Paintball proving popular among mixed crowd in Sylvan Lake

Paintball is a fun and competitive outdoor activity that is played in a safe combat style.

Dylan Rogalczyk takes cover during a game of paintball on Saturday.

Paintball is a fun and competitive outdoor activity that is played in a safe combat style.

This seasonal sport involves players forming teams and shooting opponents with balls of paint that explode on impact.

The sport is both recreational and competitive with players in camouflaged gear and shooting with realistic-looking guns. There are also two teams from Sylvan Lake — the Warboys and Salt and Pepper — competing in the Canadian Professional Paintball  League (CPPL).

It is also a fun and interactive sport that anyone can play, serving as a fun form of exercise.

“It gets the kids outside of the house and off the video games. We push that a lot with moms,” said owner and operator of Sylvan Lake Paintball, Branden Majeau. “It’s outdoor entertainment.”

The sport may look violent but Majeau said it is not, and is actually one of the safest sports in North America.

“Statistically we have less injuries than golf and probably considerably less than hockey,” Majeau said.

During paintball, players wear a safety certified mask to protect their eyes at all times with other specific rules in place to ensure safety.

“You just want to protect the face, the rest of your body will take the impact no problem,” Majeau said.

The paintball facility, located north of Sylvan Lake on Township Road 392, is a big tourist base, but also attracts a lot of local players from the nearby towns and Red Deer.

Majeau said there are many loyal customers that play weekly, with some dropping in individually or in small groups who can then join a team and play a competitive game.

“There’s between 25 and 65 guys for it every Wednesday and Sunday who just drop in,” Majeau said. “We can cram a lot of people at one time, mix in groups and everybody is flowing really well. There’s a good atmosphere and it’s laid back.”

The facility is set up for young children to play as well as there is low-impact safe paintball designed for the 10-to-12-year-old age group.

Children play with a miniature paintball gun that shoots at a lower velocity and with smaller caliber paintballs, which Majeau said has been very popular.

“It’s still a real paintball gun, it’s just smaller and the paintball has less bite,” he said. “So for concerned parents there’s less impact, less pain and it’s a great way to get into it.”

The allure of paintball may be the thrill of trying to hunt somebody, because he said you don’t get hit that much.

Majeau explains that during a game you get hit once and when you have been shot you put your gun over your head and exit the course because you’re eliminated.

“It is a rush to see the paint come at you and you’re running out of the way trying to hide and co-ordinate with your team trying to run somebody down or whatever it is,” Majeau said.

To wrap up the season ‘GI JOE’ is being held Sept. 20, which is a big game that proved to be popular last year with just under 100 people participating.

People pay a $50 entrance fee and get a team T-shirt with everyone going home with a prize.

Majeau said a lot of guys dress up in their cosplay outfits and there is a prize for best costume.

“You have everybody on site, it’s a blast, and we play predominantly in the trees,” Majeau said.

Registration can be done by calling 403-887-4487, visiting the facility, or on the morning of the event.