Poor Man’s Paintball

Drew Hill October 11, 2012

Lots of high school kids, especially guys, love to play paintball. Something about it creates a “male bonding” experience that lends to stories being retold around cafeteria tables. Maybe its the war wounds that look like hickeys. Maybe its just an excuse to wear camo and hide in the woods. Whatever it is, paintball seems to quickly transport both teenagers and adults back into childhood.

That’s one of the reasons paintball is such great contact work. It allows kids, many who have been robbed of their childhood, to be kids again.

The dilemma for YL leaders is that its often complicated and expensive to make a paintball game happen. That’s why some high school fellas and I created our own version, one we call “Poor Man’s Paintball.”

How To Play ‘Poor Man’s Paintball

Need: 4 tube socks/player, 2 cans paint, 2 bandanas, a wooded area to play, a whistle or air horn, clothes that can get paint on them. 

Each player brings 4 old tube socks. Ball up a sock and stuff it into another. Repeat with the other 2 socks. Now you have your 2 weapons.

The YL leader buys 2 cans of cheap paint, different colors. Open each can and place them at different ends of the field/woods where you are playing. Place one of the different colored bandanas within 25 feet of each can, in clear sight. Each team gathers by their paint can.

Teams start by each dipping their 2 weapons into their paint can. When the whistle/air horn blows, the game begins. The object is to retrieve the opposite teams flag (just like capture the flag) without getting hit with paint.

The opposing team is trying to attack each other in one of two ways. A player can hold their sock and sling it to hit the other person, risking retaliation in hand to hand combat. If a person tags another with a paint mark, that player is immediately out and cannot re-tag the player who just hit them. If hand to hand combat is too dangerous, a player can choose to throw their weapon and attempt to tag the opposing player with paint from their sock. The danger in this method is if you miss, and the opposing player then steals one of your weapons. 

If you are tagged with paint, you must return to your team’s paint can, where you can re-dip if needed. Once you tag your can, you are again eligible to continue playing. The winning team is the one who steals the opposing team’s flag (bandanna) and returns it to their paint can first.

The game works best if you designate a strict 25 foot no guard zone around the bandana, so a team cannot camp out and guard their bandana. An additional rule is that if I player is tagged and needs to return to their paint can, they are unable to re-tag an opposing player for 60 seconds.

Let the socks fly.

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