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I decided to start an airsoft business on the tiny island of Utila, Honduras - this is the ongoing saga........

4678 Views 153 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  Shady
Hey all!
I used airsoft for training of my team in the US Army back in 1993 when simunitions ran low and airsoft choices were very limited. I have since moved to a tiny island in the Caribbean off the coast of Honduras called Utila. I am a PADI Master Instructor, and the diving is the main reason we moved here. Besides diving, drinking and the obvious overwhelming beauty of our island, there is not much else to do, so I decided to start an airsoft business here for islanders as well as the many tourists we get coming to our island every year.
Airsoft in our location is a different animal than in the States, so I decided it would be fun to kind of "blog" my experiences in getting this up and running (or crash and burn, we will see......) for your entertainment.
Obviously, being on a little island, I am not trying to sell anything to anyone - this is strictly for entertainment and possibly learning from what I do right or wrong in this process.
I will update this often and try to keep it current as this process will involve months of time - in fact it already has - to get it up and running. If you want to read this, GREAT! I hope you are entertained and if you have suggestions, I would love to hear them as we go. If it's not your thing, then simply pass it by. It should be interesting.
Right now, I need to go diving, so will put the first real installment to this thread up this afternoon. I know, I know - you can hardly wait........ :D
Thanks, and let's have some frustrating laughs together.
Sarge
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Real Time update 31MAR23
Our paying dive guests arrived today, so for the next week I will be in the water diving with them pretty much daily. Tonight, yet another shipment came in from our international shipper. We now have the paint to camo the SSX-23 and the SSG10 A2 when we buy it. Yet MORE bb's ( :D ) as you can never have too many, I got some Idogear G3 tactical pants that actually seem pretty damn good. Two crank speed loaders and a few other small things.
Our first event is the weekend after this with the hog fry/Easter egg hunt where we have a booth for shooting the platforms. We are just about ready for our opening on the 15th of April.
I got our flyers printed up and laminated today, so I can start putting those up around town soon.
Yup, life is good and we are getting close to making this whole kick off and be profitable.
That's it for today, more soon.
Sarge out
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You got a link to your FB Page Sarge? I'll chuck a like out there.
Shady,
Here you go, and thanks!
Real Time update 11APR23
Our dive guests are gone and now it's back to Utila Airsoft mode.
Our first public exposure was on Easter morning at an island Easter Egg hunt and Hog fry. Had about 50 islanders come by and try out the platforms and get info on what we are doing. The platforms all performed flawlessly. We have laminated flyers out around town and are ready and set up to take deposits on paypal for slot reservations. We are starting with 8 firing platforms - 2 more are already ordered, but won't be here on island until early May. I would like to have 15 total, but we are letting demand dictate our supply. ;) Our playing sessions right now are Saturday and Sunday mornings with the safety/rules briefing starting at 7:45 am and play starting immediately after those. The sessions will go until 11:00 am or a little later if we are in the middle of a game. We have the War Wagon painted and all ready to transport everything to the fields. We have a Marshall hired, and will add to that force as we grow. Our fields are GREAT! Acres and acres that we can use - some with trails, some with hills, clearings AND jungle cover. As close to perfect as I could have imagined. It is in an area not too far from town and all the Tuk Tuk drivers (local taxis) know where it is. Easy to get to, but out of the way enough to not bother the neighbors.
Between now and our first session, we are just going to be getting the word out as much as we can. We are realistically anticipating a slow open with quick growth once those who play talk about it with their friends. We plan to open up sessions on both Tuesday and Thursday mornings as well, once word spreads.
So far, so good! We are ready and excited for our opening!
Picture below is from the Easter Egg hunt.
Sarge out
Air gun Tree Trigger Shooting range Shotgun
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Real Time update 15APR23
Well, one week from TODAY is our opening session! We instituted a deposit reservation system so folks could guarantee their slot to play on any given session. This is kind of a foreign thing to Honduras, and some don't quite get it, but are figuring it out. The session charge is $40 (1000 lps) and a deposit of $10 (250lps) guarantees your slot in the session. People are great at SAYING they will do something, but in my experience, putting a little "skin in the game" gives them that needed nudge to follow through with it. We already have 4 of the 8 slots reserved, and I have a feeling the rest will go now that I have posted on our page that 4 slots are reserved.
We are starting with sessions every Saturday and Sunday morning with plans to expand to Tuesday and Thursday mornings as well as demand dictates.
We have 8 platforms in hand with 2 more on their way. The goal is 15 rentals plus our own personal platforms. The more platforms we can put in someones hands is just more money per session without extra work or time, so it makes sense. We have the room on our land to actually run side by side games if the need is there, and then we will bring in whatever we need to make that happen.
We will also sell water and gatorade on site, though players are encouraged to bring their own.
We are VERY close to having everything ready. Taking care of small details and last minute things as they pop up.
Indicators look good, so we are enthused and hopeful. I anticipate getting quite busy a few weeks after our first session, once word spreads around about what airsoft is and how fun it is to play - it is largely unknown here, so there is a familiarization curve to deal with.
That is it for today!
Sarge out
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Real Time update 16APR23
Inquiries continue to come in, which is a good sign!
Today's project was to camo the SSX-23. Mission accomplished - obvious pics below. I had to bring in the paint used from the States as camo paints just aren't here on our island. 😆 However, I forgot to order clear coat, so I will probably redo this again in a month or so as it gets torn up.
Pretty much it for today.
Sarge out
Air gun Trigger Wood Gun barrel Gun accessory

