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Paintball - SHOT Show 2009

SHOT Show 2009
January 2009 - by Bill Mills - Photos by Dawn Mills

Paintball - Red Rock Outdoor GhilliesEvery year the National Shooting Sports Foundation holds the SHOT Show – the Shooting Hunting Outdoor Trade Show. With an audience consisting of those in the shooting sports trades (primarily sporting goods and firearms dealers) the show is one of the world's largest exhibitions for products related to sport firearm shooting, police and military firearms use, and hunting.

The overall 23rd largest trade show in the US, the 2009 SHOT Show had 22,098 personnel manning display booths and making the show happen for 25,384 attendees. Because the show was closed to the general public, it had a ratio of exhibitors to attendees that allows for in-depth discussion about products and deal brokering.

 

Paintball - Camo FurIn years past, display of paintball products of was forbidden, as the NSSF would not endorse a sporting activity that involved pointing a “gun” at a person, as this violates a primary rule of safe firearms handling. This author found the concept very ironic considering the number of times he witnessed real firearms pointed at people at SHOT Show exhibits (all firearms on the trade show floor were rendered inert by removal of firing pins and tagged by a safety inspector) including a person pulling the trigger of a Smith and Wesson revolver while looking down the barrel.

During the years when paintball was banned it was still at the show, just hidden. At least one pellet and BB gun manufacturer had a hidden room in the center of their booth with full of paintball products. As the paintball market grew, so did business demand, and paintball was allowed to come out of the closet at the SHOT Show, with a lot of the big players in the industry exhibiting, hoping to extend their products out to gun stores and large chain sporting goods stores.

Paintball - Monarch 3D CamoWith the contracting paintball market, combined with a paintball industry wholesale trade show set for just a few weeks later, the paintball presence at this year's show was small, but interesting nonetheless.

Although the paintball products were relatively few at the SHOT Show, there were plenty of items easily of interest to paintball players, especially those who focus on the woods, scenarios and milsim. Three-Dimensional camouflage suits – AKA ghillie suits – are available from a number of manufacturers, and many of the optics, specialty gloves, clothing and hydration systems designed for hunting, are directly applicable in paintball.

Troy TurretFor the scenario paintball crowd, the automated weapons mount shown by Troy would be a welcome addition to any paintball tank. Although their demo unit had an AR receiver attached, any heavily railed paintball marker could be substituted. Not only does the mount pivot over a wide range of motion and provide realtime video of the aimpoint, but it also has a highly advanced tracking system. Simply waving at the turret is enough to attract its attention, at which point the demo unit easily tracked a single person through a crowd of trade show attendees. The $60,000 base price is probably out of most paintball tanker's budgets but it's hard to put a price on cool.

Paintball - KingmanThe largest paintball booth belonged to Kingman, USA. One half of their booth was filled with the Spyder paintball line familiar to paintball players - Spyder markers like the MR series, goggle systems and gear.

Paintball - Kinman TrainingThe second half of the Spyder booth was dedicated to the new Kingman Training product line. Kingman Training centers around two new markers, the Chaser and the Eraser. These 43 caliber (11mm) markers have the general look of automatic pistols. Their blowback valve system is first cocked by pulling back then releasing their slide. Twelve-gram CO2 cartridges power the marker, Kingman reports the ability to fire 70 shots per cartridge. One of the benefits of the 43 caliber paintball size is that it requires less energy to fire each shot. The other benefit is the ability to build a pistol that looks and feels like a firearm for training, as the bulk of .68 caliber paintballs can make paintball pistols feel oversized. The Chaser and Eraser both feature spring loaded 10-shot magazines that load inside their grips. The primary difference between the two markers is that the Chaser uses all-metal construction while the less expensive Eraser is a combination of metal and plastic components.

Paintball - Kingman Training ChaserKingman employees described the markers as capable of hitting a person consistently at 100 feet. They said the choice of 43 caliber paint specifically was made by balancing the need for a compact size against the ability of larger diameter paintballs to break consistently on target but not in the marker. Kingman Training brand 43 caliber paintballs will carry a suggested retail price of $13 for 200 or $25 for 500 rounds.

Kingman - Training Eraser Paintball PistolWhile ASTM standards currently specify 68 caliber as the standard for paintballs, and this size is mandated by many paintball tournament and scenario rules, the paintball industry has not always been locked in, as both 50 caliber and 42 caliber paintballs were not too uncommon in the 1980s. For the Kingman Training primary market, these standards are a non-issue, and during the show the markers drew a significant amount of attention from combat training professionals citing their cost as significantly less expensive than alternatives like Simunition.

Because the Kingman Training markers on display were pre-production samples lacking the final product finish, photographs were prohibited. The Eraser and Chaser are planned to be on paintball dealer shelves in April of 2009.

Paintball - InfernoArrow Precision is the US distributor for Sterling Paintballs and the Airborn compressed air system from the UK. While probably best known today for the Inferno blowback powered semi-auto markers, their other marker, the Sterling is one of the few high-quality pump paintguns still in production after nearly two decades on the market.

Paintball - Sterling

 

Paintball - Tiberius T8Tiberius Arms is known in paintball for their Tiberius 8 pistol and Tiberius 9 pistol/carbine, the T9 taking a prominent position in their SHOT show booth with was staffed by members of the family owned business.

 

 

Paintball - Tiberius T9

 

T4 - Less LethalNew from Tiberius this year is the T4 rifle with a larger magazine. Marketed specifically to fire specialty less-lethal rounds for police and military use, one of its halmark features is the ability to single load a round – like a nylon window-breaker – directly into the chamber without removing the magazine which could be loaded with OC pepper balls or similar. Acording to Tiberius sales staff, the T4 has already seen field use, deploying OC rounds to disperse rioters during the 2008 Democratic National Convention.


FN Less LethalIn a similar vein, walking past the P90s and SCARs in the FN Herstal booth brought one to their less-lethal display, with the FN-303, a less-lethal rifle, designed around 68 caliber paintball technology by the crew from Airgun Designs, and the new LLP (Less Lethal Pistol) manufactured for them by Tiberius Arms.

Bill Mills behind a 40mm full-auto grenade launcher from H&KAs diminutive as the Paintball presence was at the show, word among the vendors was that the 2010 SHOT show is not planned to have a designated paintball area on the trade show floor, any paintball vendors will simply be blended in to the Law Enforcement section of the show.


 


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