Interview a field owner for a college paper?

Discussion in 'General Airsoft Discussion' started by Automobilie, Jan 21, 2019.

  1. Automobilie

    Automobilie Active Member

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    Hello, I'm currently taking a technical writing course for the term. One of the assignments is, on a topic of our choice, a white paper; essentially a paper that discusses and describes a technology or procedure.

    I chose to write my papers this term on Hop up tracer units, specifically a unit I've been selling for awhile: The Streak tracer unit kits.
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    I would love to get some feedback on things around how a public field has, or could, integrate tracer units into their rental fleet of guns as well as how rental fees are priced and if integrating a tracer unit into a few AEG's could allow for 'premium' rentals. It would also be helpful to learn about frequency of 'lights out' or night games, and if having more tracer units available would mean more variety of games?

    The paper focuses on balancing the pros and cons of using resistor, current regulating (like the Streak units), and suppressor units.

    Any feedback or information would be extremely appreciated!

    Thank you,
    Kevin Beeker
     
  2. BoogerMc

    BoogerMc Airsoft Jedi Master Supporting Member

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    As a former field owner and current tech, speaking personally, the less stuff on a rental gun the better. First, it requires less upkeep, second, it keeps the cost of rentals down, and third, if broken, less cost to replace. For the most part, a rental is provided for two basic purposes, one, to give someone just trying out the game an opportunity to do so without significant investment, and two, to provide a quick, temporary backup to players whose personal equipment fails in field. That all being said, most fields do not hold many night games for various reasons, but the most likely one is simply because they must be held outside of normal business hours and therefore require special considerations, such as staffing, equipment, insurance issues, etc. This is not to say that such games do not happen, just that when they do, there is a lot of planning involved and the host must take extra precautions to insure the safety of their players.

    From a tech point of view, I'm not too familiar with tracer units as I've never had to install one for myself or customers; however, as stated, it would likely add to the maintenance and cost of rental units. There is also the consideration of the special bbs required for these units, many full-time players prefer to use their own ammo rather than field ammo; therefore, some may be reluctant to attend such events if they do not have the proper equipment or ammo. However, in the event of such a game, the time and effort required to install these units would also be part of the considerations involved in such decisions.

    As to how rentals are priced, etc. I can only speak for myself, but generally, I would take several points into consideration. These would include the total cost of the gun and accessories, the expected number of uses I will get from each gun, and the turnover rate associated with each event. So, let's say I purchase an M4 for $120 and supply three mags at $20/mag. I have $180 invested. I would expect to get at least ten rentals out of this, so to break even, that would mean a rental charge of $18/rental. Unfortunately, one can never count on expectations, so to hedge my bets, I am more likely to charge $25/rental, which will recover my investment quicker, at about seven rentals. Given this, any additional equipment installed or attached to the gun is going to increase the rental fee to cover costs or decrease my profit and recovery time.

    In my area, there are about three primary fields that the average player frequents, their admission fees range slightly, but the average is $20/player/day. That is just to come onto the field and play using a player's own equipment, so, add to that the cost of a rental for someone just starting out or needing to supplement a faulty gun, and you're looking at nearly $50/player/day. Even die hard players want to play for as cheap as possible, or most of them do anyway. So, keeping costs down is important. However, given enough notice, even players such as these can prepare for necessary expenses if they so choose. In other words, choosing to play at such an event and renting equipment just for that event is a personal choice, but may be worthwhile for someone who doesn't expect to play at such events often.

    As for "premium" rentals, that is more reliant on the type and make of gun than the equipment installed. After all, would you pay $50 to rent a cheap gun just because it had a tracer unit installed, what about a well known, premium brand name gun? Quality of equipment is the deciding factor in most cases, not the accessories. As for types of games and their availability, I refer back to my previous statements, this will depend on the field type, insurance considerations, and other issues that will affect or be affected by these games. Using the insurance as an example, there may be additional requirements set by the insurance policy for night or lights out games. Additionally, an outdoor field will have different conditions than an indoor field; therefore, the field owner will need to take these conditions into consideration. What are the possibilities of someone tripping and twisting an ankle or spraining a muscle? What are the chances of ricochets inside an enclosed area for an indoor field and how could such incidents create an issue for players?

    Mind you, these are personal observations, speaking for myself only. I'm sure others will have varying opinions on this subject, so take everything into consideration when writing your paper. As one who also used airsoft as a subject in many of my college papers, I'd be interested in reading it when finished.
     
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  3. mikejosephman

    mikejosephman Moderator Alligator Staff Member Moderator

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    I don't want to echo a lot of what Booger already said, so I'll add a few things from my experience. I have attended plenty of night games at my local field over the years, and the lack of tracer bb's flying is very noticeable. It's more of a novelty, and if your whole squad is in for them, cool. If not you're usually the lone person shooting tracers after dark. The majority of players will simply go with a mounted flashlight that illuminates the trail of a regular 6mm round. This gives two advantages: Your target can't always tell where the rounds are coming from, and you don't have to buy special rounds.

