Juneau's paintball community is responsible

Posted: Monday, November 10, 2003

After reading Mr. Curtis's letter, I sat back in wondering what brought on such an outburst. Then I wondered what exactly was he trying to say other than to personally slander Mr. Madsen and to offend many other citizens of Juneau?

As a member of Juneau's rapidly growing paintball community and as an owner of a local paintball shop, I for one was very offended by Mr. Curtis's comments. Juneau's paintball community with very few exceptions is a responsible and extremely safety minded group of players. The local group ranges from young kids to adults and includes firefighters, police officers, corrections officers, national guardsmen, insurance agents, youth counselors and several church groups. Safety rules such as mandatory goggles required when on or around the playing field, barrel plugs and safe shooting speeds, are strictly enforced.

Because of the terrain and limited places to play in Juneau, we are generally forced to play "woods-ball." This is more of a scenario-based, hide-in-the-woods type of play than the more mainstream "speedball," which is capture the flag played on open athletic fields using air-filled bunkers for cover. We are not however, a bunch of paramilitary commandos, as Mr. Curtis suggests, and I don't recall ever listening to heavy metal while playing paintball. The one thing Mr. Curtis did get right is that it would be very nice to have a city-owned paintball park.

Paintball is one of the few sports I can think of that allows a 10-year-old to compete evenly with an adult. I, for one, have been shot many times by kids less than half my age. Parents are able to play with or against their kids and be outdoors getting exercise while spending quality time together.

According to American Sports Data Inc., in 2001 paintball moved ahead of snowboarding as the fourth largest alternative sport in the United States and it continues to grow (6.9 million players in 2002).

In response to Mr. Curtis, if you want to complain about war, heavy metal music, empty buildings and local hiring practices, by all means go ahead, but leave my sport out of it.

Dave Mitchell


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