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Old 01-10-2012, 04:41 PM #1
neo2000x
 
 
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Air bunkers: Pros/Cons

I've been looking at the industry and trying to figure out why it decided to use air bunkers for speedball. The pros/cons I can think of is below. Let me know if I missed anything, as part of me thinks their could be a better design for certain situations. How happy are you guys with your air bunker set up?

Pros:
- Easy to wash/clean
- Easy to move/store
- Easy to setup/rearrange
- Prevents balls from bouncing
- Low cost to ship
- Waterproof

Cons:
- Prone to leaks
- Any leak results in a crippled bunker that needs to be reflated/repaired (high maintenance)
- Quality durable bunkers are expensive
- Limited long term weather durability
- Need air filling device
- Periodic replacement costs
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Old 01-10-2012, 05:08 PM #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neo2000x View Post
I've been looking at the industry and trying to figure out why it decided to use air bunkers for speedball. The pros/cons I can think of is below. Let me know if I missed anything, as part of me thinks their could be a better design for certain situations. How happy are you guys with your air bunker set up?

Pros:
- Easy to wash/clean
- Easy to move/store
- Easy to setup/rearrange
- Prevents balls from bouncing
- Low cost to ship
- Waterproof

Cons:
- Prone to leaks
- Any leak results in a crippled bunker that needs to be reflated/repaired (high maintenance)
- Quality durable bunkers are expensive
- Limited long term weather durability
- Need air filling device
- Periodic replacement costs
If they are being used on just one field, rather being moved to different locations, in that case I would consider the fact that you have to move them and store them a con, rather than a pro. Bunkers that can withstand being out in the elements (not need to be stored elsewhere) would be better suited in that regard.
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Old 01-11-2012, 01:45 PM #3
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From a player standpoint:
they are nice to play in, dont hurt if you go to hard into them, you can push into them easy to reconfigure the field for new layouts mid day...

From a field standpoint:
players like them.. ? I use to hate washing the damn things..

From a traveling tournament standpoint:
Transportability
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Old 01-11-2012, 01:58 PM #4
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The main thing, IMO, that it allows for fields that are exactly the same on either side.

Try doing that with Hyperball tubes or plywood AND THEN change it up every couple of weeks so your customers arent playing the same field week after week.

I love all kinds of play but I feel like airball stands above the rest because of that reason. I can't tell you how many awesome fields I have gotten tired of because nothing ever changes.
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Old 01-11-2012, 02:54 PM #5
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Agreed about the flexibility to change up the field. However my question is, do you really need air filled bunkers all the time? Why not a different material? The problem with air is that bunkers have to be very durable, which increases the cost. Any leak what so ever makes the bunker pretty useless.
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Old 01-11-2012, 03:31 PM #6
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air bunkers are for tournament players. thats is it. it is so a standardized layout can be made across the board.They are much easier and more compact to transport then the old hyperball fields.

if you don't have tourney players, don't have air bunkers.

Here are my rough time estimates i have developed for the time it requires for an airball field.

inflation in the morning about 1 hour per field with 2 blowers with the old caps.
With the new caps about 30 minutes with 2 blowers.

Burping/ topping off the bunkers will require about 1 hour a day.

Water Ballasts require about 5 minutes per bunker and 2 people.

Sandbagging, if our sandbags are already filled requires about 5 a bunker with 1 person.

Washing takes about an hour and a half with 1 sprayer, and one scrubber.

deflation, water ballast removal, and storage for the winter requires about 10minutes a bunker, with 2 people.

If your airball field is open saturdays and sundays, from the beginning of april- the end of october that is 30 weekends a year.

To fill the ballasts, and sand bag the requires 11 man hours.
To inflate the new bunkers every sat. and sun. for 30 weekends requires a min. of 60 man hours.
To top off, burp, and do minor repairs to the bunkers will require 60 man hours.
To wash the bunkers after each day of play requires 180 man hours.
To to deflate, remove water and sandbags and store requires 14.66 man hours.

In tottal you can assume that you will spend at least 325.66 man hours a year to just maintain this field.
At the Massachusetts Minimum wage of $8.00 that will cost you $2605.28.

That is before the leaf blowers, gas for them, water for cleaning and ballasts, and sandbags.

There is nothing cheap about inflatable fields.
A non-inflatable field will cost you maybe $100 in yearly maintenance.
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Old 01-12-2012, 11:32 AM #7
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For the tournament guys, because that's what they want. Cost effective to manufacture and ship, and fairly easy for field owners/tournament promoters to transport and move. I love playing airball, I hate them as a fieldowner.

Here's what we used to make, they never really caught on unfortunately. Due to infrequent orders, we had to discontinue them. Each panel weighed about 10lbs.

They cost more to produce and to ship but they have a lifespan of 12-15+ years, making them much more cost effective. They had their own limitations though.
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Old 01-12-2012, 11:57 AM #8
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Airball has become the norm for speedball for one reason. The large leagues use it.

