Distributor grows Paintball popularity
Original article by By Abigail Crocker with www.eastbayri.com
WARREN — There are no neon signs that advertise its presence. But Planet Eclipse Ltd., a merchandise distribution company quietly housed in a warehouse at the end of Cutler Street, is a big contributor to a sports culture rarely spoken about but getting more notoriety – the sport of paintball.
“People who don’t play, don’t know about it,” said paintball player and Planet Eclipse employee Brandon Degre.
The paintball distribution company located at 84 Cutler Street sells high-end guns for paintball, a sport that simulates military strategies. Usually people play on teams that seek to eliminate those on an opposing team by marking them with dye shot out of guns that shoot balls filled with paint. Players usually wear masks and padding to protect themselves from shots. Some play in the woods or in artificial sites with bunkers and walls.
According to Ian Parsons, Barrington resident and owner of the company, despite the economic downturn, his business is faring well. He said paintball players are still investing in equipment and the sport is still growing, especially in New England, California, and parts of Canada.
“It’s an up and coming sport,” said Mr. Parsons.
His company specializes in high-end equipment; his guns typically run from $600 to $1,800 depending on the level of customization. For professional players, the company will get special orders. The company’s product is manufactured in Taiwan, sent to his site on Cutler Street, then distributed to retail stores throughout the world.
But according to Mr. Parsons, there is more to the company than warehouses and boxes. To promote the sport, the company spends about $500,000 a year to sponsor professional teams that wear their merchandise; some are Canadian and others are located in the Midwest. It’s an expensive venture but it helps to put paintball on professional networks like ESPN. But the sport is not limited to the professionals. One of the biggest paintball tournaments in the world is called D-Day and held in the Pocono Mountains. It draws about 4,500 people every year.
“There are objectives, goals to meet. Some take it serious and dress up like American soldiers, construct tanks. It’s a whole theatrical three-day event,” said Mr. Parsons.
While there are a lot of misnomers associated with paintball, he said parents typically like when their child gets into the sport, since most children are inundated with technology and rarely go outdoors.
“It’s becoming more and more accepted by parents. It teaches team skills and you don’t have to be the fittest athlete to play. They get outside and get some fresh air and exercise,” said Mr. Parsons.
But while at conferences, he often hears parents say that paintball is dangerous since it involves a type of gun. However, he thinks that playing paintball actually teaches children that real firearms are not to be played with.
“They see how easy it is to fire the trigger and injure someone,” said Mr. Parsons.