Facebook won’t let us advertise paintball anymore. They list paintball guns right alongside weapons designed to kill in their advertising terms. If you want to sign a petition it is here. If you want to listen to my philosophical rant about paintball perceptions, you can keep reading…
A scary reality is slowly descending on our sport—many people know what paintball is and some of them are afraid of it. When they look at paintball guns, they don’t see fun. They see dangerous weapons. When players get together on the field, they don’t see teamwork. They see a group of “kids” practicing violent acts.
We are misunderstood and we are outnumbered.
Beginning players and experienced veterans alike need to understand the reality of this situation. While the paintball community seems large, there really aren’t that many players.
As a result, your first step as a player should be involvement and creating a positive image. Join a forum like pbRiot, get your friends into the sport, or start a team with the people you already know. Be proactive and be seen. Do something for your community. If you play on private land, get permission and thank the land owner. Send them a card. Be nice.
Smart, polite, and careful interaction with people outside of the paintball community is an essential part of growing our sport. We also need to stick together and be advocates for the benefits of paintball. Unfortunately, these things don’t always happen. Especially with new players.
When I first started playing paintball, failing to consider the results of my interactions with people outside of the paintball community had a big impact on the game in my local area.
I was young, I had a Brass Eagle Stingray (I upgraded from the Talon!), and I thought the Raptor Silver Eagle was the best paintball marker you could buy. If there were internet forums, I didn’t know about them and my friends didn’t know about them.
The Raptor Silver Eagle (I once thought this was the best marker you could buy…)
There were about 12 or 15 people with paintball guns in town. Our parents bought all of our gear at Wal Mart, we suited up with some Vietnam-era BDUs from the thrift store, and got our CO2 tanks filled at the autoparts store on the street corner.
The biggest mistake we made was only thinking about ourselves.
There were many places to play, but the absolute best spot was an abandoned gravel pit on a hill behind my friend’s house. It was private land. We played there every Saturday without the permission of the land owner and without consideration for anything he had on his property. You can only imagine how that worked out.
Before any of us had a driver’s license we would have to get someone’s mom or dad to drive us 90 minutes to the nearest field to play with new people. We learned about new gear and discovered new tactics through practice with experienced players.
Other kids in the area saw that we were having fun, and would join us on Saturdays at the gravel pit to play.
Thinking back on it, it’s clear that we discouraged younger players from getting into the game. For many people in the late 1990s/early 2000s, their first gun was a pump. It didn’t make sense for the parents of a 13 year-old kid to invest $100+ in a semi-auto marker. Younger kids with pump markers and 30 round hoppers jumped right in.
Not many of us could afford expensive automatic markers, but by that time we had advanced to electronic feed hoppers and learned to walk our double triggers.
The new players were outmatched and outgunned. They never upgraded their Brass Eagle Talon, they never visited the “real” paintball field. Their paintball experience ended by being over gun at the local gravel pit that we had played on for years before they even showed up.
What is the point?
Our community is small and we need new players to grow. Younger people getting into paintball will be stupid and inexperienced. They don’t understand the importance of getting new players and maintaining a positive image for our sport.
If you are an older, more experienced player consider the impact of your actions and the power of your example.