By Kiernan Manion

As a common hobby among fans of the outdoors, action and marksmanship, paintball brings groups of players from a variety of backgrounds and experience together across the country. This fast-paced, adrenaline-pumping trend is usually a favorite among those also interested in the tactical, outdoor and surplus industries. Many players will frequent surplus and outdoor outlets for supply lines on many products associated with paintball.

For individuals considering paintball as a potential fun, exciting experience this summer, or for store owners looking to include paintball supplies and tactical gear sought after by paintballers across the country in their own inventory, learning the basics of the sport is a great start.

The origins of paintball actually began in the early 1980s in New Hampshire, according to a article about the history of the sport. While paintball guns were originally manufactured for the purpose of marking trees and livestock, a game soon evolved into a pastime where players would compete against each other, using propelled paint pellets as ammunition. The game was marketed as the NSG (National Survival Game) and from the first game in 1981, popularity grew at an enormous rate. Today, paintball is a very international sport, spanning dozens of countries and there are tons of paintball tournaments held worldwide.

Most gear and equipment associated with paintball includes a mask, protecting the face, eyes and mouth from the 330 ft/sec propelled paintballs; a paintball gun (properly referred to as a marker) that comes in many different varieties and styles; propellant sources in the form of compressed carbon dioxide (CO2) or high pressure air (HPA); and other essentials like paintballs, clothing and specialty products.

The most commonly known types of paintball games are speedball and woodsball. Both have many differences when it comes to course setups and competition specs and rules; generally speaking, Speedball is played on an enclosed course (indoor or outdoor) with artificial obstacles and is much more rapid-fire, whereas woodsball is much more tactical, stealth-based, utilizing more camouflage and proper equipment to handle the terrain. Within each of these game styles are several variations of games, such as capture the flag, sudden death, and many others depending on preference or rules.

Some of the basic rules for paintball, no matter where you’re playing, are to keep your masks on at all times within the playing area, keeping a barrel cover over the marker outside of the playing area or when a game is over, and depending on the specifications for the current game, if you’re hit by a paintball and it breaks, you’re out. There are several other rules and safety measures depending on different establishments or tournaments.

The distinct connection between activities like airsoft and paintball with the military surplus industry relates to Military simulations used to train soldiers and infantrymen in combat scenarios, while also used by law enforcement authorities, para-military and security organizations. Many hunters, military members, and gun enthusiasts are into paintball, and there’s a wave of frequent paintballers always on the lookout for supply lines for their passions. US Army markers, vests, jackets and boots are great considerations for this customer group.

Not only that, but the wide selection of military-grade boots, pants, jackets, gloves, tactical vests, belts, masks and other equipment are great products to market towards paintball players, especially those who frequently play woodsball.  The durability and quality of these clothing products and accessories, particularly in camo, are ideal for the rugged, harsh backwoods environments during these types of paintball games, so surplus stores should consider this audience as a potential sales outlet.

Players can expect a certain level of mild pain (a quick, sharp sting when hit), mess (this is paint, after all), exercise, time spent and cost variations with their first paintball experience, but all in all, it can be really fun and exciting, especially when going with friends. Ask around, check for specials or coupons and look around for your local course or paintball center.

So if you’re interested in product options for your business or simply looking for new ways to enjoy summer and adventure, take a look at paintball.