As I have already mentioned, today (technically yesterday) I have spent few hours playing paintball. It was the first experience of this kind for me, and so I want to share it just in case you want to try, but not sure wheather you should.
Short answer: you should.
What is paintball?
Web WordNet’s definition of “paintball” is:
- a capsule filed with water-soluble dye used as a projectile in the game of paintball
- a game that simulates military combat; players on one team try to eliminate players on the opposing team by shooting capsules of paint at them)
Basically, there are two teams of players. Each player is armed with a special gun, that shoots paint bullets. For each game there is an objective. The team that completes the objective wins. If you want an example of the objectives, I’ll give them to you a bit later.
Preparing for the event
A couple of days ago I was browsing through one of the local forums, where I learned that few people are getting out for a paintball event. I wasn’t sure that I want to play, but I was sure that I want to photograph it while they will be playing. So I said. One of the guys who was inviting everyone for the game suggested that I take snickers (proper shoes, in other words) with me just in case I decide to play. So I did. Shoes and money are all you need to play paintball.
At the second I saw the whole setup I knew that I will play.
There is a lot of equipment around when you play paintball. The good thing is that you can pretty much rent all of it for the game. You don’t have to buy it. But you can and you can use yours, in case you have some.
The most important equipment of the paintball game is the paint-shooting gun. The gun has two noticably big things attached to it, which are a cartridge clip and a copressed oxygen cylinder. Cartridge clip had a capacity of about 150-200 paint balls. Compressed oxygen cylinder is unmeasurable. I didn’t change it even once. Other people changed it every two or three games. When you are out of gas your gun doesn’t shoot anymore and it also makes strange sounds. Sometimes you can go to the safety area, change the cylinder and jump back into the game. At other times, there is no way to go back and you will have to wait for the next game.
Paint balls are small, about 1cm in diameter. When they hit the target (human ideally, but walls and ground more commonly), they break and unlish the paint inside. In game, the player is considered hit only if the ball broke. Otherwise it doesn’t count.
Because of this ball breaking thing, it is really hard to say how far you can shoot, especially for the first timer. I think I was playing around 25-30 meters. When I tried to lessen this distance, I was pretty much dead. When it was longer, balls weren’t breaking and accuracy was a problem – I just couldn’t hit the enemy. But it is good for scaring them and keeping their heads down.
Additionally to paint bullets, paint granades are available. I didn’t try one, but watching others was fun. Granades do have timing and they need to be thrown like a real ones. Cool.
Wearing a mask is a must. The mask protects the eyes, face and ears. Noone is allowed on the playground without one, and noone is allowed to take the mask off while on the playground.
Clothes and footware
No strict rules here, just a strong recommendation. You can wear anything you want, but something that is comfortable and covers all your skin area (legs, arms, body, and neck) is preferrable. There were some overall available for rent, so I went for it.
There was a special stripe for the neck. There were also gloves with cut off fingers (for better trigger management). I was also wearing a baseball cap to protect the top of my head and back of the neck better. I’ve seen few other people doing it too.
Few guys, who were not the first time players, were wearing camouflage. I doubt that it helps a lot. Maybe when you play in the forest, the green camouflage is a advantage. Still, it is not the colors which are noticable. It’s the movement. Maybe it’s just me, but it is pretty difficult to spot someone who doesn’t move. Unless, of course, he is standing in the open area.
Shoes are important. At the place I played there were a lot of rocks and gravel, so slippers would be the worst possible choice.
We were playing in the village which was abandod by Turkish people when Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974. It is an excellent choice for the playground, because it makes the game very realistic. Many houses. Some are destroyed to the ground, some are still standing in with two floors.
I am pretty sure that playgrounds vary. Abandon places like that can be used for the game. Forests also come to mind. I think it is pretty easy to make a playground specifically for playing paintball, by just putting few obstacles on the football field or something.
If I remember correctly, we played something like 8 games during the 3 hours or so, with some 15 minute breaks in between. Here are the examples of objectives that I promised you before.
This is pretty much like a game of Counter Strike. Each team starts at it’s base. Bases are chosen by the referees. They can be anything – a tree, a house, a large rock. So, each team gathers at it’s base. Then referees shout “Go! Go! Go!” and you run to hide. The objective is to “kill” all members of the other team. There can be a time limit. We had 15 minutes. If both teams have “live” members when the time runs out, the team with the most live members wins.
