15) Play Paintball

Splat!

Ow! That hurt!

Splat!

Ouch! Okay! Stop! I threw my hands up in the air, one holding my gun, and quickly moved off the field to join my fellow teammates and opponents that had also been eliminated. The pinky on my trigger hand throbbed from the shot and a green burst of paint colored my black gloves, indicating where I had been hit. Another small green spot appeared on my right elbow. Both hits that pelted my body stung, but the adrenaline coursing through my body somewhat diminished the pain. I couldn’t wait to get back out on the field and enact revenge on the player who had struck me with two balls of paint.

I don’t have an affinity for violence or shooting people (aside from a brief infatuation I had with the video game 007, which is specifically about shooting people—in video form, of course), and thus had never played paintball. However, the idea of running around a field, jumping into foxholes, hiding in buildings and behind hay bales, trying to evade the enemy at all costs, did appeal to me. I figured most players were young boys, so I had better get myself to a field before turning thirty.

I was surprised when I showed up at Warped Paintball Park, in that I had been completely inaccurate in my assumption that only young boys played. In fact, it was only after a few hours of being there that anyone younger than about twenty came. What I saw when I pulled into the parking lot made me more nervous than the idea of being hit with paintballs: guys in their mid-twenties decked out in head-to-toe camouflage carrying air tanks on their backs and holding automatic guns. Oh, wow, these guys look serious.

Paintball

Ready to blast opponents.

My friends–all guys for this activity–and I got set up with our gear: face masks; old, single-fire guns (with the proclivity to jam, as I later found out); and pink and green paint balls. We loaded our guns and canisters with ammo, donned our masks, and I slipped on my gloves, which I soon learned would save my hands. The ref then briefed us on the rules before he led us out to the first battlefield: Hamburger Hill.

Luckily I was on the team that started at the top of the hill, which, as history has proven time and again, is almost always advantageous. I was the only female on the field, but I was determined to hold my own, or at least act like I was going to.

The ref gave the signal to begin and I rushed to a wooden wall, behind which I remained most of the game. I heard the paint whooshing out of my teammates’ guns and hoped they were taking out all of our opponents so I could hide out of anyone’s line of fire and emerge on the victorious team at the end. That was not to be. Eventually I had to creep out from behind my hiding spot and try to take out some of the enemy.

I managed to be stealthy enough to get into a great position a little down the hill and I even took out one of my opponents! Not long after, however, karma attacked in the form of one round bullet of paint that struck my pinky, quickly followed by another that struck my arm. I was happy I had worn gloves, though I still cursed aloud, realizing being hit hurt more than I had been told it would. I then followed protocol and held my arms above my head and exited the field. I was surprised to see so many of the other players already on the sidelines. I guess my hiding had paid off by keeping me in the game longer.

We switched sides and it was my turn to run up the hill, during which time I fared no better than the first. We continued to play for a few hours, taking short breaks in between games to allow others to play and to give ourselves a rest. We played in a “city” that had an old car and boat in which we could take shelter, we played on a field aptly named “Hamburger Hill,” and we played on a field with hay bales. I was hit every time, sometimes worse than others, but I was content in that I hit four people, one of which was right in the heart!

Though I never ended up hitting a twelve-year-old boy as I had originally thought, and hoped, playing paintball was a blast!