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    Dartplayer Dot Net :: View topic - Observations: Houston Bullshooter Regional Jan 7-9
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    Observations: Houston Bullshooter Regional Jan 7-9

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    WO-2 SEWA Ambassador
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    PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 10:42 am    Post subject: Observations: Houston Bullshooter Regional Jan 7-9 Reply with quote

    Economy has been down and many are without jobs. Money has been tight. Tournament attendance at many steel tip events was down in 2010. Some tournaments lost money while others struggled to break even.

    Switch to soft tip and the Bullshooter Regional. The entry fees are $20 per person for every event.....higher than most steel tip events. It cost $3....per play 2 legs of doubles Cricket. Due to the economy and the job situation, you'd think that a Bullshooter event would suffer even more than a steel tip event. Well, think again.

    Last year's 2010 Houston BS Regional set an attendance record. The recent 2011 Houston BS Regional exceeded last year's record. It was massive. According to Brad Boe, the Houston event is always one of the largest events in the country...right behind Pennsylvania.

    All weekend, people were happily pumping quarters into the machines... even to play practice games. Food and beverage sales were high. The juke box was always pumping out music. Everybody had a smile on their face and was in good spirits.

    The competition was fierce. In our elimination match in Pro Doubles 501, I had a 48 PPD average and lost because the other team won the diddle and got first look at the out. In hindsight, I should have started the game for our team because I had the hot hand. Lesson learned.

    In Pro Cricket singles, I was averaging in the upper 5.x MPR as I made my way up to the king of the hill match. Along the way, I won one match with 7.5 MPR and a couple with over 6.0 MPR. Even though I was shooting well, I ended up 3rd in Pro Singles.

    As stated by others, in soft tip it's not about what you's all about what you miss.

    I'm a hard core steel tip player but I do enjoy the different type of competition that comes via soft tip. I also enjoy the happy atmosphere and the overall positive vibe that we get here at the Houston soft tip events.

    Although I qualify almost every year, I haven't been to Chicago for the World Championships in quite some time. I might change my mind this year.
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    Dart Staff Sergeant
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    PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 5:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    Good reports and congrat on qualifing for the national. To offer my opinion on the points, I view a night of soft tip darts a great hedge against a down ecomomy. Compared to many (night out options) it's very affordable. LOD tend to draw a whole lot wider range of skill levels (more players draw more players). As for Bullshooters, as you know they are large high profile events (compared to most US events). They also offer advancement to the national and world events (player feel they have more to acheive). In the end, I think its still a numbers thing, more players brings more numbers.
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    SEWA Moderator (S-3)
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    PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2011 8:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    Wanna know why? Marketing! Everyone knows about the bullshooter. They print large posters, they get the bars involved, they are involved. HCDA pints out little tournament schedules on 8.5 x 11 printer paper, ask the team captains to post it in the bars and thats it!

    Thats not even guerrilla marketing 101.
    I Am Hammy!!!
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    PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2011 11:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    Yes, marketing could be improved. I agree 100%.

    FYI: in addition to the standard posting of fliers in local pubs, Punkin and I handed out numerous fliers for the Bluebonnet Classic and spoke with people at the BS Regional. This is a circle of people who don't frequent the bars where the Bluebonnet fliers are posted. Punkin is also actively promoting the Bluebonnet Classic on Facebook and she's emailed the flier to key people in other darting organizations to be posted on their website and distributed to local players. I'm sure more could be done. Ideas are great and welcomed, but ambitious volunteers are sorely needed. Obviously, money will come into that discussion too.

    Arachnid does not run the local leagues here in the Houston area. I spoke at length with Brad Boe (Arachnid) this past weekend on this. In other cities around the country, Arachnid plays a large role in league play...and promotion of Arachnid events, but in Houston they do not. The local soft tip leagues are run by the Northwest Houston Dart League or by various individuals who run in-house leagues at bars. Sure Arachnid supplies large poster sized fliers for bars to put up, but the majority of the buzz and promotion of the Bullshooter Regional comes from the players themselves.

    The real challenge for the Bluebonnet Classic and the Houston Open is to encourage local Houston league players to attend. This has always been a problem in the many years that I've been playing. I know that other tournaments around the country have this same problem. One might say that attendance is low because of a lack of promotion, but I think that idea is only the tip of the iceberg. (my comments below)

    Believe me, many different avenues have been used to promote the local Bluebonnet Classic and Houston Open events in the past. I'm sure there are many new ways to promote the event and I know that Punkin would not turn down anybody who wants to volunteer to help.

    [ more rambling from my soapbox...these are a few of my observations and opinions...there are no solutions posted here...that would be a different thread....]

