Paintball is an ever-growing extreme sport that boasts several national and regional leagues.
The first ever use of a "paint marker" was to mark certain objects, such as trees to create marker that someone could follow through woods. It then evolved somehow into a game, that dates back to the 1980's, where players would get on opposing sides of a forest of some sort, wearing goggles, and would shoot each other until one had gotten splattered with paint.
The sport then grew out of the woods, and onto cleared out land, where objects, like spools, large industrial tubing, were placed symmetrically on an even playing ground. As that progressed, certain leagues came onto the scene, such as the National Professional Paintball League (NPPL), the National Xball League (NXL), Paintball Sports Promotions (PSP), and a few other local and regional events started taking shape.
Paintball has gotten so much bigger since then, with markers (guns) evolving from big bricks, to tiny, slim, sleek markers that can shoot at increased rates of fire. It is a huge industry to partake in, with over 10 million players, and it is the 2nd biggest Extreme Sport, underneath Skateboarding. This sport is no longer a casual game to those who wish to play in national events, but a life and a profession to those who follow. Players need to be fit and agile to be able to compete, especially professionals.
Types of Paintball
There are three distinct forms of paintball that one can participate in.
The first type of paintball played was Woodsball. It is played in the forest using natural terrain, like bushes and trees, as cover instead of inflatable barriers seen in Speedball. (Cover can also consist of artificially barriers like wooden palettesThe playing field tends to be much larger than Speedball but can vary in size. Woodsball matches tend to last longer than Speedball due to a number of factors. Because the playing field is larger, players typically won't get eliminated as fast as they do in Speedball. In addition, stealth and concealment is much easier to achieve. Depending on the size of the playing field, Woodsball matches can sometimes last for hours. Many modes can be played in Woodsball, and it is often used in combination with Scenario paintball. Outfits for Woodsball are usually camouflaged.
The type that is normally played on a professional level. Speedball takes place on a much smaller playing field than the other two forms and features inflatable barriers rather than natural terrain. Stealth is possible but difficult because of the lack of opportunities to blend in with the surroundings. Thus, suppressive fire, in which one player fires paintballs at an enemy's cover so they stay down, is almost a required tactic and ensures that teammates can get from one bunker to another safely. Paintball markers in Speedball are designed to be small so they are more difficult to hit--a common rule in Speedball is that a player is eliminated if any part of them, including their weapon, is hit. In addition, they allow for quick movement. Outfits for Speedball tend to be brightly colored.
Scenario paintball is the largest form of paintball ever played. Players simulate historic battles or fictitious battles and assume roles such as an Engineer, who can "destroy" obstacles using "explosives", a Medic, who can "heal" players to bring them back into the game, a Sniper, who attacks enemies at long range, and more. Scenario paintball matches can last for more than an entire day. The largest match ever played is the annual Oklahoma D-Day played in Wynadotte, Oklahoma, where thousands and thousands of players recreate the famous Normandy invasion from World War II. It started in 2006; the Axis side has won every year except 2007.
Methods Of Play
There are different ways of playing the game of paintball, dependent on what playing field you are going on. On the playing field, there will always be at least 2 teams that oppose each other. A lot of the variants that are played in paintball mimic most of the popular modes you see in FPS's and such.
This includes, but is not limited to, the following:
Capture the Flag
This is where 2 teams start at each end of a symmetrical playing field, race to capture the flag from the center of the field, and run to place it on the opposing teams starting point/base. There is also another mode where there is a flag on each of the 2 starting locations/bases and the opposing team must capture the other teams flag and run it all the way to their base. Usually there is a time limit set within each match.
Attack & Defend
The only way to truly play this variant is to have an asymmetrical playing field, preferably with one side having a heavily bunkered base, and the other side having just a starting location. In this mode, the attackers must head to the base and either eliminate all defenders, or get one of their own players inside the defenders' base. Whilst the defenders must fend off the attacks from the attackers, either eliminating all of them, or until time expires.
This is the standard team deathmatch, but without death. 2 teams start on opposite ends, and eliminate other players until one team has none left standing.
In this mode, there is usually one or two players on one team, and on the other, a plentiful amount. The one or two players are known as the "ironman" or "ironmen" depending on the amount of players there are on the ironman side, and can get shot with paintballs as much as they want, until they want to get out. While the other team gets the standard, one shot and your out deal.
There are vasts amounts of gear to buy, that vary on the skill level of the player, and the style of play that the player chooses. But every player is required to have a mask, paintball marker, paintball air system, and a hopper to go out and play at an official paintball field.
This is the "gun" that propells the paintballs out and towards your target. Paintball markers are required to have a compressed air tank, or Co2 tank depending on the marker, to operate. Without this, the bolt will not cycle, rendering the marker pretty much useless. Markers have the ability to propel paintballs at 300 feet per second, but fields will usually turn the velocity down to 280 feet per second. Although the paintball will not be able to retain that speed for long.
Paintballs are a gelatinous based shell, filled with vegetable oil and a variety of food coloring. The balls are usually colored in a vibrant array of patterns, usually with 2 colors that contrast each other. Paintballs also come in different grades; the lowest and cheapest ones will always be the most rubbery, and have the higher tendency of not breaking when you shoot them at your target. As you get a higher grade of paint, there will be an incremental difference on quality control, the accuracy of the ball, and the easier the break of the paintball, making it possible to pretty much break the paint on any target.
Generally, paintball players are advised to wear more than one layer of clothing that is light enough to enable them to move swiftly but also protective enough to absorb the impact from paintballs. Speedball players typically wear bright colored clothing while woodsball players wear camo.
The following are common rules that most paintball venues will enforce:
- Everyone must wear a mask: Those participating in a game must wear their mask at all times; they are not permitted to remove them at any time. In addition, those near a playing field must wear a mask as well.
- Everyone must have a barrel cover: The barrel cover protects people from accidental firing. Typically the referee will make sure everyone's barrel covers are on before allowing the players to remove their masks.
- The "surrender" rule: If a player is within a very short distance of an enemy (typically any distance shorter than 15 feet) they are expected to give the enemy a chance to surrender so the enemy doesn't have to get shot at point-blank range (getting marked at such a short distance will often leave a welt and even cause bleeding).
- Hits: A confirmed hit is typically one in which the paintball breaks and splatters on impact. Usually a ball that bounces off the player and does not break does not count as a hit.
- Overkill: Continually shooting an opponent that has already been eliminated is generally discouraged.
- Wiping: Dishonest players will sometimes attempt to wipe the paint off themselves after being hit. This is against the rules.