Sports | October 31, 2017 12:45 pm

How to Survive the Zombie Paintball Apocalypse

The end is nigh.

A viral outbreak has spread across the land, leaving a trail of zombies wandering the streets. Your mission is to survive… but how? Paintballing! What else?

Zombie paintballing is the newest take on paintballing. It can be played at any time of year, but its gruesome, ghoulish nature makes it the perfect Hallowe’en activity. Every venue and zombie paintball event will have its own story, but here is our guide to the sport. We’re even including are a few tips on how to play – and how to survive.

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The history of zombie paintball

Paintballing is a much younger sport than you might think. Its history only goes back as far as the 1980s, when it was first played in New Hampshire using a simple marker developed just a few years previously. Originally, the idea was based around survival.

Since then, its popularity has grown rapidly. The simultaneous rise in the popularity of video games has probably had a hand in the growth of paintballing, as often gameplay can give the impression of being in live-action, first-person shooter video game.

With paintballing itself being such a new phenomenon, special interest variations have an even shorter history.

It has only been within the last decade that zombie paintballing has developed into an activity of its own. State fairs began by introducing zombie shooting booths and ranges to take advantage of people’s seasonal interests. Encouraged by the fact that these games were popular all year round, not just at Hallowe’en, in the last few years fields have jumped on the bandwagon by arranging full zombie paintballing sessions.

What to expect on the day

If your paintballing venue runs regular zombie paintball evenings, the price is unlikely to be higher than a traditional paintball session. However, if it is a one-off Hallowe’en special, you could encounter a slightly higher set of prices than usual.

Prices vary, but you might be surprised to discover that a night of zombie paintballing often works out cheaper than many other forms of entertainment. Many venues have different packages or options to choose from, usually ranging from somewhere in the region of $30 to $50 per person.

Typically, the price you pay includes all the protective gear that you’ll need, your paintballing gun, a good supply of paintballs and a truckload of excitement. Food, drinks and extra paintballs can be bought at an extra cost.

You can usually get a good deal if you book with a group of friends – the larger the better – so if you have enough people, consider booking out the whole venue for your own personal night of terrifying entertainment.

How to play

At a simple level, zombie paintball is very similar to traditional paintball in that it is formed of the same basic principles. However, there are a few elements of the zombie variation which you should be aware of if you want to win.

In a nutshell, you need to run, hide and use your surroundings to kill the zombies and get the supplies.

You can pretty much guarantee that the zombies will be fighting back, either by chasing you or by using paintball guns of their own. There may be some non-moving obstacles or targets to aim for, but most of these zombies won’t be sitting around. This combination of moving and still targets is a challenge which will push you to your paintballing limits. Remember that these are the ‘undead,’ so light, glancing blows won’t do. As long as your venue allows it, you’ll need to go for a headshot to ensure a win.

If your zombies are the paintballing types, then you must take care not to run away in a straight line. Regardless of how fast you run, this will make you an easier target to hit. Zig-zag, change direction unexpectedly, dart in and out of natural hiding spots… and never underestimate the speed at which a zombie can move.

Your paintballing venue will probably have specific night time or zombie-friendly match times available, so choose one of those if you can. Even if it isn’t immediately available, ask your venue if they can put on a nighttime zombie match: many do at this time of year, especially if you’re booking as part of a large group.

Remember that to achieve true success when combatting against the zombies; you need to ensure survival. There may be extra kit and supplies hidden around the gameplay area, so find it quickly and use it to your advantage. You may even be lucky enough to find some extra paintballs, which could mean the difference between winning and losing.

What the experts think

The invasion of zombies into a popular culture doesn’t look like it will be slowing down anytime soon. From the perennial release of new blockbuster horror films to the unwavering popularity of The Walking Dead, zombies look set to stay.

“Everybody seems to be talking about what they’d do if there was a zombie apocalypse these days,”says Jen Yarnell, owner of interactive zombie experience Company Z.

Whether you’re a prepper who believes in planning for the worst case scenario or whether you’re just after a bit of edge-of-your-seat escapism, zombie paintballing is the best – and only – way to test out your zombie survival skills.

It is rare for an activity or a hobby to explode in popularity so quickly, just like paintballing has done. It is now the third most popular alternative sport in America – and as it continues to rise, so zombie paintball will soon spread to a field near you.

Adam Eyal is a writer at sports website