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Baz JJ

UKARA Alternative - A Players Union

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Ive started a new topic after reading Ian Geres insightful post in the other thread.

The reason Ive started a new topic is I would like to get away from the backbiting relating to the different new alternatives and their relative merits, the internal arguments about what Project Luthor should be called and so on, and get back to basics.

 

Ian said:

 

 

The law puts the onus on the seller to ascertain that the buyer is a reenactor/filmmaker/etc and there is space for the Home Secretary to add people and/or circumstances regarding whom/which the specified defence will apply, without the need for the Act to be returned to parliament to be amended, and airsofters have been so added... but still, the defence is is the seller's, relating to any potential prosecution for selling. That's all nice and clear, right? Enter UKARA. An association of retailers which intends to allow members to easily check that the defence applies to any transaction they are about to make.

 

Then there has been discussion between UKARA and the HO which has resulted in the definition of an airsofter as someone who skirmishes at a site with public liability insurance and has a level of commitment defined by having played 3 times in not less than 2 months and not more than 12 months. And here is where the confusion begins, because all of a sudden, in practice, the onus has switched to the buyer to prove they are "entitled" to be regarded as belonging within the groups specified within the Act and its allowed additions, in order to have the privilege of going about their lawful business.

 

Not surprising when you consider that this has resulted from a retailers' initiative. But isn't it just a different form of words, ie semantics? No it bloody isn't! As it stands it's no wonder that so many people think that a UKARA registration is a licence, because it operates as one. UKARA has a de facto monopoly on ways which retailers can use to find out if they could be prosecuted for any particular sale or not, therefore players must have it too. Who has the whip hand? Yeah, UKARA. But the law was not worded that way. Under the letter of the law it is we the players who ought to have the whip hand, because it is our money which creates the business and our willingness to participate at sites with public liability insurance which satisfies the HO/UKARA scheme.

 

Still don't see there's a meaningful difference worth making a song and dance about? Consider this: a video of a person skirmishing is proof that they are reenacting some battle/conflict/skirmish or other. The why, where, when, under what circumstances are actually irrelevant in the face of the fact that seeing a person doing what the defence specifies they must, in order for the defence to apply to a sale made to that person, would be damn difficult to overturn in court as sufficient care taken, due diligence, by the seller. Where is the evidence, especially if the vid has been deleted? Where the evidence is in so many other court cases, in the testimony of witnesses: "Yes m'lud, I did email Mr. R. E. Tailor a video of me skirmishing and my mate Mr. R. Softer, who is also a witness, was in the video too." Case closed. Except that it wouldn't get that far because the CPS would save the waste of money. No need for UKARA or site membership.

 

Now I have no problem with 3in>2 as a sensible threshold, although I do think it should not be the only threshold or set in stone, nor do I have a problem with public liability insurance as a definition of an organisation, although I also think that clubs/teams who organise events on sites which already have the insurance should be recognised, nor do I have a problem with the necessity of players to provide retailers with such info as the retailer needs to satisfy themselves they have a defence, because without such info the sale could not go ahead...

 

...but who retains the whip hand is crucial. We cannot currently say "UKARA is restrictive to small would be retailers and its existence makes it difficult to complain to an ombudsman about the way imported RIF's do/don't clear HM Customs and the undefined handling fee which couriers charge on parcels which are stopped, because it's not as if the situation means that RIF's are unavailable, it's just that the whole combination keeps the price artificially high, so I'm going to take my business elsewhere." We need an "elsewhere" and that could be Luther. Our player focussed "elsewhere" however needs to have a framework which stops it becoming a new monopolistic entity, otherwise we will become the next problem...

 

 

Edit to add: I don't want Luther to have the whip hand in order that my personal grievances with the status quo can be addressed - I want us all, as individuals, to regain the whip hand - the power which being able to vote with our feet ought to bring. So the proposed voting has to be the way forward. I mean, if Luther becomes something like a Union, then issues such as poor customer service, misleading descriptions/spec sheets, and all that lovely stuff we are all to often called upon to advise about, may be addressable via threats/actual sanctions...

 

UNQUOTE

 

There is talk about the player regaining the whip hand and the player having control.

 

From what I can see, UKAPU is dying - the chairman has resigned, they didn't show up at the British Airsoft Show and there is flagging support.

