Paintball in Saskatchewan

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Air Force? They look pretty grounded to me/US Air Force

Air Force? They look pretty grounded to me/US Air Force

The sport continues to grow in popularity.

Article: Melinda Nagy

Over the last few years, paintball has seemed to grow in popularity in Saskatchewan. Why is there a sudden interest in this sport, who’s playing, and what successes are they having?

Many of my friends have been playing paintball over the years. I spoke to George Lewko, Captain of the P.A. Predators Team (previous provincial champions in the Saskatchewan Paintball Championship Circuit 2003)and owner of Paintball Paradise, to find out why paintball seems to be growing in popularity. George informed me certain aspects of paintball have been declining but specific types have been flourishing. He said that in 2008, over half of the paintball fields in the USA shut down. It has been the challenge of paintball park owners to become innovative and improve marketing strategies to draw new players. George says that tournament organizers have also become more challenged as competitive teams tend to hold titles over multiple years.

As a paintball course owner, he says birthday parties, corporate team building exercises, stag and stagette parties, youth group events, family reunions, and sports windups are becoming more popular because the cost of taking a party of people out for dinner and a entertainment is more expensive than renting equipment and buying paintballs with a barbeque meal included. Plus, everyone has a fun afternoon of physical activity away from the office or video games. George says that scenario battles are growing in popularity because the game objectives are innovative and fun to complete with large groups of players varying in skills and abilities.

George says the numbers of hard-core paintball players who bring their own equipment are declining because they must follow the safety rules of the fields or leagues they play with. It is no longer possible to bring specially built equipment or paint purchased online to fields to gain competitive advantage. One of the innovations to paintball propellant that has made paintball less painful and more fun is the use of High Pressure Air instead of CO2 propellants.

George also said the regulations on the field have improved the game. Trained referees are present on most fields. Rules do not allow fighting, swearing, or cheating. Safety rules for handling equipment and playing are presented at the beginning of every paintball session, including the signing of waivers by participants.

George also said that the variety of options available on paintball courses is always evolving. His team has participated in events internationally as well as locally including the Chicago CPX tournament with William Shatner two years ago. It was an event that drew 2600 people worldwide and was played in a $2 million park.

From my research, I found that fields have varying:

  • themes: corn mazes, pumpkin patches, medieval themes, Vietnam, world wars, pirates, zombies;
  • difficulties of courses: speedball, night games, close contact, obstacles, woodland
  • types of combat: paintball, laser, air soft
  • amenities: Barbeque and campfire areas, fireworks, tournament and league play

Other local players, such as Emmett Misfeldt and Dylan Topal, who play on the Regina Regulators speedball team in the CPPL League, say that the main reason they play is for the friendship and sport. Dylan says part of the increase in participation is because of the decreasing cost of playing the sport as paint prices decrease and field, tournament, and league prices decrease. Dylan says that Mike Carrie, CPPL league owner, also encourages interaction between the teams after events and during awards ceremonies. Part of the fun is getting to know the players from other teams. Emmett starting playing at a friend’s birthday party and enjoyed it so much that he and a group of friends started playing regularly every weekend. Eventually they joined the CPPL league and have worked their way up from Division 4 to Division 2 over the past few years. 8 players on the Regulators team hold All-Star status within the CPPL league. Their local competition is the Saskatoon Savage, which currently competes in Division 2. The team plays 5-6 tournaments per year, which are mostly played in Alberta, but they have a regular playoff schedule versus the other teams in their division. Dylan says the matches are usually round-robin styles with often 10 matches per tournament. The Regulators play most Sundays at the n20 Paintball field North East of Balgonie. Anyone interested in playing with them can contact them via their Facebook page. Misfeldt, summarizing his experience, says, “It is the most fun I’ve ever had playing a sport.”

Topal summarized that “The people I play with have become best friends for life.”

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