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Paintball popular extreme sport
Alex Quiroz, of Turlock, uses a wall as cover during a paintball game. - photo by Photo Contributed

209 INFO

• WHAT: Modesto Extreme Paintball
• WHERE: 3600 Sisk Road, in Modesto
• MORE INFO: Call 545-7730.

Paintball has made its mark as the third most popular extreme sport behind in-line skating and skateboarding since 2009 because it offers a safe adrenaline rush for all ages in any terrain.

“Paintball is listed as the safest extreme sport you can get into,” said manager of Modesto’s Extreme Paintball and ex-professional athlete Eddie Tomao.

Though the sport is a recent phenomenon, it has gained global attention and has been played recreationally and competitively since the first game was held in 1981. The goal: hit the opposing team with a paintball via an air gun before they can hit you. The field terrain can consist of dense forests or arenas featuring inflatable bunkers or various shielding objects.

The sport has recently started being used as a combat training technique for the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Tomao has played paintball since 2001 and relishes getting down and dirty on and off the job. He and other members of the knowledgeable staff are eager to please and host a perfect safety record, not counting the occasional welts.

 “It hurts the most when it’s on my thighs, but it really isn’t that bad. It is super safe,” said Tomao. “We’ve had no incidents.”

Tomao also stated that they split the groups of players up into two different levels, beginner and advanced, as a safety precaution.

“If you are a beginner, you are not playing with people who have their own equipment. We won’t let you go out there with people who have a $1,000 gun and you are renting a $90 gun. There are classes, and we always have people regulating the players. We want to make sure everyone is having a good time,” Tomao said.

A new gun has also just arrived this year for young kids from 8 to 12 years of age called the Splat Master. The new product shoots softer than the traditional gun and issues smaller paintballs.

Paintball attire usually consists of sweatshirts, long sleeves, and pants that are durable in dirt and mud. Goggles must also be worn at all times to prevent puncturing of the eyes.

The park stays open year round on Saturdays and Sundays. Modesto Extreme Paintball staff members said that they tend to see more people during the winter months when the mud is fresh and the rain is falling to add more intensity to the sport.

“It is pretty even throughout the whole year. There are some people who don’t like the heat and some people who don’t like the rain. It is always a personal preference. I see more people in the rain because they do like the mud,” said Tomao.

Since the invention of the sport, paintball has grown into a multi-million dollar industry. The guns alone can cost anywhere from $90 to $1,500. However, the market keeps growing. Since 2010, the number of players has grown to over 15 million people every year in the United States. Perhaps there is a future in attaining welts.

Modesto Extreme Paintball is located at 3600 Sisk Rd., in Modesto. For more information, call 545-7730.

— BROOKE BORBA / 209 staff reporter