To celebrate my brother’s 17th birthday, we decided to give paintball a try. Our team of 11 consisted mostly of under 18s – only one of which had actually played paintball before – an over 50 and me. When we arrived a number of other players were already in their gear, and looked far more intimidating than I had expected. One particular group consisted of ten big, tough, Maori men who clearly knew what they were doing. At the time, I hoped they would be on our team.
After handing over our waver forms (which basically said any injuries you experience are your own fault, you fool!) we got into our camouflaged jumpsuits and listened to the ref explain the rules. When he said; “Do not remove your mask, because if you are hit in the face you could chip a tooth, break your nose or loose an eye.” that was when I wondered what the hell I was thinking when I agreed to do this.
Then the games began… And it was great! I was shot a LOT – and I have the bruises and welts to prove it – but I also managed to get a few shots in myself and it was a real rush. After some reflection, I have created a list of 12 things I wish I knew before my first paintball game… Enjoy!
1.You don’t need to know what you are doing to enjoy yourself. They explain everything that will happen in the scenarios when you get there.
2. You WILL get shot, but after the first hit the fear passes, and then you can really get into it!
3. Dress for the occasion.
- Don’t wear nice clothes – they will be painted upon.
- Wear loose, cool clothes. In this instance we were given thick jumpsuits, chest protectors, gloves and the face mask, so it didn’t matter what was underneath. Gym tights and a loose singlet was what I wore – along with a pair of runners.
- Gloves are good – getting hit in the fingers HURTS.
- Also take advantage of the neck covers – getting hit in the neck HURTS.
- Most other places you barely feel it.
4. Expect to get VERY sweaty – it isn’t glamourous, it’s paintball.
5. Bring lots of cold water and high-sugar snacks – because you will get hot, thirsty and hungry.
6. Stay low to the ground and be aware of what parts of your body are exposed. This was my mistake for the majority of the game – and explains why I was shot in the head more than anywhere else (see my head-wound above).
7. Be stingy with your paintballs – they run out quickly and aren’t cheap.
8. Communicate with your team – let them know what’s going on and don’t be afraid to tell them what to do and strategize. On the day flanking the other teams seemed to be the best strategy.
9. Follow the rules – and ALWAYS keep your helmet on!
11. Bring sunscreen and mosquito spray.
12. Do a few lunges and thigh/leg stretches before you go in. Trust me – my thighs are SO sore today.
All up, I would recommend paintball as a super fun activity to do with a group of friends and/or family. Would I do it again? Probably. BUT if it were a choice between paintball and laser skirmish – I’d pick laser skirmish because it doesn’t hurt quite as much.