Paintball is more than just fun and games
Sweat trickling down his back, a weary paintballer flinches as he locates the spot on his shoulder blade where the welts are the worst.And this is just bunker practice.For players around the world, from France to the Western Slope, paintball is more than just a game – it’s a lifestyle. Some even call it an addiction.”I played the first time when I was 12 years old, and opened my first field when I was 14,” said 22-year-old Brayden Reeder, who owns Xplod Paintball in Montrose. “I used to play an average of 10 to 15 hours a week but now I’m very busy with my fields, the shop, and I’m a certified referee for the National Professional Paintball League.”The World and Regional Paintball Information Guide, at http://www.warpig.com, defines the sport as “an adult version of the children’s game Capture the Flag.” Players pursue the opposing team’s flag and eliminate competitors by marking them with paintball hits, which can sometimes leave temporary welts or bruises.”Getting hit is definitely something you might be scared of the first time, but once it happens, it doesn’t hurt that bad,” said Michael Stott, a paintball player from Parachute. “It’s never something that can truly hurt you unless you don’t have a mask on and you get hit in the eye or something.”Most paintball games last from 15-30 minutes and can be played in woodsy settings or courses with air-filled bunkers for super air tournaments. Competitions range from three- to 10-person team matchups.”Paintball can really improve your teamwork skills,” Reeder said. “The physical training and mental stamina is also the reason I play. And it’s safe because it’s not a contact sport like football where you get hit hard.”Although not as widespread as many organized sports, paintball is on the rise in popularity. Ballers even have their own trading cards with team information, sponsors and statistics.”Paintball is currently the third-most popular extreme sport in the world,” said Susan Theodore, product manager for personalized products at Upper Deck, who is collaborating with NPPL to market the cards. “And with over 12 million followers, we feel the sport deserves to be recognized with official Upper Deck personalized trading cards.”A 10-year advanced player, Reeder welcomes the sport’s growth. He is adding a fast-paced speedball field – featuring sawmill wood slabs to hide behind – to his list of services that includes super air and natural terrain fields and a retail shop.”The sport is always changing, and it’s really catching on here,” he said. “I would say the majority of players are recreational players, but speedball is taking hold.”After more than 20 years as a sport, paintball is certainly leaving its mark. Contact April E. Clark: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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