Hands up who thought paintball was only a fun day out full of missions, team games and role-play scenarios? We did for a while too, so don’t worry about it. But actually, the sport of paintball is divided into many different disciplines, much like any other sport I guess. In the UK, the ‘scenario’ type of paintball, which isn’t in anyway competitive (beyond getting one over on your mates) is by far the most popular, but let’s have a look at the other kinds that are played around the world.
Speak to anyone of the ‘old school’ and they will probably start reminiscing about something called ‘stock-class’. Though it sounds a bit farm-y, it is actually a branch of paintball still played today, mainly in the States. Using only non-electronic paintballing equipment with markers that can only handle one shot at a time, stock-class aims to revert back to how paintball was in the good ole’ days, when markers needed to be manually tilted back and forth in order to reload. And, of course in the early days of the sport, markers were literally nothing more than farm equpiment used to ‘mark’ livestock. With a paintball maximum of 20, stock-class players today pride themselves on their traditional values and we suspect that, due to their limited gear and ammo, they carry a pretty accurate shot!
Often called Speedball or Xball, tournament paintball is basically your Premier League of paintball. Like any sport, paintball has it’s own stars, endorsements and, increasingly so, sidelines in merchandise like Xbox games. Competitive paintball like this is played on both a national and international level and is split into individual heats and teams. Though the average Joe in the street may never have heard of them, names like Oliver Lang command a lot of respect in paintball circles.
More and more these days paintball sites are offering little glimpses into the arena of competitive paintball with initiatives like ‘walk-on’ days, where players can sign up to compete against each other, or even simple additions like Speedball game zones. A Speedball game, or Xball as it’s commonly known, is a basic, no-holes-barred all-action paintball assault, where two teams compete against each other from opposite ends of the field to either capture a flag or gain the opposition’s base. The name comes from pretty much the only rule there is: don’t stop moving. Just like in the movie Dodgeball (except a little more serious perhaps), paintball teams take this very seriously and can go on to win big bucks in international cups.
Getting your name on that score board isn’t easy though. Like all sports, the cream rises to the top and with paintball, you have to pick your options early in order to make a name for yourself. Will you play speedball? Or join a team? Is there a paintball club nearby that you could become a member of? Do you know anyone who could help you get to where you want to be in the sport, and can you train hard enough to get there? It’s not easy to become a world-class paintball pro but, if you ask us, could there be a better job out there?
When woodsball first burst onto the scene it was an alternative to the usual stock-class man-on-man games and, thanks to it’s ‘role play’ ethic, it became an instant hit. Involving little more than a group of friends, some woods and a simple objective, like capture the flag, woodsball can often involve dozens or even hundreds of players; covering acres of ground.
Born from woodsball, scenario paintball is the style of paintball we play the most here in the UK. It’s competitive, but only in a mates-against-mates sort of way, and isn’t a part of any league or table. This style of paintball has probably taken off so well over here thanks to our superb natural environment, as we’ve no shortage of woods, glens, forests and rivers to make the most of. Named of course after the scenarios that players face in each ‘game zone’, this is fun, all-action paintball that anyone can enjoy, where the aim of the game is usually to beat your mates. Depending on where you play, game scenarios can be anything from bunker sieges and storming haunted tombs to protecting derelict buses and reclaiming shanty towns.