Air gun Trigger Wood Gun barrel Gun accessory
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Real Time update 21APR23
Well, tomorrow is the day! At this point, I believe we have overthought and over complicated everything we can in preparation for our opening session. Our reservation system is working well. We will see if we have any walk on's show up. For tomorrow's opening session, we have 5 of the 8 slots reserved, so room for 3 walk on's. Sunday's session is already sold out with reservations, so that's great! We have 8 platforms for players, and two more that should be here in the next week or so. I plan on ordering another 2 at least to get us to 12 soon. Novritsch is STILL our of stock on the suppressor for the SSG10 A2, so we continue to wait to make that whole purchase until it is in stock. My partner and I will order our own platforms at some point soon I hope, so now we hust have to decide what we want for ourselves. If you have ideas on the latest superduper bb sprayer, let me know and I can check it out.
The games we have outlined to start are:
First game - force on force simple kill the other team. Get everyone loose and into the game itself.
Second - Capture the flag. Flag in the middle of the field, capture it and return it to your start spot.
Third - Rogue sniper. Me or my partner will be set somewhere on the field in a sniper hide with the SSX-23. The sniper will shoot a max of 1 player per team, but then will move around until shot by someone. At that point, they become a member of the team that hit them, after returning to that teams starting point, then moving out into the field again.
Fourth and Fifth - HVT movement. A single HVT will be escorted by one team from their end of the field to the opposing sides end. HVT gets hit, it is mission failure and we start over with the other team being responsible for movement. The HVT will be one of two variants, as we all know that HVT's are generally pains in the *** and largely think they know your business better than you do, the HVT will either be very cooperative (do everything you tell them to do quickly and efficiently) AND wearing a bright orange vest, OR the HVT will be camo'd, but follow your commands sluggishly or maybe not fully. This will add to the game and make it fun I think.
Time remaining in our session can be played out with more force on force or anything else we come up with. It should be a lot of fun.
Our sessions run from the 0745 briefing to 1100 on play days. We urge people to show up at 0715 to start getting kitted out etc prior to the briefing.
Aside from the actual games during the sessions, we are selling water and gatorade as they are obvious money makers, but we encourage folks to bring their own drinking water etc also.
We tried to keep it simple yet fun and mostly PROFITBALE. I have a spreadsheet made that calculates ACTUAL costs of each session and includes not only the obvious costs like BB's etc, but also depreciation on ALL equipment that we supply and use. This will give me an accurate picture of how much money we actually make instead of a "close guess" which has no place in business.
We have tried to think of everything, but I am sure things will still pop up and surprise us. "Engage, adapt, conquer" is what translates to success and we will do it in spades.
Will update tomorrow after the first session.
Sarge out
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Sounds awesome. The big question is what kind of money are you trying to spend on platforms for yourself and your partner? And what do you like/what are you looking for.
Sounds awesome. The big question is what kind of money are you trying to spend on platforms for yourself and your partner? And what do you like/what are you looking for.
I would think we are looking at platforms in around $400 each give or take. I really like something different than the M4 or AK look, the Vector for example. Something that I don't need to screw up with upgrades out of the box would be great. 😆
I may be dead wrong here, but I think from what I've heard that the Krytac Vector (pretty much the only AEG Vector) is pretty decent OOTB, as Krytacs tend to be. Absolute nightmare to work on, I know for sure, but mostly irrelevant if you don't plan on doing anything with it. A bit on the pricey side for sure though. ($600+?)

