Tuesday July 30, 2013
It feels like paintball has been a part of my life forever. I've been in so many games, been shot so many times and had so many adventures that it's really impossible to remember them all. There is one part of the game, though, that simply doesn't get old.
I recently took a group of over a dozen boys from age 12 to 17 to play paintball. Some had played a few times before, some had never played and none were regulars. We played on some private land under a large canopy of trees a few hundred feet across with a nice stream winding through the middle. The evening was hot and humid, a few of the paintball guns were having issues, the ground was kind of muddy, but nobody cared. We played for a few hours before heading off to get some pizza. Despite none of the games really being, in my mind, particularly remarkable, the boys kept talking about what had happened and constantly rehashed and re-evaluated their decisions on each game.
If you've spent much time with teens and near-teens, you know that between 12 and 17 there's a world of difference. What I love about paintball is that it brings them together. Very few other activities have the chance to bring all sorts of people from different backgrounds, different ages, different professions and different locations. In the end, everyone is just playing a game with friends. Playing and having fun with friends - that's why I play paintball.
Tuesday June 25, 2013
The song "My Favorite Things" randomly popped into my head. While humming along, I started to think about paintball and what parts of it represent my "favorite" parts of the sport. I came up with a list, but I should point out that it's not listed in any particular order. A few of my favorite things include shooting paintball guns, strategy, tinkering, teamwork and friendships. It's amazing how many things I love to do are represented in one sport.
What are your favorite things about paintball?
Monday May 20, 2013
Everyone has to start somewhere with paintball. Many players' first experience comes with rental equipment at a field or by playing with borrowed gear on an outlaw field. In either case, a significant part of the first paintballing experience is the gear that is used. If a player spends all day with a gun that is chopping paint or doesn't fire at all, then they will likely leave with a bad taste in their mouth. A problem with this, though, is the accompanying challenge that most rental equipment and loaner guns are not the highest quality. How, then, do you make sure a player has a good experience while still not breaking the bank on equipment? I have a few suggestions.
One of the quickest ways to ruin a first time paintball experience is when the player can't see. This usually occurs with a mask that fogs. If possible, provide new players (and all players, for that matter) with a thermal lens that is less likely to fog.
Beyond the mask, choose a gun that shoots well and is reliable. Players can deal with a gun that isn't perfectly accurate, but a gun that doesn't fire consistently when the trigger is pulled can really turn people off to the sport. While there's no gun that is perfect, Tippmann 98s are often a good choice (though individual guns may have problems) because of their reliability. A disadvantage, though, is that these guns are relatively heavy. For younger or smaller players, a Spyder or Azodin may be a good option. In fact, most newer, entry-level guns perform adequately for an average game of paintball. Older guns that were designed for the entry-level player have a tendency to chop paint and I generally wouldn't recommend them.
One other option is to let the new player try out something a little nicer, such as an intermediate gun. The player will likely have a very good experience with the higher-end gear. One slight concern is that if they do go and purchase their own equipment, they may find that the gear they buy will be a downgrade.
In the end, the goal for a first-time paintball player is to make sure they have as good of an experience as possible. If you are introducing someone to the sport of paintball, provide them with equipment that will work, work well and will not be a hindrance to players wanting to play again in the near future.
Thursday April 25, 2013
Sportsmanship is not very popular to talk about. Not only do people not really get excited to have another sportsmanship lecture, but they don't go and read about it on their own. (I know that because I can look at page views of my articles, and sportsmanship articles are never very popular - similar to safety articles.) It is, though, something that people need to be reminded of, so here I go again.
Sportsmanship is a big deal in sports. It refers to how players interact with other players and how they act on and off the field. It's also a big deal in Paintball. Particularly when players carry a paintball gun that can literally hit someone from a hundred feet away, they need to be good sports and play the game as it was meant to be played. This means that you play fair, play nice, treat others, and yourself, with respect, and you always play safe. Sportsmanship is not simply a one-time event, but it is a process where you continually try to better yourself without belittling anyone else.
To look at it from another side, nobody likes a poor sport. People that are unsafe, unfriendly, overly competitive or simply too full of themselves are not fun to play with or to be around. People who come just because they think its an excuse to party or come to show off their manly abilities are not good for other players or for the sport.