I’ve always noticed a lot of blogs and forums writing updates and articles about the military using paintball to train recruits with and, to be honest, I’ve largely ignored the whole area until today. The reason? Well, paintball often comes under fire unfairly and has gained a bad reputation from some quarters for being a hobby that glamorises or simulates actual warfare. However, this morning I did a few searches and was pleasantly surprised by what I found.
Anyway, it seems that paintball does indeed have its place in training soldiers and would-be-soldiers in life-like situations. A lot of soldiers train on what’s called MILES gear (Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System) which is a type of gun simulator which allows soldiers to fire infrared lasers at each other, with sensors telling them if they’re hit or not. But others do use paintball markers too. The reason is that they are far cheaper and readily available, and they allow training recruits to focus on the tactical and strategic elements of a training mission without having to worry about equipment or fire-power too much. Likewise, they’re often used in close-quarter exercises, which are in turn replicated in scenario paintball – like storming a village or a fort, for example. These are often called MOUT operations – Military Operations on Urban Terrain.
First of all, it’s important not to generalise too much – when I say ‘the army’ or ‘military’, I certainly don’t mean all of it, just select divisions or groups of cadets I’ve read about. Obviously there is very little similarity between any kind of military weapon and a paintball marker, except the shape, but in training exercises paintball markers allow recruits to at least have an element of firepower without worrying about any possible dangers. Of course, what military exercises and paintball games do have in common is that they both rely on two fundamental components to work effectively: teamwork and good communication.
Ultimately I see the advantage of soldiers using paintball markers to train with, as this actually goes someway to demonstrating just how safe and accurate markers are these days; but I genuinely hope any military connotations don’t only add to the negative image some people choose to have of paintball.
Enjoy the weather folks & come and see us soon!