The Rise of Organized Paintball Leagues

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The Rise of Organized Paintball Leagues

The sport of paintball started out as a recreational activity approximately forty years ago. It has since become so popular, there are professional players and teams.

If you want to become a professional player, you would start out as a beginner using rental equipment at your local paintball park. After about six months, purchase your own marker, mask, harness, and equipment needed so you can begin playing in advanced games with other self-equipped players.

When you get to know other players that have their own gear, you can suggest forming a team and start practicing together weekly. Keep in mind, paintball equipment isn’t cheap. A decent marker with an HPA air tank can cost between $400 - $2,000. Of course, the cost depends on gun performance, whether you want a good beginner marker or a high performing one that will help you win tournaments.

A case of 2,000 paintballs can run anywhere from $50- $75 depending on quality.  There are field grade paintballs for practice, medium grade and high-end quality for tournaments. The higher quality paintball tends to be more brittle where it breaks easily on your target and has a brighter colored fill to mark your opponent when hit. The paint inside is thicker too.

A better-quality paintball shoots straighter with more consistency due to the heavier weight of the ball and the perfectly rounded shape. The self-equipped player is allowed to shoot at a velocity of 285 feet per second, so the pro ball engages the target at a farther distance.

Some paintball parks offer team sponsorships. The way it works is, the team will wear jerseys with the park name for advertising purposes. The park will allow the team to use the fields for practice and either give them a discount on paintballs or for free if the players will volunteer ref a few hours during the day. 

Teams find practicing on speedball fields gives them the skills needed for tournament participation. Games played on speedball fields are more competitive because the bunkers are closer together, the field is smaller, you are playing closer to your opponent, and it is very fast paced with usually 3-, 5-, 7- or 10-man teams. 

Speedball games are quick and last only about 3-5 minutes long. The inflatable bunkers are set up on astroturf or grass. Players can use anywhere from 500-1,000 paintballs per game when using a semi-automatic marker. When using a pump gun, a player uses only half of that number of paintballs.

There are fees associated with teams entering tournaments. Charges are normally $500 per 5-man team. Sometimes a bag of 500 paintballs is included. In general, a team would need to buy cases of field paint at the tournament.

How does a professional player make money? If your team wins at tournaments, there are cash prizes. Professional teams get invited to events, contests, and have sponsorships. A pro player could make from $10,000 per year & up, however, they usually supplement their earnings by working at a job within the paintball industry, such as;

  • Working as a sales clerk in a paintball pro shop.
  • Referee at a paintball park.
  • Paintball gun tech at a marker factory.
  • Sales rep at a paintball manufacturing company.
  • Teaching classes in paintball.
  • Become a paintball field owner.

The most well-known paintball tournament league in North America and Europe is the National Xball League, NXL. Only a small number of pro players earn a salary.

In general, paintball is a competitive sport. Tournament games are a more structured form of competitive paintball with assigned player skilled positions, mainly, fronts, middles, and backs.

Frontmen play on the front lines of the field leading their team offensively to eliminate the opposing team players. Frontmen have to be fast and run out closer to the rapid fire and opposition.

Middle players are the most important team members replacing frontmen when eliminated and providing constant communication with their teammates in back. 

Back men play defense remaining the most stationary staying behind the bunkers while cautiously moving up to take the places of mid and frontmen that have been eliminated.

Paintball USA has a membership program for self-equipped players. They pay a monthly fee for field admission and air tank fills, plus get a $20 off discount per case of paintballs. Limit two cases of paintballs per member per visit.