Another store opens for Rockhampton hobbyists
THE first thing Rhys McCarthy tells someone when they leave the shop front with a new gel blaster is "don't take it out in public".
Despite recent public push back on the realistic hobby guns, he said the community has come leaps and bounds in accepting the presence of the guns.
Mr McCarthy mans the counter at M4A1 Gel Blasters, which opened on Albert St last Friday.
M4A1 has stores across Queensland and South Australia, the only two states where the blasters are legal.
Both Mr McCarthy and the store's owner said the interest in the sport was huge, especially among those aged between 20 and 60.
Mr McCarthy said he wished he had gel blasters when he was younger as the hobby would have diverted him to a healthy lifestyle.
"If I had something like this when I was younger - it gives me something to do and it would have got me off the streets,' he said.
He is heavily integrated in the tight knit CQ gel blaster community, frequenting the local playing fields, and his deep knowledge of the machines makes his passion for the hobby apparent.
There are now three gel blaster stores in Rockhampton, but Mr McCarthy said M4A1's point of difference was the store's variety and large range of safety equipment like helmets, masks and vests.
He said he makes sure every gun sold is sold with eye protection and buyers are well aware the guns should never be used in public.
"You can't blame a police officer - look at them," he said as he pointed to the wall of guns modelled on real-life automatic rifles which are illegal and are unable to be sourced in Australia.
He tells of a time he was returning home from a game and pulled over by a police officer who noticed his blaster on the back seat of his car.
After inquiring briefly, he told the officer it was a gel blaster.
The officer expressed interest in the blaster and the sport and ended up attending a skirmish.
Gel blasters can be used on private property and in designated ranges, of which there are multiple around Rockhampton.
Mr McCarthy said skirmishes in designated playing fields are not only fun, but are great exercise.
"I highly recommend it," he said.
"I have a mate who has lost 20 kilos just from playing every Sunday."
Gel blasters can be bought by anyone over the age of 14 but the M4A1 store will not supply a blaster to a person under 18 without a parent present.
They also vet people upon a purchase, not selling a blaster to people who they believe may misuse to guns.
Earlier this year CQ Blasters, another gel blaster store, had it's lease terminated in Allenstown Square over public concern.
The store moved to an CBD shop front on East St and continues to trade.
M4A1 said all public feedback had been positive.