    Bullshooter events are very different from steel tip events. Most notably, they're double elimination and they have Pro and Amateur events. On top of this, the loud and happy atmosphere also play a part in everybody's enjoyment. When people enjoy themselves, they find a way to keep coming back, year after year.

    What I've noticed at BS Regionals and BS World Championships is that 90 - 95% of the shooters are not the typical serious tournament players. A large majority of the players come from the local leagues. These are players who enjoy social darts, one or more nights a week, with their league teammates. Within this attendance, the number of female players is also extremely large relative to steel tip events.

    At the recent Houston BS Regional, there were ~132 women in the ladies doubles event. There were about ~180 men in the men's doubles event (non-pros). On Friday night, there were ~376 people in the blind draw. In Pro Singles Cricket, there were less than 16 players. In Pro Doubles, there were ~16 teams or less. (These are estimated numbers that I'm recalling from memory. I can contact Brad Boe for the actual numbers.)

    At steel tournaments in Houston and across the country, the local league players make up an extremely small percentage of the players at a tournament. There are many reasons. Some are afraid. Some think that they have no chance and therefore it's a waste of money. Some say money is tight. Some had other plans. Etc.

    Steel tippers say money is tight.....but money is also tight for soft tip players. Yet, soft tip players pay more for their entry fees than steel tip players. Soft tippers also pay $1.50-$2.00 per person to play each match...and on top of this, they play more matches and pay more money overall because soft tip is double elimination.

    Last week, I was talking to a person at a local soft tip LOD. He said that he was cutting back on his drinking and his nights out because he was saving up to play in the Bullshooter Regional. This was not a Pro. This was a league player who enjoys the game. What this says to me is that if you really want to play in a tournament, you'll be motivated to find a way.

    Many steel tippers skip one or more events in a tournament....soft tippers do everything that they can to play every single event that they can play in. Leading up the Bullshooter Regional, local players are talking about it and dreaming about it. Once it's over, they're still talking about it and they're looking forward to either the World Championships or to next year's Bullshooter Regional. It is an extremely big deal to them.

    Contrast this with how the local steel tippers view the Bluebonnet Open and/or the Houston Open. The majority of the Houston steel tip league players do not play in either event. Some have their reasons. Most just don't care. As a tournament player, I will say that we are extremely fortunate to have 2 premier steel tip tournaments in our city. Yet I'm saddened that more of the local players neither want to play in these events nor do they view these to be enjoyable events that they look forward to.

    Over this past weekend at the BS Regional, I asked a few soft tip players to contrast the BS to the Bluebonnet Open and they said...."It seems so serious".

    I asked one soft tip player about his views on how steel and soft tip tournaments are different. This person plays both soft and steel and has been on ADO National teams. He said, "Look around. Look at how all of the tables are full of people socializing together. People smiling, laughing, enjoying themselves, and having fun. Also, notice how people get up and socialize with many others throughout the weekend. It's a very friendly atmosphere. When you goto a steel tournament, you have small clicks of people which sit at their own table and they only socialize with themselves the entire weekend. When contrasted with this soft tip event, there are fewer people smiling or laughing or appearing to be having fun. Overall, you don't have this same happy atmosphere."

    I looked around and thought about all of the steel and soft tip events that I've attended over the past 20 years and it dawned on me.....his observation is spot on.

    I've rambled enough.

    This post is not a criticism. I'm just sharing what others have said and added my personal observations. Feel free to jump in and add your supportive or contrasting views.
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    SEWA Moderator (S-3)
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    PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2011 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    So in a nutshell:

    Small Fliers at Bars
    Facebook (300 members)
    Emails to other organizations (they post and distribute fliers)

    My suggestions:
    HCDA hosts tournaments that are exactly like the Bluebonnet leading up to the big day.
    --> Blind Draw winners get admission to blind draw at Bluebonnet
    --> Mens 501 Singles winners get admission to Mens Singles at Bluebonnet
    --> Mixed Trips winners.... (you get the idea)
    ------> Make a big deal out of the fact that these people won.

    Print full color posters (11x17 min) - I would happily design for free.

    Ask players what they want out of a tournament and actually listen and implement.

    Make league wide events more important.

    Do after-parties/mixers after each day.

    Offer losers bracket.

    HCDA to be more involved on a community level throughout the year. Offer something to the community and they will feel an obligation to return the favor.

    Research what other communities are doing to build their leagues. Compile a list of top 6 ideas (via board members votes) and implement them and keep implementing them.

    Develop an overall strategy based on these ideas, then formulate tactics to benefit the over all strategies.

    Attract local, state, and national companies.

    Soft Tip darts is like going to an arcade or casino, lights flashing, cool sounds, etc... Yet in a steel tip tournament its all about how quiet it is. Man talk about boring. We have to figure out a way to make it more of a party atmosphere.

