For the first time ever, the Burns Lake Paintball Association (BLPA) held a two day airsoft tournament on Aug. 27 and 28 to collect food for The Link food bank. Participants were offered up to five dollars off their rental equipment kit in exchange for three food items.
Lakes District News spoke to one of the BLPA directors Devvon Barnhart, who spearheaded the event along with fellow director Denab [D.J.] East. “Myself and D.J. have both been recipients of the food bank in the past, and it dawned on us to create this event to give back to the community,” He said.
Normally, the BLPA is involved with the Lakes District Fall Fair, but because of COVID-19 making that unavailable this year, they were looking for other ways to get involved with the community.
The event had over 20 participants over the two days, and 12 items of food were donated. Barnhart also told Lakes District News that one of his friends who enjoys airsoft was sponsoring the event by matching the donated items, bringing the total to 24. “It wasn’t quite the amount we were hoping for, but every bit counts,” said Barnhart. “This was our inaugural event, and we’re planning to hold another one at the end of September. We hope to have a higher turnout and and raise much more food next time.”
If you’re confused as to why a paintball association was holding an airsoft tournament, it’s because the BLPA is actually in the midst of transitioning from playing paintball . “We currently play a lot of airsoft because paintball creates a lot of paint splatter and it’s very difficult to clean up. In fact, wer’re in the process of changing our organization’s name to something airsoft related. The airsoft BB’s are all biodegradable and made out of corn starch, so they can be left in the field and will disintegrate without hurting the environment or making a mess,” said Barnhart.
This is a common trend globally according to Barnhart. Over the past two years paintball has been declining in popularity, so much so that most paintball production companies have stopped making them.
There are some drawbacks with airsoft though, mainly that it looks and operates more like a real firearm then a paintball gun, which is one of the reasons why safety is a big priority at events like this. All participants wore masks and protective gear, and there were safety briefings and rules in place to prevent over-shooting as well.
Among those present at the event, were members of the Panther Airsoft Association (PAA), a sister company to BLPA that is located in the lower mainland.
“In addition to collecting food, part of the idea for this event was to collaborate with other associations like PAA,” said Barnhart. “We want to try to work with these organizations more and put on more events like this in the future because typically they can attract 50-100 people, which in turn creates tourism money for the community.”
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