Scenario Paintball vs. Tournament Paintball
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Paintball is a sport in which players compete as individuals or as a team by marking their opponents with paintballs markers or paintball guns. Paintball marker equipment utilizes gelatin capsules filled with non-toxic paint. Paintball guns or markers are used to shoot the paintballs and are powered by either CO2 or Compressed air. Depending on the style and location of the game, typical paintball games are played either on outdoor or indoor fields varying in size and terrain.
Paintball guns or markers were first used in the 1970’s for marking cattle and trees. The first paintball game was played in June 1981 by Bob Gurnsey, Hayes Noel, Charles Gaines and nine others. From there, the sport grew quickly. The first recreational field opened in 1982 and the in 1983 the first tournament was held with a grand prize of $14,000. In the late 80’s fields began to open up in England and Canada. By 1991, fields were opening up in Europe. In 1992, the National Professional Paintball League was formed. This league hosted highly publicized events with hundreds of thousands of dollars in prizes. Paintball today is played by over 10 million players worldwide according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association International, making it the number 3 extreme sport in the world behind inline skating and skateboarding.
Which type of paintball equipment used is dependant on what style of paintball you are playing: tournament paintball, speedball, woodsball, scenario paintball, MilSim, etc. Depending on which paintball playing style you have, will determine the necesary equipment. Equipment can be "class" much like airsoft gear. But there is a basic list of different paintball equipment below.
Paintball guns are generally either electronic or mechanical. Electronic markers or paintball guns will have electronics typically found in the grip frame. These electronics will usually have settings to adjust the rate fire. Rate of fire can be set for semi-automatic, full-auto, and two round burst, three round burst or ramping. Not all modes are allowed at all fields. Some markers have “eyes” which helps eliminate miss feeding of paintballs into the breech. Mechanical paintball markers have no electronics such as “pump guns”. These types of paintball guns or markers work off of spring tension.
Pump guns or single shot pump paintball guns are more common during woodsball or scenario paintball. These shots are single shot, one shot per pump.
The more technologically advanced paintball guns are used for tournament ball or recreational paintball. Tournament ball players usually have very high ROF (Rate of Fire), at times shooting 40 rounds in less than 5 seconds. This type of paintball play is where "eye" and other electronic triggers and components come into play.
Paintball masks or goggles are mandatory while playing paintball anywhere. Masks are the primary reason why paintball remains a very safe sport. Most fields require full face masks. Full face masks cover at least the entire face, while others will cover most of neck, head, ears. Masks used for anything other than paintball are not allowed. Paintball masks must meet specific impact requirements in order to be used for paintball games and are regulated by ASTM. It is very highly recommended that you use an ASTM certified or approved paintball mask.
CO2 or compressed air is the most common choices to power paintball guns or markers. In the beginning, paintball guns or markers were solely powered by 12 gram CO2 cartridges. As the sport grew, players shot more paint so the demand for larger CO2 cartridges grew. 7, 10 and 20oz CO2 tanks became the standard. On average a 12 gram CO2 cartridge powered 7 to 10 shots, where as a 20oz tank would power approximately 600 shots. Most CO2 tanks are aluminum. As the demand to shoot more paint grew, so did the demand for air systems to keep up. Compressed air systems entered the paintball industry in the early 90’s. Compressed air or “HPA” (high pressure air), unlike CO2 which changes from liquid to gas states, stays in a gaseous state. This gave the paintball gun or marker a more consistent velocity which allowed the player to fine tune his/her paintball gun or marker. Though HPA tanks come in many sizes and air capacities, a player can expect to get anywhere from 700 to 1400 shots per tank. Most HPA tanks are fiber wrapped for greater strength at higher pressures. All HPA tanks need to be re-“Hydro Tested” after 3 to 5 years depending on the tank. This is to test the metal strength of the tank. But all tanks have some sort of expiration date where they either need to be retested or disgarded.
Barrel Safety Devices:
Another required piece of equipment is sort of barrel safety device. They are commonly known as plugs, baggies, condoms, covers or socks. These devices are mandatory at all paintball fields to ensure safety. All of these devices either plug or cover the end of the paintball guns or markers’ barrel so in the event of a marker accidentally firing the paintball is stopped. This is important on and off the field, but is especially jsut off the field where bystanders could be in the vicinity and not have any face masks or safety apparrel on.
Scenario paintball usually requires a basic “Theme” or “Story Line.” This typically consists of a reenactment of past battles or a story line behind the battle for more realistic and life-like situations and objectives. You normally forget about the fa ct you’re playing paintball and think more of the battle strategy much like a real military scenario, which is like MilSim. These games require hundreds or thousands of different players to be on opposing teams of each on huge fields that are outdoor/woodsy type places. Different missions are acted out while keeping score using the point system. Due to the nature of this style of gameplay, many players deploy the use of tactics to accomplish their goals. Costumes or Camouflage is required for such type games to fill the theme and is more for fun than competition or rank. Because of the large size of some scenario games many scenarios take place of an entire weekend or longer. Scenario paintball is the best style of play for beginners and/or children. With that said many players have a need for something more advanced and competitive….enter Woodsball.
Woodsball Paintball: MilSim Information
Both woodsball and scenario paintball take place in natural settings and primarily wear some sort of camouflage. However woodsball unlike scenario is more competitive in nature. Woodsball is more more similar to MilSim. Stealth, camouflage and game time limits also make woodsball different from scenario. With games like “Capture the Flag” and “Attack and Defend”, woodsball is more improvised and less about pre-determined objectives and tasks. Capture the flag, one of the first paintball games, is the basis for woodsball tournaments. These tournaments date back to the early 1980’s. Tournaments consisted of 5, 10, 15 and 20 players on each team. With fields roughly the size of two football fields, strategy, stealth and team communication are vital. The basic objective in Capture the Flag is for both teams to get the other team’s flag and return it to their own flag station within set time limits of 10 to 20 minutes. But with any sport, tournaments must be spectator friendly and by the mid 1990’s tournament players took paintball from the woods to the arenas.
Tournament Paintball / Speedball
Tournament paintball unlike scenario and woodsball paintball is played in spectator friendly venues or arenas. Tournaments draw teams consisting of usually 7 players (some tournaments 5 or 6 players) who compete for thousands of dollars in cash and prizes. These events can be held on the local, regional and international levels and played on private property or even professional sports stadiums. Whereas scenario paintball is more recreation based, tournament paintball is highly competitive with tens of thousands of dollars of team sponsorship money on the line. Because of this, tournament players use the latest and best paintball equipment available. There are more than a few tournament circuits each year and it is very common for a professional paintball team to play in more than one circuit each year.
A typical tournament is based on points accumulated from each game played. Points are awarded for opponents eliminated and hanging the opponent’s flag. Players are required to “Chrono” their paintball guns or markers when coming off the field. Each player has their paintball guns or marker speed checked on a chronograph which measures the muzzle velocity in FPS (feet per second). If a player shoots “Hot”, additional points are deducted from his team.
Most tournaments are in netted arenas with air filled bunkers of different shapes and sizes. These bunkers are carefully placed to ensure both sides of the field are mirrored. Surfaces in these arenas range from dirt and sand to astro turf or real grass.
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