OP: HOPLITE at TANKS Paintball!
Xtreme Airsoft is one of the country's newest Airsoft retailers. They got their start when a father, his brother, and their kids became excited about Airsoft and decided to start a business. Check out this interview we did with Cary Ostera, the founder of Xtreme Airsoft.
For the full story, we need to go way back to the 70's when I was a kid. A group of buddies and I would get all geared up in military clothes, bring our real BB guns out into the woods and get into BB Wars. We would make talcum powder charges, fake claymores, bottle rocket RPGs... we even found an article on how to convert a toy BB gun into a machine gun using a can of freon. You should have seen the look on my friends faces when we showed up with that! When it was lunch time we would head back to my parents house and mom would feed us all. Then I would rally the troops and head back out into the woods to finish up the day. Oh and for the record, using real BB guns back in the day was a REALLY bad idea. We are all very lucky no one got seriously hurt… so please kids do NOT try that at home.
Ok, fast forward to a few years ago and my young sons came back from a birthday party with a little springer airsoft pistol and asked, "Hey Dad you want to get into a BB war?" It brought me right back to when I was a kid, they had no idea that they had awoken a lion. We started with a bit of fun shooting each other in the backyard and then on land across from our house. My boys even upped the ante and bought better springer pistols to take Dad down. Not wanting to be shown up, I hopped online and found a fully auto Airsoft Tommy Gun. The next game I DESTROYED them and we all had a blast. Airsofting became a regular thing and just like all those years ago, I was leading kids off into the woods to have BB Wars.
It actually started on a fairly sad day, my father had just passed away and my brother and I decided that we needed to make an effort to spend more time together. We thought that starting a business would be a great way to do this, so we began brainstorming. After a while an idea stood out and it was how both his kids and mine kept getting together to play Airsoft. Why not an Airsoft store? We could spend time together and at the same time using something our kids enjoyed as a way to also teach them about business. Fast forward a bit and we opened up our first store right next to my brother's current business called "Xtreme Gun and Ammo" (Hence the "Xtreme" in our name).
As we entered into the world of Airsoft, we discovered that the industry as a whole is very wild west, with very little structure... grass roots almost. After some analysis we determined that the only way to be successful was to "go big or go home". The next question was, is there room for another "big" Airsoft retailer? and we really felt there was. We just had to work hard and take things to the next level, put the customer first and do everything you can to educate and support the players. Then we just needed to do it!
Unfortunately with this decision to "go big" my brother did not have the time to be as involved as we both had hoped so he stepped down as my partner. Good thing is that our kids are all still into Airsoft and our goal of hanging out more is still being met.
Well my knees a bit old to be out there going at it hard core, haha, so let's talk about my favorite Xtreme Airsoft moment. It was a big national event, maybe 400-500 players, and we had a solid 80 or so players hanging out at our booth after it was over. Nobody wanted to leave, everyone just keep talking about the game and how "We did this" and "Did you see that guy??” or “That dude was crazy!!" or "Where were you guys assaulting from?". The energy in the room was amazing and the passion for Airsoft was like electricity in the air. I sat there soaking it all in for about 30-40 minutes and then somehow found myself taking 15 hungry Airsofters to dinner to keep the conversation going.
We are very passionate about safety and we make sure than any new player understands what they need to do to protect themselves. So first and foremost, protect yourself, from the moment you head to the field, to moment you get home. Like with real firearms, good habits start early... so get the right eye protection, understand how to handle the guns safely, and of course make sure you are only playing in safe legal places. I think I know a website that can help with that last part <cough> AirsoftC3 <cough>.
The other is to avoid believing everything they see on the net about what you "need" to buy. We try hard to help new players buy smart. I can't tell you how many times we told kids to put stuff back on the shelf and start with something simple and reliable. It’s like handing a new driver the keys to a race car, if they don't kill themselves, they will certainly not get the most out of that experience. They need time behind the wheel before going to the next level. Airsoft is no different... get out there and play, learn what you like and what you don't like and adjust your kit over time.
Lastly, just have fun...really. Airsoft should not be about what you have but the time you are having. It is so much more fun if you go into it with that attitude.
We are growing and just moved into a bigger retail store so I would like to see that continue over the next few years. We work very hard in our retail store to help players, both new and old, and we are making sure that we are providing that same level of support to our online customers as we grow as well.
We also LOVE the milsim community as it takes me all the way back to when I was a kid. We attend a lot of the big national events now, we have a mobile store that we bring in and it’s pretty cool. Our goal is to provide the same level of service that we do online and at our walk in store while out on the field. Eventually though, we want to also organize these kinds of events ourselves. We feel there is always room for more epic milsim games for people to enjoy… and we have some great ideas!
We see it growing, but only if we band together to bring safety and awareness to the community. We need a massive effort across the country to educate players, parents, and everyone else about the do's and don'ts of Airsoft. We need to come together as a unified Airsoft community. We have to organize to be prepared to fight off dangerous legislation that we know is only a matter of time in coming. If we don't, then the sport will remain fractured as it is today and we run the very real risk of Airsoft being banned completely. I know its sounds dire, but we need to take steps now to protect the sport we love.
It goes right to the fragmentation issue Airsoft is facing and seeing that AirsoftC3 was the answer. Many others have tried what you are doing, and as far as I can tell, all of them have failed. When I saw what AirsoftC3 was doing as you were just getting started, and with what you shared about your future plans, it became clear that Xtreme Airsoft needed to be on board. I firmly believe that AirsoftC3 has the potential to bring the Airsoft community together and be a powerhouse in the industry. And I for one think that power will be in good hands.
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