I was originally going to hold off on starting this until after the end of the college paintball season when I would have more time, but the pending law in front of the Baltimore City Council which would apparently ban even the possession of paintball markers made it apparent that this could not wait that long.

As a result of my experience with working against the proposed paintball ban on Department of Natural Resources land in WI, as well as other recent legislative efforts affecting paintball, a few things have become apparent.

One is that paintball players, in addition to the paintball industry, need an organization to represent them in legislative matters. Most of the testimony given to the WI Assembly Natural Resources Committee came from a handful of paintball business owners, leaving some legislators questioning whether paintball was widespread enough to worry about.

The second is that legislative activity requires funding. Part of the reason that the proposed WI DNR administrative statute regarding paintball went unnoticed for so long, almost an entire year, is that monitoring proposed government action in fifty states plus the federal government is time consuming and therefore also not free. While the PPMA (Paintball Product Manufacturers Association) is taking paintball in the right direction by devoting funds to this effort, paintball consumers (players) have a role to take in furthering these efforts as well. Expecting manufacturers to carry the burden alone only deprives paintball of the resources players can, and should, contribute towards making sure paintball remains a sport we can all continue to enjoy.

The third is that there is a need for an organization capable of motivating people at the state and local level in response to legislative threats to paintball. While about half of the people who ultimately testified in front of the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources in WI were WI constituents, the vast majority of email and phone correspondence received by the representatives was from out-of-state. Some legislators in the Wisconsin case wondered why so many of the people representing the paintball community came from out of state, and were concerned that the lack of in-state comment again meant that it was not a large issue in Wisconsin.

Fourth, while many people are willing to act when the time comes, as demonstrated by the hundreds of emails and phone calls sent to Wisconsin representatives, this does not mean that these people have the information necessary to act appropriately. We did not help ourselves by flooding the representatives with hundreds of angry emails from people who did not have all of the information or who did not know how to best approach and inform a legislator. There needs to be a place paintball consumers can go to to get the information they need to influence legislation effectively.

And lastly, I have noticed several others also recently expressing the need for a true representative, non-profit player's (consumer's) organization.

To these ends, I propose the formation of a new Paintball Players (Consumers) Organization. This will be a national, non-profit organization with dues-paying members and state chapters. The leadership of the organization will be determined by regular election from the membership, assuring that those running the organization are accountable to the members they represent. While the primary motivation for forming the organization is legislative, the organization may take on other functions that are appropriate to a non-profit organization run by paintball consumers.

Those of you who know me know that I have already formed (with considerable help) one non-profit paintball organization, the National Collegiate Paintball Association, so I am familiar with the steps involved to set up such an entity successfully. While I certainly plan on championing this effort, I do not want to dictate the outcome by any means, so I am looking for a few people who have a lot of interest in being involved in something like this. The organization will ultimately be open to everyone but there does need to be an initial set of qualified, motivated people to make sure things get started correctly.

If you are interested, please drop me an email at raehl311@yahoo.com. Let me know what kind of experience you have that might be relevant to this effort. As general guidelines, you should be at least a high school graduate, be able to write well, have a *LOT* of time to contribute, and feel strongly that working on something like this is an important thing to do. You need to be comfortable communicating through the internet, as the vast majority of the work will be conducted through that means to minimize expenses and maximize the use of contributions. Also let me know where you're from, how long you've been playing for, and how and where you usually play. I'm more specifically looking for people whose involvement with paintball is primarily as a consumer as opposed to those who derive their income from industry related activity.

Anyone with website/cgi experience and/or some accounting/legal knowledge would be particularly welcome.

Also, there will be some initial costs involved with the setup, mostly government application fees and website hosting and similar fees, probably in the neighborhood of $500 to $1000 by the time the organization is set up completely as its own entity and can accept dues to pay its own bills. Even if you don't have the time to commit, if you are willing to contribute financially to the effort, contributions as small as $10 from a few people would go a long way to helping get this organization through the initial stages and would be credited against membership dues once the organization is formalized.

A short bio on myself: I currently live in WI and have been playing paintball since 1994. I was a member of the University of Illinois Illini Paintball Warriors paintball club and captain of the 2000 College Paintball National Champion team. I also founded and am currently President of the National Collegiate Paintball Association, Inc., a tax-exempt, charitable, non-profit association of over 75 college paintball clubs across the country. I also work full time in hardware development for a supercomputing company.

I am hoping that this will serve as a rallying cry for everyone who has expressed an interest in an organization like this to get together and do something about it. If anyone has any additional questions or comments, feel free to drop me a line at raehl311@yahoo.com.

Because there are also immediate needs regarding proposed legislation, I have set up a web board at http://pub39.ezboard.com/bamericanpa...ersassociation to meet those needs, particularly in relation to the law currently proposed by the Baltimore City Council. If you have any information regarding paintball related legislation, please visit the web board and share it so that we can coordinate efforts.

Chris Raehl