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Information for Parents
What is Paintball?Contents:
•What is paintball?
•Is paintball safe?
•What is a paintball made out of? Does getting hit hurt?
•How does the paint marker work?
•What should I expect from an event my child goes to?
•Should I go to the field too?
•Does my child need a waiver?
•How much does it cost?
•What should my child wear? What equipment do they need?
•Can my child bring paintball stuff to school?
•My child wants to buy equipment. What should we get?
•My child wants to play in touraments. What is competative paintball like?
Overview - Paintball is a relatively new sport started in the early 80's by a group of friends who used tree/cattle marking equipment to play capture the flag. It is a safe, fun sport in which players of all ages and sizes can play on a level field. It is a great recreational activity and an excellent activity for families to participate in together. As with any activity your child is involved with, however, a responsible parent needs to maintain an informed, active role in their child's participation.
What is Paintball? - Paintball can roughly be described as tag, capture-the-flag, and a waterfight rolled into one. The most common form involves two teams of various sizes who attempt to capture the other team's flag and return it to their own starting point. Players "tag" each other out with paintballs, which are gelatin capsules filled with a paint-like liquid that are fired from a paintball marker. The capsule breaks when it hits a player, leaving a mark which signals that that player is out for that round. Each player wears a paintball mask which protects the face, eyes and ears from the paint. Games generally last 20-30 minutes, at which point players get a chance to take a break, refill on paint and air, talk about the last game and regroup for the next game.
Is paintball safe? - Paintball is safer than football, soccer and baseball. The main reason that paintball is so safe is that there is no person-to-person contact - no tackling like in football and no kicking and rotational leg motion which leads to so many knee and other injuries in soccer. The most common paintball-related injuries are strains and sprains associated with running in the woods. The only way a paintball can injure you is if hits you in the eye or, to a lesser extent, the ear - which is why all players wear masks to prevent this from happening. You would not play football without pads and a helmet, you wouldn't play soccer without shin guards, and you don't play paintball unless you are wearing a paintball mask with goggles designed for that purpose. Since paintball was first played in 1981, there has never been a fatal paintball injury and no player who was wearing paintball goggles has sustained an eye injury. Wear the mask, make sure your child wears their mask, and everyone will have a fun, safe time.
What is a paintball made out of? Does getting hit hurt? - A paintball shell is made the same way the capsules for many perscription drugs are made, and in fact, some of the big-name paintball companies are in fact pharmacutical companies as well (RP Scherer being the best example). The fill is usually a mixture of water-soluable dye and soap. Paintballs are both non-toxic and biodegradable - you could eat them, but we don't recommend it because they taste REALLY, REALLY bad. Most people compare getting hit by a paintball with getting pinched or snapped by a towel. You'll know you were hit, but the "snap" will wear off after a couple seconds. You may have a pink mark where you were hit for a couple days afterwards.
How does a paint marker work? - A paintball marker is powerred by a compressed gas stored in a tank. The most common is carbon dioxide (Co2), but some markers also use air compressed straight from the atmosphere. The paintballs are held in a plastic container known as a "hopper", which has a feed tube which funnels the paintballs out of the hopper and into the marker. When the marker is fired, some gas is released which propells the paintball out of the marker as the gas expands. Another ball then feeds into the gun. This is just an overview, there are several variations on the general principle involving exactly how the internals of the marker are set up, how paintballs are fed, etc.
What should I expect from an event my child goes to? - The NCPA works to establish local high school clubs and pair them up with college paintball clubs to make it easier for students to play paintball in a friendly, safe environment. Under ideal circumstances, your child should be playing with other high school students who have set up a private game for themselves and their family members. You should be able to talk to the person organizing the outing as well as the management in charge of the field. As with any buisiness, a respectable paintball field will be more than happy to answer your questions. If the field is far enough away that it isn't practical for parents to drive there to drop of children themselves, everyone going on the outing should meet at a local staging area (high school parking lot, restaurant, etc) prior to leaving for the paintball field. This allows parents to talk to other people who are going. We recommend that at least a few adults go to the field with the high school students, especially if the group is not going with the help of a college club.
Should I go to the field too? - The NCPA strongly encourages parents to take an active role in their child's involvement with paintball. While the NCPA is often able to provide college players to go with high school groups to fields, as with any group of high school students, adult supervision is a good thing - if you arn't likely to send your child with ten of their friends to an amusement park for a day without any supervision, it wouldn't make much sense to send them alone to a paintball field either. As an added bonus, one of the great things about paintball is everyone can compete equally regardless of physical size. The 180 lb dad and 160 lb senior and 140 lb mom and 120 lb freshman can all compete on the same level, allowing you to participate with your children. Don't go just to "supervise", go to play. Have some fun with your kids.
Does my child need a waiver? - If your child is under 18 years of age and will not be going to the field with a parent or guardian, virtually all fields require that you get a copy of the field's waiver in advance and have your signature notarized - which means you need to take the waiver to a notary public and sign it in their presence. This is so the field can be sure that your child has your permission to play. Most banks and many post offices have notary publics. The person organizing the event should have waivers for you. If you're going to the field yourself, then you can just sign the waiver when you get it.
How much does it cost? - Costs from field to field vary, but generally run $20-30 for field fees and equipment rental and another $20-30 for paint, although paint costs will be less if you use less and more if you use more. The NCPA also works hard to secure lower pricing for high school clubs, so prices could be significantly lower depending on arrangements with the field.
What should my child wear? What equipment do they need? - While paint generally washes out very easily, the dirt is another matter entirely. Your child should wear something they don't mind getting dirty. Camouflage is by no means ncecessary - just stick with dark colors and avoid white, yellow, orange, pink or red. As with most things, wear layers - it may be cool in the morning and warm up later. We recommend that players cover as much skin as possible with at least one layer of clothing. Getting hit by a paintball on bare skin can sting quite a bit more, but that layer of clothing also protects you against bugs, poison ivy, bristling plants, etc. A sturdy pair of shoes is also necessary. Most players do quite well with a pair of jeans, a long sleeve t-shirt (with more shirts layerred as necessary) and a pair of tennis/running/hiking shoes. Players should strongly consider bringing bug spray and wearing a hat. Facilities from field to field vary - so bringing water is always a good idea, and while most fields sell food, bringing a lunch can be a good thing as well. Some fields provide concessions at a reasonable expense, some charge more, and there may or may not be a fast food restaurant nearby. These are things the person in charge of organizing the event should be able to tell you.
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