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August 20, 2008 > Painting is fun after all

Painting is fun after all

By Idorenyin Uto-Uko and Giovanni Albanese Jr.

Although paintball is a popular activity now, it took years to develop. During the 1970s, the paintball "bullet" was created by the Nelson Paint Company in Kingsford, Mich. Its initial purpose was for foresters to mark trees and cattlemen to mark cows. It wasn't until June 27, 1981when the Nelspot 007 pistol - a paintball gun manufactured by the Nelson Paint Company - was used in head-to-head combat.

Paintball has since evolved into a mainstream game. As its popularity grows, more manufacturers of paintballs, weapons and equipment have appeared. The Nelspot 007 lost its popularity as semi-automatic weapons were produced.

That first paintball contest played was a 12-man team battle of capture the flag, in which two teams tried to retrieve the other team flag and return it to their base. Now choices vary from capture the flag; elimination, where teams are to eliminate all opposing players; and "King of the Hill," where teams attempt to capture and hold an opposing base for the longest net time.

Amateur tournaments began forming as early as 1983 with the "National Survival Game" (NSG) Tournament. The first international tournament of amateurs was held in 1990, sponsored by California Magnum Paintballs, called The International Amateur Open. And in 1992, the first professional paintball league was formed: the National Professional Paintball League.

According to the Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association, over 10 million people play paintball annually in the United States; paintball's popularity continues to rise.

Close to the greater Tri-City area, the Sunol Outdoor Paintball Park is close by and active on weekends. It contains 10 acres of land and three courses for paintball combat. "There are two things that make us the best," said the field manager of Sunol Outdoor Paintball Park, Rolando Zazala, "our open natural field and our knowledgeable staff."

Open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Sunol Outdoor Paintball Park offers two affordable all-day rates: one for rental-package players, and another for self-equipped players. On weekdays the park is open, from 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m., for pre-scheduled private parties of at least 15 only. Players must be at least 10 years old to participate.

There are a variety of games hosted at Sunol Outdoor Paintball Park including capture the flag, team elimination, flag rally and many more. Since the park opened in 2000, Zazala feels much progress has been made. "We have grown a lot. Many local paintball leagues have their games here," he said. "We do not have a league of our own yet, but we are looking to create one."

For more information on the Sunol Outdoor Paintball Park, call 510-996-7171 or log onto their Web site at

Sunol Outdoor Paint ball Park
7900 Vallecitos Rd
Sunol, CA 94586
(510) 996-7171

There are over twenty paint ball facilities in Northern California. For paintball fans, here are a few in the East Bay area worth a visit. Field size and admission prices vary for each of these locations so call in advance for complete information.

Thizz Paintball
7000 Village Parkway # J-1
Dublin, CA 94368
(925) 556-0188

Devil Mountain Sports
4966 Pacheco Rd
Martinez, CA 94553
(925) 957-9160

Operation Paint ball field
1932 W.Winton Ave Bdlg # 3
Hayward, CA 94545
(510) 783-2011
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