New gel blaster range opening as popularity in Bundy booms
GEL blasters have become such a big deal in Bundy that one retailer is planning to open a range in North Bundaberg next month.
Blasters look like a gun, but are designed to shoot small gelatinous balls known as "orbies", and range in price anywhere from $30 up to $2000 for metal models.
Scotty's Hobbies owner Scott Craig said he first started selling gel blasters in Bundaberg because people were coming into his Sims Rd store seeking out special batteries.
When he found out what they were for, he started stocking the blasters and they flew off the shelves.
He now believes it's the fastest growing sport in Queensland.
Aaron Mockeridge, who carries out customer service and gel blaster repairs and modifications at the shop, said gel blasters had been around for about seven years, but the past two to three years had seen a massive boom in popularity in Bundaberg.
Mr Mockeridge said there were no laws around who could buy gel blasters, but they made sure if children came into the shop for a purchase they'd return with a parent first.
He says they're something anyone from five to 105 can get into.
"As long as you wear eye protection, you're fine," he said.
Rules govern how powerful blasters are and there's etiquette in place so that if players are going to hit someone at close range they will yell "bang bang" instead.
Mr Mockeridge said gel blaster users were waiting on new laws expected to be brought in on February 1 by Weapons Licencing.
"A lot of things are coming in," he said.
Changes to laws are expected to be based around storage and reasonable excuses for carrying blasters such as regular game play.
"They've said they're not banning anything, this is not a ban," Mr Mockeridge said.
"People playing around at home doing the right thing have nothing to worry about."
Mr Mockeridge said a meeting was coming up soon to discuss new rules around the blasters.
Mr Mockeridge said there were always going to be people who did silly things, but gel blasters were nothing to fear.
"A lot of people say bad things about gel blasters but then they go and play it and realise it's not that bad," he said.
"It's a forever growing thing," Mr Mockeridge said.
"There's always new people coming in and you don't get many people pulling out of it.
"It's a very high retention sport."
Mr Mockeridge said there were many different ways to play with the blasters and credited the sport with getting more people out and about and socialising.
He said one of the biggest benefits was that the sport encouraged people away from video games and phone screens and got them out and about, meeting friends and having lunch in the bush.
The new range at North Bundaberg will provide spaces for gel blaster use as well as electric remote-controlled cars.
"Once we get established we hope to have some sort of competitions and leagues, spread the word and maybe even have some sort of cup," Mr Mockeridge said.
The guys from Scotty's will pick up the keys to their new range on August 1, when they'll start drawing chalk lines on the floor for the next stage of their visualisation.
"It's going to be a really big thing, it's certainly going to attract a lot of people," Mr Mockeridge said.