Picture your “favorite” politician in his bulging green Under Armour, protecting his house. Or a boss that just doesn’t seem to listen, let alone care. Picture the ignorant speedster who just cut you off on I-95 south, cell phone permanently affixed to their ear. Picture for just a moment, anyone who has wronged you or plucks your nerves.
Now picture yourself in an open field, you’ve got an automatic weapon in your hand, loaded, target at the ready. Focus. Steady. Aim. Fire. Splat…a rainbow of bright color bursts upon impact. Got em! Finally, ah-yes, picture that person’s keister, painted in neon. Damn, that feels good.
That’s why I play paintball. I’m not a gun-lover or a member of the NRA. In fact, when I was 8 or 9 years old my brother Jimmy accidentally shot me in the eye at close range with his BB gun. He got the belt and I got a Dairy Queen buster-bar. I don’t like guns. They scare me. What I do like is paint-ball. And I own a paintball gun. It’s done wonders for the gamer in me, as well as that part of my soul that exacts such cold and calculated revenge.
I’ve been playing for years; starting out one summer vacation and eventually turning it into a tradition. It took me all these years to talk my husband, Neil, into getting me a gun and some start up equipment. Now I’m packing heat in 2008 and I’m stoked.
Neil can’t understand why I’d be into such a thing. He’s played once. Once is usually all it takes to separate the men from the boys or the women from the girls. None of my friends will play, except for my girl, Alisia. Often I play with my niece, Paula, and my nephews- all are serious players. I’ve also resorted to giving out my digits to my friends’ children (thanks Mikey). You see, the average age of a paintballer ranges, in my experience, anywhere from the ripe old age of 13 to the cocky 18-year-olds.
As a female getting ready to turn 40, I’ve grown used to this. These children look at me as though I’ve stepped out of the Dark Ages and then scan nearby me to see which child I’m carrying the gun for. I’ve begun using this to my advantage.
“That’s a nice gun you have there,” I’ll say, summoning my matronly voice. “Wow! Do you do tournaments too?”
Later I’ll try rattling off in my cool kids voice, “I can tell you are def. a player. I just play for fun, want to get some exercise.” I have my words; they have their cat-like reflexes and jaguar-like speed. We use the gifts that God has given us and I’m counting on them following the old adage “respect your elders,” and perhaps have pity on me. As if. Once we step on the field of play, though, it’s game on. Age doesn’t matter. Kids these days!
The rules are simple (and usually vary) whether you are on a controlled course with a referee or you’re playing in the woods. Here are some pointers and a quick rundown of how it works:
- Always wear a helmet!
- If any part of you or your gun takes a direct hit, you’re out. A direct hit means by a paint ball. If it bounces on the ground or any other object then hits you that doesn’t count. Getting hit by exploding paint doesn’t count. It must be a direct hit. Trust me, you know it when it happens.
- Once hit, you raise your hands and gun and usually wail “I’m hit! I’m hit. You got me, *%!,” while exiting the field (on a course); if you’re playing in the woods you raise your hands and gun and yell “Stop shooting, I’m out. You got me you dumb- *%#!- I’m out!”
- Nobody is supposed to take a shot at anyone at close range. If you are within a certain designated distance you are supposed to ask the opposition to surrender. If they don’t surrender, take cover and bring it.
- Wear whatever protective gear you’ve got. Don’t have any? No prob. Layer on the clothes (Here comes the Mom in me – paint and mud come out in the wash).
- Last player standing wins.
The most common question I get is, “does it hurt?” HELLO – yeah it hurts! The object of the game is to NOT get hit. Let me say this, in the heat of the battle it’s a momentary pain. Take a pin-prick on your finger then raise that up one decibel-that’s how it feels. It smarts. Depending on the shot (type of gun) and the range (how far away), X definitely marks the spot. Actually it’s more like an O as in, “Oh damn, that’s a heinous looking bruise.”
Yes, a hit leaves behind a healthy mark. A battle wound in which you own bragging rights is all. They come in varying colors and stages of brown, pukey mustard with hues of purple and a deep blue. Not attractive, especially as it matures.
Two years ago on a controlled course with a referee in Deep Creek Lake, I got shot at from two feet away by a semi-automatic. I still have a bruise there. I take pride in that, although I’m glad it’s finally beginning to fade. The perpetrator, a red-shirt wearing *% !#, had a bounty on his head for the rest of the day. He paid alright!
There are many different games and styles of play. You can pretty much make up a game and play it, make up boundaries and different rules with different teams. There are also different venues offered at different courses. My favorite course is not a course at all. It is out in the woods with no boundaries and in the elements, pricker bushes and all.
Whatever you do, when you play you always have to look alive. It’s hunt or be hunted. Always be in the zone. It’s kill or be killed. Become Rambo. You have no limits. And for me, it just doesn’t get any better than that.
The thing is, while I play I might not have limits. But, rest assured, the next day I pay. I walk a tad slower, move a little less graceful. I’m pretty sure my teenage peers don’t suffer that same fate. That’s life.