It’s a war out there

By Bronwyn Seaborne

When 88 people arrive back in Grahamstown splotched with paint the first assumption about them will be that they were part of some botched art project.

 paintball1.jpg                       

When those 88 people arrived back in Grahamstown splotched with paint on Saturday March 3 though definitely not part of some botched art project. They had been in a war.
These people belong to the newly established Paintball Society. Murray Barlow, president and founder of the Paintball Society, explains that unlike all the other societies, this society offers something different for its members. “You know a lot of societies do nothing and there are so many societies that do the same thing. So I wanted to start something different, something that’s fun and active,” said Barlow.

The Paintball Society offers its members two ways of enjoying this activity. There are fun days and then there are scenario games. Fun days members are encouraged to form informal teams and simply run around and have fun. The scenario games promise just
as much fun but with a twist. Here 40 to 50 people form teams and participate in a staged war complete with an opening ceremony that includes the firing of a genuine Boer War cannon.

Barlow guarantees that the game is relatively safe, save for the occasional hickey-like bruise. The society supplies all its members with protective gear. This gear is no longer
the old cut-out, plastic coke bottle with holes burnt into it for the eyes and nose, but the proper full-face mask worn by professional paintball players. The society has undertaken
the responsibility to ensure that the games are as safe as possible and as cost-effective as they can possibly be.

The society also provides the opportunity for participation in competitions. Some of the events will be co-ordinated around games played between society members and members of external leagues such as the Port Elizabeth paintball team. Non-members are also invited to partake in the events and will be expected to pay the normal fee for the hiring of the equipment and for the paintballs that they use. They can simply contact Barlow if they are interested and transport can then be arranged. “It’s better to be a member though, because you get discount, you’re invited to cheese and wines and you get a cool T-shirt,” explains Barlow.

The society will still be signing members up until March 23. These members can look forward to an event coming up in July where they can join 200 other eager paintball
enthusiasts in the Tsitsikamma to takepart in a full-scale war scenario game.

Barlow also mentions that this is not a male-dominated sport and that almost 50% of the society’s members are women.
Richard Hingston, a participant in
the war scenario game staged that
Saturday, explains that even though
“there was a real ‘play to win’
atmosphere, it was a very friendly
and laid-back afternoon.”
This new society looks to be something
which Rhodents will take to
with much enthusiasm. So let the
battles begin.

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