An Amateur Plays Paintball

My friend Krista invited Shawn and I to join her and her coworkers for their annual paintball outing this past weekend. Neither of us had played before, although we both knew the basics: you get dirty and you get hurt. You can’t turn that down, right?

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Let me just tell you from the get-go: people take this sport really seriously. (Did you know there are actual professional paintball teams?) We, however, were amateurs. We rented guns, which I think closely resemble machine guns– or what I imagine machine guns would look like. Because I have never actually held a machine gun. But back to my story. Guns. And face masks. I also rented a chest pad, because I am a pansy. You can also purchase smoke bombs. But we declined.

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So you put paint bullets in your gun, you make sure your air canister is at the right level, you put on your face mask, and then you run around and hide behind things. In an enclosed field with a referee, who tells you when to start and when to stop. And you shoot people! Like in a violent video game brought to life. Or what I would imagine a violent video game would be like, because I’ve never actually played a violent video game. But back to my story.

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We ran around and hid behind large obstacles and shot each other. I shot two people! Yay me! And I was shot many, many times. I may have taken a shot to my ear from someone on my own team and I may have cried big baby tears inside my face mask. And then I may have taken my mask off and made an exaggerated comment about how sweaty my face was, so that no one would notice. But maybe not.

I was also shot in the neck by my own teammate. I don’t think these people really understand how this game works. Says the girl who allowed herself to get shot in the neck.

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About two hours into our playing time, Shawn noticed that my gun wasn’t working properly. Apparently, it’s only supposed to shoot one ball at a time, not four. Whoops! I assumed I was just increasing my chances of actually hitting something, like with a shotgun. Or what I imagine is like a shotgun, because I’ve never actually used a shotgun. But back to my story.

As every group was playing their final games, the refs asked if we wanted to play “Doomsday”. Because something with that name sounds really enticing, right? He was asking if we wanted to play one big gigantic game with everyone there on one field. Did I want to? Absolutely not. I said I would watch.

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Was it fun? Yes. Is it going to become my new favorite hobby? Probably not. Does running around with a gun kind of offend my inner pacifist? Yes, yes it does. But then I think: you know, this is just like a really big, highly organized, referee-officiated game of cops and robbers. Or what I imagine the game of cops and robbers would be like, because I’ve never actually played cops and robbers. But back to my story.

When we got home, we cleaned off all our paint residue (I had to clean paint out of my ear) and we counted our battle scars. Shawn had four, and I had three. But I think my ear-wound should count as two, so I win. That’s really how you score paintball.

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