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What Is Popular In Paintball Right Now?

Posted on August 04 2020

by Doug Lamont
Photo credit: No Quarter Photography
Photographed: Ben Kellogg

     A lot of things in life are cyclical. Fashion, music trends and even career choices are all things that come into and go out of style every few decades. Paintball is much that same way.  We started in the woods and used to play with much bigger teams than the current five on five National Xball League (NXL) format. But in the last few years, mechanical paintball on wooded, mound and also hyperball fields saw an astounding resurgence in popularity. In addition to playing in the woods again, recently paintball has seen a massive interest in the one-on-one format. Hosted by entities like the HK Army Pro Tour and the GoSports Ultimate Shootout, players square off with only their gun skills and intuition to win with - no team to back them up or get them out of sticky situations. This format is very personal and allows for fast-paced games with a lot of drama, and the audience simply loves it. But first, a deeper look at our love of the woods...

     The people who all came out of the woods and started speedball as we know it in the early 2000’s have decided to go back to their roots, and they’re having fun doing it! Leagues like the International Classic Paintball League (ICPL) and the Iron City Classic (ICC) have brought old-school 10-man paintball back with a vengeance. In the current and NXL format, ramping is permitted and at any given time if all five of your opponents decide to shoot at you, 50 paintballs will be coming your way each second between all five players combined. Intimidating, right? Many of us think so. But picture playing against twice as many people. That’s TEN people. Ramping is not allowed and the guns are mechanical, but experienced players can shoot anywhere from 14 to 19+ balls per second (bps). Say you okay against 10 experienced people who can all shoot 20 balls per second. That’s now 200 balls coming your way, each second! This makes for absolute chaos on the field and nonstop action. That’s one of the biggest things that draws people to get back into 10-man play and is helping paintball grow. Basic mechanical guns that work well and can keep up with the game are far less expensive than even low level electronic guns. This makes sense because without electronics, the marker is just a little less complex. As many of us know, cost is a huge barrier for new players getting into paintball. 10-man is a great solution that brings all the thrills and more!

     Watching paintball is hard. If you don’t understand the game, have never seen it and you don’t have someone experienced nearby to explain things as they happen, it probably wouldn’t take long for you to lose interest and stop watching. Paintball is not exactly spectator friendly, and this is one of the biggest barriers to becoming a mainstream sport. Making paintball mainstream is an entirely different discussion for another time, but in a quick nutshell, the benefit would be having outside sponsors and more spectators who are willing to pay and put money into the sport without even playing. More money coming from outside the sport, in theory, might make it cheaper to actually play the game and thus open the doors for more new players. Let’s digress back to one-on-ones.

     The HK Army pro tour focuses exclusively on professional players gunfighting with one another. The post production quality is high and the games are certainly exciting. Players gain incentive to move up the field as the amount of points they win for shooting their opponent increases the closer they get to the center. The amount of focus and determination it takes to continually come up with new strategies and maintain focus is incredible, and witnessing professionalism at that level is a huge draw for spectators. But with the Ultimate Shootout, it’s a bit more dynamic. In addition to the rate of fire cap being higher, players can earn a high number of points even in just one round by hitting various buzzers that are placed around the field. Players can also earn extra points for racking up a kill streak, which comes after killing their opponent three times in a row. After watching matches, it’s easy to see that the Ultimate Shootout format certainly moves faster and is generally more entertaining. Smack talk between players is encouraged as their pit stations are right next to each other and the players are mic’d up the entire time. Rounds don’t last long and intensity is high throughout each match, making it incredibly fun to watch for both the experienced player and people who are completely new to paintball.

     The Ultimate Shootout might just be the piece of the puzzle we’ve been waiting for to bridge the gap between the paintball community and main stream media. Only time will tell, but for now all we can do is keep watching and PLAY PAINTBALL. At Punishers, we love talking about gear and we want to be your source for paintball equipment every time. But the end goal is that we want everybody to get out there and play paintball!

     If you liked this article, post on social media the next time you play paintball, tag us and use the hashtag #punishersplaypaintball to let us know you love our sport! As always, be sure to check out Punishers Paintball for all of your equipment needs!



***Based out of Mansfield, Ohio, Punishers Paintball is dedicated to delivering premium products and even higher quality customer service, every time. Growing paintball is our mission and we take pride as ambassadors to the sport.***



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