November 11, 2010

I Just Tried Paintball (or "Why I'm Covered in Paint")

How much fun can you have with $37.50, a specialized weapon, a creepy mask and 500 paintballs? Turns out, quite a bit!

This past weekend, some members of The League of Adventurous Women visited Paintball-Sportsland in Frederick, Maryland where we had PERFECT weather for our four-hour blast fest.  When I say, "perfect," I mean that the day was warm enough to be comfortable but cool enough to wear a couple of layers for padding.  I've heard that being hit by a paintball can leave a welt or decent bruise.  The two shots I caught on my knuckles and the one that smacked into my elbow supported the claim. However, my vest, sweat shirt and sweat pants protected the rest of me pretty well.
Paintball mask before...

...Paintball mask after
Undoubtedly, most important part of anyone's protective gear is the creepy mask mentioned above.  Since the guns were shooting little green projectiles at about 198 miles per hour, you really could shoot your eye out and those masks turn out to be wonderful protection.

So here's how the day unfolded: My group of adventurous women joined the throng of guys (many in their teens) to pay the basic fee for rental and four hours of play time.  The rental included a gun (powered by compressed carbon dioxide), the mask, and a big bag of green balls--each encasing a blob of bright orange paint.  The play involved quite a few (I lost track) 15-minute scenarios in various locations including a "village," a "fort" and the woods.  The players (there were approximately 34 of us) were split into two opposing teams.

Each game started with general instructions, a command to remove the "barrel plug" and safety then, "GO!" From that point on, the job was to hit as many opposing players as possible without being hit.  It was a combination of fun and adrenaline rush. Twice, I was hunkered behind a barrier while several players shot at me from different directions. Paintballs splattered all around, bounced off the ground, exploded on trees and rained paint all over me. In most games, a paintball or two hit their mark and then I'd be out for the remainder of the game.

Advancing in the village
Though the entire point is to "kill" one another, safety was stressed by the referees. Violating the rules earned you a black mark on your wrist band; three strikes and you were out for the day.

All in all, it was an exhilarating, and surprisingly exhausting, day.  At less than $10/hour, it was a bargain to boot.
Protecting the fort

Team Hoodie takes the woods
One final note: Paintball is a game and knowing that I could walk away after being "killed" by paint made me bold.  Having so many people trying to kill me made me very thankful that I don't live in a place where these rounds could be real. It also caused me to think about the men and women whose jobs routinely place them in harm's way. My thoughts are with all of you this Veteran's Day.