(PCM) Can you imagine as many as 4,000 players in any one organized game? That’s what happened in 2014 in the sport of paintball. If you are searching the Internet for largest paintball game, some will boast as many as 6,000. The question is do you count players as the enter each game during an event or do you count the total number registered to play for the event? If you go with the later, then Skirmish located in Jim Thorpe Pennsylvania has set the record with total number registered and playing over a three day event.
Paintball is a sport where you shoot (mark) opponents with paint to remove them from the game. Skirmish gathers one of the largest groups of paintball players for an annual event called the Invasion of Normandy, or better known as ION. The initial battle (recreating the landing on the beaches of Normandy) and final battles generally create the largest groups in battle in a confined space.
Each year the total number grows and in 2014, it broke its previous record in 2013 by 100 raising the new record to 3,800 players including pro players like Greg Hastings and paintball instructor DangerMan. In paintball, two or more teams attack each other to either complete an objective, eliminate each other from the game or both. Larger fields of play mean even larger groups of players can participate. Few locations around the world enable large groups to play with most fields topping out at 100 acres. You can generally build up to 8 fields on 100 acres. Skirmish in Jim Thorpe PA, has 700 acres and 50 separate fields. With hundreds of players in every direction it takes well over 50 referees to cover the field.
Owner Paul Fogal remarked that a record number of 32 vendors also attended. When asked for what improved over previous years Paul said, “Having off field command posts was really appreciated”. In laymen’s terms, this means the general’s command post was located at each teams insertion point, allowing a player to get direct instructions each time they re-entered the game instead of entering the field and then walking to find the general for recon and instructions.
For ION, Skirmish combines fields to make a larger playable field to host groups in the thousands and even include the use of tanks. When a game grows to this size with the use of tanks it is labeled a ‘scenario’ game. Scenarios are often produced events to are not ‘re-enactments’ but rather use an event as a theme.
A scenario can use a historic event or use fictional events such as ones in movies or books like Star Wars or even the Hunger Games. In its 12th year, ION has broken its record of participants every year. It originally started as D-Day but another event (Oklahoma) shared that name and to eliminate any confusion the event changed in 2006 to ION.
Around the world many large scale paintball games take place. Oklahoma D-Day takes place over a full week and also uses the Normandy theme drawing thousands of players annually. ION in Skirmish is a three day, weekend event drawing players from not only the eastern seaboard of the U.S. but from around the world.