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Are There Different Types of Paintball Arenas?
Paintball is a nuanced sport that features many different variations, forms and styles. Long gone are the days when it took place primarily in woodland, so let’s take a look at some of the different competitive environments in which you can play the game these days.
Overwhelmingly the most popular form of paintball, speedball is the favored format for professional tournaments. It relies on fast-paced action, quick thinking and well-communicated tactics. Since it’s a competition format, the rules are the most formalized, so expect limits on gun velocity, team size and more.
Speedball arenas have a fixed size and are symmetrical. They are much smaller than some of the other arenas on the list because the aim here is to encourage quick exchanges, and both teams start off within firing distance of each other. The most distinguishing trait of a speedball arena is the bunkers. They tend to be inflatable and are placed around the arena to provide some nice tactical cover points. Since speedball games usually revolve around capturing a flag, these are also a common sight. There is often a single, central flag or one situated at either end.
Speedball arenas can be situated indoors or outdoors, but the rules remain the same. If you are after fast-paced action with a ruthless tactical edge, speedball is the right choice for you. Moreover, if you’ve ever watched a professional paintball tournament, it’s more than likely that it took place at a speedball arena. You’ll also notice competitors wearing top-of-the-range professional gear like the Gen X paintball vest, which prioritizes speed and flexibility.
The classic arena is the type of environment that paintball began in, and woodsball remains popular among purists and newcomers alike. Since the woodland setting is much more open than a speedball arena, the size of the field and its borders are less defined.
There’s also plenty of cover on offer, and some arenas will include bunkers alongside the trees. That’s why camouflage is usually the order of the day in a woodsball arena, and teams choose kit like the Maddog tactical camo. Varied terrain, different types of cover and even changing weather conditions give these games a unique flavor.
Camouflage and extra cover don’t stop the matches from being action-packed, though, and they’re usually much longer than their speedball equivalents. While competitors in a speedball arena will often find themselves pinned down, woodsball arenas allow much more movement. This, in turn, equates to surprise attacks, pincer movements and ambushes. It also means that matches in this setting require much more dexterity, so expect to duck, dive and roll out of danger!
This type of arena is completely different. It combines role play with paintball and immerses players in specific scenarios. One of the most popular events is the large-scale Invasion of Normandy scenario, which attracts audiences of over 4,000! As the name suggests, it recreates the invasion of Normandy and plunges players into sprawling, tactical battles.
Scenario paintball isn’t limited to just historical events, however. Games like Protect the President, Team Deathmatch or Bomb the Base are all extremely common. There’s no specific scenario arena; instead, they’re designed around individual matches and themes. They do have some things in common, most notably their size. Scenario matches tend to be absolutely huge and can feature teams of more than 100 players each!
Scenario arenas can be indoors or outdoors, and their dimensions are extremely flexible. They might contain cover points like abandoned cars or even tanks. As a general rule, the only limit on a scenario arena is imagination! The high player count and often-explosive action means that you’ll go through a fair number of balls, and you’ll find teams well stocked up on pods and harnesses similar to the Maddog Pro, which provides some much-needed storage space.
A word on Outlaw Fields…
An Outlaw Field arena is paintball in its most basic form, and it's really not much more than an area that you and a few friends have marked out for a match! This term is used for any unofficial arena and can be a field, a forest or wherever you like. Needless to say, these arenas are fully customizable with their own dimensions, sets of rules and teams. It might sound liberating, but there are downsides, too. It's important to ensure that matches are happening in a legal area (not on private property) and that all the relevant safety precautions have been taken.