Ammo Page:  Tips for the Frugal and for the Furious!
Merrill     Dunes
Here are some thoughts on how to use paintballs at Merrill Dunes - - - if you want to squeeze maximum fun out of each shot!

Our traditional way to distribute ammo is illustrated on our Ammo 101 page.  The system worked well for years but we now have two other options that work for many groups.

Our current distribution system uses personalized Ball Caddy Jugs.  Keeping ammo warm, if it is cold weather, is critical.  Cold paintballs are brittle and break in the gun when the propulsion air blast hits them.  Our Safe Zone heated "refrigerators" make the Caddy system work.  The Caddies are easy to identify with a player name on them and "borrowing" other player's ammo doesn't seem to be an issue with most groups.  (and all groups are private) Any time you need more ammo, no need to wait in line!  In warm weather - heating is a non-issue.  We can revert back to the old '100/50 tube' system but the cost is the same and the 'jug' system gives you far more paint for the same price.

The self serve system is illustrated below and for a team of young players, going that route can peal about $4.00 off the per player price in a 2 hr event.  Players only need 150 paintballs per hour so unit distribution can reduce consumption by 200 paintballs per player.  Our view is that it is easier to 'let-er-rip' and when that is the policy, the group does seem to have a better time!
Ball Caddy 
Jug System
Ball Caddy Jug Heater - several heaters are available in the safe zone.
The Self Serve Distribution System** :  Here is a Merrill Dunes innovation that fits younger team groups.  The system is fun to use and keeps ammo cost at a minimum while assuring good times in the battle field.  We know that handing out ammo, 100 or 50 balls at a time, allows 150 balls per hour to go the distance.  If unregulated Ball Caddies are used, ammo consumption for all ages jumps, and for young players, the usage can be dramatically wasteful!  Here are static shots as well as an educational video so team leaders can figure out how to use the system before they hit ground Zero! In a 2 hr event each player gets 500 paintballs.  If he only uses 300 - the practical budget - we refund the unused balls at 2 cents each for a saving of $4.00 per player.  Another advantage is that extra balls, over the 500, cost 4 cents, so keeping young players under control means that overstepping the 500 jug budget isn't going to occur.
The Distribution System consists of two sections of ball bottles - 15 to each section.  The ball bottles hang in a swirl of heated air.  The ammo is warm when it comes out of the box, in 500 ball bags. Then it is quickly poured into either 100 or 50 ball bottles, where it can remain warm until placed into a gun hopper.
The bags are dumped into the hopper and have no where to go other than the ball bottles.  In the photo, three 500 ball bags have been poured into the hopper which sits over 15 100 ball bottles. Notice the regular pattern of the balls in the filled bottles and notice how the three bags had 4 extra paintballs in them.
There is a vibrator that can be turned on while the balls are flowing into the bottles and then turned off once that process is complete.  On cold days, the heater is available and is thermostatically controlled to avoid overheating, so it can be safely left on.
Here you can see a case of 2000 paintballs about to be opened.  The second section of 15 ball bottles, in this case is loaded with 5 100 bottles and 10 50 bottles so that two bags of 500 balls can be poured in the hopper and be totally taken care of.
The 1000 paintballs drop into the ball bottles and we have two balls left over.  Nice to know we didn't get short changed!  On occasion, the balls log jamb slightly, more so on 100 ball bottles, but by slipping the thin and blunt nylon rod down the side of the ball bottle, the balls drop into place.  The count is exact and the 7 ball pattern at the top of the ball bottle tells you that accuracy has been achieved.  It is a satisfying system for those who enjoy perfection!
The ball bottles are easy to grab and the size is perfect for a spill free transfer of the balls into the hungry paintball hoppers!
The 50 ball bottles are painted white to make it easy to see what size of bottle you are grabbing.  We have a secondary, insulated holder that you can store packed ammo in such that a rush of demand can be handled without slowing the troops.
If there is a lull in activity, the packer can be covered with it's insulative foam cover, thus keeping the ammo warm and ready for action.
As the team troops come in for ammo, each one has a ball card on his Team Identification Neck Band and the ammo attendant simply snaps his ball card. Thus it is easy to maintain fairness.  Anyone who gets extra ammo can be charged for it.  High initial users can be advised to slow down a bit.  Our experience with our regular distribution system is that it is rare for any child to squander his ammo and be out of ammo and out of action early.  The regulated system works really well.

And this device makes it practical for groups to self serve and save group funds.  The job is highly enjoyable and you really get to know the players over the course of an evening.  Prepare to hear the latest news from the battle front on a minute by minute basis!  Manning the Distribution Centre is a bit like being an army cook handing out snacks to hungry soldiers.  You are popular and really connect to the appreciative troops.   The personality of hungry and happy little troopers flows out in a way that is quite pleasant for the popular cook!
Self Serve can give a savings on paintballs!
ABOVE: We offer low impact / soft hit paintball for those who want the adrenaline level slightly reduced.  Same price - but easier on the skin! Good for younger groups. Ask us for details!
Low Impact / Soft Hit Paintball