 

I just wonder if the way forward, is a player association, union, call it whatever you will, where the organisation is the instigator of a player/member defence arrangement like Project Luther and the £5 is the membership fee ?

 

I cant help but think that UKAPU may not have prospered because there was little for them to do and people are quite apathetic especially if they are expected to do something for others, or sometimes do something full stop.

 

How many times have we seen on forums where a person puts a viewpoint or idea forward and fifty people spend the next umpteen number of days poo-pooing, criticising and tyre kicking, because its easier to do that than make a positive contribution.

 

Now there is something to do - Im not suggesting that UKAPU is the vehicle but is it time for a new vehicle, one made of players rather than a retailers association like UKARA.

 

Alternatively, one could say if the retailers want to be defended from prosecution, then let them run it and pay for it and we will just turn up at games and have some fun and go back to talking about upgrades.

 

Thoughts ?

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The problem with the UKAPU is that they never seemed to do anything. They were just there.

 

I also don't like the idea of a union for airsoft players.. too many negative associated with unions whereas as a club sounds a lot better. Also with unions history of causing issues for the govt I think club would be better for the political side of things as the govt will see it less as a threat and just another club

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Okay at this stage, its just titles. Forget union - we're not going on strike.

 

Club, association, whatever. Lets not make the same mistake as the other thread, arguing semantics and checking each others posts for grammar and legal loopholes.

 

Ironically, British Airsoft Club has already been coined.

 

Names can come later. The question is, would it serve any purpose in conjunction with what is being proposed with Luther ?

 

There is no point if it is just a toothless tiger so people can sit round a table for tea and Jammie dodgers.

 

Essentially, I think I am talking about a player orientated membership which has its own defence mechanism embedded in the membership admin.

 

By default, the stance is we are members because we regularly skirmish, so this is our defence to satisfy any enquiring supplier by nature of our card, wrist bracelet, forehead tattoo - delete as appropriate.

 

People aren't going to part with £5 each to a group of forum users known only as usernames. There has to be some structure to the entity. It has to be registered, it has to have audited accounts and so on.

 

That is possible with a "club" that operates Luther as probably its main but not exclusive function.

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With regards to the actual UKAPU in my opinion and from what I've heard, it seems like a complete waste of time. Why join something that has in effect zero powers and the player benefits very little if at all from membership.

 

Currently the BAC seems like the best thing coming up to challenge UKARA so to speak

 

But for whatever new system to work they need backing from people with some sort of significance

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OK so forget UKAPU as an organisation.

 

BAC is doing what they are doing.

 

Some people think its a retailer in sheeps clothing, largely because they have stated they are not a retailer, but the founder also runs a business selling stuff to airsofters.

 

Either people support Malcolm to develop that as an alternative to UKARA and get involved with his panel and take it forward or they set up another competitor that is run solely by players.

 

If its the latter, it has to run inside an organisation with a proper structure. Otherwise it will never get recognised or have any credibility. So this why Ive suggested it run as a replacement for UKAPU.

 

How far do you want to take it and are you prepared to put time in ?

 

A common problem is that people want something else but they want others to do it for them.

 

FEEL FREE TO COMMENT AND DISCUSS, BUT BE POSITIVE - MAKE A POSITIVE CONTRIBUTION TO MOVE FORWARD DONT JUST COMPLAIN, CRITICISE AND BE NEGATIVE.

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Just to update: British Airsoft Club player registration going active on March 1st. Quite a few retailers and sites seem to have signed up.

I know my main local site has and the retailer where I bought my last RIF has confirmed to me they will accept BAC next time I want to order from them.

 

My UKARA doesn't expire until August, but my plan is to subscribe to BAC and road test it for 5 months to see how well it works in practice.

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Just to update: British Airsoft Club player registration going active on March 1st. Quite a few retailers and sites seem to have signed up.

I know my main local site has and the retailer where I bought my last RIF has confirmed to me they will accept BAC next time I want to order from them.

 

My UKARA doesn't expire until August, but my plan is to subscribe to BAC and road test it for 5 months to see how well it works in practice.

I too wish them success. I just wish the system was as good as we propose however and it's only opinion, they have left the hardest part till last.

