On a Sunday morning, off the beaten path. In the small town of Nicolaus. Behind a levee, buried deep in the trees. The air is moist. The sun is a harsh, a cruel combatant, in an unassailable position. A game is played. One most have heard of, but very few have played. It is aggressive, antagonistic, and awfully abusive. It is demanding, draining, and downright destructive. There are not many willing to subject themselves to physical labors required to be a part of it. This is paintball. Its my favorite thing to shoot

The Break (the start of a game)

Two teams line up across from one another. The Sun is high in the sky. A scattering of wooden blockades stand between them, there only protection against the furry of pain headed each other’s way. Players pace to and fro, anxiety builds as each envision themselves the last one standing among the sea of defeated adversaries and allies. As sweat rolls down masks and flesh they steal themselves. The referee calls for battle to ensue. Hundreds of paintballs rip about the field ending the peaceful day. Each ball hurls itself at three hundred feet per second in a explosion of gas that echoes from the ends of the markers(paintball guns).

Parker’s Opening Volley(a paintball is visible at the edge of the gas in the frame)

The players unload upon one another. Some play it safe, staying in the back and dumping rounds across the field. Others are however, more aggressive and dangerous in their approach, preferring to run headlong into the locust swarm of paint and pain.

Stay Low and Go

The players converge on each other. The Edge inward toward one another and play progresses, creating a building energy of dynamism. One side falters and another presses its advantage to secure victory by their annihilation.

Flanking Plays Win Games

The ref ends the game. Its all over. all but one remain standing. Departed hostiles look on in despair, while redeemed compatriots view the field in jubilation.

Over Extension and Over Confidence Are Slow and Insidious Killers

The Sun cooks the field now. Players decide to move the next match into the woods, under the tree cover. Here the game is entirely different. The forest provides shade and odd cover. It is somehow both more open and more closed. No straight paths exist. Its a small wooded area. The ground is hard pact dirt. Twigs and branches litter the earth. Small hills dot the course, Large enough to hid behind for the smaller and younger players. Stacks of discarded lumber make for excellent protection and prodigious hiding holes. The wind has begun to cause the leaves to sing in the trees. A dirt road runs through the middle, a high speed and absolutely deadly bit of terrain. It tempts the greediest of players with its potential to meet opponents at the fastest rate possible. Play starts again, but this time neither team can see one another. Instead of high speed, the match has come to a crawl as players creep through the brush. Every new corner a trap, ever tree a potentially hidden player, ever twig snap a thunderous call for violence.

Two opposing methodologies have set in. You either hide and lay in ambush, or move at maximum speed to catch foes unprepared.

Patience Is A Virtue In This Sport
Mobility Is King On The Battlefield

The opening salvos ring out. Gas claps through the air as skin is painted, signaling the end of a players ability to compete. Paint exchange slowly dies down as the defeated exit the field and a whole new game begins. A hunt between the two remaining players. Both have conquered their respective flanks, but they now wheel into one another.

Eyes Up And Fingers On The Trigger

I find myself stuck. Laying between them on the ground. I am pinned in place between two lurking juggernauts. They are unaware of each others position. My line of sight to one is slightly obscured.

A Game Of Cat And Mouse

One Spots the other in transition and delivers the final blow putting the match into the books.

Play Of The Game

The day ends how it usually does. Players gather around to show off welts and bodily injuries. Laughs are had and “good games” are said all around. I exit the field as the sole witness to this display of ferocity and skill. It is aggressive, antagonistic, and awfully abusive. It is demanding, draining, and downright destructive. This is Paintball and I shoot it.