Airsoft is not Call of Duty

Recently I was having a discussion with a couple of our players about retention of members and why do they stop coming. Here on our small island we have a core airsoft group in our club and plenty of casual players, we often get a couple of ‘noobs’ (I hate that term) but in this case that’s what I will call them who come for a couple of games, they or their parents spend a decent few quid on their kit then they stop coming and we never see them again. As we are based on a small island with only one other Airsoft club we know they are not jumping ship off to other venues. So where do they go?

Other commitments aside (we’ve all got those!!) what stops them coming back? Is it the Call of Duty effect, the realisation that they can’t hit a target from 2 miles away with unlimited ammo or med packs or sit a respawn point and get shed loads of kills, where ping and megabits per second don’t have any effect and yes losing in some cases quite badly to fat(ish) middle aged blokes is a possibility. Is it a case of kit intimidation/jealousy?

We’ve all been those ‘noobs’ at some point and we’ve all taken the decision to keep playing otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this blog, so why us and not them. I got into airsoft after seeing a post on a local what’s on forum, I was looking for social hobbies after coming off a couple of very difficult years in my personal life, I did (and still do) play COD, I did some research on the hobby and thought that’s one for me. First visit got a rental m4 a couple of high caps a bag of ammo and spent the day getting hit a lot, probably couldn’t hit a barn door but I had a good time. Thoughts on that day, jesus I was not only intimidated by the new social experience but seeing some of the gear the guys had was a real eye opener up until that is I hit one of them for the first time, then the realisation that it’s more to do with the player than the kit, yes it helps but it still how that aeg is wielded that can make the difference. Since then collecting my load out changing my gear adding and taking away gear I’ve seen these players come and go and always wondered why.

The videogame effect could be an angle, when sat in a warm room with a drink blasting away at computer generated enemies as opposed to sat in a prickly gorse bush in the rain you could see their point of view, this is fine but why then spend money on kit until you know that you are going to commit regularly? Recently I having been talking to new players encouraging them to do the research and rent the gear and not get intimidated by other players stuff before embarking on any spending as it seems silly to me to waste that time and effort.

Now losing the games badly could also be the factor. There you are sat behind the screen with your controller rising to the top of leader boards, being awesome, have a killer avatar and player name generally kicking ass across the world, you come out to a field in Jurby and suddenly a balding, fat, middle aged office worker (yes that’s me) is kicking your ass and you don’t like it. But hang on a minute I was awesome last night on that urban map, knife killing the South Korean champion what’s happened? It must be the guns and gear? I know I’ve played one game I will get a gun that will solve it and I will be awesome again. 50 more hours COD practice, £300 quid gun and gear and off you trot to the next game ready to have your awesomeness confirmed but holy crap on a cracker he’s at it again and I am hit and dead. That’s it I’m not going again he must be cheating because I know I am awesome.

It’s a little tongue in cheek I know but is that what happens? I wish I knew because if all those players who did this came regularly we’d have about 100 players a game and be able to put loads of money into improving the club and its facilities. But no it still happens, yes there are loads of other factors that can stop people coming work, girlfriends, wives, university etc. etc. But we need as a club to figure why so we can grow and get the projects we want to do off the ground.

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