Controversy in Paintball 
by Cory Stabel

Many people around the world donít even think paintball is a real sport. 
What is considered a real sport? When professionals are paid to play? When the sport has Official Tournament Rules? When it is played worldwide? What they donít know is that paintball has all of these, among many other interesting facts. People now a days simply just donít know enough about paintball. They see guns shooting people and automatically think that itís a dangerous and violent sport. To begin with my argument Iím going to lay down some basic facts:
The history of paintball dates back to the early 1970ís, when James Hale of Daisy Manufacturing, invented and patented what would become the worlds first paintball gun. The ďmarkerĒ was originally manufactured and used for marking trees, or cattle, and was later sold for paintball use under the Nelson name. On June 27, 1981 the first game of paintball was played with twelve players competing against each other using the original Nel-Spot 007 pistols.
Now, paintball is played by millions all over the world. There are even professional female paintball teams, which proves paintball can be played by anyone.
Official paintball tournaments are played in big games, for example the NPPL (National Professional Paintball League), Skyball (in Toronto, Canada Sky Dome), and The Zap Amateur Open. In all of these tournaments, winning teams receive thousands of dollars, and usually sponsorship, and run under the official rules of the NPPL. 
There are also many manufacturers in paintball, like the more popular ones: JT Paintball, Zap, Worr Games Products, Tippmann Pneumatics Inc., and WDP Paintball Products. These big names are also sponsors of many professional teams, like Dynasty, Team Avalanche, Bob Longs Ironmen, and Team Strange.
All of these facts are known by most paintball players around the world, but not to most other people.
As far as violence and injuries in paintball, it has reported only 0.46 per year per thousand participants. When held in comparison to tennis, which has 1.09, and baseball, which has 27.67, you can obviously see that paintball is one of the safest sports in the world. Most injuries are pulled muscles, sprained ankles, which can be prevented with proper exercises.
Safety is the most important factor in paintball. Presently, paintball players are forced to wear masks, which cover the whole front and sides of their faces, and use barrel bags, or plugs to make sure unwanted paintballs donít shoot out of your gun at the wrong time. Another thing paintball field owners are very strict on, is the velocity that a paintball marker is running at. The most common outdoor velocity is 300 fps, ( feet per second ) and for indoor, its usually 250 fps. If youíre caught using a higher velocity than whatís given, you will be kicked off the field without any exceptions.
Some paintball players, do the best they can to keep their sport safe, and appealing to the public. For example, about half of the fields in North America donít use red paint in their paintballs. Reasons being that red paint looks like blood, also some believed that should a real injury happen, they would not be able to tell what is paint and what is real blood. Although this has not happened, field owners try to make paintball as safe as possible. Another controversy, is that most ďpaintballersĒ use the word ďmarkerĒ instead of gun, for obvious reasons.
But since shooting and high air pressure is involved, paintball has been classified under The Firearms Act in the Air Weapons section. As an Air Weapon, the gun does not need a license to own one. This Act states that markers must not shoot fully auto or exceed the limit of 330 fps.
As for the physical factor in paintball, Iíve heard people even say that they donít believe paintball would be hard to play. What they donít know, is that paintball is a strenuous activity. It takes great patience and skill to be a good ďpaintballer.Ē I would like to see them try constantly running, ducking, crawling, and holding on to a marker, which weighs about 4-6 pounds in the process. Watch the pros do this almost everyday for hours, practicing and competing.
Since paintball is a sport, it has its problems and flaws. The most common would be various accounts of vandalism with paintball equipment have been recorded all over the world, which is definitely not a good way to make the sport seem safe, and fun. But what can we do to stop this from happening? As one who plays paintball, and tries to show people the good side of it, I encourage owners of paintball markers not to use their equipment in ways like stated above, think about what kind of image your putting paintball into.
Most people I know said that when they first got into paintballing, they were impressed with the variety or equipment being used. There are literally, thousands of different markers made by different companies, which are divided into classes: Stock (Pump), semi, and electro. Stock markers usually have to be pumped before shooting, semi is when you pull the trigger and one paintball comes out, and electro is an electronic marker, in which you can usually change different firing modes like semi, full auto, or burst-fire for example.

In conclusion, controversy over paintball exists because people against it simply do not know enough about it. So, I wrote this essay with intention to bring people closer to the sport, and realize that it isnít so bad, and if you havenít, to go out and try it sometime if your in the mood for a new adventure. Paintball can be a great hobby if you are interested in sports that require just as much intelligence as physical fitness, and a lot of ďIn Your FaceĒ action. As the fastest growing sport in North America, I believe paintball deserves more credit then its presently receiving. Maybe if more people expressed paintball like I did in this essay, it might change peopleís opinions.