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Louis Paintball World Tour
Friday August 18, 2023

Louis Paintball World Tour – TRAVEL THE WORLD

A few months ago, Louis Schumacher wrote to our editors and told us his story. He has been a passionate paintballer and world traveler for years. Wherever he stops in the world he takes his paintball gear with him. In doing so, Louis not only gets to know many new countries, but also the local players and the small but subtle differences from country to country. Everyone plays the same sport, but depending on where you stand with the people on the paintball field, the players have a different perspective on the sport. The result is an interesting travel report that we would like to present to you in a new short series in this and the next issues. Let's start today with Australia. Louis was there for around half a year and brought back a lot of impressions, which he will now tell us about.


My name is Louis Schumacher and I have been playing paintball in tournament format at various levels for eight years now and have been trying to fit at least one day of paintball into all my trips since 2017. This project has taken me to different countries in the world to play paintball with local players under different political, religious, legal and climatic conditions. My primary concern is to strengthen international exchange, create interfaces and promote paintball as a whole. Here as well, this sport brings people with different personalities together everywhere. Australia was my first big trip with this plan and that's exactly what I want to tell you about in this issue.

It was January 1st, 2017 when I stood at Frankfurt Airport and said goodbye to my wife for the next six months. A year earlier my team and I had won the state league in Eislingen and I was more motivated than ever to get better at paintball. Of course I was excited too. But I had carefully prepared my plan for this, after all I had to take care of a visa and prove that I didn't just want to enter the country and then live at the expense of the state. Originally I had planned to go to the USA or Canada – to the "real" professionals. But that turned out to be not so easy, especially in relation to work permits, which require special visas for the USA and Canada, which are difficult to obtain. In contrast, with the Working Holiday Visa, Australia offers the opportunity to regulate the work aspect in a relatively uncomplicated manner. But what about paintball there? After doing some research, I found that Australia also offered what was then the biggest paintball live stream, the Super 7's League. Even pros like Marcello Margot and Ryan Greenspan made occasional appearances on the pitch and the NXL was also represented with an event. That sounded promising! I was determined to start my paintball adventure in Australia.

But how do you come up with such a plan? Well, I had completed my training in the middle of the year and it was clear to me that I wanted to fulfill one more dream before people in Germany became too attached to one place: living abroad for once, with all the trimmings. I wanted to broaden my horizons and have new experiences, and it would also have the nice side effect of brushing up on my English, which is becoming increasingly important these days. So I worked another 4 months in my training company to create the financial requirements for visa, flight and first accommodation in Sydney. Inexperienced as I was, I naturally booked through a travel agency, today I would do it directly with the airline. With Etihad, it should go from Frankfurt to Sydney in just under 22 hours pure flight time. Of course, not everything went smoothly. My flight was severely delayed while still at the airfield due to a long line at the de-icing facility, causing me to miss my connecting flight to Sydney. This led to an unexpected stay and visa stamps in Abu Dhabi. Luckily the next A380 left the next day and after a total of two days I finally reached Australian soil. With the Oyster card we went from the airport to the city. I got off at Kings Cross and walked the remaining yards to Potts Point, where I had my accommodation for the first two weeks. I had lost my sense of time somewhere over the Indian Ocean, so I fell into my bed completely exhausted from the trip. I had booked a quad room in a hostel, which sadly no longer exists, but the location was excellent – right in the middle of the city and less than half an hour's walk to the Opera House.

In the first few days, urgent things had to be done. I needed an Australian bank account so I could pay cheaply in Australian dollars and of course a SIM card. In the meantime, of course, the city was excellent to explore. To the south is beautiful Centennial Park and Moore Park, home to Sydney's Cricket Ground and the Aussie Stadium for local rugby league. To the west you will find the impressive St. Mary's Cathedral, the City Hall and the large shopping arcade in the Queen Victoria Building. In the north-west were the areas of Sydney/The Rocks, Dawes Point and Millers Point, which were particularly beautiful in the evening. Across the impressive Harbor Bridge was Luna Park, which was incredibly lit at night, and Kirribilli Point, which offered the best waterfront view of the Opera House. Those wanting to get even closer can take a ferry to Watson Bay, which is also very pretty and has a great walk to Hornby Lighthouse. To the east of the city is the famous Bondi Beach, which also makes for a great walk across several beaches along the coast. One thing is for sure, no matter which side you look at the city from, Sydney has the most beautiful and impressive skyline you have ever seen.