Pros:
- Easy to wash/clean Actually, it is a pain in the butt.
- Easy to move/store While it can be done, the fact that it must be done is a pain in the butt
- Easy to setup/rearrange rearrange? Yes! Setup however is time consuming.
- Prevents balls from bouncing Actually,many more balls bounce off airball than a hard bunker
- Low cost to ship compared to some systems yes but how many people are shipping their fields around?
- Waterproof I suppose they are.

Cons:
- Prone to leaks Yes!
- Any leak results in a crippled bunker that needs to be reflated/repaired (high maintenance) Yes!
- Quality durable bunkers are expensive Yes!
- Limited long term weather durability Yes!
- Need air filling device Yes!
- Periodic replacement costs Yes!

I felt that system from Warrior was ideal. it was modular and lightweight yet durable. If it had caught on there would have been tons of ways to improve on it.
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Old 01-12-2012, 12:57 PM #9
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To field owners i really see no benefits other than bringing people in because you have a speedball field , but even that you may not make your money back.
Airball bunkers are expensive and compared to other fields high maintenance.
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Old 01-12-2012, 12:58 PM #10
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Thanks! Maybe the market isn't quite ready for it yet.
Most fieldowners don't want the extra expense. Our field was more expensive, and it wasn't cheap to ship either. That just added to the up front cost and most people weren't willing to swallow that.
That being said, those that bought them, love them. Only time will tell.

At least the airball bunkers have improved in quality some. Welded seams seem to work much better than glued seams.
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Old 01-12-2012, 01:16 PM #11
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Some other things to consider are how you plan on securing the bunkers and what other field options you have. For example, nothing short of properly installed stakes will hold air bunkers firmly in place on a windy day. When you change the layout, it's possible that some stakes will break or be left on the field, waiting for a customer to run into and and get hurt. If you choose not to use stakes and the wind picks up, do you have alternate playing fields that are not inflatable? If not, you may have to shut down for the day. That's a lot of money to be lost if that's your only field.

Some of the other truths about airball fields:
1. Tournament players want the latest bunker set. Even if you only buy an upgrade kit each year, you're still laying out $1000+. Obviously you have the right to pass on annual upgrades but know that the pressure will be there.
2. As stated above, the bunkers become useless once leaking starts. You will need to replace or repair them. That costs time and money.
3. You will need to have employees arrive long before opening to set up the field every day. If they slack off or there are complications, you may have customers waiting for as long as an hour before the field is ready.

Airball fields are great for the players but a royal pain in the *** for field owners. Don't bother with it unless you are willing to lay out the money to properly maintain them.
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Old 01-12-2012, 01:34 PM #12
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Originally Posted by Warrior Paintball View Post
For the tournament guys, because that's what they want. Cost effective to manufacture and ship, and fairly easy for field owners/tournament promoters to transport and move. I love playing airball, I hate them as a fieldowner.

Here's what we used to make, they never really caught on unfortunately. Due to infrequent orders, we had to discontinue them. Each panel weighed about 10lbs.

They cost more to produce and to ship but they have a lifespan of 12-15+ years, making them much more cost effective. They had their own limitations though.
These would work great but the cost. Maybe someday..
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Old 01-15-2012, 03:21 AM #13
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Pros:
- Easy to wash/clean in between points
- Easy to move/store
- Easy to setup/rearrange
- Some balls bounce so you don't have to clean too much
- Low cost to ship
- Waterproof
- Can copy the tournament layouts given you have an up to date field
- Won't injure yourself if running or sliding and hitting the bunker
- Easier to set up a different cool/crazy layout for rec play.
- Convenient and clean for indoor fields
- Turf friendly

Cons:
- Prone to leaks
- Any leak results in a crippled bunker that needs to be reflated/repaired (high maintenance)
- Quality durable bunkers are expensive
- Limited long term weather durability
- Need air filling device
- Having to come early to setup, fill them and stay late to clean, deflate, move/store
- Topping bunkers off
- Periodic replacement costs
- Pain and time consuming to fully clean the field
- Stakes can injure players
- Really only tournament players care about them
- Airball bunkers are not forest friendly
- Costs too much to make huge tactical courses with them

Everything I can think of off the top of my head
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Old 01-15-2012, 03:53 PM #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Delmarva Paintball View Post
Airball has become the norm for speedball for one reason. The large leagues use it.
That's not the only reason.


One big advantage I have not seen listed yet is ease of officiating. This is a big deal in competitions. Airball bunkers are easier to quickly remove paint on a game-by-game basis, there's less paint on the bunkers in general because a lot of paint that hits it doesn't break, and if a player has paint on them (and the refs have been doing a decent job keeping the bunkers clean) it's almost certainly from a hit. With solid bunkers, any paintball that hits the bunker leaves a big pile of spray on the player, and trying to play when your mask is covered in spray is not fun.


Airball bunkers have a nice 3D property that you don't get with pretty much any other obstacle, which is that you can hide behind it on any side. That opens up some play options that you don't get with board-type bunkers, or spools, etc.

