Paintball has continued to be a popular activity for tweens, teens, and young adults since I first heard of it in 1999. When my son wanted to go play paintball with his friends at age 8, I was apprehensive and had many questions:
- What is this game all about?
- Would he be safe playing this game?
- Does the game encourage aggression?
- What kind of people play this game?
I did let him play that first time because a parent I trusted was there to supervise and observe them. He really enjoyed the game, so I learned everything I could about it and was the “parent-in-attendance” for many weekend paintball outings. Over the next few years he played periodically and by middle school was playing consistently.
Here is what I learned about paintball:
- Kids learn some good life lessons playing paintball. Just like playing any team sport, they learn to follow rules and keep each other accountable to those rules. They learn to strategize with their team members, to fill different roles on the team, and to work together towards a common goal.
- Paintball does not encourage aggression any more than a video game does. If you let your child play video games and your child enjoys them, paintball is a good way to get them away from the “screen” and be active with their friends. The players who played paintball with my son over the years became a “band of brothers” who just wanted to have fun playing a game.
- Paintball is a non-contact sport that does not require specialized physical abilities. If you want your child to be involved in multiple activities and not just play one sport, paintball is an alternative that some kids enjoy as much as traditional team sports. It adds some variety to the usual baseball, soccer, football routine.
- Paintball can teach kids technical skills. Some kids find it fascinating to learn how to maintain and fix their own paintball equipment. My son found blueprints for his marker so that he knew everything he could about how it worked. He became the marker repair expert for his team. There are many aspects to paintball and who knows which one will appeal to your kid.
- Paintball parents should be safety-aware. Parents should evaluate the safety standards of a paintball field. Look for a facility that does the following:
- Employs experienced referees that enforce safety rules and keep play fair
- Does not mix beginners in games with experienced players
- Performs on-site velocity testing with a chronograph
- Requires and strictly enforces use of full-face masks and barrel plugs
- Requires a parent/guardian to be present when minors play
- Offers low-impact paintball (50 caliber) as an option
These are my personal experiences, but I hope they may provide some insight into the game of paintball. Our children will have many experiences over the course of their lives – perhaps paintball can be a positive experience for them as well.
Watch this video to see what Grayson Goff's mom thinks are the benefits of playing paintball.