The basic essence of paintball is a game of "capture the flag." You and
your team try to capture the opposing team's flag without letting them capture
yours. Games can be played indoors or outdoors.
You disqualify players by shooting them with a paintball. A paintball is
a round gelatin capsule with colored liquid inside that splits open when it
hits something. It's always obvious who has been hit and who hasn't.
You'll need safety equipment. Generally, that means a mask, chest protector
and coveralls to protect your clothing. The liquid inside a paintball is non-toxic.
It rinses off of skin with soap and water. Games usually have a time limit
of 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the type of game being played.
James Campbell is the founder of a paintball association. He says there
isn't really a "typical" paintball enthusiast, but there is a target market.
"The majority of paintballers are male, between the ages of 16 and 25.
However, there are also many others who play and are equally enthusiastic
about the sport. Paintball players come from all age groups, genders, ethnic
backgrounds and social classes. Pinning down a typical player is difficult
to do," says Campbell.
Paintball is open to people with a variety of physical abilities and skills.
Suzzie Stoneman is a paintball enthusiast from Ohio. She has seen people of
all shapes and sizes become equally successful at the game.
Campbell is aware of paintball events set up to include people who require
wheelchairs and other disabilities as well. Using semi-automatic paintball
guns requires only one hand, so moving around in the wheelchair while playing
"There was -- or still is -- even a semi-professional tournament team consisting
entirely of players who are deaf. I would say the only disabilities that would
prevent someone from participating in a game of paintball would be a complete
inability to move around or blindness," says Campbell.
According to the most recent statistics from the Canadian Paintball Association,
in 1990, there were an estimated 600,000 participants in Canada and five million
in the U.S. Since then, paintball has grown tremendously.
Experienced players are usually willing to share their knowledge. "Keep
your goggles on!" says Stoneman. "And don't feel like you have to start spraying
paint the instant you hear a twig snap. I can't count how many times games
have been lost to something stupid like impatience."
Paintball field operators, referees and players alike go to great lengths
to ensure that safety is the number one concern. Having a good time is also
You have to spend a bit of money to play because you need certain equipment
and facilities. According to Stoneman, it doesn't have to be a huge investment.
"If you don't intend to purchase a gun, a typical rental of equipment will
cost $15 to $25, depending where you play, which includes the field fee. Newbies
don't generally use massive amounts of paint, so 400 rounds should be more
than enough, which should set you back another $20 or so, again, depending
where you go. Paintball doesn't have to be expensive. People spend thousands
on equipment, and it doesn't make them better players."
Both Campbell and Stoneman see a bright future for the sport. Campbell
predicts that there will be more professionally organized events similar to
Skyball, which is a large international tournament. He also predicts the formation
of professional paintball leagues.
"This may be a long way off, but it could definitely happen with some hard
work and persistence," says Campbell. "With the growth of arena-type tournaments
played on a highly spectator-friendly -- and advertiser-friendly -- symmetrical
court, this seems the logical route for the sport to take."
Stoneman also sees the sport continuing to evolve. "One trend in the next
five years or so will be obvious -- no more full-automatic guns. But that
was absurd anyway. Where is the fun in hosing people down without giving them
a fighting chance? I do think paintball will continue to grow in popularity,
but unfortunately, I see paintball vandalism as a rising concern that needs
to be addressed."
Here are some possible career choices in the paintball area:
Corporate trainer: Many companies are looking for exciting and
innovative staff training programs that don't involve sitting in a classroom
or meeting room. Teamwork and communication skills are useful in a game of
paintball and also in the workplace.
Entrepreneur: Depending on the local market, there might be a demand
for a paintball facility in your area.
Equipment salesperson: Keeping up with the latest technology and
letting people know how it will help their game would be an advantage in this
National College Paintball Association
Includes information on equipment and a chat room where you can
How to Play Paintball
Information and tips for beginners