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Paintball Participation Estimates for 2005
by Dawn Mills -

The numbers are out and what they say can only make the paintball industry people smile again.  Paintball participation remains America's third most popular extreme sport behind Inline Skating and Skateboarding as it has since 2001, with 10,357,000 estimated participants in the United States.  According to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Associationís (SGMA) analysis of the Superstudy of Sports Participation for the 2005 calendar year, extreme sports remain a hot commodity to the American public. 

Each year the Sporting Goods Manufacturer's Association develops reports based on an intensive analysis of the annual Superstudy of Sports Participation.  These reports take the raw survey data from around the United States and extrapolates it to figures representing the entire population.  SGMA reports are highly regarded in the sports marketing industry and utilized by sporting goods manufacturers, buyers, sellers, and advertisers in developing their business strategies.

After a slow year in 2004 where the entire industry felt the first drop off since the SGMA began tracking the sport in 1998, paintball manufacturers and industry leaders have to be pleased with the growth.  In 2004, paintball saw its first decline of numbers with a 2.4% loss.  However, according to data released this month, the market has grown 7.9% from 2004 to 2005 - an increase of nearly 1 million players.

The other happy news for paintball is that while it's still ranked behind the skating crowd, paintball's numbers have climbed, where the other two sports have fallen.  In 2004 paintball was ranked third with 9.6 million people having played at least once during the calendar year with skateboarding taking second place at 11.6 million and inline skating at 17.3 million.  The 2005 calendar year shows paintball at 10.3 million, skateboarding at 11.3 and inline skating at 16.4 million participants - a dip of nearly a million participants for inline skating over the year.

Fourth place for the extreme sport category of the Super Study is Artificial Wall Climbing which had a nice boost in 2005 from 7.7 million to 8.8 million people giving the wall a go.  Snowboarding remains in fifth place with a slight increase from 7.1 to 7.3 million people strapping on the boards.

While 2005 paintball participation is nowhere close to the most popular participation sport in America, Bowling (53.5 million) 
the Superstudy indicates that paintball has now surpassed with baseball's 10,255,000 annual participants (it is important to remember that sports participation and spectator sport popularity are very different,) and eclipses the 5.8 million tackle football players, 4.9 million raquetball players as well as the 2.7 million surfers and 9.1 million jet-skiers.

According to the 2005 numbers, the average paintball player in the United States is aged 12-24, male, living in a city of at least 500,000 people and living in the West or the South.

Most Popular Extreme Sports in the USA 2005
(U.S. population; 6 years of age or older)

Inline skating: 16,490,000 
Skateboarding: 11,382,000 
Paintball: 10,357,000 
Artificial Wall Climbing: 8,869,000 
Snowboarding: 7,304,000 
Mountain Biking: 6,466,000 
Trail Running: 6,167,000 
Wakeboarding: 2,697,000 
BMX Bicycling: 2,480,000 
Mountain/Rock Climbing: 2,299,000 
Roller Hockey: 2,094,000 
Boardsailing/Windsurfing: 535,000

Track record of paintball participants from 1998 - 2005

5,923,000 participants in 1998 
6,364,000 participants in 1999 
7,121,000 participants in 2000 
7,678,000 participants in 2001 
8,679,000 participants in 2002 
9,835,000 participants in 2003 
9,600,000 participants in 2004
10,357,000 participants in 2005

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