The extreme sport of paintball is fairly young, having existed for only slightly more than 30 years, but has steadily grown in popularity since its origin in the 1980s. The sport provides an adrenaline rush unmatched by any other recreational activity, heightening awareness by recruiting all of the players' senses.
There are numerous styles of paintball competition, with one of the favorites being capture the flag. Capture the flag paintball is played anywhere that there is adequate space, a good amount of coverage for teams to strategically advance, and nothing present that you wouldn't mind getting painted in neon colors.
Players are split into teams, working together to capture the other team's flag for a point, or in some versions of competition, a win. Depending on the group, rules will slightly differ. Most often, if an individual is shot, they are done for the remainder of the game. When playing a point system, most individuals are reinstated to the team after a flag is captured for a point.
A much different, but still extremely popular version of paintball is "speedball". Speedball is often the competition version of choice utilized for paintball tournaments. Much smaller teams are built for these competitions (often four players or less), and the games have a much shorter average duration (which is why they are tournament friendly). Once an entire team has been eliminated, the Speedball game concludes.
Today there are many businesses which offer rental equipment and host teams for recreational play, both indoors and outdoors. The NPPL (National Professional Paintball League) also exists for the most diehard extreme paintball teams.
There is a wide array of paintball equipment that individuals may wear during competition. The most essential is a full face-mask which keeps a player's face, and most importantly, eyes protected. Hardened gloves are often worn to protect the hands, and a jock-strap with a protective cup is advised for all male players. A quality set of boots (for toe protection and play in wooded areas) and camouflage pants and jackets are popular, but not essential. Depending on the style of play and how "trigger happy" a player is, they may also wear a belt for carrying extra ammunition.
The strong draw that people have to the sport of paintball is its association with excitement and adrenaline. The key is balance. Getting hit by a paintball doesn't hurt badly enough that an individual will quit the sport if shot during competition, but it does hurt badly enough to create in players the strong desire to avoid being shot by their opponents at all costs. This desire to keep from being shot is what keeps the game as exciting as it is. Without this balance of pain and adrenaline, the overall popularity of paintball would be much less significant.