Since they're inflated, they're safer and more comfortable to play with than rigid objects.


They are not cheap, but I'm not sure they are expensive either. Someone did the calculation of $2,800/yr in maintenance, which should really be $5,000+ if you're going to be paying everyone who does the maintenance. But I think this is one area where a "team sponsorship" works out - free entry to the two plays who show up to inflate/deflate the fields.

The way I look at it is, let's say it costs even $100/day to have an airball field. That means you need 20 players per day who are willing to pay an extra $5 to play on an airball field as opposed to something else. That's not much of a cost. Even at $10, if you're catering to competitive play, not much. I'd rather pay $30 for a day on an airball field than $10 for a day on something else (for competitive play).


Suppose while you're at it you could also ask why people use toilets that flush. A hole in the ground is much cheaper.


One thing I will say is a lot of the advantages of airball fields are reduced dramatically if the volume of paint shot goes down.



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Old 01-16-2012, 09:44 AM #15
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I have my own private field for my friends and me, if I could afford a quality air bunker set I would have one. Barrels,skids,and plywood are cheap and easily replace and if set up right can be easily rearranged . I think two major pros to having air bags set up is 1) the soft design allows you to step it up when your sliding and diving with out risk of injury 2) air bunkers are easy on equipment.For those of us who have played solid or even concrete bunkers nothing hurts you like realizing you just gashed up your marker because you contacted the bunker while snapping or playing tight. Thanks
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Old 01-25-2012, 04:02 AM #16
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Not a field owner, but I have reff'd/worked at a couple different fields.

One drawback that isn't of an immediate monetary concern, is the type of players airball tends to bring. If you field tends to be more laid back, and known for relaxing recball games, then you may find it populated with typical speedballers.

I don't want to bash speedballers in general, but we all know the type I mean. The next Ollie Lang, Chris Lasoya, or Nicky Cuba. Always on ramp, playing every game like they're being featured on Der Der, disobediant to the ref's calls, and will probably complain about prices.

While they aren't much of an issue, these players can hurt your finances by scaring off new players, and driving away recreational players.
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Old 01-27-2012, 12:39 AM #17
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Originally Posted by Warrior Paintball View Post
For the tournament guys, because that's what they want. Cost effective to manufacture and ship, and fairly easy for field owners/tournament promoters to transport and move. I love playing airball, I hate them as a fieldowner.

Here's what we used to make, they never really caught on unfortunately. Due to infrequent orders, we had to discontinue them. Each panel weighed about 10lbs.

They cost more to produce and to ship but they have a lifespan of 12-15+ years, making them much more cost effective. They had their own limitations though.
I've had major issues with mice eating large holes in my bunkers. I even bought a shed to put them in at the end of the weekend and the little bastards went in and ate them in there. I won't be replacing them as they get eaten this season as we're more of a recball/woodsball field any way.

I'd be interested in these if they came out again, what did they cost when they were available?
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Old 01-27-2012, 01:37 PM #18
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We have airball field, with a couple of wooden bunkers. With an idea to keep paintball safe as possible, there is no brainier in comparison with anything else (wooden bunker, hyper tubes, or rusty cars etc..). Mostly, our customers are kids under 18, and lots of birthday party's for age 12-16. During summer season,as a city on the sea and tourist destination we also have a lot of first comers and people who are a little afraid. When you are promoting paintball and first you say about top notch safety on your field, people just love it.
If you represent airball field and compare all of the benefits regarding safety factor there is no problem for gaining customers.
Also airbal field are much more clearly and it is easier to overlook on your customers inside, one plus more for safety.
As a field owner must say I really hate them when it is time for lifting it up, and cleaning them but it's easier to have a control on the field, and taking care of the customers its always best way for you, and for paintball in general.
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Old 01-27-2012, 04:42 PM #19
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Quote:
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Not a field owner, but I have reff'd/worked at a couple different fields.

One drawback that isn't of an immediate monetary concern, is the type of players airball tends to bring. If you field tends to be more laid back, and known for relaxing recball games, then you may find it populated with typical speedballers.

I don't want to bash speedballers in general, but we all know the type I mean. The next Ollie Lang, Chris Lasoya, or Nicky Cuba. Always on ramp, playing every game like they're being featured on Der Der, disobediant to the ref's calls, and will probably complain about prices.

While they aren't much of an issue, these players can hurt your finances by scaring off new players, and driving away recreational players.
I don't think that has anything to do with airball bunkers. It's simply the behavior a field tolerates. I do think the kind of field operators who are liable to tolerate stereotypical bad speedball player behavior are more likely to buy airball fields, as they're more likely to be speedball players themselves.


I tend not to have too much stereotypical speedball behavior at college events because we just don't tolerate it.


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Old 01-27-2012, 05:07 PM #20
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The industry moved to air bunkers because tournaments started using them for all the pros listed above. Fields then had to use them in response to what the players wanted to practice on. Simple as that.
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