BY DON DEKIEFFER
PURSUIT GAMES * OCTOBER1994
knows that R.P. Scherer makes good paintballs. What most people don't
know, however, is that R.P. Scherer goes to extraordinary lengths to
enable people to use their product. Every company faces marketing
difficulties, but nothing quite matches that of the "Russian
tournament" in terms of the truly bizarre.
The idea of having a
tournament in Moscow started about a year ago. Paintball is relatively new
in Russia, originating only about two years ago. It emerged rapidly,
however, and the Russian National Association of Paintball was
organized in the summer of 1993. After contacting the IPPA for advice
concerning rules, field operations, etc., it was suggested that there be
reciprocal visits by Russian and American teams to each other's events.
A delegation of Russians
attended the International Masters in Nashville last October with
the assistance of the American paintball industry including Jim Lively,
R.P. Scherer, Forrest Brown, et al. In return, the Russian National
Paintball Association invited the Green Machine International Training
and Demonstration Team to Moscow for an event in May 1994.
Unfortunately, the dates of the event coincided with that of Mayhem
Masters, so a number of teams which might have been in attendance were
unable to do so. Scheduling is so difficult in Russia that the organizers
were forced to stick with the dates originally planned.
with Russia is difficult (and expensive) under almost any circumstances.
Not only is there an eight-hour time difference between the East Coast
United States and Moscow, so business hours communications are
virtually impossible. Coupled with this, of course, is the significant
language problem that further causes delays. The organizers therefore
relied primarily upon faxes to communicate.
sides, files 4" thick were filled with documents related to the
planning process. On the U.S. side, the Green Machine was sponsored by
Scott Goggles, R.P. Scherer, Palmer's Pursuit Shop and Airgun Design. Obtaining
the sponsorships was relatively easy compared to organizing the event the
sponsors had underwritten.
in Russia are daunting at best. Since there are no private paintball
fields in Russia, the Russian side had to locate public lands on which to
play, find hotels, cars, buses, etc., for transport and local sponsors.
More than six months' planning went into this effort. A week before the
tournament, the American players still did not know where they would be
As in any tournament, several factors are absolutely critical:
5. Masks; and
focused on these issues first and were relatively confident that most of
them had been addressed well in advance. The roster on the American side
was finalized in late March. The Russians made arrangements for an
appropriate field and the Americans promised to bring as many paintguns as
they could with them to augment the rather meager Russian arsenal. Scott
USA's generosity assured that there would be sufficient goggles for all of
the players and the Russians were confident of their ability to supply C02
having had adapters specially made for the U.S. fittings. That left only
paint as a matter of concern.
Scherer had agreed to supply 60 cases of paint to the tournament. It
was due to arrive the day before the American team did which was still a
week before the tournament was schedule to commence. The paint was shipped
by R.P. Scherer via air freight to Moscow in plenty of time to reach its
destination. That was the just the beginning of the saga.
landing in Russia, the organizers were astonished to find the paint had
not, in fact, arrived. Instead, after leaving Miami for Moscow, the
airline (KLM) without notifying anyone, had decided that the pallet on
which the paintballs were packed was too large for onward flight to
Moscow. Apparently, it had been shipped on a 747 from Miami to Amsterdam.
The plane that KLM uses for the Amsterdam to Moscow flight is smaller.
Therefore, the airline unilaterally decided not to ship the goods by air
but rather by truck.
before the tournament was due to start, the organizers were informed of
the decision that KLM had taken. The result of this was, of course,
the paint would not arrive in Moscow until two days after the American
team had already left the country. To compound the problem, the truck had
already departed from Amsterdam and could not be recalled.
fluffy of frantic telephone calls, the organizers prevailed upon R.P.
