By Jennifer Marshall
Are you looking for a fresh, innovative way to celebrate your child’s birthday or host your company’s next corporate event? If you’re tired of all the ho-hum ideas and places, then you need to book VIP Airsoft for your next big celebration.
But what is VIP Airsoft? Airsoft is similar to paintball. They’re both defined as recreational and competitive shooting sports, but they’re still different. Instead of using paintballs, Airsoft uses what is called “spherical plastic projectiles” also known as airsoft pellets. As the name suggests, they’re composed of a plastic material. These air pellets are loaded into airsoft guns, which are a type of air gun.
Airsoft is a popular sport with an ever growing list of fans. In June 2017, Bryan Bijonowski opened a second state-of-the-art indoor airsoft arena in the Phoenix area—VIP Airsoft.
Except when booked for a private function, open hours are considered public sessions whereby people can walk in and participate. When enough players are assembled, they’re divided into two teams for about 10 minutes of action after which the referee calls the game and proclaims the winner.
“When someone gets hit, they call themselves out, go back to the restart point and start over,” said Bijonowski. “You might have four or five lives in the game kind of like a video game.”
Public session games are open to kids and adults. Children must be 10 years and older to join a team. The only age exception is for eight and nine year olds who are exceptionally athletic.
VIP Airsoft offers an array of different types of games for clients to play. During public sessions, the referees determine which particular games will be played at that time. Capture the flag and zombie games are always crowd pleasers. For real adrenaline junkies, a mock bomb is available to be disarmed. Just imagine—you can be the superhero who saves the world! Protection type games are fun, too, where, for example, the objective is to protect a movie or rock star, which means one team will be guarding while the other team attempts to take out the security detail.
Reservations can be made to host a private affair at VIP Airsoft. The arena is perfect for birthday parties and corporate events. The arena also hosts themed overnighters for kids. For young children between six and nine, they offer peewee nerf parties. And since nothing makes a party better than pizza and soda, they have an in-house concession for hungry young tummies.
With so much emphasis on kids, safety is a natural question. According to Bijonowski, the sport is completely safe. VIP Airsoft also uses the latest safety technology. All players wear gloves, long sleeves, chest protectors, helmets and face protection in the form of masks. Safety equipment is available for rent, and for those who would rather purchase their own gear, a pro shop is located on-site.
How, then, did Bijonowski get into such a unique and expanding business? Back in the early 2000s, he owned a small shop in Gilbert specializing in PC gaming; his shop also sold paintball gear. Fast forward a few years, and he operated a small paintball field at his Gilbert church; he did this for about six years.
Located in the same strip mall as his PC game shop was a vacant unit that had been empty for about 10 years. Around 2009, inspiration struck, and Bijonowski wrote an official business plan for his indoor airsoft arena. He presented his plan to the strip mall’s owner who reviewed it and was immediately interested. You could say that he was ahead of his time as not many airsoft arenas existed in the late 2000s.
“The owner went out to California to see an airsoft arena,” said Bijonowski. “He saw it was in a crummy area and saw people streaming in the door. He said if this place is popular in a crummy warehouse area, it should do well in a nicer place.”
“Demographics” was Bijonowski’s one word answer when asked how he came to open his newest location here near the corner of North 32nd Street and East Shea Boulevard. This new arena is approximately 30 miles from his Gilbert location. Not only do the two arenas not compete against each other but they’ve expanded his client base while cutting down on the drive time for some of his customers from Scottsdale and the North Phoenix area.
To learn more about VIP Airsoft, check out their website at: vipairsoft.net/phoenix. “Like” and “Follow” them on Facebook, and read some of their many rave reviews from happy customers such as:
“Excellent customer service, play arena and owner who stands behind their products! This place is a MUST SEE for newbies or VETS!”
—Christian A. via Google
“Courteous, helpful and knowledge-able staff. Clean arena. Great specials offered and not far off the interstate.”
—Jenny A. via Yelp