant air and full size loaders to being modified into semi-auto guns which lead to the actual production of semi auto guns. I saw loaders go from gravity feed to home made motorized self feeding loaders and then into actual production loaders by ViewLoader. I saw masks go from shop goggles to the first JT protective half masks to full face protection. I watched and was apart of the EPIC battle for the title of the best gun in paintball, between WGP's Autococker and AGD's Automag, which gave birth to some of paintballs greatest airsmiths/tech who went on to create some of the greatest products paintball has ever seen. I was working in a paintball store in California when the first Spyder debuted. I saw the dawn of the electronic gun age with the Angel. Hell I owned one of the first Angles to ever make it's way to the United states. I was apart of the movement when paintball came out of the woods and stepped onto the first HyperBall fields. I watched as fields became inflatable when Sup Air made fields where the bunkers were inflated and connected to each other by tubes. I played the last ten man game ever played by the NPPL/PSP with the SC Iromen and I won the World Championship title that same year with them. I watched as two leagues became separate and started their rivalry. I played the very first Xball game and thought I was going to die from exhaustion. I was apart of the team (Miami Effect/Infamous) that broke the rules and the contracts and walked away from the NXL to play in the NPPL. That single act broke the divide between the two leagues long enough to allow the NXL teams to be able to play both leagues and compete against the other pro teams again like it had been in the past. Ive worked in stores, at fields, at manufactures and distributors. I owned my own paintball store for ten years. I had my own line of products out for eight. I played pro for six. I have came up with and contributed to some of the products that helped make the industry what it is today, like the present day weight belt style harness, the first bolt redesign of the original Matrix to what became the now DM series, the "screw apart" two piece barrels as well as many more products. I am fortunate enough to be able to call people like Rich Telford, Chris Lasoya, Matty Marshal, Davey Willamson, Adam Johnson, Billy Wing, Yosh Rau, Andy Kopcok, Jon Richardson, Travis Lemanski, Mike Paxson, Ron Kilbourne, Josh Davey, Zack Long, and many others, not only past teammates, but friends.
I have witnessed some of the greatest things in the history of paintball, but I have also witnessed some of the shadiest, back stabbing, two faced moves you could ever imagine. I have a lot of dirt on a lot of people and I have always, for the most part, kept my mouth shut. But there comes a time when enough is enough and people need to know what is going on not only behind their backs, but for the most part, right in front of their face. I have always been a loyal and honest person. Other than when I left the BushWackers (who were amatuer at the time) to play with the pro team, SC Ironmen, I never left ANY of my teams for better offers, even when I wouldn't have been looked down upon for doing so. I always stuck it out through the good and the bad and trust me, there were some SERIOUSLY bad times. I believed in the concept that everything happens for a reason and that people are rewarded for their good acts and punished for their bad. While that may be a novel concept in the real world, it does not apply in the paintball industry. It seems that in paintball, the good die young and the bad....well lets just say the bad seem to make out pretty damn well. I am somewhat guilty of being apart of a lot of the bad that has happened in this industry simply due to the fact that I have known about it and I didn't say anything or try to change it, even though I was not reaping any benefits by doing so. I just thought it was better to go with the flow and not cause any waves for myself, my teams, or my paintball related businesses. Now that I'm not involved in the paintball industry anymore, I have no loyalties to anyone but myself and the players left behind in the shit storm that is modern paintball.
Many people have come and gone throughout the history of this sport and I can't honestly think of one of them that made a significant long term change for the better, something that continues to this day positively. People have tried, but nothing has stuck. Now if your thinking about people who made an industry changing product that positively changed the way the game is played and the way things are bought and sold, then your not talking about what I'm talking about. I'm not talking about a revolutionary product. I'm talking about why paintball isn't really growing and why it hasn't been received well by the public. The same public in which every single one of us came from. Why have other extreme sports like skateboarding, bmx, snowboarding, motocross, and MMA to name a few, had such immense success in a relative short amount of time? Paintball has been around for about as long as most of those sports and longer than others, yet those sports have all gained greater public acceptance, status, growth and financial stability over paintball. All we get to hold onto, is a couple years worth of having the numbers show we were growing faster than other sports, but where did that fast unsustained growth actually get us in the big scheme of things.
We are still a self sustained industry with very little true outside interest or help in the form of sponsor dollars. Why is that? Is it as simple as just not having the right industry infrastructure, the proper game format, or media outlets? If so, who's fault is that and why isn't it being fixed? Why have we not really done as well as those other sports in the over 20 years that we have been around? Why after 20 years are the same main companies, for the most part, still the ones that "control" the industry? Is there a correlation there? Why haven't more outside companies come into this, "near" billion dollar industry? Why isn't paintball on TV because of its own viewer strength and not because its being paid for by the industry? I mean, if every paintball player in the U.S. tuned into a show, those numbers alone would keep a show aired. Why don't players support the shows on TV? Why do we waste money playing paintball in the parking lots of football stadiums pretending that its making a difference in the eyes of the public and drawing in outside interest? Why are there two leagues spending so much time and money fighting each other in a battle to be the premiere league that the world will recognize as such when paintball goes mainstream, when there is so much ground work still left to be done before we even get there? Why is the ENTIRE referee organization completely unorganized and inconsistent? Why aren't more than a hand full of the best players in the world recognized and promoted for all the hard work they have put in and continue to everyday? Why cant you look up your favorite pro player and find out his game statistics and see for yourself that he is seen as a great player because of the numbers he puts up, not because he has a cool catch phrase or sweet headband fashion and is good at getting himself in front of every camera that it clicks off a shot? Why is being a total dick to other people on the field, cool and becomi ng the norm? Why is cheating considered "just part of the game"? Why do manufactures and distributors help open and then sell products to two rival stores, less than 5 miles apart from each other? Why do dealers slash their prices and devalue products because their stores are slow due to their own incompetence.....and why does the industry allow that?
These and many more, are all questions that not only need to be addressed, but that I believe I truly have SOME answers to. I know I don't have all the answers and I don't pretend to, but I believe I have some, and I welcome ANYONE to add to them or even correct mine. That is the type of thinking that has been lost in this industry. There is too much inner fighting and little to no cooperation. Everyone thinks they have the only answer. People aren't willing to swallow their pride. If they would stop fighting each other over all the little scraps that paintball has become and started working together, then they would all have a much bigger piece of a much bigger pie.