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Here’s the scenario: You have been with this “significant other” for some amount of time, they have been introduced to the idea that you are a paintball player, and you have it set in your mind that you want to take them with you so that they can participate in the wonderful world of all things paint.

From here, there are two things that could happen:
1. You can read the rest of this guide which will help you introduce them into the paintball lifestyle with relative ease and make everything from Ryan Greenspan to the new EGO a regular topic at the dinner table.

2. You could screw up paintball for them which could mean really terrible things for your relationship (ever been threatened to be dumped, guys?).

This is going to sound just like something out of a Cosmo magazine, but it’s totally true. What you need to realize is that your significant other is not there because they have a love of paintball, but because they have a general inkling for you. It is your job to make sure that they have fun from the moment you wake them up at 7am to the second they lie down, smarting at a welt.

First, you have to get out of the mentality that you are going for practice or that you are going to hang out with the local crew. This is a day of play devoted to your partner and they want to feel that you have planned it out, not unlike any other date. One of the easiest ways to do this is to lend them your gear for the day. However, don’t be a douche-bag and give them your second hand spare stuff; let them use your top of the line equipment. Excuse me, let them use your top of the line clean equipment. Not many new players want to smell like three year old mud from the last event your old team went too – just clean your gear. If you have the disposable income, consider buying them their own gear! Oh, and by gear, we are talking about the essentials: a good mask, paintball pants, and any other protective gear you think is appropriate. Solid gear will do wonders for a new player in terms of confidence, and it will allow them to focus on the fun and not the crappy rental gear.

Derpina showing off her new swag

Another way you can make your significant other feel more welcome to the paintball world is to pick the flavor of paintball that will best suit them. By this I mean primarily woods, airball, and any variations in between. This is a rather personal decision that you need to make that could make or break the day for you and your partner. In my personal experience, traditional woodsball was an awful introduction for my girlfriend. She did not enjoy the “randomness” or mil-sim aspect of the game and by the second attack and defend game, she was begging me to take her to an airball field. On the flip side, I have seen new players hate airball because it was too intense and the speed of the game intimidated them. However, after talking to several field and store owners in my area, the general consensus determined that airball is a good introduction for most female players.  It is a less army and more recreational day with their partner. However, this is a totally personal decision and you know your significant other much better than we do. The point is – you need to tailor the game to their likes. If you are a hardcore tournament player but think your partner will enjoy woods more, take them there! Likewise, if you are into mil-sim play but know that your significant other has an aversion to guns and all things camo, perhaps the local airball field will be a better choice for them. I recommend finding a field that can suit both styles of play so that you can maximize fun and give your friend choices of what to play.

So, you have cleaned your gear,  picked the perfect field, and have everything ready to go; that’s about it right? Wrong. I am a strong believer that teaching new players some of the basic fundamentals of paintball (snap shooting, how to hold the marker, how to play capture the flag, etc.) sets them up for a much more enjoyable experience. Also, videos – specifically Social Paintball videos– are your friend. Before I took Derpina to play for the first time, I showed her videos of what a day of recball could look like. Before this, she was very intimidated because all she had seen of paintball was tournament practices and events; something she wants (well, wanted) no part in.

Now you are almost ready to head to a field. You should treat this day of play as if it was the World Cup finals. Do a double check of all of your gear, make sure you have ample funds for both you and your partner for breakfast, gas, paintball, lunch – maybe even bring some orange slices for a midday snack – and any other expenses that may arise. The more organized and together you seem, the better. Your partner may be a little nervous about their first outing and you taking the time and care to be organized will be a calming point for them.

So, what about when you get to the field? The most important thing: Do not leave their side. Most likely you will know at least the field owner – introduce them to your significant other; do not start talking paintball with them immediately. You want your partner to feel “in the loop” with what is going on and if they are not familiar with what team Herp Derp is doing on a regular basis, leave that chatter for later on in the afternoon. Also, dropping the line that this is their first time to the field, the owner/manager of the field may give you a discounted rate or free upgrade package! If you are reading this, I’m sure you have gone through several hundred safety meetings before and could recite the rule book at your local field: listen to this one as if your life depended on it and be open to any questions that may arise from your partner. When answering those questions, remember that your partner may not know the paintball vernacular – you need to answer in the simplest way possible. The same mantra is true even while you are playing: Do not leave their side. The last time Derpina and I played, we ended up sharing a bunker a few times, and she loved it! I was able to communicate what she needed to do, and cover her back. By the second game she was ready to move from our primary bunker and she executed a great move, without hesitation, because she knew I was there. Also, allow them to call the shots for a few games. If they want to try going to the rock way up the field, follow them and make it happen! One game, Derpina wanted to try a delayed breakout citing a video she had seen – our team O.K’d and I could see the smile on her face, even through the mask, knowing that she had given the suggestion. The delayed break was not very successful, as one of our buddies did get shot out, but it was still a great moment for her.

Here’s a quick suggestion that may work for your significant other, or it may not. At the beginning of the day, do some one-on-ones against them. Derpina said that she enjoyed starting the day off like this because it got that first hit out of the way, which is often the most nerve racking experience for new players. It also allowed me to work with her on some basic gun skills that I recognized her using in actual game settings. An important note though: Let them win. I intentionally let Derpina bunker me on one occasion because it was an experience she needed before all the paint began to fly – again, anything to calm the anxiousness of your partner will allow them to enjoy paintball more, and focus on having fun with you.

Oh, and just as if you were going to go hiking, mountain biking, skiing, or any other activity: stretch them out. Stretching is essential.  We have all woken up after a long days practice not being able to walk. This is something your partner will not want to experience, especially if they have a job that requires them to be on their feet a lot. Also, at the end of the day there is nothing better than stretching out those “fun” places…you know what I’m saying.

So there you have it! A basic guide of how to take your significant other to play paintball. Follow these steps and hopefully you’ll be cleaning out paint from each others hair and poking at each others welts for years to come!

P.S. – Always end the day with a cute photo!