The Game of Paintball
Paintball began in 1981 with 12 competitors playing capture the flag with air-powered pistols. Since then, the game has exploded into a multi-million dollar sport with amateur and professional tournaments across the United States and in Europe, offering cash purses and prizes in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Daisy (manufacturer of pellets, B.B.s. and air guns), Crossman (manufacturer of air guns), Scott USA (manufacturer of ski poles and goggles) and JT USA (manufacturer of motor-cross safety equipment) are just a few of the companies that have expanded into the paintball world. Today, tournaments are sponsored by companies such as Budweiser and Pepsi-Cola.
Playing The Game
What is paintball? Well, combine the game of capture the flag with chess, mix in hide 'n' seek and add a large dose of adrenaline. Paintball is challenging and fast-paced. As few as two or as many as eighty can play. The basic game has two teams, each with it's own flag station and matching color armbands. Each team starts at its own flag station. A starting signal is given and each team tries to reach the other team's station, grab the flag and race back to its station. When a player gets tagged/hit by a paintball, he/she is out of the game. If a player is carrying a flag when tagged, he/she must drop the flag at that spot, then leave the game.
The basic equipment needed for play is: paintball safety goggles and face mask, barrel blocking device, proper clothing (camouflage jacket and pants, old fatigues or plain old blue jeans and a jacket), extra paint tubes with paintballs and the desire to have a great time.
The guns of the paintball world vary from the basic pump pistol to the high-tech semi-automatic, or to the full auto paintball gun.
Pumps - Pump-action guns have a manual pump mechanism that loads the paintball into the gun. The player must pump / load after every shot.
Semi Automatics - Semi automatic guns have a paintball loaded into the gun automatically after the gun fires. The gun can shoot paint as fast as the player can pull the trigger.
Full-Auto - Full-automatic guns also have a paintball loaded into the gun automatically after the gun fires. These guns can shoot multiple paintballs by holding down on the trigger.
Tanks & Specialty Equipment - These are only featured at some Big Games and Scenario Games. They usually have at least one automatic paintball gun mounted on them. The "Hell Hound" built by Tippmann Pneumatics owned by Hell Survivors®. The "Hell Hound" features a 10-Barrel Gatlin Gun that can fire at a rate of 3000-rpm. It also sports a foot lever operated Grenade Launching System that can launch multiple 'squad buster' grenades over head while running the gun at the same time.
How a Paintball gun Works
Paintball guns use gas pressure from an tank or 12-gram cartridges to fire a paintball. This gas can be CO2 or nitrogen depending on the facility and type of gun. (Nitrogen is the favored propellant based on all-weather performance). The velocity of the paintball leaving the barrel is usually 250 to 300 feet per second (fps). 300 fps is the maximum allowed at tournaments while 290 fps is the maximum on most recreational playing fields. Air and nitrogen tanks come in different sizes. The bigger the tank the longer you can play before requiring a refill.
Paintballs drop one at a time from the refillable bulk feeder into the paintball gun.
Air is pressurized at 750 to 1,000 psi. Air leaves the tank through a valve into the air line.
Air travels up the line and into the chamber.
Pulling the trigger activates the hammer. The hammer slides forward, pulling the bolt over the exhaust valve forward to the chamber. Air shoots out the chamber, through the exhaust valve and through the bolt.
The released air leaves the bolt, forcing the paintball out of the barrel.
Paintballs are not made of paint. they are soft gelatin capsules (the same gelatin as in Jell-O) containing a mixture of vegetable oil and food color. They are nontoxic and biodegradable. Paintballs are encapsulated by the same machines that make bath beads and vitamin capsules. R.P. Scherer, the worlds largest encapsulation company, was the first company to produce paintballs. Today there are many facilities in North America and Europe dedicated to manufacturing paintballs. Billions & billions of paintballs are produced each year in Asia, Europe and North America.
To check the velocity at which a paintball gun is firing, a chronograph or radar is used. The radar/chronograph uses small Doppler radar to measure the velocity of a paintball. The paintball is fired over the machine then the radar picks up its speed on a digital display. If a gun is firing paintballs at over 300 fps, it is adjusted to lower the velocity. The first chronographs used light. The paintball was fired over the machine. Light entering the machine was broken, starting a timer. The machine measured the time the light was broken and calculated the velocity of the paintball.
Playing fields vary in terrain and management. Some fields have fixed stations and play areas for simple operation. Others rotate stations or change play direction every three months. If a field lacks vegetation, owners may use old tires, wood pallets and plywood to create forts, bunkers and other places for players to hide. A good field will provide a day of excitement, challenges and fun.
Bunkers are man-made structures on or in the ground. these are highly defendable positions used as stepping-stones for advancing or retreating.
Each field has well defined boundaries marked by netting, colored tape or ribbon.Players must stay within the boundaries.
Games usually have a time limit of 20 minutes. this speeds the action and prevents a game from dragging on for hours.
Referees are on the field during the game. They check players to determine if they have been tagged. Refs can and will remove players who violate safety rules. (Remember: Never Remove Your Goggles on Field!)
A player raises his/her hand to show that the have been hit then proceeds to a 'dead-zone'. Tagged players cannot talk or signal to other players on the field.
Tournaments have two, three, five, seven and ten person team categories. Ten and seven person teams play the basic capture-the-flag game. Some tournaments play a variation known as center flag. The smaller teams are generally elimination in a smaller 'arena' type field. Points are given for flag capture, flag hang, number of opponents tagged and for winning a set.