Recently I’ve gotten interested in paintball and have found it to be one of my favorite new hobbies. In this post I will try to explain the basics of paintball, the benefits that I see from it and hopefully garner a few laughs as well.
Paintball has become pretty popular across the country and there are no shortage of professional fields (both indoor and outdoor) in most areas. If you live in a more rural area there really is no need for a professional field, except perhaps to find more opponents, you can simply find a good patch of land and set up your own field. At professional establishments you will generally find them equipped with everything you need to get started. Rental equipment including guns, paintballs, face masks, chest protectors, et cetera… Their fields vary and could include anything from wooded areas to fields set up with small wooden houses or inflatable barriers.
Starter sets of paintball guns, air tanks, and face masks are not too expensive but you may want to rent equipment if you’re playing for the first time. I was able to pick up a pretty good set of equipment for just over $100 right from Amazon. Free shipping. Yay.
Personally I was a little intimidated the first time I went to our local paintball park. I had watched some YouTube videos explaining the basics but still I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect and unfortunately didn’t have any friends who played to show me the ropes. So, I just showed up and figured I’d see what happened. Of course I was fully expecting a pack of teenagers to obliterate me in about two seconds but everyone turned out to be really great. The folks who worked there were knowledgeable and patient and the players were all very helpful as well. It seemed to me that everyone was making a very concerted effort to ensure all teams were evenly skilled and they separate beginners, intermediates, and expert players.
Now for the benefits of playing paintball. First of all, paintball is not just a game, it is serious exercise! Not too many things can get my lazy butt to run (the short list being: vicious dogs, my wife, and free sandwiches) but after being shot with a paintball a couple of times my laziness took a back seat to my desire not to get bruised up. Let me tell you, those things really sting and they leave a hell of a bruise. So, I’m not only running, I’m ducking, kneeling, crawling, rolling, and doing just about anything to keep behind cover and get the drop on the other team. It is serious exercise.
I should note that you don’t have to walk away from a paintball match covered with bruises. They do have padded shirts and protective clothing. It just so happened that the day I went it was about 90 degrees and I preferred taking my chances in a T-shirt to heat stroke. In cooler weather you would definitely see me with some padding on.
Paintball is also very tactical and you’ll soon find that even at the intermediate level the best teams have a good leader who knows at least the basics of tactical maneuvering. Being a newcomer I took my cues from an experienced General type who plotted out how our hastily put together team of six would take down our opponents with extreme prejudice. He was good too. A true leader of men with an innate ability to lead through battle and fearless in the face of enemy fire. Think of Robert Duvall’s character in Apocalypse Now! I think he may have been 15 years old. I actually saw his mom pick him up in her minivan at the end of the day. Oh well, you follow the experienced no matter what I guess… Humbling.
My first couple of days playing I made quite a few new friends and have seen great players between the ages of 12 to 60 and everything in between. I think the common theme was everyone was there to have a good time and the more experienced players were clearly encouraging everyone to get into their sport. It actually reminded me a lot of the first time I went to a trap and skeet range. Lots of people hanging around wanting to be helpful.
So, if you haven’t tried it yet I would encourage everyone to check out paintball as a great way to burn some calories while having a lot of fun. And of course I do love the smell of paintballs in the morning. Smells like…Victory.