A & E
Paintball is taking on a whole new extreme
Over the last 10 years, extreme sports have taken the world by storm. The growth in these sports have opened many doors for new activities to become developed and popularized.
One extreme sport that has just recently hit the mainstream is paintball. Even though you wouldn't think so, paintball has overcome snowboarding as the world's fourth largest extreme sport.
What is paintball? Basically, paintball is a high-tech game of capture the flag. Your team starts out at the opposite end of the paintball field from your opponent; and your goal is to take the other team's flag and safely return it to your base. The twist to the game is that the other team (and luckily you too) are wielding high-tech, paint-slinging markers, which are used to tag other players. When a player gets tagged, they call themselves out and leave the game.
Paintball has a relatively interesting beginning - like many other sports that were founded by people just goofing around. The original paintball markers were used by foresters to mark trees for cutting. Human nature took its course with these fun marking toys, and a group of people decided that it might be a good idea to make a sport of it. Thus, paintball as a sport was born.
The 2002 Pan Am Seattle 5-Man Gallery was held Sept 13-15 at Paradise Paintball in Port Orchard, WA.
Photo courtesy of www.paintball.com
Before paintball could grow in popularity a number of changes had to be made. The most important change was to the paintballs themselves. The original paintballs were filled with oil-based paint, making them not practical for a sport, as they would ruin clothes and stain skin for days. With the help of a pharmaceutical company, paintballs were re-invented. Today's paintball is no longer filled with paint, but rather a starch mixture with special food coloring. The outside of a paintball is made up of the same dissolvable substance as gel capsule medicines. The combination of starch and the dissolvable capsule makes today's paintball biodegradable and environmentally friendly.
One big issue for any sport is safety, and this topic has been a big issue to the sport since its early development. Since paintball is often perceived as being a war game, many people have been looking for excuses to ban the sport. Because paintball is being watched under such a close eye, the utmost safety precautions are used. Everyone is required to wear a pair of safety goggles specifically designed for paintball. All the markers are tested before each game to make sure they are shooting at reasonable speeds to ensure safety. Because of the precautions taken by paintball players, the sport has become one of the safest. Paintball has fewer injuries per 1,000 participants than bowling and golf combined.
Now it may seem that paintball would be a sport better left to the highly skilled, but what makes paintball unique is the wide range of people that can participate. On a day in the paintball field you can find people of all ages and abilities.
On the paintball field everyone is equal and has a fair chance of winning. It's not uncommon to see a disabled player joining a game.
Paintball may seem like a guy's sport, but the percentage of women players is growing by leaps and bounds.
One of the largest growth areas of the sport is in corporate team-building events. Getting together on the paintball field is a sure way to bring a group of strangers together and have them leave as friends.
Over the years I have participated in just about every mainstream sport from football to BMX bike riding, and I can honestly say I have never experienced anything as fun as the sport of paintball.
Think back to the fun you had as a little kid playing capture the flag during recess, combine it with high-tech squirt guns, and you have paintball.
Put away any preconceived notions you have and go out for a game. I can guarantee it will be an experience not forgotten.
© 2002 Shoreline Community College