I've been to Winnipeg (ok I was only 13 and can't remember it) but I was there! And i certainly don't think of it as "in the sticks".
Just fyi There was an innocent man killed yesterday in a gunfight on the streets of T.O. and today the mayor is SCREAMING to Ottawa on the CBC 6pm news for a nationwide handgun ban. Thats the climate around here.
Someone mentioned being proud of the sport and don't hide it. Out of all my lifetime friends and family there was only 2 that understands and plays airsoft. ALL the others either think I'm a bit strange or tolerate it as a bazaar hobby.
What I try to do (and this theory could change the world in other areas if implemented) is, During casual talk about hobbies/sports at work (I work with mostly women in social services...doesn't pay much but always being the only guy in the meetings...well ... a perk of the life....I digress)
in casual conversation I mention I "play a sport kinda like paintball" and take it from there stressing fitness, friendships, teamwork, tactical thinking and fun. 1 person at a time I am introducing this sport to them. It seems to be working, they ask how the big games went afterwards.