Close-quarter-battle (CQB) sports are one of the most exciting activities to try outside. You may have already heard of laser tag, paintball, and airsoft. These three qualify as a CQB sport, and they also have a slightly lesser-known relative called gel balling.
Gel balling requires a gel blaster, sometimes called a gel ball blaster or soft gel gun. They’re toy guns that pack an extra kick with the gel balls they use as projectiles.
What Are Gel Balls?
Gel balls are ammunition explicitly made for gel blasters. These balls look like water beads that may come in various colors and are around 6-8mm in diameter. They’re made of sodium polyacrylate, a biodegradable, non-toxic polymer commonly found in commercial garden moisture retainers.
Gel balls are generally much safer than airsoft BB pellets or paintball rounds. You may get bruises from a paintball shot, but not so much from a gel ball. Despite their relative safety, mishandling these projectiles can have consequences. So, you should follow this guide on proper handling of gel balls to ensure you get the best experience:
Hydrating gel balls usually depend on the product’s manufacturer. But the general method is to rinse them under running tap water free of other chemicals like soap or detergent. You may also use a mesh strainer while doing this. It usually takes four hours for gel balls to become fully hydrated. Distilled water is the best for hydrating and storing because it doesn’t have the minerals that may contaminate the gel balls.
You might be wondering how to harden gel balls if you don’t plan to use them immediately. In this case, you could leave them under the sun or use a hairdryer. If you have a food dehydrator, you may use this instead. However, when dehydrating them, don’t expect the balls to be the same quality as when they were first packaged.
2. Proper Storage
Once your gel balls are correctly hydrated, place them in a clean, airtight container filled with untainted water. Some examples of storage containers for gel balls are:
- Soda bottles
- Two-liter milk bottles
- Ice cream tubs
- Ice coolers
You may store it in the fridge or anywhere away from direct sunlight. The balls’ storage life may last up to two weeks, but they may last for three months if submerged in water. Avoid placing it in the freezer, or the balls will become brittle and may break when you fire them.
If you put a pinch of salt in the water, the gel balls could last much longer. You may store lighter ones in hot water, but heavier gel balls should be in cold water. Meanwhile, dehydrated gel balls may last for a few years if stored properly. Keep them away from humidity and direct sunlight to lengthen their lifespan.
Properly storing your gel balls ensures that they’re still of good quality when it’s time to use them. The balls may evaporate or degrade faster under extreme conditions. And like any tiny object, keep the container away from younger children as the gel balls may pose a choking hazard.
3. Correct Gear And Clothing
When it’s time to use your gel blasters, ensure that you and everyone else are wearing proper protection. Gel balls may be softer and slightly harmless, but they’re still projectiles that could hurt someone.
Eye protection is a must for any shooting sport, including gel balling. However, unlike airsoft or paintball, vests aren’t necessary. You may wear a tactical belt or something with extra pockets to keep your spare magazines. But a safety mask or glasses are essential to avoid getting hurt when shot in the face.
As for clothing, you can enter the field wearing comfortable activewear that covers most of your exposed skin to be safe. Long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hiking boots or closed shoes should be enough for a safe gel ball skirmish. You must wear thick-enough clothing that will cover you up, especially if you bruise easily.
While gel balls can be rehydrated and reused if you’re not using them, they don’t last forever. Despite their estimated shelf life, you’re not supposed to store them for too long. When you notice the water in their container getting dirty, it’s best to throw it all out in the trash can.
Gel balls are 100% biodegradable. But unfortunately, they can’t be thrown alongside other biodegradable trash in the recycling bin. They’re too tiny and slippery and may spill out of the trash can. Pets might find and eat them, or people could step and slip on them. Toss them out in a disposable container or a compostable dog poop bag if you have no other choice. Avoid flushing them down the toilet since the balls may cause a blockage.
However, when using them in a skirmish, you don’t need to worry about picking up any trash. Gel balls will burst upon impact and evaporate shortly.
Gel balling as a CQB sport is fun for both adults and kids. Using gel balls is the safer and cleaner alternative to paintball and airsoft. Proper care and storage are vital to ensure their lifespan and quality for an excellent and safe game every time.