Our Swedish friends at T3mpus CQB Arena in Åstorp had an absolutely unprecedented airsoft day this past Sunday. They had 100 players show up at their indoor CQB arena, 1/5 of them from neighboring Denmark – which is just across the bridge that spans Nivå Bugt. There wasn’t a special promotion going on. There wasn’t a special event happening. It’s the weekend between paydays for them, but for whatever reason, the planets aligned and T3mpus CQB was packed to capacity with airsofters.
And we couldn’t be happier for them. Seriously.
From Copenhagen, Åstorp is roughly a 90 minute drive, which is about the time it takes me to drive from SAASMaine to the closest Wendy’s, which is almost exactly 86 miles as the crow flies. Here’s the 86 mile radius around SAASMaine.
Within our radius is a good number of towns, and almost Bangor. We do cover both UMO and UMPI, almost UMM, and almost UMFK. Players around the world and US don’t even think twice about traveling an hour or two to play airsoft. In fact, if there had been any sort of decent field in Bangor, SAASMaine probably would have never happened.
The point being, we don’t think that there isn’t enough interest to be able to sustain and grow the airsoft community in Northern Maine, we feel that the word is just not getting out there to people. Advertising via social media has been an absolute bust, since the most popular social medias treat airsoft replicas like real guns, so even if the ad gets approved, we have to make it so vague that people will skip over it. People tend to skip over ads regardless, and if they’re like us, they have adblockers in place anyway.
More traditional methods of advertising (print, radio, TV) are honestly cost prohibitive.
So how to advertise without advertising? I suppose if we can answer that we can bottle it up and sell it and get rich. Much success.
Airsoft is such a niche hobby, even more so than paintball or laser tag, both of which have been featured in TV shows and movies. Watching a paint ball spatter across someone’s mask is exciting and dramatic. Watching the strobes light up and alarms sound on a laser tag vest is exciting and dramatic. Watching someone randomly yelling “HIT!” and donning a red rag on their head is mundane and pedestrian. Airsoft can be a bit like baseball: really fun if you’re playing it, kinda boring if you’re just watching it.
If you do a YouTube search for “airsoft”, you’ll be bombarded with clickbait, thumbnails of random people bleeding from massive wounds to their foreheads, and “I shot this wanker in the face because I’m a frail toxic male”. People tend to click the little “X” and not look any further into airsoft, because wow, that shit sucks.
Upon doing a little more digging, they would have found good airsoft video channels, like Verage Airsoft and Unicorn Leah. Those channels don’t get as many views because there’s no clickbait, there’s no “I went out and purposefully injured people for channel likes” (although Leah unabashedly will use her … assets … to get likes, and she even tags those photos #boobsforlikes. The troll is strong in that one.), but they are both excellent channels and tend to show airsoft in the most realistic light possible.
But because this is the internet, people won’t like Verage’s videos because he’s not running over people in a tank, or they won’t like Leah’s videos because she’s a woman. Airsofters can be as toxic as Star Wars fans, at least online. In real life, if they bring that toxicity onto most fields, they will be invited to not return.
This brings us back around to the “how to advertise without advertising” problem. How do we tell everyone in our 86 mile radius about airsoft and how cool and fun it can be? People generally can’t fall in love with something if they don’t know it exists. If you have any ideas, we’d love to hear them.
Yes, Airsoft New Brunswick is fully aware of our existence and know we’re only half an hour from Woodstock, NB., as does MilSim East Airsoft, another prolific New Brunswick group. It’s understandable though that Canadian players are worried about getting their replicas across the border .. either into the US, or on their way home.
In the meanwhile, we will continue to focus on nurturing the current Northern Maine airsoft community, and continue to build on it one player at a time. We have an amazing core group of good people, and as always, are grateful for what they do.
Oh, and in case anyone was wondering what the “86 mile radius” coverage looks like in Maine: