by Heather Green

Remember, when you were a kid, running around with sticks and pretending to be cowboys and Indians, zombies and survivors, or what-have-you? Woodsball—paintball in which players compete in natural surroundings—brings those memories back to life for kids and adults of all ages for a day of exercise, thrill, and friendly rivalry. In fact, there’s a thrill to woodsball unrivaled by any video game and most conventional sports.

Woodsball and Scenario Ball

Unlike the speedball format, which uses inflatable bunkers and is the main format for professional paintball tournaments, woodsball takes place in the great outdoors, usually in a forest with both natural and manmade “bunkers” like rudimentary buildings made of wood, old tires, and the like. It is, in fact, the first form of paintball ever played, and due to the floundering economy, is seeing a comeback because it is cheaper to play than speedball. Moreover, woodsball is the format used for scenario paintball, which allows participants to enact parts in a story or a battle in history. For example, PBC (Paintball Central) Sports Park in Greensboron, North Carolina recently hosted an Iwo Jima woodsball tournament in which players were divided into teams Axis and Allies, and will host “North VS South,” a Civil War-based tournament.

Taking the Sport Away From Its War Game Image

Although some players fully immerse themselves into the role of these scenario games with realistic-looking paintball markers (i.e. guns) and equipment, many within the paintball world are trying to take the sport in a more family-friendly and less militaristic, war-game-oriented direction. The good thing about woodsball and really any paintball format is that the players decide what they want: do they want to reenact a historical battle, do they want to play capture the flag in the woods, or do they want to run around behind big red and blue bunkers? For people from all walks of life celebrating reunions, anniversaries, birthdays, office parties, corporate bonding experiences, and more, paintball is simply an opportunity to run around the forest with eco-friendly paint.

Common Sense and Safety

For those concerned about the safety of playing paintball, consider the following: paintball field owners don’t want anybody hurt more than you do. They require all players to wear protective masks while on the field or in the woods, and every marker is checked for safety, especially regarding bps (balls per second). While in the woods, it is the individual’s responsibility to keep the mask on and to use common sense, but at the end of the day, the only wounds players nurse are small bruises that heal in days and serve as memories of a weekend well spent. To have such a weekend, look online for paintball fields near you, and invite family members, friends, and co-workers to an outdoor adventure.

This article was originally published on 11/11/10.

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