 

In order for Luther and BAC to work they need site acceptance as without it it's pointless. Smaller sites have signed up to BAC but not the larger companies which take the larger percentage of skirmishers... Suppose it's a step in the right direction, but we certainly wouldn't take membership fees before that point.

 

We are however registering interest via our website for when things go further which lets us let everyone know.

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Thats why it makes sense for any players interested in such schemes to ensure that the retailers and sites that they use will accept the scheme before parting with money.

 

BAC actually adopted a two phase implementation with phase 1 being the signing up of retailers and sites. Phase 2 is the active phase of player registration which will occur on March 1st - Ive been entered on to the BACS system for nearly a week and already can see what sites have signed on, up to now - its increasing rapidly and every time I log on, there are some more.

 

Retailers and sites will drift in gradually - its natural that some will just be slow to get round to it, some will sit on the fence and some will have to be dragged, kicking and screaming.

 

As the BACs scheme stands, I am satisfied that I can get my three games a year verified at the sites I normally play at and that I can buy RIF at a participating retailer of my choice. If I don't renew my UKARA in August and just go with BACS thereafter, if a particular retailer doesn't participate, they wont get my business.

 

I take the whole non-profit/we are only doing it for the good of the sport thing with a pinch of salt.

 

No sensible retailer, providing they are satisfied that the scheme gives them a suitable defence, is going to refuse to work with a free scheme. That is just reducing your accessible market. Enough retailers sell the same RIF at similar prices, that there is always an alternative. Similarly, with sites. One site that I sometimes use, has said they will stay just with UKARA. Fine, I wont play there then if I need my game logged. Plenty of other sites in the same driving range from home.

 

We talk about UKARA and retailers having dictated to the players for so long and now we're going to let sites and retailers dictate in this ? At the end of the day, its us players that inject the money into the sport. We are the customer and the sites and retailers are only the suppliers catering to a demand.

 

BAC have taken the plunge and have invested money in developing their system which I and other players have registered on. I haven't paid any money yet and wont be until Im completely satisfied. Nobody in their right mind is going to part with any money until they have seen that a scheme exists, the person responsible for receiving the monies is fully identifiable and that they have a business address/registered company for the purpose.

 

I have no vested interest in any of the schemes and have no axe to grind with UKARA.

 

Simply put, I work hard for my money, I spend a great deal of that money in the airsoft industry as a consumer and like all other retail products and services, I expect choice and competition to ensure I get the best deal.

 

Looking at the three choices that are being put forward and where they are in terms of real flexibility, maturity and general value for money, I am inclined towards the BAC option at the moment.

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Well, I was busy for a bit and lazy for a bit, but I also wanted this thread to mature before I added my two pen'orth. The trouble with UKARA stems mainly from it being a de facto monopoly, but most of the problems which players notice being directly attributable to the UKARA system, particularly noobs, are by no means the product of discussions around a granite & chrome board room table while Frank strokes his long haired white cat... it's the cock ups: the human failures which any bureaucracy can suffer from, which don't necessarily take any malice, to make some process needlessly problematic and deeply frustrating. Now, when a monopoly is mandated by law, such as the DVLA, then we can hold the government of the day responsible for its smooth running... in theory at least (and to be clear, I'm not suggesting that UKARA is anywhere near as bad as the monumental temple to jobsworthery that is the DVLA). But let's have it right, people have got bigger fish to fry when it comes to complaining about things the govt. are responsible for and the govt., in turn, have got worse things to be scared about becoming the cause of their departure from office than a long standing bastion of gotyouoverabarrellishnousness (if you'll pardon my German), hence the DVLA abides. But let us also be clear, if the management of the DVLA were fined per thousand complaints, it would soon run a lot more smoothly. As with so many things in life, it would take a credible threat of worse consequences for those in power and/or their appointees for them to be jolted out of the cold comfort they have resigned themselves to... and be responsible for creating change.

 

In this instance we have a situation which is basically government mandated monopoly by the back door and we have nobody to whom we can complain and no credible threat to force change. I think it's fair to say that, without all having thought it through this far, a lot of people have their individual reasons for being less than happy with UKARA, but taken as a whole, amongst the airsoft community there is an appetite for a change. Now at this stage, if I were Joseph Goebbels, or his reincarnation, Bernard Hill, it would be the simplest thing in the world to turn this into a tirade against somebody and, frankly, given that I am employing all the goodness my soul actually possesses not to, since I know that doing so is the best way to get people behind a call for change, I expect points...