Scherer to contact their distributors in England (Mayhem) for a
replacement. As noted before, however, the Mayhem Masters was being
held the same weekend and, as one might imagine, the organizers of that
tournament had other things on their mind than supplying paint to the
Russians. Nevertheless, in the spirit of real friendship, the Mayhem
people came through to assist with organizing air freight for the paint to
arrive the very next day in Moscow still in plenty of time for the
delivered the paint to British Airways at Gatwick Airport in London. While
the Russian tournament organizers were busy celebrating, however, others
were not. As sometimes happens in the chaotic labor situation in England,
that day there was a work slowdown and the goods were not loaded on the
aircraft as promised, but rather the next day. This is the day the
tournament was originally supposed to start.
the goods did not arrive until late on a Friday afternoon at Sherementeyvo
Airport in Moscow. This was too late to have it cleared through Customs.
It would only be released on Monday, the day the American team was due to
leave for the United States.
meantime, the American team had been assisting the Russian organizers in
setting up the field which was located in the northern suburbs of the city
at a truly world class shooting club. While the Americans and their
Russian friends were tying up netting, taping fields and establishing flag
stations, other organizers were agonizing over what to do about paint. The
Russian side inventoried all of the paint available in the entire country
-it came to a little less than 10 cases. (All of it R.P. Scherer, by the
calls to the Russian freight forwarders and customs authorities were made
and it was finally determined that the tournament would proceed as if
sufficient paint were available. It was decided that on Saturday, the
Russians would bring every drop of paint available in the country to the
field for a "practice day". On Sunday, however, all teams agreed
to meet at the field with the expectation that the Russian customs could
be induced to waive their usual schedule and release the goods Sunday
Saturday "practice" came off without a hitch. The Russians
organizers were able to scrounge nine cases of paint from cellars, closets
Bureau of NBC News was on the field with correspondent Amy Roth and
her film crew. Amy became so intrigued with the game that she was put into
one of the five-player practice sessions. It could not have been
orchestrated better if we had tried. All of the players were eliminated
except Amy. She was on the field by herself with three minutes to go and
yelled to the spectators to ask what she was supposed to do. Breaching
ordinary rules, the spectators told her to grab the flag and hang it. Amy
got a hang on her very first game. The NBC segment was aired on local
(Moscow) television the week of May 30 and later in the United States on
various stations in a "magazine" format.
the Russian and American teams arrived at the field without any paint at
all, The organizers, however, had arranged to make "facilitation
payments" to the Russian Customs Service to induce them to release
the goods on a Sunday. At approximately 1:15 p.m. a truck arrived at the
field with 40 cases of fresh R.P. Scherer paint from Mayhem. To suggest
that the organizers were relieved would be the understatement of the
tournament itself went off without further serious hitches. Although the
American teams were generally superior, there were furious fire fights
throughout the day. Perhaps one of the most memorable battles was between
the two American teams, (Green Machine Red and Green Machine Black). In
this, the Black team (composed primarily of "Mufs" - the
"Old Geezers") proved that they could still fight against young
bucks, won the game and therefore the entire tournament. Green Machine Red
was second with two Russian teams tied for third place.
generosity of Jim Lively and Lively Productions, one of the
highest-scoring Russian teams was given a waiver of entry fees into the
International Masters at Nashville this coming October and both Russian
teams received Automags from Airgun Designs as well as face masks from
Scott USA. Thereafter, the Green Machine both donated and sold truckloads
of equipment to the Russians so they will be well-armed in October.
tournament itself was a cap to a week of camaraderie between the Americans
and the Russians. Some of the cultural diplomacy was so close it could not
be adequately described in a family publication such as this but both the
Russians and the Americans returned to their respective abodes exhausted
National Association of Paintball has now completed its first major
international tournament and came through with flying colors. R.P.
Scherer, in particular, is largely responsible for the success of this
tournament, not only for the quality of its paint, but for the
extraordinary effort it demonstrated to make this event a success. Between
R.P. Scherer and Maalox, the first-ever Moscow open showed that the Cold
War really is over. Let's hope that we never shoot anything more dangerous
than paintballs at each other again.