Who knew that more than thirty years after the invention of the sport of paintball, it would be one of the most popular and expensive sports for teens and young adults in the United States? When Charles Gaines and a group of friends slipped into the woods to settle a friendly dispute, not a single one of them dreamed the debate would trigger a sporting trend which would eventually spread like wildfire. Not only is paintball growing in the number of active participants, it’s also growing in cost. As technology increases and better weapons are developed, different targets are created, and more effective protective gear becomes available, the amount people are paying to play increases.
So What Is Paintball?
The sport of paintball is very much akin to laser tag. There are different types of staging areas for the game, ranging from a structured field to a wooded area. The teams spread out and eliminate each other by marking or hitting their opponents with pellets or balls of colored paint. The basic rules are relatively straight forward; if a player takes a direct hit from a paintball where the ball breaks on impact, then the player is eliminated from the game.
In some games, there is a requirement concerning the location of the paint mark or the size. The only time a player may not be eliminated from the game from a paint mark is when the paintball breaks on impact with another object. This is called splatter and is usually not considered a hit. The end of the game comes when one team is completely eliminated or they surrender.
Paintball is not a cheap sport. A player just starting out should expect to spend upwards of $1,000.00 on paintballs, guns, protective equipment, and storage bags. The guns are also called markers and they take a bit of assembly, requiring a barrel, a CO2 canister, and a paintball loader. During game play, the player will empty a load of paintballs into the loader, which usually sits on top of the marker. Gravity does its job and the paintballs funnel into the marker, preparing to be fired. The pressurized air from the canister works to push the paintball into position, then fire it through the barrel and out toward the target. The weapon, alone, takes up more than half the expected play cost, and when they suffer from wear and tear, they require upkeep just like any other piece of game equipment. Try belleville washers in place of coil springs if pressure is a problem.
In addition to the weapon, the paintballs, the loader, and the air tank that make up the necessary components of the gun, safety gear is a must have. Protective goggles and face masks keep paint from impacting more delicate parts of the body. When they explode on impact, they hurt! The bruise left behind can range in size from a large coin to a clenched fist. In some cases, bruises can even be the size of an open hand. Vests, leg guards, gloves, neck guards, and more are available to keep the body from major harm while playing the game. Safety should always be the first priority.
Whether the creators of the sport of paintball intended for the game to be what it is today, many around the world have picked up this sport and play it competitively, some even professionally. It continues to grow in popularity despite the steep monetary cost. So gather up some friends and head over to the nearest field. You just might find yourself hooked.