The Paintball Sport

From what I can find on the internet, Paintball was invented in the 1970's when some people looked at air guns that fired balls of paint used by the forestry industry to mark trees. By the 1980's it hd become an organized sport with companies building guns, not for the forestry industry, but for paintball game purposes. It went from shooting short range to shooting much further and much more accurately.

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In the years since it began, paintball and its equipment have grown considerably more sophisticated. Safety gear has evolved to new standards. International associations have developed official tournament and game rules, as well as codes of conduct. Major tournaments can offer prize money as high as $200,000. There are at least three glossy monthly magazines on the newsstands, and hundreds of team magazines. Many businesses cater to the sport: manufacturing guns, paint, clothing, and safety gear, or distributing and selling it in stores around the world.

Indoor and outdoor fields are commonly set-up with villages, trench lines, towers, wilderness, night lighting, and tunnels. Indoor sites may be as large as 75,000 sq. feet, and outdoor fields as much as 180 acres. There are an estimated 250 paintball fields in operation in the UK and an average of 12 fields per state in the USA. Our outdoor field in Cochrane Alberta is estimated to be the 4th largest in the world, and our indoor arena in Calgary Alberta is the largest arena in Calgary.

Paintball is most commonly played in teams. Games run anywhere from a few minutes to 48-hour marathons, with camp-outs. Games themselves are usually quite simple: capture the flag (either a single flag two or more teams fight for, or each team has its own flag the other side tries to grab), elimination (a knockout game where all members of the other side must be eliminated), timed (winner is the team with the most players remaining). Individual-oriented games are usually simple elimination games(the last player left wins,) or may involve a point system for hits.

A hit means the actual paintball strikes a player and breaks. Hits anywhere on the body or on the player's gun count, and the hit player is immediately out of the game. He or she must leave the field to a designated safe or neutral area commonly refered to as "Heaven". The paint is water-soluble and washes out of clothing and hair easily.

 The paintball is a .68 calibre, gelatin-coated ball filled with vegetable oil paint, and usualy travel at speeds of 250-300 feet per second (200 MPH). This is enough to sting unprotected flesh when struck, but nowhere near the speed - or danger - of a slapshot or a line drive. Nonetheless, players are required to wear safety gear to protect their face. Customers get full face gear that covers eyes, ears, nose and mouth. Players at Capture the Flag are also provided with protective camouflage coveralls, which not only makes the players harder to spot, but also absorbs some of the impact and most of the paint. No player is allowed onto the playing field - even onto the firing range - at any time without a proper mask.

 Paintball is a safe sport. Statistics compiled by the National Safety Council (US, 1987) and Control Systems Inc. (administrators of paintball game accident insurance plans in the US) show paintball is one of the safest sports around, with only .24 injuries per 1,000 players per year, compared to 21.92 for hockey, 28.42 for baseball, 19.76 for basketball and 1.22 for golf. There are even more people injured bowling (.47) than playing paintball!! People 10 years of age and up enjoy paintball.