What is Paintball and how is it Played?
The following text has been paraphrased and revised from the original article "What is Paintball" written by Jessica Sparks for Action Pursuit Games magazine, December 1996.
In 15 short years, the sport of paintball has become recognized as one of the world's most exciting indoor or outdoor participation sports. Paintball is played in over 40 countries by millions of men and women of all ages and lifestyles. Whether homemakers or high-school students, professionals or retirees, all paintball players share in common a love for adventure and a strong competitive spirit. Within the past couple of years, paintball has become the second fastest growing extreme sport behind inline skating.
Paintball is a combination of the childhood games of "tag" and "hide & seek," but is much more challenging and sophisticated. Although there are many different game formats, typically a group of players will divide into two teams to play "capture the flag." At Paintball Village, the number of players on each team can vary from one or two, five or seven or ten, to over 50 on each side.
The object of the game is to go out and capture the other team's flag while protecting your own. While you are trying to capture the flag, you also try to eliminate opposing players by marking them with a paintball expelled from a special air gun called a "marker." Games run from 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the number of players included in that game.
Between games, it is typical to share stories of victory and the often funny agonies of defeat while reloading with more paintballs or grabbing a quick bite to eat or a refreshing soda. Swings-N-Things offers both indoor and outdoor seating in their beautiful homemade ice cream parlor. Win or lose, everyone has a good time and there's usually the next game waiting for you.
What Do Paintballs Look Like?
A paintball is a round, thin-skinned gelatin capsule with colored liquid inside it. Paintballs are flexible, marble-sized balls with a liquid fill that is non-toxic, non-caustic, water-soluble and biodegradable. It rinses easily out of clothing and off skin with mild soap and water. Although paintballs come in a rainbow of bright colors, the only paint that is allowed to be used at Paintball Village is the field paint. When a paintball marks a player, the thin gelatin shell splits open and the liquid inside leaves a bright "paint" mark. A player who is marked is eliminated from that game, calls his or herself out and walks to the sidelines or starting position and waits for the starting of a new game.
Markers come in a variety of shapes, styles and price ranges. They may be powered by carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen (N2) or compressed air (CA.) Today, most markers have power systems that use large refillable cylinders called "tanks" or "bottles" that provide hundreds of shots before needing to be refilled. Paintball Village can fill CO2 and compressed air, but recommends the use of compressed air for its cleanliness, consistency and ability to be used without problems in the winter. All of the rental packages at Paintball Village include a compressed air tank with the marker, loader and mask.
The vast majority of paintball markers today fire in "semi-automatic" mode, meaning that one paintball is fired every time the trigger is pulled. There is no need to re-cock or "pump" the paintball marker after every shot. Some paintball markers are capable of firing in various modes including: turbo, 3 round burst, 6 round burst, response mode (one paintball fired during the pull of the trigger and one fired with the release of the trigger) and full-automatic. However, due to insurance restrictions and for safety reasons, semi-auto is the only firing method permitted at Paintball Village and the majority of other established fields. If you are unsure about the mode your marker is firing in, please see a Paintball Village employee immediately before entering the field. If you are caught using any mode other than semi-auto, you will be asked to leave.
Paintball markers range from simple to sophisticated, but what they all share in common is a limitation of their firepower and range. The international safety limit on the speed (measure in feet per second, "FPS") at which a paintball marker shoots a paintball is 300 FPS. At Paintball Village, that speed is limited to a safe 270 FPS. A chronograph is used to test for speed limits, and all paintball markers can be adjusted to shoot under the speed limit. A marker's range is limited, too; even shooting 300 FPS, at maximum elevation with barrel pointed up into the air, a paintball marker can lob a paintball only about 50 yards.
For safety, paintball players always must wear goggles specifically designed for paintball to protect their eyes. Goggles must be worn during a game and at all times when a person is in an area where shooting is permitted. A protective facemask is also mandatory and is a part of all goggle systems manufactured for paintball today. Paintball is a very safe sport as long as safety rules are followed. Insurance statistics have shown that when paintball is played at facilities like Paintball Village, it is safer than golf, jogging, tennis, swimming and many other sports.
Referees on the field enforce safety and game rules. No physical contact is permitted in the game, and players are ejected from games or the establishment for breaking safety or playing rules. All fields at Paintball Village are bounded by 20' high netting that is specifically designed to keep paintballs from penetrating into areas they should not. Shooting above or over the nets at Paintball Village is not allowed at any time and violators will be asked to leave. Additionally, for added safety, all of the fields at Paintball Village are surrounded by chain-link fencing to ensure a safe "buffer zone" between the fields and walkways for non-players and spectators.
Paintball is a sport played by people from all professions and lifestyles. It is a sport where women and men compete equally, and where age is not dominated by youth. Like a game of chess, being able to think quickly and decisively is what makes you a star in paintball. Intelligence and determination, not merely strength, speed or agility, are key to success in the sport.
Paintball is a character-building sport. Players learn about teamwork, gain self-confidence, and develop leadership abilities while having fun and getting welcome stress-relief. Increasingly, corporations are finding the benefits of having their staff and management participate in paintball games for these benefits.
Paintball is an exciting sport, and above all, paintball is fun! It's a chance to shake off your day-to-day responsibilities and rekindle your spirit of adventure. When the adrenaline starts pumping, you can't help but love the rush of the game!