Pop-A-Shot literally created the electronic basketball shooting game. Over time Pop-A-Shot introduced electronic scoring, arcade versions, infrared scoring, steel frames… a litany of firsts in the industry. That’s why Pop-A-Shot is synonymous with basketball shooting games.
In 1981, Ken Cochran was recuperating and restless after undergoing heart bypass surgery. The longtime college basketball coach’s idle mind found inspiration in a mini basketball on his desk.
His initial idea was to put three small basketball rims on side-by-side backboards with a net that would return the balls to the shooters. He had a local machine shop build a frame and a cabinet shop make the backboards. He then attached a volleyball net to function as the return ramp. He called this first game the “Triple Shot.”
He set up his invention at one of his sports camps and charged campers $1.00 for 10 shots, with a free T-shirt awarded to anyone who made at least seven. When the games consistently drew long lines of campers, he realized he had something special.
The first ever Pop-A-Shot was a triple shot!
1981 - Salina, Kansas
The first Pop-A-Shot Single
1982 - Salina, Kansas
The Triple Shot proved too cumbersome to transport, so Cochran eliminated two of the baskets. He built a new single basket game with a frame and net return made especially for it. He put this game, “Mini Basketball,” in a local bar and charged $1.00 a minute to play.
Cochran knew the game needed some type of electronic scoring. He added a “scoring collar” to the bottom of the rim nets, so that when the ball passed through a mechanical switch could record the score. A 40-second clock was added. If a player scored 40 points, they received a free game. The ball return ramp was changed from netting to fiberglass, and a heavy-duty polycarbonate piece was placed in the center of the game to contain the three balls when the time expired.
Pop-A-Shot 1990 World Championship
But with success came competition. As the coin-op market became saturated, Pop-A-Shot created its first home game. Over time Pop-A-Shot left the coin-op world (so any basketball arcade game you see in your local arcade or bar is not a true Pop-A-Shot). The current Pop-A-Shot Classic game is very similar to the model built almost 30 years ago.
Original Pop-A-Shot Home Single
Pop-A-Shot Premier Single
In 2013, Pop-A-Shot created its finest non coin-op ever: The Premier Big Ball Small Ball game. The frame is the sturdiest Pop-A-Shot has ever built. The game features a larger (15”) hoop, which means players can use either mini or regulation-sized balls.
Cochran retired in 2016, 35 years after creating Pop-A-Shot. New management will now move Pop-A-Shot forward, with new products incorporating technology and updates on the horizon.