Lock and load at Splatzone! Paintball — Cambridge, Ontario

Keen to try paintballing but worried it hurts too much? Splatzone! Paintball's low-impact games in Cambridge, Ontario offer all the action — with half the welts.
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Time to make a 12-year-old cry, I thought, switching off my gun’s safety. Crouched behind an inflatable bunker, I was glad my friend Chad and I decided to crash these kids’ birthday party instead of joining up with the adult paintball league we had been watching earlier.

Seeing the camo-clad grownups execute complex manoeuvres as they peppered each other with high velocity paintballs made me a bit weak in the knees. Somehow the option of a “low-impact” game with combatants one-third my age seemed like the better choice. Besides, I thought as the referee counted down to the start of our Death Match, this was my chance to teach these kids a thing or two.

Yeah, not so much.

I lasted a grand total of four seconds before being shot in the head. The first player eliminated, I hung my paint-splattered bald head in shame and left the field with 99 of the original 100 paintballs still in my gun’s hopper.

Chad outlasted me by a long shot, helping his team secure a win over mine.

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Although embarrassed by my short-lived performance on the battlefield, I felt confident that I had made the right choice with the low-impact option. Sure, the shot to the head stung, but not nearly as much as it would have if we were playing regular impact paintball.

Both styles of play use the same type of guns, which fire the paintballs with the same speed and accuracy. The difference, the helpful Splatzone! staff explained, is that low-impact paintballs are one-third the size of their conventional counterparts and break easier on impact.

Low-impact paintball on the left

Low-impact paintball on the left

After cleaning myself off, I re-entered the indoor arena for the next match. This time, I promised myself, I wasn’t leaving until I emptied my hopper.

Thankfully, we were playing “Medic” — a game that definitely favoured my ego-driven bloodlust. As before, the first team to kill everyone on the other side wins. However, one player on each team acts as a medic, with the ability to revive any of their fallen comrades by touching them.

Our medic had her work cut out for her. Emboldened by the promise of resurrection, I threw caution to the wind and tapped into my inner Rambo and Scarface. Chad and his goons lit me up a dozen times over the course of the game, but fortunately our medic was close at hand to tag me back to life. By the time the referee announced the end of the game, I had exhausted my supply of paintballs and satisfied my thirst for vengeance.

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Being schooled by pre-teens aside, my first indoor paintball experience was an absolute blast. For an activity that's all about shooting each other, the atmosphere was remarkably congenial and the staff took care to ensure everyone was having a good time. Each action-packed session was long enough to get the adrenaline going, but quick enough to not be annoying if you got eliminated early (like my first outing). Meanwhile, the variety of games — Death Match, Medic, Capture the Flag, etc. — kept things fresh and fun.

Finally, the low impact paintball gameplay makes Splatzone! a great option for younger groups and first-timers. Of course, if regular impact paintball is more your speed, there’s plenty of that as well. In fact, I'm planning to make another trip to Cambridge when the weather warms up for some regular impact games on the company’s large outdoor fields.

Fingers crossed I’ll last longer than four seconds this time.

Check out the Splatzone! Paintball website for more information, including prices and reservation details. Or visit them in person at 261 Hespeler Road, Cambridge, Ontario, Canada.

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A big thank you to the staff at Splatzone! Paintball for hosting me. All opinions, as always, are my own.
Josh Martin
Josh Martin is the founder and chief blogger at Badge of Awesome. He lives in southwestern Ontario, Canada and is the author of "Misadventure Musings: Lessons learned from life's awesome and absurd moments" and "Going on a Bear Hunt: Five things cancer taught me about overcoming obstacles."

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