Rise in popularity of look-a-like guns worrying local police
ONLY three days ago a man was arrested for allegedly waving a ‘hand gun’ around in memorial park in Kingaroy.
Over the past three years gel blasters have sky rocketed in popularity across the country and the air powered rifles are now being found in the South Burnett.
Despite shooting small gel bullets Kingaroy Senior Sergeant David Tierney said they are essentially dialled down just below the grade of a weapon.
“Some of them look exactly like real guns and they are not easy to distinguish apart,” Snr Sgt Tierney said.
“I am dreading the day a policeman has to explain to a coroner why they shot someone who was carrying a gel blaster.
“They are dangerous and we have charged three or four people in the South Burnett with going armed to cause fear using a gel blaster.”
The South Burnett is about to get its very own gel blaster store and a gel blaster skirmish centre has already been established in Nanango.
Oz Blasters owner Chris Young has had a pop up store in Kingaroy Shopping World for the past two weeks and is currently looking for a permanent venue.
Mr Young said it’s a cost effective family sport.
“Like anything they have there dangers and occasionally they might end up in the wrong hands but 99 per cent of people who own gel blasters do the right thing,” Mr Young said.
“Gel blasters are a cost effective, safe family sport for anyone to get into and basically paintball was very successful to begin with but the cost just put it out of a lot of peoples reaches.
“I know there is a big demand for them in the South Burnett and that is why I will be setting up a permanent shop.”
Mr Young has been in the gel blaster business for three years and has stores on the Gold Coast and Cairns.
Mr Young said putting restrictions on the gel blasters could potentially destroy the industry.
“I think they need to keep them accessible for everyone and there is no need to put licensing in place.
“When they start enforcing restrictions onto a product people lose interest and there would be approximately 250 retail stores across the state that would be significantly impacted.
“There are numerous clubs across Queensland and Northern Queensland actually have a competitive league and host a yearly knockout competition with several clubs.”
Blake Flanagan runs the combat gel ball in Nanango and said it’s a far cheaper and less painful alternative to paintball.
“It’s still pretty new to the South Burnett, however before coronavirus we were getting about 10-15 players every Sunday,” Mr Flanagan said.
“It is far cheaper then paintball, we have equipment and can provide 7000 gel bullets for $5.
“We initially started running it as just whoever turns up can play but we now have bookings available to cater for the higher numbers.”