 

The question we ought to be asking, apart from Baz' excellently put call for us to ask not what a new system for legally selling RIF's can do for us, but what taking some responsibility for the change we would like to see can do for our sport/hobby, is what sort of change do we want? Is it enough that so long as it isn't UKARA and happens quick before UKARA reaches the kind of entrenched position from which it can never be ousted, without a complete overhaul of the VCRA, which longevity threatens to give it, it will do? How about if it addresses the most irritating feature of the UKARA system, that it relies upon the goodwill of unnamed fallible humans, who do not get paid any extra, to do the necessary physical paperwork in a timely fashion for it to function with the minimum aggravation for the player, and thus often fails miserably and creates more hassle for everybody involved when it does? After all, the fact UKARA is a monopoly only seems to matter to most of us because these cock ups have no way round: you just have to wait for the wheels within wheels to grind away until it's sorted out or everyone within the chain of responsibility has run out of patience/hope and agrees that the best bet is to start again, in the full knowledge that the more you complain, the more likely you are to personally annoy somebody and have your case quietly moved to the back of the queue...

 

Well, let's just briefly examine that last question before I go on to make my overall point. Bearing in mind what I said earlier, which Baz quoted above, about whom the onus rests upon and why, let's also consider the actual mechanism of UKARA and upon whom the onus falls:

 

On players - not so much, just to remember to get the paperwork filled in, but you do have to buy site membership and a passport photo;

 

Retailers - a bit more because they have to take the time to open the letters, file the stamped forms securely along with any other paperwork they already keep on customers, and upload the data, and also revalidate each record yearly, for hundreds, maybe a thousand, players and they also have to pay £300/year for the privilege;

 

Site owners/staff - this is where the hammer really falls. How many players turn up without a UKARA form printed out? Do they need a rubber stamp other than for this? How many players don't know whether they will want a registration? How much time does it take to explain to each person, who then holds up the queue to book in, what the benefits of membership are at that site and why getting UKARA reg'd is important because the law says... "What? Yer must be jo..." "No. I know you can buy a shotgun. Yeah, I've got a .22 air rifle that looks exactly like an L85A1 and my 9 year old shoots it... but that's the law... best if we talk abo..." "So hang on. If I pay..." etc. Plus they have to curate the paperwork responsibly, because of the DPA as well as the PITA losing a form causes, and they are responsible for seeing the produced ID and verifying it, which puts them potentially in an annoying legal position and which therefore, of course, any insurer is duty bound to consider. And none of this has anything directly to do with their main business at all.

 

The thing is, if there were no airsoft RIF sales to the general public, say without public liability insurance to operate an airsoft site, so that you had to rent to play with an RIF, the sport/hobby would take a massive knock, but how much would site owners actually lose out as a percentage of their business? Site owners don't get that much off own gunners as it is: we are more likely to buy our BB's in bulk (possibly from the same supplier!), have BFG's/gas grenades rather than buy pyros, and bring our own lunches. Bear in mind also that the cost to the retailers of belonging to UKARA is a tax deductible necessary business expense and filling in and filing paperwork comes far more easily to someone who runs a retail operation than to someone who runs an adventure sport/hobby operation. However there is no way to actually quantify the ballache that is paperwork and I suspect that the Inland Revenue would laugh in the face of any attempt to count the hours taken as billable against tax, unlike membership of a professional body. Do we see a pattern emerging here, by any chance?

 

To fair minded people I expect that the first thought will be, "the onus ought to be shared equally by each of the three groups." However my friends, nevermind that life isn't fair, this is a matter of cold hard cash. Think about how much you spend on guns, gear & loadouts compared to that spent on actually skirmishing. The business we generate through our interests goes primarily to the retailers; in a fair system they should pay for it; but if they pay for it, they will quite rightly want at least a 'fair' say in how it is run, which grants the power to cause so much dissent around any initiative which does not suit them that it cannot be passed by committee, or if it can, nothing will result anyway due to bickering and non-cooperation down the line. I'm not singling out retailers as heinously obtuse human beings, it's just that having served on a number of committees and having seen what people can get up to when the supposed purpose was charity, nevermind when the subject under discussion affected whose and how much wallet spanking went on, I have to tell you that s/he with the most to lose will, sooner or later, be represented by s/he with the biggest mouth and there are no depths of, what I at least was brought up to believe are, dishonourable shenanigins to which people will not sink to delay an inevitable cost or loss of income, even when delaying will ultimately cost them more in the long run.