My other suggestions would be either the Krytac or the Novi P90, along with some 200 round Krytac mags. (~$400) The Novi would actually be my pick for the better performing replica, as well as having more features and creature comforts, but Krytac tends to make their things last, and it would be impractically hard for you to get warranty work done on a Novi SSR90

No upgrades and no M4s or AKs limits suggestions a bit, but I can totally understand the thinking.
I may be dead wrong here, but I think from what I've heard that the Krytac Vector (pretty much the only AEG Vector) is pretty decent OOTB, as Krytacs tend to be. Absolute nightmare to work on, I know for sure, but mostly irrelevant if you don't plan on doing anything with it. A bit on the pricey side for sure though. ($600+?)

My other suggestions would be either the Krytac or the Novi P90, along with some 200 round Krytac mags. (~$400) The Novi would actually be my pick for the better performing replica, as well as having more features and creature comforts, but Krytac tends to make their things last, and it would be impractically hard for you to get warranty work done on a Novi SSR90

No upgrades and no M4s or AKs limits suggestions a bit, but I can totally understand the thinking.
Thank you for the suggestions! I appreciate it! We will see what happens, not in a huge rush. Have many things to pay attention to in this start up prior to being able to just show up and play. 😆🤙
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Real Time update 23APR23
First weekend of Utila Airsoft - Jungle Warfare is in the books! We not only had a lot of fun, we fine tuned some of our methods etc, and made some money to boot!
We have 8 slots total per session right now (2 more platforms arriving in the next week or so, and possibly ordering another 2 or 3 shortly). Our first day (Saturday) we were sold out, but in keeping with island tradition, some never showed, which is EXACTLY why we have a $10 non refundable deposit to hold your slot. Today, we were also sold out, but only 1 no show. Both days we had a blast! Everyone fell lin love with airsoft and say they can't wait to come back. Once word travels around about their fun time and the pictures get out, I can see business picking up quickly. Only downer for the entire weekend of play was a couple of I will call them "eco minded" females who showed up at the field right before we were going to start play yesterday. They were asking all kinds of questions like "how are you protecting the wildlife while you play", and "we would like you to put screens up all around your play area", and other questions leading to me thinking they had ANY say in what the hell we do. As far as protecting the wildlife, I told them "we use Darwins method of natural selection - if the animals are stupid enough to stick around while we are having a firefight, they are stupid and therefore need to be weeded out of the animal population for the good of the species." Exact words. As for everything else, I told them that we have leased ALL of the land in that area, and in 5 minutes they were going to be trespassing and we would happily and legally remove them. They chose to leave.
We got creative with the game profiles and ended up coming up with some pretty cool scenarios.
All of the equipment performed flawlessly! No hiccups, no trouble at all with anything. In a pleasant surprise, the Titan batteries not only lasted through a full session, they were only drained to a little over half of capacity. Going strictly by percentage vs. rounds downrange, it seems we will get about 2800 shots per charge. Not bad. The Lancer G3 platforms were great and accurate out farther than we had shots to take. I know it's only been two sessions, but so fat, so good!
A couple of pics below.
Plant Leaf Botany Tree People in nature
Military camouflage Plant Camouflage People in nature Vegetation
Plant Plant community Natural environment Hat Terrestrial plant
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Hey Sarge, been about a month now. How are things running?
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