Paintball 101

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Players strategically station themselves behind barriers at Impact Action Sports to win the match in Open Play. D'Vaughn McCrae/PSU Vanguard

Paintball is an intimidating and complicated sport, but the adrenaline rush is beneficial for those who need stress relief. Impact Action Sports in Tualatin hosts paintball games three times per week, with an open-field play that welcomes beginners.

A chief concern of many first-time paintball players is just how much that little sphere of paint will hurt when it splats on you. Tyler Atwood, field manager of Impact Action Sports, said the initial hit of a paintball is similar to the pain of being swatted with a towel or snapped with a rubber band. Atwood also gave some insight on paintball misconceptions.

“One of the myths is that it’s a dangerous sport because you are shooting people with a gun, though the technical term is a paintball marker, so it’s not a gun,” Atwood said. “It’s a gas-powered marker that shoots paintballs pretty much designed to break on impact.”

Atwood said the injuries that occur most often are sprained ankles. Anything more than that is rare, since the level of running and hiding vary depending on the game someone plays.

Atwood said that paintball at Impact Action Sports has dozens of game options in open play on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. The standard game of paintball is called Team Death Match. In this game, two teams start at opposite ends of the field and work their way to the middle. As soon as a player gets hit once, they’re out, and the final team standing wins. From there, other game types vary in rules and objectives, including a version of capture the flag.

Although paintball is a fun sport, safety is also important. Players are equipped with a mask that covers everything from their brow to their chin, including ears. The gun has a barrel, a tank and a hopper. Atwood said the hopper is what holds all the paintballs a player will use during a match, and it can generally hold between 180 and 260 paintballs filled with washable paint.

“The tank is for compressed air. It propels the paintballs out of the paintball gun,” Atwood said.

Just the idea of how a paintball gun works could make any beginner think twice about trying the sport, according to Charles Grant, head referee of Impact Action Sports.

“Don’t be afraid,” Grant said. “The fear of getting shot hurts worse than actually getting shot.”

In the end, both Atwood and Grant agreed that the best way to really sunderstand paintball is to get out there and try it out for yourself.

AnnMarie Hingley, PSU outdoor program coordinator, explained the importance of students getting outside to explore and try new things.

“It’s really easy to become very focused on school and work and all of those day-to-day concerns,” Hingley said. “Those can really exhaust you and stress you out, and a lot of times getting out into nature and into the wilderness can be a form of relaxation for people. It can also be a form of adventure and excitement, so maybe a little bit of adrenaline.”

Hingley also went over some of the benefits of getting out of your comfort zone.

“When you’re in your comfort zone, you’re not really growing, you’re stagnating there, and you’re not learning much,” Hingley said. “It’s when you push outside of your comfort zone into your stretch zone that you really learn, have new experiences, and all those things that help us develop into better human beings.”

Hingley learned this for herself in her 15 years of working in the outdoor industry, including two years with PSU’s Outdoor Program, which holds dozens of trips throughout the year.

It can be intimidating to try new things, but with so many ways to make a splash outdoors, rainbow-colored and otherwise, exploration and intimidation are only half of the excitement.

For more information on Impact Action Sports, please visit impactactionsports.com.

For more information on the PSU Outdoor Program, please visit pdx.edu/recreation/outdoor-program.

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