After a year of paintball road trips and great scenario games, I wrapped up the year on the last weekend of 2014 with a day of walk-on paintball. No big teams, no final battles, no tricky objectives – the only mission was “have fun.” It’s good for players who are heavily involved in whatever style of paintball they play, from tournament to scenario, to take the opportunity to return to their roots, where almost all of us started, walk-on paintball at our local field.
My company made this day special. I had a chance to get my brother, who played along side me at my first scenario event, back on the paintball field (with his brand-new ETEK 4!), and I also brought along two first-time players. I purposefully chose the field with these newbies in mind. Line-of-Fire makes certain that the players get in a variety of games and their focus is on everyone having the best time possible.
Victor and Taylor, my first-timers, came to the field pumped with nervous energy. The first few times out will make-or-break new players. Either they get hooked on paintball’s adrenaline rush, or they vow never to play again. I knew equipment wouldn’t be a frustration for them; I hooked them both up with ETHAs decked out with Pinokio loaders and Stiffi barrels, gave them jerseys and pants to wear, and finished their gear out with Eclipse gloves and V-Force masks. While the rental equipment at the field is fine, I wanted these new players to have the best experience possible, and using quality gear always helps.
After a day of gunning it out in the woods and around the buildings of Line-of-Fire’s City Field, we capped things off with a game they call Center Control. Both sides vie for a cone in the center of the field, and the last team to touch it when time expires brings home the victory. Ownership of the cone swapped back and forth until the last minute of the game. With 15 seconds to go, Victor broke cover and sprinted for the center cone, knowing that he was running into the guns of the enemy team. He lunged for the center but got caught just before making contact. Rather than playing it safe and waiting out the final seconds, Taylor dropped her gun, bolted for the center, and tagged the cone in the last second. Green team may have won, but our Orange counterparts cheered for her daring run, and both sides left the field on a high note.
When Victor and Taylor reluctantly returned their gear at the end of the day, I knew they had been bitten by the paintball bug. They spent the drive home swapping war stories and comparing welts and planning their next trip to the field. Mission accomplished.
Here’s a New Year’s resolution for everyone who loves paintball – expose at least one new player to the game this year. Make it your goal to give that player the best experience possible. Resolve to grow the sport in 2014.
Foolybear plays scenario paintball for Planet Eclipse and as part of Team Capital Offense. His Instagram (@foolybear) is a steady stream of pictures of his paintball adventures. You can also keep up with his travels on Twitter (@foolybear).