What was your progression to being a pro player?
JB - Just like I tell all the kids who Facebook me questions, you've got to start at your local fields, get your friends together and start a team. The local field owner at Skirmish took me to Toulouse France for a Millennium and that was the next progression for me. I became so addicted to national events and I knew I needed to find a team that played at that level. So, I eventually got a tryout with London Tigers. I'd drive 6 hours to London from Nottingham on Friday night, practice all weekend then drive back Sunday. I did that for a few seasons and then the next milestone was Pete Robinson owner of P8ntballer.com and Ledz from Planet Eclipse got asked to put a team together to represent England in the Nations Cup in the US. That was the first ever xball event and it was an absolute blast, we had a great time and when we got home we decided to put together a team with the players we went with and became London Nexus. It was my first time in America and my first time seeing the level of play that was America xball. We started played Millennium and NPPL. Nexus really was the reason I wanted to push myself to go to America.
So while playing for nexus you started working for Eclipse, what did you do for them?
JB - It was actually 5 years of playing with Nexus and then I started working for Eclipse. It was a great opportunity for me to get to America more often and really explore what it had to offer. When I first started working for them I took a year off from competing but continued doing clinics. Much of my time was spent in America but also traveling to South America, Australia and some really amazing places; meeting dealers, doing clinics and having fun. The reason I took the year off was because I was the event coordinator and had to set up the booth at events and make sure everything ran smoothly.
Did you stop working for them when you joined XSV?
JB - Yes, I think it was the end of the 2006 season; I was basically in the right place at the right time. Obviously, in my Nexus career I competed against Rich at Millenniums and NPPL's. While I was working for eclipse I got to know the XSV guys and as mentioned at the end of the 2006 season a handful of players quit the team at an event and they told me they were going to roster me for the SD NPPL event and we took 3rd. After that event I would fly back and forth from the east coast but I really wanted to do it more, really become a part of it. It was my opening and I knew I couldn't do both XSV and work events. Eclipse recognized I wanted to be playing more so we parted ways and I started the next chapter in my life. Ever since then, I've been working and playing full time for XSV. I'm here on a professional sports visa; in fact I think I'm one of only two people here in the US on a professional paintball sports visa.
As a pro, there are a lot of commitments to sponsors that the players need to fulfill, do you find it difficult to balance practicing, competing and fulfilling your sponsorship commitments?
JB - Not really, like I said I'm very lucky to be a full time player for XSV. It's probably a lot more difficult to balance a full time job and being on a team. Fortunately I'm one of the few lucky ones.
In your current position on XSV, you have started to help revive the JT line, how did that come about?
JB - XSV has always had a great relationship with JT and I have always believed it’s the number one brand in paintball. It only made sense when the time was right for a revival that it came with us.
What was involved in you assisting JT in their design of the new FX2.0 line?
JB - I think it's very similar to how JT first started in the 70's. A group of people (XSV) who have a passion for the sport that want to design products that they want to use to be the best. For me I get to truly be a professional athlete, similar to companies like Nike who have athletes fly out and work closely with R&D, Product Management, Marketing and Sales. I get to do that and take products back and all the guys on the team try it and we tweak it until we get it right. That's what we did with this new FX line.
How do you feel the line has turned out? Tell me a little about the products and how you feel they compare to other current product lines.
JB - At this point I couldn't be happier. The online response has been phenomenal and after doing this last weekend at PSP MAO the sales and feedback was awesome, nothing but positive.
As far as the products themselves, the pants are lightweight and fantastically vented with a great durable knee that was from the previous FX line. They have the board short feature that allows you to get them extra tight. The jersey has the most venting that I've ever used with great padding, they are identical to the current XSV jersey. We wanted to go with a vented jersey that still has the padding of a tournament paintball jersey. The harness has been very popular so far and fits incredibly well. It's a 4+7 and has been so well received that it completely sold out at the event. The gloves are full fingered and have great protection. Everything aside from the harness is available in 3 sizes to make it available to players of all sizes.
Do you foresee the line expanding to even more products?
JB - Definitely 100%, but I'm not going to tell you what's next.
So if you could look into a crystal ball, how would you see it all going and ending?
JB - I don't need to look into a crystal ball, I'm confidant that this brand will be at the top again. The JT brand is a household name and has been since the 70's and it's only going to get better, especially with the introduction of their new JT SplatMaster.
What exactly is SplatMaster?
JB - First of all, I'm really excited about this product. It's truly the first product I've seen that will bring in a younger demographic and introduce them to the world of paintball. It's a really easy, versatile product that you can play with in your own backyard. Honestly, I could spend all day talking about how great this product is but it would be much easier if you check it out for yourself at www.jtsplatmaster.com.
And what about XSV in that proverbial crystal ball?
JB - With XSV teaming up with JT I believe we're going to see the team be more financially stable which will enable us to compete against the teams that have a lot of money from outside the industry. I'd also like to say you’d be seeing us playing more overseas next year. Its very exciting times.
How does the distribution of the new JT line work?
JB - Check with your local store first to see if they carry the line, if not encourage them to. They can contact XSV for sales at firstname.lastname@example.org. It's also available through XSV directly at http://shop.xsvpaintball.com.