Paintball, a new combat game without physical touch, is gaining popularity
Bored of playing simulated war games with PlayStations or Xboxs? Then welcome to the Aakash Family Club to get a feel of a real battlefield. Called Paintball, the new sport offers plenty of spine-chilling moments to adrenaline seekers.
“I was thrilled when I first played the game in Bangalore,” says M. Mohammed Yusuf, who formed the Tamil Nadu Paintball Academy along with his friends about four months ago.
Paintball is a game where players eliminate rivals by hitting them with paintballs containing different-coloured dyes. The gelatin-shelled balls are propelled from a paintball gun. A compressed air tank with carbon dioxide is attached to the gun to propel the ball.
The game is played in a protective environment and the audience is well covered. Players wear clothing and head gear to shield themselves from attack. They are not allowed to shoot below the knees, and referees stop the play if they spot any violation.
As the game is played for recreation, there is a minimum shooting distance of 15 feet to prevent injury. “If a player moves close to that minimum shooting distance then he or she must give the rival a chance to surrender,” explains Yusuf. “There is also a standing instruction that once inside the arena, a player is not supposed to remove his or her protective gears without permission.”
Paintball is played with different rules and variations, specified before the actual game begins. A fundamental rule is that a player must attempt to accomplish the set goal without being marked with paint. Several versions can be played, including ‘Capturing the rival flag’, ‘Zombie’ and ‘Defending or attacking a particular point or area’.
The game is played in two different arenas. Woodsball, which is played in the natural environment and covers a large area, and Speedball, a fast-paced game played in a smaller artificial terrain with inflated bunkers.
It presents a real world scenario for players. They can sharpen their skills in trying to outsmart rival strategies and finding an escape route. “The game actually improves your alertness in reacting to a situation,” says Yusuf. “You think faster than the others and try to get out of trouble quickly.”
Players shrug off their inhibitions and come out with guns blazing. “It is an exciting and entertaining game,” says R. Ashok Kumar, who plays the game regularly. “In your pursuit to capture the rival post you have to run a lot to protect yourself. You have to play a wait and watch game as you have to eliminate the opponent, which is not easy.”
Playing as a team you plan strategies not only for yourself but also for your team members, thereby developing sportsmanship. A positive attitude is important, and intelligence and decisiveness will help you taste success.
“The game is played in more than 30 countries and is played across gender and people of all age groups,” says Yusuf. “As this game is an effective stress buster, we have approached corporates to send their employees for the game. We have planned to rope in members of the Madurai Rifle Club, as the game could be a good practice for them apart from the regular target shooting. In foreign countries, military forces and law enforcement agencies use this game to train their staff,” he adds.
The academy charges Rs.30,000 a day for the game for corporates. “As of now, we don’t have sufficient membership and the equipment is expensive. We have to provide a minimum of 2500 paintballs and 20 markers for a day’s game, besides protective gears. Once we get more members and patrons, we will reduce the charges,” he says.
The game is now open to members of the academy, and membership cost is Rs.30,000 a year.
“At present, we play only on demand and during weekends,” says Yusuf. “As we bring coaches from Chennai, we cannot waste their services. Once we get good support through number of enrolments, the game can be organised regularly as it has been done in metros like Chennai and Bangalore.”