A couple of months ago, my oldest son asked if he could have a paintball birthday party. Immediately a vision of my husband ten years prior showing me his large-size paintball welt popped into my head. Without hesitation, I said, "No way!"
Like most kids, my son didn't stop asking. So I researched the sport, looking into what the appropriate age was for a kid to try paintball and how hurt they got. Some said sixteen years old was the best age. Other's said twelve. And then a few said ten. My son was turning eleven, which was on the border. Since he and his friends were above average in size, I felt a little more at ease if we did throw him a paintball birthday party. As for getting hurt, again some said yes it hurts and then others said it felt like a quick sting and then the pain eventually faded. All reviews mentioned that the key to playing the sport was to wear appropriate clothing to cushion the paintball pellet blow.
After quite a few in depth discussions with my husband, we decided to go for it. But with one condition, only kids were allowed to play. My husband was a bit bummed.
Four weeks before my son's 11th birthday, I sent out an Evite. Strangely enough, some of my son's friends' parents didn't get the Evite invitation, which I wasn't aware of until a week before his birthday. Thank heavens, only one out of ten, had made other plans. Next time, I may try the traditional route by sending out Tiny Print invitations.
I don't want to bore you with all the party details. Instead, I want to share how much fun the kids had and what I would do differently.
Scheduling the event:
Do not purchase a Groupon. The day of my son's party, the paintball sports place had to decline all people who came in with Groupon's because they didn't have enough equipment such as paintball guns, padding, and head gear.
Instead, purchase a birthday package to guarantee the kids will be able to play. Our birthday package included our own personal combat field and referee. We also had a choice of having 1 1/2 hour of paintball with a table for a party or 2 hours of paintball game time. I selected 2 hours because there was a picnic table outside that we could use afterwards for celebrating my son's birthday. What it didn't include was the paintball pellets. We went through two boxes which is about 2000 paintballs for 11 kids. Well, actually 9 kids because two elected not to play any more after the first game.
What kids should wear.
I highly recommend long-sleeve shirts, long pants, and knee high sports socks. I also would suggest that they wear another shirt or t-shirt under their long-sleeve shirt to cushion the paintball hit.
Make sure you review the rules several times with the kids.
We had eleven kids at the party. And all eleven immediately forgot the rules as soon as they stepped onto the field. We had to pull them off several times to remind them of critical rules such as:
- Do NOT fire your paintball gun at anyone unless they are at least 20 feet away.
- Never take off your helmet/face mask during paintball combat.
- Always hold your paintball gun facing down when not playing.
- Do NOT walk off the combat field with your paintball gun.
- Make sure they hold the paintball pellet container properly and close the cap. We soon learned how easy it was for paintball pellets to spill out of them. Once a paintball pellet hits the ground it's non-usable. The kids had to have dropped at least a fourth of the paintball pellets we purchased. Learning lesson for us!
Have something for the kids who don't want to play any longer to do.
We had two boys opt-out of playing after the first game. One got hit on the hand, which caused it to bleed and swell a little. The other got hit on the side and didn't like the stinging feeling of the pellet. They ended up watching the other kids play.
Be prepared for welts on your legs and arms, possibly a little blood if it hits your hands, and ringing of the ears if it hits the side of your helmet. You may even end up tasting a little of the paintball pellet. (Paintball pellets are non-toxic and are made out of vegetable oil, glycerin, food coloring and gelatin.)
- Welts. They sting and bruise up. All of the kids were prepared for it. I think if you put two layers of clothing on, you won't feel it as bad.
- A little blood. The paintball hit my daughters hand, causing it to bleed. She said it stung, but it didn't stop her from playing. She went right back in.
- Ringing of the ears. One boy said that every time the paintball hit his face mask, his ears had this ringing sound in them.
- Tasting the paintball pellet. One boy had the paintball hit the mouth area of the face mask. It ended up splattering into his mouth. He said it stung a little and tasted awful.
Oh, lastly. We discovered that it is important to teach the kids how to hold their paintball gun pellet cartridge properly because they can lose a lot of paintball pellets if they don't. They end up spilling out. Once a paintball pellet touches the ground, even if it never blew up, it is unusable. You purchase the paintballs. Taking your time pouring them into the cartridge container and then holding it correctly will save you money.