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Paintball: Opportunity For Profitable Rural Business
Joe Brandsma started a paintball business in rural northern Minnesota last year. And even though he lost five weekends due to heavy rain, business was brisk enough that he plans to open the 8 1/2-acre site again in the spring.
He says there are lots of opportunities with the popular game. Though it sounds dangerous, Brandsma says there are fewer injuries with it than with golf. "Paintball is getting huge, expanding almost 100 percent each year," says Brandsma. "It's the fastest growing industry in extreme sports."
His rural operation is an expansion of an indoor paintball arena that Brandsma and a partner operate in Brookings, S. Dak. He is bringing the same national certification, rules, safety considerations and insurance to his rural enterprise. He cautions against opening what he calls rogue fields.
"Landowners don't realize their homeowners' insurance doesn't cover liability from operating a paintball field," he says. "There are only four companies that insure paintball businesses."
Brandsma's insurance requires his players use goggles. His masks offer protection for the eyes, mouth, chin and ears and cover half way back on the head. "The safety equipment is regulated by OSHA and tested to withstand 300 ft./sec. paintballs. You can get the gear at a low cost - goggles for $20, kneepads and others pieces in the $20 range too. The cheapest line protects as well as the highest-price line."
He also uses only fresh paintballs, explaining that as paintballs sit on the shelf, they dry up and get harder.
Paintball guns range from $60 to $1,400, with professional guns running as high as $1,700. Brandsma charges $10/day, $20 for equipment rental and sells paintballs at 500 for $20 or 2,000 for $60.
All outside games are refereed from a raised platform to enforce safety rules and encourage a fun experience. Learning the rules and operating safely is key to success. Brandsma recommends attending the Paintball Technical Institute if a person is interested in establishing a paintball field.
"They teach you everything you need to know from gun technology to field management," he says. "It costs about $2,000 to get fully certified."
Brandsma suggests there is no such thing as too much training or certification. He is certified to referee by multiple national professional paintball leagues. This allows him to run professional tournaments, which are increasing in number as the sport grows.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Joe Brandsma, Darkside Paintball Arena, Inc., Brookings Mall, 770 22nd Ave. S., Brookings, S. Dak. 57006 (ph 605 696-0701; cell ph 218 371-8323; fax 605 696-0701; darksidepaintball@mchsi.con; www. darksidearena.com).

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2007 - Volume #31, Issue #1