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By Susan K Alexander

Paint Ball WallWhat just hit me? Splat! Where did it come from? Welcome to the world of Paintball. You were just hit (or marked) by a little round colorful object about 0.68 inches in diameter called a paintball. This is the size of your basic paintball. A basic paintball is a capsule filled with a water-soluble dye in a gelatin capsule and comes in nice bright colors or an eco-friendly basic green. Put this little round colorful ball in a device called a “marker” and you have the beginnings of an experience you will never forget. The game of Paintball!

Now that you have an understanding of what is in the “splat” we can move on to what projected that little paintball to meet your body and “marking” you. That basic paintball when placed in a paintball gun or paintball marker becomes the catalyst for what could be the most exciting day of your life. (Excluding perhaps marriage or the birth of your first child.) Paintball started in New Hampshire in 1981 and has evolved and is now considered to be a sport and not only a game. This article, however, focuses on what the novice player would need or expect and how to go about experiencing the excitement of playing paintball.

Everyone starts out as a recreational player (unless maybe they have had extensive military experience). Paintball simulates military combat with the gigantic exception that no one dies when hit by a paintball. Paintball guns and markers look and feel like real weapons and each State has its own laws and regulations as to where you can play paintball and age restrictions for who is allowed to purchase a paintball gun or marker. It is key to remember that even though you are playing a game it is IMPERATIVE that you prepare to play paintball, even basic paintball, using quality guns and markers, as well as investing in the proper safety gear and accessories. No sport or game is without rules and regulations. A good Paintball field has very stringent regulations and, if not followed, you will not be allowed to play. Safety is ALWAYS the most important ingredient in having a great experience.

Before investing in any paintball guns, markers, accessories or gear you should play a couple of games with rental equipment. Most fields will rent you everything you need from a basic paintball gun or marker to safety gear like a mask. Some will even rent “camo” clothing but make sure you check before you arrive as to exactly what they will rent and what you need to bring with you. Check out the field where you intend to play before you make any arrangements to play there. All fields are not alike. There are various types of field layouts associated with playing paintball because different types of games required different fields. For example, recreational paintball and tournament paintball would not usually be played on the same type of field. Woodsball is very different from a tournament style. Some questions a novice player should ask a field before playing basic paintball are:

• Hours and days of operation and whether reservations are needed

• Cost to play and what does it include and how much for additional ammo or CO2

• How many players required

• Do they rent paintball masks and camouflage clothing as well as paintball guns. Camouflage clothing will help you avoid the splat and help you to hide. It also makes you more confident and makes you look like you know what you are doing. You know the saying -dress for success.

• Good army type boots that fit well are a good idea. (You don’t want to be getting blisters and want good ankle support if you are in the woods.)

• Knee pads not required but you will probably find that they really help if you have to be kneeling in stickers or crawling through brush

• Elbow pads might be helpful also.

• If a field does not have good head and eye protection gear for rent, don’t play there. This is the one thing you want to purchase or go to a field that does rent protective gear. Do not play without it.

You are now outfitted in your camouflage clothing and boots. You have rented a basic paintball gun or marker, with a hopper filled with 200 rounds of ammo, and have a filled CO2 tank. You have a protective mask or goggles. Your knee pads are in place. You are off for the most exciting experience you can imagine-have a great day!

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