Every sport requires specific equipment to play the game. Some sports, such as basketball, require minimal equipment; the right shoes, a ball, and a basket. Like baseball or hockey, others require specialized gear such as bats, gloves, skates, and hockey sticks. And others, such as football, require heavy protective gear to avoid injuries. This article will discuss the equipment used in laser tag and how it helps protect the player.
Laser tag is a safer alternative to paintball, and does not have a unique set of rules or gameplay. However, the technology put into the guns and sensors gives laser tag the fun and interesting reputation the recreational sport is known for.
The essential pieces of equipment in laser tag are the gun and the targets/ sensors. The gun is the primary tool for playing laser tag, as it is a shooting game. Unlike paintball, being shot with infra-red light does not leave any sort of discernable mark that would indicate that a player had actually been hit. The target sensors can detect the infra-red light and register a hit on the player wearing them.
As laser tag tends to be more of a recreational activity than a competitive sport, there is not a strict dress code. However, the clothing a player wears can still impact their movement, as laser tag requires a fair degree of mobility. Running, crouching, and dodging are common actions in laser tag, so the clothing you choose to wear should allow a large range of motion. For example, dress clothes or tight clothes may not be the best option, as they are not ideal for physical activity. A tactic many players use is camouflage. Blending into the dark indoor arena using black clothing, or wearing green and tan for outdoor arenas in the woods are both tactics that will help give you an advantage.
Laser guns are the most essential piece of equipment in laser tag. It is the key item in offense, as laser guns are used to eliminate enemy players , which is the purpose of the game. There are many different types of guns, as most arenas use their own unique gun, and there are a variety of brands sold for use outside of arenas. Some guns can even hit players hundreds of feet away. The type of gun varies, with some being handheld laser pistols, with others being larger and heavier two-handed guns. The guns are electronic and use infra-red beams of light as the "lasers". The laser guns emit the light in highly directional beams, similar to a flashlight. Each of these beams of infra-red light sends out a unique set of encoded information for each gun, allowing the sensors to decipher which gun/player shot it. This is important to analyze individual performance and statistics, such as how many eliminations one player got, or to see who eliminated you. These infra-red beams of light are used in place of actual lasers due to both safety and convenience. Real lasers are dangerous, especially to the eyes, as even low power lasers can damage eyesight. The infra-red lights used instead are much safer and less disorienting.
The target or sensor is the other major piece of equipment used in laser tag. The target is the laser gun's opposite half. It is attached to each player's body, and operates as the target for players on the opposite team to aim for. The targets or sensors are able to detect when they are hit, and notify the player wearing them accordingly. There is not much to the sensors, the size and shape vary by the brand or arena, and in some cases they are not used! Some brands and arenas use laser guns that double as a target, for efficiency purposes. Other brands go the alternate route, and attach sensors and targets to a vest that the players wear. While the sensors themselves are not used by the player for anything aside from accountability, they are a massive part of the technology that makes laser tag playable. As previously mentioned, laser guns emit a beam of infra-red light. The sensors act as infra-red receivers, meaning they were specifically designed to receive and detect this type of light using optical filters. Using these sensors, they are able to receive and process the encoded information and signal sent by the laser gun, and not only register it as an accurate shot, but also discern which gun fired the shot based on the unique encoded information within the beam. This allows for a family-friendly shooting game with no risk of harm or pain from being shot at.
There are very little restrictions when it comes to footwear in laser tag. However, many laser tag arenas do have a minimal ruleset, such as; no open toed shoes, no high heels, and no shoes with wheels such as roller blades or Heelys. As it is a physical activity, the shoes that allow for the most comfortable movement, such as sneakers are best. It matters more for outdoor laser tag than it does for indoor laser tag, as outdoor laser tag often takes place in the woods or in places with lots of varying elevation, not to mention usually being bigger in size than indoor arenas. For outdoor laser tag, it is better to wear shoes that allow comfortable running and hiking. Indoor laser tag tends to have less ground to cover, less or no inclines at all, as well as less room to run, and as a result, the footwear chosen has less of an impact.
Another factor that should be considered is camouflage. Sure, your bright white sneakers may offer tons of mobility and comfort, but on the other hand, you will stick out like a sore thumb, especially in indoor, black-lit arenas. In dark, indoor arenas, black shoes are definitely the most ideal for blending in. In outdoor arenas, the ideal camouflage color depends on the scenery.