The definition of a “kill” can vary too. In some games, a “kill” is a hit by the ball in any part of the member’s body – head, arms, legs, whatever. In other games, a hit in member’s gun also counts. In yet some other games, a “kill” is a headshot (shot in the head). The definition of the “kill” is announced before the game starts.
Since we had houses in the village, it was pretty obvious an objective could be made around them. So it was. In the “House” objective, one team was hiding in the house (two neighboor houses actually). There was a flag hanged on the tree nearby. The “inside” team had to protect the flag by shooting down any enemies who tried to get it. The opposite team had to capture the flag and take it to team’s base. Under no circumstances the “inside” team was allowed to leave the house. There was also a time limit of 15 minutes for completing objective.
In this scenario, the teams were not split evenly. The president team had 9 people and terrorists team had 5 people. One of the people in the president team was marked by a colored mask and was a president. The objective of the game was for the president to go from one base to another. Sounds simple? There is a catch, of course. Actually two. First, before the game starts, terrorists are given time to hide in the village. President people don’t get to see where terrorists hide. Second, terrorists can be killed only by a headshot, while president and his guards can be killed by hit to any part of their bodies. Now, that’s intense! :) Oh, and there is no time limit this time.
Now, each team starts at it’s base. In the middle of the playground there is a flag. Each team should try to capture that flag and bring it to the enemy’s base. If one of the teams does that, the game is over. If one team kills all members of the other team, the game is over. If 15 minute run out, the game is, again, over.
Safety and pain
One of the first things that referees/instructors tell you, is that paintball can kill you. Fair enough. Many things can kill you – traffic, electricity, travelling. That doesn’t stop anyone. So don’t allow it to stop you from enjoying paintball.
The key to safety in paintball is to listen to what instructors tell you. It is pretty easy. Wear your mask always when on the playground. Put the trigger safety when out of playground (they show you how) and close the gun with the tap (again, they show you how). Never point your gun towards the face of the guy who is not wearing mask. And that’s about it. Referees are always on the playground when the game is in progress. They are watching everything pretty closely (wearing masks too). They blow whistles and pause the game if there is any concern. If they tell you to do something, just do it. They know better. It’s their job.
Now for the pain. As I have already mentioned, there were a few first comers yesterday. And all of them were concerned if paintball is painful and how bad is it actually in that regard. If you are shot in the mask – you don’t feel any pain. At all. The rest of you body is not protected the same way (unless of course you have a special armor, which I didn’t). When you get shot it hurts. But it doesn’t hurt bad. You feel it when they get you, but it lasts less then a second. The bad part is that you will end up with the small bruise (red spot about two centimeters in diameter).
I have four of these bruises now on my body – one on the arm, one on the shoulder, and two on the left side of belly. They don’t hurt or spoil my life in any way. I am warning you just in case you’ll have to go on a date or something. ;)
Costs will of course vary depending on the guys that organize a game for you. For me it was “Village Paintball“. I just wish that their website was a bit more informative on the matter.
I paid a total of 22 CYP. 15 CYP is the service and the rent of the equipment, which includes 100 paint shots. I had one refill with another 100 shots, which I guess costs 6 CYP.
I don’t know the pricing schemes of other places, so I’ll leave it for you to figure out.
Is it worth it?
Yes. I had a really unbelievable amount of fun. It is very similar to the computer game like Counter Strike, but I actually had to run around, aim, shoot, kill, die, plan, etc. It’s was also pretty tiring physically, since I haven’t done any exercises for some time now. I didn’t play all the games in the row as most of the other guys did, but, on the other hand, I’ve got few action pictures. :)
It is also interesting how the perception of time changes. In those games which are 15 minutes long I thought they were lasting an eternity. Especially when I was hiding in some half-broken house and shooting of enemies. I thought like “OK, this is a nice spot and I should camp here as long as possible”. In about two minutes or so I thought “I’ve been here half of my life by now. Most of the enemies are dead and I should go out and kill the rest”. :) There are so many thoughts and strategies in the head that times virtually stops.
I’ve also got pretty interested in paintball now. If everything goes right, there will be a competition in Cyprus around September, which I want to watch. I will also browse the web on the subject. There should be at least few descent pictures around. And tips. For the next time.