Paintball players take on Fairplex

Kimo Schaedel, of Team Rodents, hides and shoots as he participates in the three on one exhibition during the 2004 Paintball Expo at the Fairplex in Pomona. Schaedel, a two-year veteran, is one of three professional paintball players involved in this exhibition. / photo by Jason Cortez
Kimo Schaedel, of Team Rodents, hides and shoots as he participates in the three on one exhibition during the 2004 Paintball Expo at the Fairplex in Pomona. Schaedel, a two-year veteran, is one of three professional paintball players involved in this exhibition. / photo by Jason Cortez

by Ken Colby
Staff Writer

People dressed in military fatigues hooked up with guns and ammunition carried out missions at the Fairplex last weekend.

Fortunately, the guns were actually markers, the ammunition consisted of paint balls and the mission was capturing a flag within a given time limit.

In addition to the war games, many companies displayed their products at the third annual Paintball Expo.

Hundreds of people gathered to buy low cost supplies, see what the new items are and meet some of their favorite players.

The Paintball Expo was designed to give people an opportunity to not only buy and sell paintball supplies, but also to expose the up and coming sport to more people.

Starting as a few people shooting balls full of paint at each other, paintball has been around for more than 20 years and attracts an estimated seven million players nationwide.

“Paintball used to be a weekend recreational sport,” said Rick Vaughn, a player for team Savex.

Vaughn said that when the players became better, they attracted sponsors and formed leagues.

“I started playing a few years ago, when paintball was tiny,” said Eric Peterson of Tropical Illuzion.

“It has blown up and has no signs of slowing down anytime soon,” he added.

“Paintball is a multibillion dollar business, not until recently have companies began to buy into the sport. In fact, just a few months ago Dick Clark purchased the National X-Ball League, planning to bring it to national television,” said Darryl Trent, sales representative for Smart Parts inc.

More than 50 companies displayed booths selling anything from low cost paint balls ($30 a box), to a $3,000 paintball gun.

They filled their booths with colorful displays, of any paintball equipment, hoping to get their product out and known.

This summer paintball will shoot at the mainstream for the first time as the X-Games, the Olympic equivalent of extreme sports, have added it to the line-up.

“The X-Games make small sports huge. Look at snowboarding, look at surfing, paintball is next,” said Jules Foote, a player for team Ironmen.

Games will be played in X-ball format.

X-ball is played on a field about the size of a basketball court, with several inflatable bunkers. It is timed just like college basketball with two twenty minute halves.

The goal is to capture and hang the flag of the opposing team in your own team’s base.

After a “Flag Hang” (a score), a two-minute time-out for a strategic team huddle is given before the action resumes.

The Expo was the first contact to the paintball sport for many of the visitors.

Some of them tested the equipment on two set up courses, others jumped in just for fun, hoping to mark someone.

“My son has never played, and he has been begging me for a year or more now, so I thought the Expo would be the perfect place for him to get a feeling for the sport before he jumped head first into something he wasn’t going to like,” said Joshua Brown, father of 8-year-old Tyler.

“They shot at me, and I shot back,” Tyler said. “It was cool.” “Once you play,” Foote said, “You’re hooked for life.”

Journalism operations manager at the University of La Verne. Production manager and business manager of the Campus Times.

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