    I don't know why anytime someone expresses dissatisfaction, criticism, or ideas, the knee jerk reaction is to take it as a personal attack. I posted something on Play Darts Houston (facebook) and I was instantly called out on it for saying something. Should all these problems be kept quiet or should they be discussed?


    Arachnid stands to make a lot of money from the sale of machines. It is in their best interest to motivate people to play. Their are several companies that benefit from soft tip play. The rental companies, the manufacturer, the bars, the suppliers, and lastly the players make a little money too.

    Steel tip has not figured out how to make it profitable for companies. Once the companies are making money the marketing, money, and motivation start increasing.

    I hope the tone of this post is not misunderstood. I AM totally frustrated, but not at anyone, or the HCDA. I love this game and I can't understand why everyone isn't just gaga over it. Even in my day to day business dealings one of my topics of conversation is how I play darts competitively and how much fun it is. I am a newbie in this game, but I am absolutely hooked on the competition and friendships I have made.
    I Am Hammy!!!
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    PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2011 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    All good stuff. Perhaps you're available to be a board member of the HCDA. One can self nominate themselves for a position and be put on the ballot. Once on the board, you can transform your ideas into actions and be accountable for seeing them through in the way that you envsion it should be done. This is not a knock. I'm serious.

    Aside from new and innovative ideas, the HCDA needs board members who have both patience and a deep passion to help grow the game. This will be needed to help you weather through the frustrations that you will encounter.

    Regarding the Bullshooter vs steel tip of the biggest and most important differences is....coin drop. When added to the entry fees, coin drop helps offset the cash required for purse payouts.

    Another difference is that Bullshooter tournaments are not held to make money. Brad Boe told me that many Bullshooter Regionals actually lose money..(which is mind boggling...but I'll save that for another thread). Brad said that Bullshooter tournaments are held to promote the brand and expand the use (and subsequent sales) of their machines.

    Contrast this with ADO sanctioned tournaments. Those tournaments are held to make money for the local organization which hosts it. Some years a tournament makes a modest profit, but in some years there is a loss.....and sometimes those losses are enough to cripple a local organization.

    Everybody probably knows that ADO sanctioned tournaments have guaranteed payouts. But how many people know that 100% of this guaranteed payout risk is shouldered by the local organization? That's right. The ADO assumes 0% financial risk in the guaranteed payout. I'm not saying this is right or wrong. It is just a fact.

    Not only does the ADO assume none of this risk, the ADO receives money from the local organization for every single ADO sanctioned tournament .... regardless of whether the tournament made a profit or not.

    Let's say you're Hammy's Dart Org (HDO). You're hosting a $15,000 guaranteed payout tournament. You promoted it to the best of your ability and in years past and you always made a modest profit, or at least came very close to breaking even. But this year, due to circumstances either unforeseen or out of your control, you have a low turnout.

    Starting with the Friday night blind draw, you see a trend where each event held doesn't have enough entries fees to cover the payout. This means that you're paying money out of your organization's pocket to cover the purse payout. By the time you reach Saturday afternoon's events, you've tapped all the funds in the organization's pockets and you're out of money. In the mean time, you still have 3 more events to run on Saturday and 4 more on Sunday...all with guaranteed payouts.

    Add to that, you've signed a contract with the hotel to achieve a food & beverage sales target for the facilities and there's not obviously not enough people there to help you hit that target. If you don't hit that target, your organization is liable to pay thousands of dollars to cover that too. Oh yea, you also have to pay the ADO the tournament sanctioning fee and the ADO singles event fees, regardless of whether you made a profit or not.

    Get sponsors to back the payout? Great idea! Trouble is, finding a sponsor or sponsors to back a dart tournament for that kind of money is difficult. The last major sponsor that came close to that was Lucky Strikes and that was back in the early 90's.

    I could go on and on.....not because I'm being a pessimist, but because there many little things to be aware of...which will help you fine tune your ideas and help you increase your chances for success. I'm not knocking your ideas. Quite the contrary, I'm very supportive.

    I hope you do run for the board and bring your ideas and passion. You have my vote and I will campaign for other votes for you too.
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    PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2011 6:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    hammy73 wrote:
    Wanna know why? Marketing! Everyone knows about the bullshooter. They print large posters, they get the bars involved, they are involved. HCDA pints out little tournament schedules on 8.5 x 11 printer paper, ask the team captains to post it in the bars and thats it!

    Thats not even guerrilla marketing 101.

    I Agree with hammy. A very large part of it is marketing and to a lesser degree steel-tip doesn't have a Bullshooter type series. It seems that once Lucky strikes left the building we lost our marketing abilities.
    Pilots: Looking down on people since 1903.
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