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Sunnyside approves proposal to construct paintball arena in city

Sun Advocate reporter

Proper equipment is essential to personal safety when it comes to the game of paintball. A local group of painitball enthusiasts recently received permission to covert an old facility into a paintball arena in Sunnyside City.

Sunnyside councilmembers approved the use of the city's basketball and tennis courts for construction of a paintball arena.

Tomas Hernandez approached the Sunnyside City Council on Oct. 3 with a plan for modifying the fenced area for use by a local group of paintballers.

"There needs to be more here in our community for the youth, the BMX track is closed, they have lost a lot and this is something both kids and adults can enjoy," said Hernandez.

The local group plans to enclose the fenced area with black mesh tarp and set up a playing field comprised of 55 gallon drums and inflatable bunker structures.

Hernandez assured the city officials that no structure would be anchored to the facility and the entire arena could be taken down readily upon the council's request.

For the project to work, the adults at the facility and in the community need to educate the youth about the safety regulations inherent with any sport where projectiles are fired, pointed out Councilmember Sam Leonard.

Hernandez ensured the council that his whole group is focused on putting safety first.

Paintball draws a wide variety of players. In fact, the Sporting Goods Manufacturer's Association estimates that approximately 10 million people play annually in the United States.

Insurance statistics show that paintball is one of the safest sports in existence, safer even than golf.

Paintball, also commonly referred to as paintballing, is a sport in which participants use compressed air guns called markers to shoot paintballs at other players.

The paintballs are marble sized gelatin capsules filled with propylene glycol paint.

Hernandez reported to the council that all paint to be used in the arena is water soluble and biodegradable.

The sport is, in essence, a complex form of tag. As player are struck by a paintball they are eliminated from the game.

Rules for playing paintball vary, with most of the guidelines designed to ensure that participants enjoy the sports in the safe environment.

Additionally, the sport usually requires a significant amount of equipment to ensure the safety of participants.

"We will implement strict rules and regulations in order to keep the player and area safe," said Hernandez.

The following rules have been drafted for the arena in Sunnyside.

•All players will wear a safety mask with goggles approved for paintball use.

No motorcycle helmets will be allowed.

Other safety gear is recommended, but not required.

•Markers will only be discharged in the arena, with no exceptions.

Violators will be asked to leave the arena and the names will be passed on to the authorities otherwise.

•When players are not in the arena, participants must place a barrel plug or barrel sleeve on markers.

•Players who are younger than 16 years of age will be required to submit a permission slip signed by parents or guardians before the youth will be allowed to participate in activities at the arena.

•There will be a 20 foot rule in effect in the paintball arena at all times.

Players will not be allowed to fire at opponents who are closer than 20 feet.

•Players who get shot should put both hands in the air and call "out" loudly enough for all participants to hear.

The tagged players should exit the arena quickly and as safely as possible.

According to Hernandez the local group in Sunnyside and East Carbon play paintball with from four to 10 participants ranging from 7 to 37 years of age.

Upon approving the site, Leonard pointed out that Sunnyside would need to amend the city's fire air ordinance so that the paintball arena would by in compliance with the law.

As currently written, the ordinance forbids the firing of any projectile with the city limits.

Hernandez plans to begin putting up the mesh tarp on Saturday.

The group, however, cannot begin playing until the amendment to the ordinance is approved by the Sunnyside City Council.

"We would welcome anyone who is interested in coming out and having a good time," concluded Hernandez.

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