Paintball Busters. Busters didn't have a woods course, and is on hiatus due to real estate issues. Busters had it more "together." The lack of local competition is a great boom for SLP, but are they taking advantage?
Directions to the Field:
Couldn't be easier to find. It is directly across the street from the entrance to Jarvis Bay Provincial Park. Take Highway 11 West from Red Deer and turn right (North) on Highway 20. Continue north on 20 after the four-way stop at the interesection of Highways 20 and 11A. About three minutes up the road. Again, look for the Park signs. It's a left (west) on Township Road 392 (I think 392, don't quote me)
SLP has potential written all over it. If any field could ever brag about "location," this is the one. The speedball course is oddly addictive, even if the "cross" bunkers are limiting, and the airball course gets switched up with refreshing regularity. The only negative I can think of field-wise would be the woods ball course that had a positively insane number of mosquitos earlier in the year. If they paid field fees the owner would be richer than Gates. This problem has lessened, however, and is hardly his fault. Undergrowth is dense, but not tangled and usually waist-high. Lots of snap shooting and ambushing, and a reasonable size. Little time wasted moving from a to b, action starts quick in the woods.
As mentioned in the area fields block, SLP's closest competition, Busters, has closed for the summer so some players from the Red Deer area are now coming to Sylvan, but not as many as you might think. I'm not sure SLP has jumped on this opportunity. I've seen no advertising (not saying there's none, but I haven't seen it) and I wonder if any effort has been made to reach out to the displaced Red Deer players.
The other problem I have I've been observing the whole time I've been going to SLP is that "Walk On Wednesday" can be a bit of a pain. The problems are groups of kids, and older teens or adult renters. For different reasons, but the key element is supervision.
The little kids have no concept of what walk-on means, and they routinely refuse to allow any players outside their group, however small, to play with them. The staff usually supports this. An unfortunate few push the boundries a little further, and I have "lost" minor equipment at this field. Small stuff that was in my bag, and suddenly this renting kid happens to have the same kit. "Nice tubes, Kid." Frustrating, but to be fair I can't prove anything. I've also experienced more than one paint beggar. What this field needs is consistant, enthusiastic supervision of the kids in terms of behaviour, not safety. So they shoot lots of paint, and are controlled from hogging a course for seemingly never ending one-on-ones.
One thing that is out of control for them (and all fields, I'm sure) is the increasingly interesting "Paintball Mom." I found it entertaining and distrubing to watch young junior take his marker to Mom complaining about not hitting anybody, and watching Mom remove the condom and fiddle "to see what's wrong." Suddenly she's a tech? In that case, staff was on her like a hawk, but she was most indignant that there was something wrong with the gun. Of course, it couldn't be that junior was three feet high, the gun was as long as his leg, and it was his first time playing. It was almost comical. As a completely useless aside, at least some of the Moms have been smokin', smokin' hot.
I should repeat that the kids at the field are kept in line in terms of safety, googles on, always. I have never seen SLP let safety slide with their young players. Sportsmanship and behaviour, yes, safety, never.
As for the renting adults. More-often-than-not they also have a problem playing with people with their own equipment, but are generally more open to the idea if the teams are mixed well. Even more so for the older crowd, supervision is minimal, and I am not alone at having seen a rental adult walk off after being hit, through the middle of a game, paint flying, with their mask off. You'd think having the spectators freaking out and yelling "mask! mask!" might get the owner or staff's attention. So far it hasn't. Seriously, just because you're eliminated doesn't mean you're immune. Older teens and adults are trusted to self-police too much.
There's a minimalist proshop, but their online business is growing, and they're more than happy to help with fixes, upgrade ideas, and if he hasn't got the part he'll get it.
Walk-on paint prices are great, and there're burgers on by 6:00.
I am surprised that SLP has not jumped on the opportunity that they've got this summer, especially considering how easy they are to find.
The owner obviously loves the sport, but his staff needs a tune up. They clearly love the game, but that has to translate to some sort of business thinking, and responsibility. Many of them (not all) seem to be there to hang out, not work. Enthusiastic refs/officials would do absolute wonders for this place. Combine that with a dedicated campaign to get Red Deer players out, and SLP would truly be off to the races, and hard for Busters to catch next year.
Last edited on Thursday, July 26th, 2007 at 8:26 am PST