The Perfect Pandemic Pastime

Paintball popularity spikes during these ongoing limited-contact protocols.

Paintball, oddly enough, is a go-to pandemic activity. Why? Because it’s not only contactless, but also requires the use of a mask. Luckily, a variety of paintball fields are welcoming customers during this time for some high-octane fun. 

Epic Paintball Park in Oklahoma City takes its safety requirements very seriously, says owner Randy Coles.

“People are issued masks and supervised,” he says. “We also have distance limits, so no one can get too close.”

Coles says that when players follow rules and play responsibly, there’s little danger involved.

“As long as you keep your equipment on, you’re relatively risk-free,” he says. “You are more likely to get injured bowling than playing paintball in a controlled setting.”

The required waiver that players must sign insists they follow safety rules and regulations so no one is harmed. Epic Paintball Park also uses PEG (polyethylene glycol) paintball shells that hurt less than oil-based paintball shells. 

Paintball Adventure Games, based in Sapulpa, similarly believes that the sport’s safety relies heavily on people wearing the proper equipment, says park manager Roger Brown. 

“We’ve never had an injury out here, but it is possible,” he says. “The main concern is keeping your face mask on when on the field.”

Despite paintball being a well-known sport today, the paintball gun was not originally intended to be used for entertainment purposes, says Brown.

“Actually, paintball began by marking cattle,” he says. “They would mark cows and administer medicine to cattle with paintball guns.” 

After people discovered they could shoot each other with these guns without any serious injury, more advanced models were created, and now, people can gather at a paintball field and play just about any time.

“We round up a bunch of folks and split them into teams and they compete,” says Brown. “We welcome players aged 10 years or older, but it really depends on if the face mask fits them properly.”

Paintball Adventure Games also houses a full shop where players can purchase their own equipment and bring them to play with on their next visit.

Athleticism is not necessarily the only important factor in paintball, says Brown. Pretty much anyone can excel in this game.

“Being athletic would definitely give you an edge, but we have people of all ages, shapes and sizes,” says Brown. “You can play it at your own pace.” 

Like many sports that started as a niche phenomenon, paintball is now not only a recreational game, but a professional one. Competitive tournaments take place around the world, including the NXL Paintball World Cup tournament, says Coles. Brown mentions that there’s even a local paintball team that competes professionally: the Tulsa Saints.

Epic Paintball Park and Paintball Adventure Games are both open seven days a week. During weekdays, appointments are required. For more information, call Epic Paintball Park at 405-679-3742 and Paintball Adventure Games at 918-224-1055.

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