Brush Up On Paintball

By David Maynard

“Hey, you wanna play paintball?” my brother inquired in 1989. Soon after, we hosted our first game with approximately 25 people from a local church at Pleasant Vineyard Ministries (PVM Camp) in Camden,Ohio. The sport was still in its infancy, and the paintball markers were antiquated compared to today’s highly engineered markers. That day we experienced a game that could be utilized as a revenue-generating conduit for the camp, and as a way to positively impact youth and adults through the use of an adrenalin-pumping sport. Within a few years, PVM Camp began offering weeklong paintball camps; today, the program has expanded to places as far away as South Korea, as we assist other camps and conference centers in establishing paintball programs and safety standards. What started as an afternoon recreational sport in the woods of southwest Ohio has now become a tool to reach the hearts of countless individuals, and also to provide new revenue for many camps.

Facing Apprehension
Over the last 20 years, paintball has been one of the fastest-growing sports in the U.S., with competitions now being broadcast on ESPN. Today, due to the overwhelming request from kids and guest groups, camps and conference centers are adopting this sport into their curriculum. But it has not always been an easy path to forge, as paintball was considered taboo in many circles. Being at a Christian-based camp, I heard many times the condescension in parents’ voices as they expressed their views on kids playing with guns, or that paintball “isn’t a very Christian activity.” Others voiced concerns over the safety of the sport. As a camp director promoting the activity, I needed to explain that this up-and-coming game was a safe, legitimate sport, as well as how it could change lives.

Today, many camp directors, youth pastors, and paintball players face these same questions, and can only respond, “It’s a lot of fun.” This leaves parents, camp boards, church elders, and many adults with an uneasy feeling and a lack of understanding of the game’s true benefits. The game’s champions must be able to effectively communicate these benefits so parents will gain a better respect for the game and feel greater peace in allowing their children to play.

Aiming For Teamwork
Typically, when questions are raised about the legitimacy of paintball, there are two primary reasons for concern. First and foremost is that paintball is a game where someone actually points a paintball gun at someone and shoots. Some find this to be a compromise of values, and their questions come from a deep conviction that should not be treated lightly. Respect their questions. Then share the positive elements of the sport, and allow them to make their own decision. Usually, sharing a few anecdotes on how the sport has helped someone grasp an important life lesson or learn the concept of teamwork will calm the fears of those initially opposed to the activity.

Safety Concerns
Concern for safety is another reason some parents dislike paintball. Through the years of working with camps to develop paintball programs, we have encountered many safety issues. One of the best ways to ensure safety is to invest in a chronograph to check the velocity of the paintballs exiting the marker. Markers must be chronographed at least once a day, especially if carbon dioxide is the gas propelling the paintballs. It is not excessive to check the markers even twice a day, since the air-temperature changes and causes the gas to expand later in the day, making the gun shoot at a higher velocity. Paintballs should be chronographed for no higher than 280 feet per second.

Another way to safeguard players is to train personnel to supervise the activity and care for the equipment. It is not enough to have counselors oversee the activity when the campers play; there needs to be some type of formal training regarding safety standards and knowledge of the sport.

Why Bother?
If executed correctly, paintball can be an excellent source of additional income for camps and conference centers. Most camps can pay for all of their paintball equipment within the first month or two of rentals. Like many other add-on activities, such as ziplines and climbing towers, paintball is a great way to enhance program value for summer camp, group rentals, youth retreats, men’s retreats, etc. Revenues are generated through field fees, equipment rental, sales of paintballs, and concessions. Some camps even sell paintball equipment in camp stores and online.

The sport has changed dramatically since our first game in the rural countryside of southwest Ohio, but the excitement and exhilaration remain. Adding paintball to the list of activities will create additional value for programs, add new revenue streams to the budget, and provide the opportunity to impact more visitors with a positive message.

Because there are no national safety standards for paintball fields, officials at PVM Camp have developed a set of safety standards that are now used at many venues. A 160-page paintball manual, as well as a four-day paintball symposium, is available. The manual covers all areas of starting a safe and effective paintball program:

  • Safety standards
  • Rules and regulations
  • Refereeing
  • Game scenarios
  • Game strategies and tactics
  • Devotionals and life lessons
  • Building a field
  • Paintball marker repair.

For more information, visit .

David Maynard is the President of Pleasant Vineyard Ministries. He can be reached at .