It was only after some time that I realized that I will probably stay for a while and if I want to live here properly, I also need a decent place to live and a job. So my next steps were to look for a place to live and a job. A lot goes through Gumtree in Australia, where you can find jobs and headhunters as well as apartments and shared flats. I really wanted to avoid having to buy a car. Left-hand traffic has never been a problem for me, but I wanted to avoid the hassle of buying, selling and registering a car with a foreign driver's license. The apartment should therefore be at least reasonably close to the paintball field. With a bit of luck I found an apartment nearby. 36 Darlington Street in Stanhope Garden, a classic Australian suburb with a community pool and shopping nearby. Shortly thereafter I found a job through a headhunter who even drove me to the medical check and the job interview. Unusual. So I was hired by SMC Pneumatics as a Break Press Operator to program and set up CNC bending machines to bend complex sheet metal parts. The whole thing first in the late shift, which suited me very well, since it was typically much cooler in the morning than in the afternoon. At that time, the fire brigade often drove through the city to prevent the streets from melting in the sun with water. So I was able to do something in the morning without dying in the shade under a relaxed 45 degrees.

The first weekend in the new apartment and it's finally off to paintball. I had previously contacted the nearby paintball field owner, Michael Whybrew, to put players and teams in touch. In Australia, in addition to the winter break, there is also a summer break due to the temperature. So the field was still pretty empty, and only after a few weeks did the training on the weekends fill up. The first event on my calendar was the Super 7s, which I wanted to find a team for. Of course, no one expected an unknown German player. It was only after a few trial sessions that the guys from Sydney 187 accepted me into the team. We are still in contact to this day and also regularly exchange ideas about paintball. Even the team captain took the opportunity to visit me with his family on a trip to Europe and play a round of paintball.

So I was given an old Planet Eclipse Ego as a marker and we started training every Saturday and Sunday in preparation for the first Super 7s event of the year. The training takes place on a hard turf field that has dried out in the sun at 15 bps at a cool 35 degrees in the morning. Teams that are there for training are allowed to set up their own fields. Of course, this also includes inflating the individual covers. Care should be taken, however, when lifting the protective flaps located over the opening where you will ultimately blow air. Special species of spiders find such a hell excellent for sleeping. As a European, however, you definitely have to get used to it before you get back to your usual playing level. Training is taken seriously here. You only have a limited amount of time before it gets too hot on the field and then you have to wait until midday until it's cool enough later on to get back on the field.

After a few weeks the time had finally come – the first Super 7s event of the year. As a team, we rented a nearby motel to spend a great weekend together. The event is like a classic NXL weekend with Sundays Club. Three fields with three divisions: amateur, semipro and pro division. In the latter, you'll find the American pros, who are paid fairly generously by the local teams to play an event with their respective teams. Since my team had at most me as a foreign player, we were allowed to play against the guys from Dynasty, Ryan Greenspann and Marcello Margott without professional support. On the other hand, the Australians gladly accept the offers of professionals from America in the form of ProSchools or Clinics. So there are always such lessons before or after the events and the level is correspondingly high in the upper leagues. Of course we didn't make it to the Sundays Club, but we had a lot of fun winning a typical Australian meat platter playing bingo in the evening.

Before my wife came to Australia for a month to travel the east coast together, there was another event that I hadn't planned from the beginning, the NXL-Australia in Melbourne. From Sydney it takes just under 9 hours by car to drive past the Australian capital of Canberra to the smallest state on the mainland, Victoria. Melbourne is quite a green city as it is practically in the middle of the jungle. Accordingly, one has to struggle with the very humid climate on the paintball field. Unlike the Super 7s, the NXL here is much smaller and more local. There are no American professionals and in general it's more about being together and having fun with paintball. Technically, it completely follows the American NXL and dispenses with the 15 bps usual in the Super 7s.

The last month has finally been the culmination of my temporary move to Sydney. I'll be brief and just want to arouse your curiosity. When my wife finally arrived in Australia, we flew from Sydney to Brisbane and rented a camper van there for a month. From there we drove back south towards Byron Bay, which is famous for its beaches and great diving and surfing spots. Apart from the endlessly long beaches, the city of Surfers Paradise is also located in this region, a city with high-rise buildings right by the sea – simply impressive. Above Brisbane lies Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world. In general, you have to get used to superlatives here. On the Whitsunday Islands, for example, you will find White Haven Beach, the whitest sandy beach in the world, but which can only be reached by boat. Here we left the camper for three days and rented an old racing yacht that sailed us around the islands for three days. We were also able to take a look at the Great Barrier Reef, which unfortunately doesn't look as nice anymore, at least where we were. If you want to see koalas, head north on Magnetic Island. A ferry takes you to the island, which has some WWII fortifications. Here the koalas live completely free and in large numbers. Tourists like to mark the cute little creatures on the ground with arrows made from sticks, as they don't particularly like to move or move quickly. Kangaroos can be found everywhere in Australia, if you want to see them up close and pet them, a visit to a sanctuary is a great way to do so. The oldest rainforest in the world can be found in the Daintree National Park directly above Cairns, from where we finally had to start our journey home.

