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Paintball is quickly becoming a popular sport

Paintball is quickly becoming a popular sport

March 31, 2009|By RACHAEL JOHNSON / Pulse Correspondent

It's an adrenaline rush as I dash across the field, a cool carbon dioxide tank pressed against my chest. As I dodge objects moving at 300 hundred feet per second, I'm having fun playing paintball.

Paintball is the fastest growing recreational sport, according to an ESPN report, with many versions of play. The sport was started in 1981. Today, tournaments such as the Tampa Open and World Cup attract as many as 200 teams. It has become so popular that major cities have formed teams to compete at these competitions.

I first played when I heard my brother talk about how much joy he got out of the game. He gave me a paintball kit for Christmas and took me out to play.

Some players prefer Milsim, which stands for military simulation. Military simulation is when you have a commander, and objectives similar to an actual battle. Sometimes they are re-creations of games.

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All you need to play is a paintball marker, a carbon dioxide (CO2) tank, National Professional Paintball League (NPPL) goggles, a hopper AKA loader, some paintballs and some good friends.

Some games are just a simple elimination game, when a player tries to hit another player with a paintball. Or you can play capture the flag where a flag is in the middle and your team has to safely get the flag without being elminated.

I play on team Metal Heads, made up of about four player with an average age of 14. Our team captain is Cody "Junior" Benfield. I'm co-captain and the team calls me "Tik-Tak." Each one of us is given a nickname just like in any other sport.

Junior works as a referee at Paintball Adventure Parks, a paintball company in Taneytown, Md. I help with some jobs at Sky Line Paintball, in Strausburg, Va. Team Metal Heads is trained by coach Kirk Clark.

The team is looking for new players so we can earn our sponsorship from Paintball Adventure Parks.

Paintball is not just a game, it's a way to make new friends and have fun. In our travels we meet many players. You can always make new friends and laugh on the field. Even if you don't play, you'll still meet and make new friends.

My team hopes to someday win a tournament as a real team. To learn, we talk with as many great teams as we can.

The Harrisonburg, Va.,-based James Madison University's team practices at Sky Line Paintball. Tyler Smith, team leader, said the team was originally a club, which is how our team started.

Eventually, it transformed into a true team and practices on a speed ball field, which has inflatable bunkers and flat turf.

Today, they are amazing players with much knowledge of the game. They have played in many tournaments and won competitions.

At the beginning of the month, Paintball Sports Land held a game based off of "Siege of Leningrad," which was a battle of World War II.

The game was Russia verses Germany, complete with re-enactors. Many players attended the game but at the end of the day, Russia claimed victory.

I think people should play paintball because it teaches you about trust. You also get to run around and move. And not to mention, you get to spend time with your friends.

Rachael Johnson is an eighth-grader at North Martinsburg Middle School in Martinsburg, W.Va. She loves to spend her weekends playing paintball.

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