 

Consider also how a change can only be made to a monopoly by force. Now I ask you, do you honestly think that a new system will produce the change you want to see when it is even partially under the control of those who may lose out financially as a result of the change? It doesn't even matter if they wont lose out, or if what they lose in one way is made up for in another, people older than their teens resist any change, let alone one which they fear may affect their income in a way which they cannot foresee, and when it comes to changes affecting business forced on them by others, well... just forget it, right?

 

Which is why, if we want a system which is not UKARA-in-sheep's-clothing, or UKARA-light, not only must it be entirely player financed and player lead, it must also wield sufficient power, by the credible threat of market forces or, in the last extreme, even deliberate boycott, that retailers will have to negotiate with a democratically elected committee in good faith, because, as above, the consequences of not embracing the change would be worse. But more than this, it also needs to not be/become time consuming or complex for sites, because yet again, it is going to rely on their goodwill. Given enough time, a player's association probably could force cooperation from sites, but people are far more tied down to sites within a geographical area than they are to retailers who can be worldwide.

 

Now this last is where Luther has a major advantage. It will not only be far less of a ballache than UKARA, it will be a resource for those site owners who wish to use it as such. It may seem that BAC has the advantage because they have invested money and site owners are already on board, but Leon and Dave have invested time in software and architecture design which would have cost hundreds, if not thousands, to pay for as a consultancy and the general feeling from sites is positive. Of course Luther is not yet at a stage where it can be demonstrated to site owners for them to give a definitive thumbs up, but then again the essence of Luther is a rock solid technology platform which will be undeniably the way forward when it is seen to be believed, so until it is ready there is nothing concrete to be positive about; there are also no half measures; there is no point at which it could be just about working in a way which would replace UKARA at which Luther will be able to rest upon its laurels/bottle out and end up being/doing nothing new - it is after all a paradigm shift in the way we do things; equally however there will be no point at which Luther can be considered to have gained sufficient uptake that the rest of us could watch and wait to see what happens next. As I said above, this is about cold hard cash and power. Make no mistake, there are vested interests at stake, so if you want real change you will have to support it from the get go or watch it be stillborn.

 

Lastly, if you want a larger organisation surrounding Luther to administer it, you need to say so, describe the kind of thing you envisage, and be willing to put some effort into that, although as far as I understand it, Luther as developing so far will involve something of the sort anyway.

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Having read a LOT of posts here today regarding legalities, VCRA, power limits etc etc, it has brought me to this and posts like it,

I figure this is the best one to ask the question. Is the general consensus among the far more informed than me, to support the UKAPU or the BAC, and how many of you are actually a paid up member of either, if you don't mind saying? I like the idea of joining a 'union for the sport' and I'd like some 'nutshell' answers.

Thanks a lot.

 

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UKAPU doesn't appear to do anything and BAC demonstrated they can't be trusted:

http://www.airsoft-forums.co.uk/index.php/topic/21316-british-airsoft-club-announcement/

 

People keep trying to reinvent the wheel but if the solution ends up destroying your car a few miles down the road you would have been better off sticking with what you had. As you may have guessed, I don't support either of the above :lol:

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As my ukara defence lapsed in November last year, I need to get something sorted but don't want the hassle of proving who I am & where I live etc again. My local site knows who I am so surely that would be enough to update everything again

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As my ukara defence lapsed in November last year, I need to get something sorted but don't want the hassle of proving who I am & where I live etc again. My local site knows who I am so surely that would be enough to update everything again

Are you playing at a different site to the one your UKARA is registered with? If not, your site can just renew your UKARA entry for another year for you, you don't have to fill any forms out as you are already on the database, listed as inactive.