    It's cool to imagine but just not practical. You can't compare it to indoor laser tag where cost is low and upkeep very minimal. Airsoft fields already have a good bit of overhead to manage, so anything extra to enhance gameplay is up to the individual to provide. I've brought smoke grenades, the "bomb" briefcases, strobe lights, rescue dummies, target balloons, all sorts of things that your average field owner simply can't afford to purchase.

    The average price of .20 gram tracer bb's is about 1.5 times that of standard .20 ammo. Take into account that companies also package them in smaller bags, so the price per shot goes up also. Even before that, you need the tracer unit. Personally I have used one of your Streak units, very cool and very effective. But again, I also let out a stream of rounds very noticeable by everyone on the field. For plain tactical reasons, the novelty wears off pretty fast.

    On a rental gun, I wouldn't even imagine anyone forking over the extra money to cover cost of tracer batteries and tracer rounds on top of the rental price. They simply won't go for it, would rather just play during the day and go home when it gets dark. There just isn't a cost effective way to implement that sort of extra gameplay into current business models. As the Streak unit pretty much becomes integrated into the gun, not like a screw on barrel extension, the maintenance issues are numerous add-ons to tech work already being done on a daily basis for rental equipment.

    These are just technical and financial issues. Insurance doesn't really come into play once the waivers are signed. Nobody can be forced to play a night game without consenting, and once consented patrons play at their own risk no matter the time of day.
     
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  4. Automobilie

    Automobilie Active Member

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    I really appreciate your guys' input!

    Rentals really only last about 10 rentings? Ouch, they must really get beaten up!

    One of the appeals I wanted to make about HUTU's was the fairly low cost to purchase and install. The Streak units are about $20, but I'm also making them in small batches by hand. They are, however, pretty easy to install in most guns, and the driver can be transferred between guns for a couple dollars (New LED and power lead), which I hadn't considered yet.

    It sounds like I may be better off aiming the appeal to indoor fields that can have 'lights out' games to avoid the logistics of after-hours events.

    Did your field have a retail store for BB's? Do you think tracers might be more appealing to an indoor field with regular dark games?
     
  5. BoogerMc

    BoogerMc Airsoft Jedi Master Supporting Member

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    When I gave my examples, I was just throwing out numbers. Honestly, you may get a hundred rentals from a gun or you may get one, just depends on who rents it and how they treat it. As for indoor lights out games, you're still looking at the same basic issues, and as Mike said, most people are just going to use a flashlight.

    The few night games I held at my outdoor field, we allowed flashlights with red, blue, or green filters to avoid blinding someone if you accidentally shined the light directly in their eyes. This also prevets loss of night sight or vision. Unfiltered lights were only allowed for refs and equipment searches. However, use of flashlights inside can pose even more issues because of the close proximity, even filtered lights can mess with your night vision at close ranges. Given some of the tactical lights available nowadays, they can be extremely bright and that can be dangerous indoors, at least on a temporary basis.

    Again, these are personal opinions based on my experiences.
     
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  6. antizombie

    antizombie Well-Known Member

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    Last time I played a night game I kept one eye closed a decent amount of the time to reserve some night vision at all times because there was so many strobes and spotlight level flashlights. Definitely doesn't feel nice to go from total darkness to strobe in the eyes from 20 feet.
     
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  7. mikejosephman

    mikejosephman Moderator Alligator Staff Member Moderator

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    I'm pretty sure he meant 10 rentals to break even at that price point.
    Most field owners I've talked to buy guns at wholesale, so they only need to rent 4-5 times to break even. The average rental gun will last a good 20 rentals before needing tech work, and yes well close to 100 before needing serious replacement. That's close to 100,000 rounds under regular use.

    There is always a dedicated technician to fix problems as they happen to rental guns, also figured in to the cost of rentals. Where they make money is field admission and selling bb's which they buy in bulk. Someone could technically make some money off selling tracer rounds, albeit not as much.

    Depending on the location, they do sell products, but their profit margin is relatively low because they don't keep much on hand. After the rental has paid for itself many times over, they'll sell it to you at their original cost no problem. As for any additional equipment, you're always better off buying online where the markup is minimal.

    Then you have batteries to think of, and whether the HUTU is wired into the gun like I did with mine. That way I didn't have to buy 9 volts or AAs. Still, 20 bucks a pop is a lot for a purchaser to think of in terms of cost effectiveness.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2019
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  8. Automobilie

    Automobilie Active Member

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    Ah, that makes more sense. 10 rentals before complete destruction seemed kind low lol.
    If the rental could go out for an extra $5, at $20+installation tech price the unit itself would be paid off pretty quickly, plus it can be transferred to new rentals for a couple dollars.

    I think I could possibly present an argument in my paper. I'll need to talk to an indoor field as well, get some feedback from that!

    Thanks again guy's, really appreciate the input!
     
  9. BoogerMc

    BoogerMc Airsoft Jedi Master Supporting Member

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    The closest indoor field to me is Assault Airsoft in Massillon, OH. You can find them on Facebook. I'm sure if you sent them a message they'd answer your questions.