Starting a Club

Wish your high school had a paintball club?

Start one!

Get more people playing paintball. Get a field reserved for your club when you play. Compete against other high school teams just like rugby, cricket and soccer. Pay less for tournaments, paint and gear. Add something to your school/college/university application or resume. Educate your community about paintball. Get your parents and friends to watch you play. Students across the country are forming paintball clubs and teams at their high schools. It’s easy to do and we are here to help you pull it off. We work with high school students, parents and local fields to establish clubs; provide information to students, parents and administrators; drive down costs; and help organize recreational and competitive events in an environment created specifically to turn high school students into paintball players.

Information for Parents

What is Paintball?

Contents:

  • Overview
  • 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 rugby and soccer. The main reason that paintball is so safe is that there is no person-to-person contact – no tackling like in rugby 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 soccer without shin guards, and you don’t play paintball unless you are wearing a paintball mask with masks 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 a paintball mask 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 prescription drugs are made, and in fact, some of the big-name paintball companies are in fact pharmaceutical companies as well (RP Scherer being the best example). The fill is usually a mixture of water-soluble 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 paintball marker work?

A paintball marker is powered 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 propels the paintball out of the marker as the gas expands. Another ball then feeds into the marker. 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 NSUPL works to establish local high school clubs and pair them up with college/university 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 business, 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 university/college club.

Should I go to the field too?

The NSUPL strongly encourages parents to take an active role in their child’s involvement with paintball. While the NSUPL is often able to provide university/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 aren’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 85kg dad and 75kg senior and 65 kg mom and 55kg 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. This is so the field can be sure that your child has your permission to play. 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 R50-R100 for field fees and equipment rental and another R350+ for paint, although paint costs will be less if you use less and more if you use more. The NSUPL 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 necessary – 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 layered 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.

Can my child bring paintball stuff to school?

Due to misconceptions perpetuated by the media, attitudes towards paintball vary tremendously from school to school. Administrators may be paintball players themselves, or their knowledge of paintball may be limited to that one TV show they saw 6 years ago. In any case, your child should *NEVER* bring a paintball marker to school. You should consult with your school’s administration about other materials such as paintball magazines – you never know when a teacher who doesn’t know any better is going to see a paintball magazine and not be able to recognize that the pictures are of paintball equipment.

My child wants to buy equipment. What should we get?

First, have your child play with rented or borrowed equipment a few times. This both makes sure that they are truly interested in the game before shelling out a significant amount of money as well as give them a chance to learn how they play. They should take an opportunity to try out other player’s markers at the field – most players are more than happy to let a new player try their marker out at the range or even borrow it for a game. The good news is that in terms of equipment, paintball isn’t that expensive compared to other sports – a good entry-level paintball package can be had for around R1150. The most important item is the mask – you want to make sure to get what is known as a “thermal” lense, which has two panes to help prevent fogging. “JT”, “Dye” and “GI Sportz” make good masks. In terms of markers, several companies offer well-reputed entry level markers, including Tippman’s, Valken, BT and Spyder. Again, there isn’t a “right” answer, but you can get additional advice in paintball forums. Your child will also need, at a minimum, three other pieces of equipment: An air source, usually a Co2 tank; a hopper to hold the paintballs; and a barrel plug. All of these things can usually be bought as a package, both at local retailers as well as online. Additional optional equipment includes a pack specifically designed to carry extra paint, shin and knee pads, and a squeegee to clean out the marker in the event that a paintball breaks inside. At the entry level, it is probably best to buy from a local retailer who can answer your questions and provide service, but if there isn’t a store near you or you’re comfortable ordering online, the NSUPL can point you to some reputable online stores. There is also a wide variety of used paintball equipment on sites such as pbforum, but second hand purchases have their risks, although paintball clubs usually have members who can help you with any technical problems that may arise with used equipment and you can always pay to have it serviced by a local store.

My child wants to play in tournaments. What is competitive paintball like?

There are two ways your child can play competitive paintball, either in a league exclusively for other high school players, or in the general tournament environment against whoever happens to pay the entry fees. The NSUPL works to establish high-school-only leagues and we strongly encourage participation in them when available over the more general format. You probably wouldn’t want your high school age child playing soccer or rugby or any other sport against 30+ year olds, and the same goes for paintball as well. If there isn’t a high school league in your area, please let us know and we’d be happy to work with you and your local clubs and fields to set one up. This isn’t to say your child shouldn’t participate in general tournaments, but we strongly encourage adult supervision in that environment. High school leagues tend to be much cheaper, much more oriented towards friendly play, and give parents an opportunity to watch their kids compete against other kids much the same way you’d watch them at a soccer game.

In terms of game play itself, tournaments are little more close-quarters than recreational paintball. Rules are more defined, teams are of set sizes, and there’s generally quite a bit more paint flying in the air. What may be one hit on a recball field can turn into three or four on a tournament field. It’s the difference between a soccer game in your backyard with the neighbors and a soccer game played between two high school teams – it is a competitive event, and it isn’t out of the ordinary to pick up a bruise or two in the process.

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