…Paintball (Part One: Welcome to War)

I realise that I don’t really post much towards the end of the week so I thought I’d bite the bullet (pun!) and post today. I mentioned in my post earlier this week that I went paintballing for the first time last Saturday — what could make for a better topic? Ants, granted, but anything else? No.

Contrary to my cynical, misanthropic posting style, I’m actually quite a calm, collected person. I can count the amount of times I’ve lost my temper since the start of 2011 on one hand. The one thing that really does get me bubbling, however, is a competitive environment. I’m not a bad sport — losing doesn’t bother me in the slightest — but cheating really riles me up. As you can imagine in a sport where you rely on people admitting when they’ve been defeated, cheating became quite rife as the day wore on. In turn, that wore my patience down. This, ladies and gentlemen, is known as a “winning combination”… in the troll world. Here, in reality, it’s a practice best avoided.

I’ve never lost my temper in the sense that I’m completely out of control. Never. Regardless of how angry I’ve been I’m always in control. I’m pretty sure old football buddies think I’ve got some sort of split personality disorder — it’s not unknown for me to be screaming and shouting at someone before turning to someone else and sharing a pleasant joke. What’s the point in being angry with everyone when there’s only one person winding you up? Life’s too short! I’ve also found, somewhat unethically, that you can back up your point after an argument much better if you’re the calm one. School taught me that one, proving that education in this country isn’t as useless as many would suggest.

Come Saturday morning, I found out that a “hopper” is a little plastic bucket that holds approximatly 200 paintballs. I actually learnt quite a lot on Saturday but promptly disregarded said information overnight. I have more important information to store such as the fact that ants create and use herbicides to farm. Is no-one else still reeling about that? It’s amazing. My life has changed. It’s retention of things like that which mean I still can’t remember what they call the yellow tubes they put paintballs in.

After a 20 minute “safety briefing” we were nearly ready to get moving. If, through some mystical coincidence, you are a paintball marshal and you’re reading this, please allow me to offer you some advice: You can’t call paintball an extreme sport and talk seriously about safety before parading an underpaid moron in a mask and calling him “(Yeah, I can’t remember what they called him)” to scare the hell out of the little kids. At times throughout the day it felt like I was at a Justin Beiber concert. Seriously, I’m hard-pressed to think of many times I’ve seen so many 12 year olds in one place recently. The noise generated by approximately 30 paintball guns was far more aurally pleasing, however.

Another highlight of the safety briefing was in regards to the use of the explosives. Having marketed the various big bangs marvellously, we were then told that they were for over-18s only. Subtle yet brilliant — every kid turned to their Dad expectantly. Every Dad knew he had a chance to be a hero. What’s better than making something so cool that kids badger their parents into buying it for them? Making it so cool that the parents want to buy it for their kids. This, most certainly, is a lesson in marketing that I’ve retained.

Before long I found myself holding a paintball gun, testing the recoil. I blank-fired about five times in an attempt to get the “feel” of the gun. I had no idea what I was doing but this automatically promoted me to “Super Gold General” in the eyes of some of the kids — I was bigger than them but not an adult and I looked like I knew what I was doing. I was told about three minutes later that blank-firing was a bad idea as it wastes gas. Even as I type this, I’m baffled as to why they didn’t mention that in the 20 minutes I’d spent being told useless information mere minutes before. I loaded up and got ready for the first game. This was my chance to shine.

Our first game was Capture the Flag. I was happy with this, it was still early in the morning and I knew my objective without explanation. Things were looking up. I had a chance to quickly share some information with a teammate and we got cracking. I started running (if you’re a paintball marshal then I didn’t run, I “walked briskly”) to the closest barricade. I had to cover about five metres but that was ok, I’m pretty fast. In terms of heritage, I’m from a country below the poverty line and they’re all fast, right?

Stinging pain on the inside of my left elbow. Sweet mother that hurt. Being the that idiot I am, I decided to stop running and stood up, looking at my elbow. I’d definitely just been hit but I couldn’t see where. Seriously? Less than two seconds into the game and I’d been hit. I heard another paintball whizz past my mask and realised that I was probably the worst player in the game at that very moment.  I put my hand up, to symbolise being shot, and then realised what had happened. I’d been hit but the paintball had bounced off of the tape on my arm. What were the odds? In any case, I wasn’t dead. I put my hand straight back down and ducked at the barricade I’d initially been running towards.

Considering it was my first round I found myself playing quite well. I was one of the first on my team to go out but I was the most advanced postionally and I’d taken out five of the enemy. More importantly, I’d used about ten paintballs, if that. My team, the white team, failed to capitalise and we ended up drawing the round. It was a drab affair with the enemy, the orange team, making no progress forward at all. I don’t play Call of Duty because I have self respect; I play Battlefield instead. It was from that point onwards that I realised I was playing against a group of CoD players. There’s no way a normal person would camp that ineffectively. I’d never played paintball before in my life but I knew that, tactically, it wasn’t feasible.

With my brain slowly starting up, my left arm stinging from the elbow down and my ego wounded; I realised it was going to be a long day. The second round was shaping up like a battle amidst a war. I’d lost the first and I had eleven more to make up for it. Curses, I really do get too competitive sometimes.