The following is a reprint
of an article written by Jessica J. Sparks for Action Pursuit Games
magazine, December 1996.
What is Paintball? In 15
short years, the sport of paintball has become recognized as one of the
world's most exciting 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
Capture the Flag
Paintball is a combination of the childhood games "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." The number of players on each team can
vary from one or two, five or seven or ten, to over 1,000 on a side,
limited only by the size of the playing field.
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 a flag, you also try to eliminate opposing
players by tagging them with a paintball expelled from a special airgun
called a "paintgun." Games run from 20 to 45 minutes, depending on the
size of the field and the number of players.
Between games, players take
a break to check their equipment, get more paintballs and have a snack or
soda while they share stories about the thrills of victory and the usually
funny agonies of defeat. Win or lose, everyone has a good time and there's
usually the next game waiting for you.
Paintballs A paintball is a round, thin-skinned gelatin
capsule with colored liquid inside it. Paintballs are similar to large
round vitamin capsules or bath oil beads. The fill inside paintballs is
non-toxic, non-caustic, water-soluable and biodegradable. It rinses out of
clothing and off skin with mild soap and water.
Paintballs come in a rainbow
of bright colors: blue, pink, white, orange, yellow and more. When a
paintball tags a player, the thin gelatin skin splits open, and the liquid
inside leaves a bright "paint" mark. A player who is marked is eliminated
from the game.
Paintguns Paintguns, also
called "markers," come in a variety of shapes and styles as you see in
this special "paintgun roundup" issue [ed. APG 12/96 issue]. They may be
powered by carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen (N2) or compressed air. Many
have power systems that use large refillable cylinders called "tanks" or
"bottles" that give hundreds of shots before needing to be refilled. Some
use small 12 gram CO2 powerlets as their power source, each powerlet being
good for 15 to 30 shots.
With pump-action paintguns (pumpguns),
each time you want to shoot a paintball you first cock the paintgun by
using a pump, then you squeeze the trigger to shoot the paintball; you
must recock the paintgun before you can shoot again. Stockguns, using
12-grams, have the most basic pumpgun configuration (though they are
becoming ever-more high-tech within the constraints of the configuration)
and stock gun play is in a class of its own.
paintguns, the first time you want to shoot you must cock the paintgun
(usually by pulling back a cocking knob or handle), but after you shoot
the first paintball the paintgun's action will recock the paintgun for
you; you simply squeeze the trigger each time you want to shoot a
Paintguns range from simple
to sophisticated, but what they all share in common is a limitation on
their power and range. The international safety limit on the speed
(measured in feet per second, "FPS") at which a paintgun shoots a
paintball is 300 fps. A chronograph is used to test for speed limits, and
all paintguns can be adjusted to shoot under the speed limit. A paintgun's
range is limited, too; even shooting 300 fps, at maximum elevation with
barrel pointed up into the air, a paintgun can lob a paintball only about
Safety 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, such as the target range or chronograph area.
A protective facemask is mandatory nearly everywhere, and should be worn
regardless. Paintball is a very safe sport as long as safety rules are
followed. Insurance statistics have shown that paintball 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 playsite for breaking
safety or playing rules. Fields have boundaries, and a player who steps
outside a field's boundary is eliminated from that game.
The Game 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
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 thrill of the