People are all different. Early on as children we start to develop levels of social comfort zones. Some of us are outgoing while others are not. Some kids need or want very little assurances from parents while others can barely leave their parents’ sights. As we grow up and learn that the world is not necessarily as scary as we thought it was as young children, we expand our comfort zones. We slowly learn what the world is about and what is normal and acceptable social behavior.
As teenagers we struggle with this (some more than others). The “unknown” can be both frustrating and intimidating, and maybe downright scary. Even as adults, once we’ve discovered most of the secrets of life, we are still different. Some people want to climb mountains and jump out of airplanes, while others think twice about booking a flight on a commercial airliner. We all have different levels of comfort zones.
In paintball, there are people who can’t get enough of an adrenaline rush. Skilled athletes shooting 15 balls per second at them don’t faze them. Others cringe at the thought.
I’ve mentioned before how I turned down my first two invitations to play paintball, many years ago now. This was in the days when pumps were the norm at recreational fields. Of course that didn’t mean anything to me. It was an unknown to me. I had never seen anyone play paintball in real life or even on TV. It was out of my comfort zone. It was easier for me to say “no thanks” and stay home where I was in my comfort zone than to agree to participate in something I knew very little about (I knew enough that getting hit by a paintball might hurt). Of course I have expanded my comfort zone now and although I would most likely get my butt handed to me on a platter if I were to step onto a field with high level competitive players, I wouldn’t hesitate to do so, if the situation was called for.
One of the biggest challenges a field owner faces is getting people to step out of their comfort zone and onto their paintball facility. I haven’t figured out how to do that yet. But there is a huge market out there for the paintball industry to tap into, should we figure out a way to do it effectively. But I think it needs to happen in small steps. We can’t expect someone with a very narrow comfort zone to automatically enjoy taking part in a relatively extreme activity. We would make them withdraw right back into their narrow comfort zone again if we try to do that. And yet over the years, as paintball has evolved, the experience, even at a relatively mellow recreational paintball field, has become much more extreme. It’s very difficult for a first time player to “ease into” paintball in present times.
It’s no problem for those outgoing, mountain climbing, skydiving types, but most people aren’t those people. I think many of the people involved for any length of time in paintball tend to forget that. Their comfort zone has always been big or has expanded after much participation in paintball and they don’t remember what it is like for those that aren’t at the same level of comfort zones. It would serve us well to remember that we are not all the same.