The peculiarities of Australian paintball

The largest paintball league in Australia is the Super 7's League, hosted by Action Paintball Games. The league usually consists of four events sponsored by well-known manufacturers such as Planet Eclipse or HK-Army. In general, paintball is treated much more professionally there by German standards and more money is invested. American professional players like Ryan Greenspan, Marcello Margot or Ronnie Dizon are signed by teams for sometimes several thousand Australian dollars for a single event. The referees are also fairly compensated and the live stream that can be found on YouTube is one of the best outside of GoSports. The level of play in Australia is correspondingly high. The professionals often offer so-called clinics before or after such events, where you can benefit from their know-how for a fee.

However, the actual paintball game is very similar. The game is played here according to classic NXL regulations and similar layouts. The biggest difference here is definitely the number of shots per second (BPS). In the professional division it is shot at 15 BPS, while in the semi-pro division it is 12.5 BPS and all with unlimited paint. Aside from tournament paintball, there are numerous other paintball opportunities in Australia. Many paintball facilities offer different playing fields, ranging from forests and hills to urban scenarios. Players have the opportunity to try different game modes such as capture the flag, team deathmatch or scenario games based on real wars or action movies. A good example here is the Total War event, which virtually reenacts DDay and extends over the entire system of Action Paintball Games. Overflying helicopters and planes are simulated with loudspeakers and pyrotechnics, and tanks and bunkers standing around complete the battlefield appearance.

The paintball community in Australia is very passionate and there are a variety of players of all skill levels who meet on the paintball field very regularly without even flying a ball. The tournament teams are actually on the field and training every weekend. As we have our winter break, the Australians have their summer break. At 45 degrees in the shade, nobody wants to stand on a field. Due to the heat, there isn't much going on during normal training sessions, even at midday. Practically only in the morning and afternoon is played.

The laws have gotten a lot better since I was there. Paintball markers used to be considered weapons and you would need a gun license and a safe if you wanted to own a marker. At least in New South Wales, the devices now fall under the so-called recreational sporting devices and are now freely available.

How to play paintball abroad?

If you are on vacation or traveling and want to play paintball, there are different ways to find teams or pitches. This is especially easy in countries that also have a national team in the NXL (National Xball League). In this case, you can simply research online which players are active for the country and contact them via Facebook. In most cases, paintball players are very helpful and happy to share information.

If the country you want to visit does not have a national team in the NXL, the search will be a little more difficult, but by no means impossible. In general, the international paintball community is well organized through Facebook. You can find out a lot here using the search function. Paintball is not that big in Asian countries, so the capital is often a good starting point for the search. Even if you don't plan to travel there, this can be the first step in getting in touch with a player who can help you further.

Another option is to search for paintball fields in your travel destination on Google Maps. If you can find a pitch that has subair bunkers in the photos or a pitch that is visible on the satellite image, chances are there are teams there as well. In this case, you can simply contact the pitch operator and ask about typical training days and contact with teams. However, one should understand that paintball is not as big everywhere as in Germany, America or Australia. Anyone who is used to playing fields in Germany will be surprised at how simple playing fields in other countries can look.

Which gear do I take with me?

In principle, you should not take your marker with you. There are several reasons for this: First, most paintball players have more than one setup at home that you may be able to borrow. Second, and more importantly, you avoid problems with the police or customs. Depending on the country, such a gun is a godsend for corrupt police officers. Furthermore, you do not need to deal unnecessarily with laws in a possibly unfamiliar language. Personally, I always take at least my knee pads, paintball pants, a headband and mask with me when I travel abroad. This way I at least have the basic equipment with me to be able to play. In most cases you play on grass surfaces abroad and not on artificial turf (also known as Astro Turf), as is often the case in Germany, so you land a little softer on dives and slides. Within the EU it is already easier to travel with a cannon. Just make sure that no paint is taken with you, the bottle is depressurized and the regulator is unscrewed. In some cases, however, airlines still have specifications regarding the transport of such sports equipment, which must still be observed and please check the laws in this regard again before departure.

I hope you liked the first part of my story and I could motivate you to go on a paintball trip. It doesn't have to be as long as mine, just start small. The most important thing is that you have fun doing it. If you have any questions or need help planning such a trip, feel free to contact me on Facebook. Hopefully I can help you and I would be happy to put you in touch with teams in other countries. The next issue will continue with my trip to South Africa.

So much for the first part of our paintball world trip with Louis. In the next issue we will report on another stop on his trip and will also have further information, tips and tricks for a successful paintball stay abroad for you. Until then…

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