 

If you're playing on a different site now and have been attending regularly, most sites will backdate your games so you don't have to do the whole two month thing if you've been attending for a while.

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Are you playing at a different site to the one your UKARA is registered with? If not, your site can just renew your UKARA entry for another year for you, you don't have to fill any forms out as you are already on the database, listed as inactive.

 

Shame that some of the bigger name sites/companies try to attach exorbitant fees guised as required for re-registering to the ill informed.

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Shame that some of the bigger name sites/companies try to attach exorbitant fees guised as required for re-registering to the ill informed.

Yeah, if you're still playing at the site which your UKARA is registered, the site simply has to log in and renew the entry.

 

We do charge our standard fee of £10 for this (partly because we do it straight away either on site or via email or phone, and partly because we're the ones who will end up having to defend why we've authorised your entry if it ever goes to court).

 

I should also mention that we usually advise people not to just renew UKARA every year as a matter of course if they're not planning on buying RIFS.

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Yeah, if you're still playing at the site which your UKARA is registered, the site simply has to log in and renew the entry.

 

We do charge our standard fee of £10 for this (partly because we do it straight away either on site or via email or phone, and partly because we're the ones who will end up having to defend why we've authorised your entry if it ever goes to court).

 

I should also mention that we usually advise people not to just renew UKARA every year as a matter of course if they're not planning on buying RIFS.

 

Not sure I understand this part, Why would you have to defend anything? Theres nothing in UK Law about UKARA entries

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Not sure I understand this part, Why would you have to defend anything? Theres nothing in UK Law about UKARA entries

What you have to remember is that although UKARA does not appear in UK legislation, it has been approved by the Home Office as a method that retailers can use to be reasonably certain that a defence under section 37 of the VCR Act applies to a sale which would otherwise be prohibited under section 36 of the same act.

 

If someone ever got in trouble involving a RIF (let's imagine they used it in a terrorist attack of some sort as a worst case scenario) and the sale was traced back to a retailer, the retailer would say they had good reason to believe that a section 37 defence applied to the sale because the player had an active UKARA entry.

 

I can almost guarantee that the investigation would then focus on the site who authorised the UKARA entry and the site operator would then be required to prove that the person in question had actually attended the required number of events as recommended by the Home Office to qualify as a regular skirmisher.

 

The site operator would then be called upon to provide records to prove that they hadn't just stamped the forms fraudulently.

 

Worst case scenario: the above happens, the site operator has no records, the whole system gets declared a farce and a sham and Airsoft gets flat banned.

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I can almost guarantee that the investigation would then focus on the site who authorised the UKARA entry and the site operator would then be required to prove that the person in question had actually attended the required number of events as recommended by the Home Office to qualify as a regular skirmisher.

 

I doubt it. A separate investigation might open up, but whether someone was eligible to buy a RIF would be irrelevant if they used it in a crime.

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it would be nice if the whole system came away from being controlled by the retailers. i cant see a way it would be done without some sort of payment, as someone will need to do alot of work for it to work correctly. the problem as i see it is even if you get a union or similar going there is no guarantee that retailers will accept you, they could stil keep shouting ukara only.

 

on a lighter note, i have a name suggestion

 

Airsoft National Union of Skirmishers

 

and there could be database for people wanting to purchase rifs

 

Airsoft National Aproved List

 

there must be some acronym we could call them by for short though :)

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it would be nice if the whole system came away from being controlled by the retailers. i cant see a way it would be done without some sort of payment, as someone will need to do alot of work for it to work correctly. the problem as i see it is even if you get a union or similar going there is no guarantee that retailers will accept you, they could stil keep shouting ukara only.

 

Been tried, both were failures. One never took off, and Qlimax I believe it was proved the other couldn't be trusted.

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it would be nice if the whole system came away from being controlled by the retailers. i cant see a way it would be done without some sort of payment, as someone will need to do alot of work for it to work correctly. the problem as i see it is even if you get a union or similar going there is no guarantee that retailers will accept you, they could stil keep shouting ukara only.

 

on a lighter note, i have a name suggestion

 

Airsoft National Union of Skirmishers

 

and there could be database for people wanting to purchase rifs

 

Airsoft National Aproved List

 

there must be some acronym we could call them by for short though :)

 

AAL? I like it. :P

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