Sunday, April 15, 2007

Paintball is .... Fun?

My friend Joe is getting married in 6 days....

Yesterday, in an effort to celebrate this life-changing, grace-filled event wherein Joe will give himself and at the same time paradoxically find himself in marriage, committing to a sacramental communion with another human person, imaging the union of Christ and the Church in a real and mystical way, we decided to shoot paintballs at each other for 3.5 hours in Phoenixville.

Yup. We figured this was a "manly" activity worthy of Joe, who is a LionHeart of a soul. I tried to convince the boys that we should splash blue paint on our faces beforehand, and wear kilts like in the movie Braveheart... FREEEEEDOM!!!!!

Anyhoo.... before the Bachelor Party Dinner and high stakes poker began yesterday evening, a small band of brothers (4 of us who did not get the memo on the hazards of this "sport") gathered before the blue glow of the Internet at Joe's place. We typed "paintball" in the address bar and in 2.7 seconds, a whole new world of adventure and hideous pain opened up before us.

BELIEF: "Paintball is safe, fun, and inexpensive."

FACT: Paintballs are shot at your body and HEAD from semi-automatic airguns at roughly 200 miles an hour by perfect strangers who have "Paintball ROCKS" bumper stickers on their large camouflaged trucks. These people sprinkle paintballs on their cereal every morning.

BELIEF: Paintball is "an action game that is played by all walks of life."

FACT: Paintball is WAR and played mostly by teenagers who have been trained by Rambo himself and other special forces icons from our nation's history via very realistic video games.

BELIEF: This will be fun for Joe and quite a break for us all. A little fresh air and good times... good times.

FACT: I am completely exhausted and have muscle aches where I do not have muscles. Our activity served only to convince me that the expression "mind over matter" is like saying "cheese over planet earth."

Before each game, the referee (who wore a helmet and pads all over. Hmmm, curious...) would shout "Left side ready! Right side ready! Game starts in 10 seconds!!!!" They said this creates an eerie silence wherein we stare across the field of concrete bunkers or trees or large inflatable thingees, respectively, and get an "adrenaline rush." I would affirm that.

I will now describe my death-defying experiences of yesterday as a series of storyboards or sketches for your amusement, and as a warning to you. Take heed people. Take heed!

+ I'm crouching beneath a wooden bridge, in mud. Paint pellets whiz past like angry bees. The flag I need to capture is within reach. I toss up my hand for the prize and a splatter of pain ignites on my naked hand. In the distance, a 12 year old squawks victoriously from behind a concrete cylinder.

+ Leaping for life through a tangle of fallen trees, thorns and mud, I nearly lose a shoe before reaching a wooden door resting on a tree. Pellets pound and spray on its opposite side, knocking like the Big Bad Wolf. "Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin!!!" I toss my life to the wind and run, spitting paintballs at my "friend" Joe, my old housemate, my comrade for nearly ten years... and the groom-to-be. "EAT THIS!!" A paintball lands squarely in the middle of his mask, right between the eyes. His plastic face-shield looks like a breakfast of eggs, sunny side up.

+ With laser precision, Bob hurls a pellet at my gun hand and I drop it nozzle first in the mud. Anthony tore his flesh on a slab of concrete. I nearly shot a referee. By day's end, Bob's sweater looked like a Jackson Pollock painting. And then Joe sweetly ended the last round with a victory by reaching our "dead zone" unscathed!

+ I have welts the size of Rhode Island. They formed, curiously, an exact replica of the constellation Orion, the Hunter. The funny thing is, I felt more like the Hunted.

In all seriousness, it was a great day. Would I recommend this activity to others? HECK YES. Just be sure to take off work the next day!


Paintball is an action game that is played by all walks of life. It is game where people are shooting a soft-shelled paintball that breaks, causing a mark on an opposing player. When a player is "marked" by a paintball, that player is out for the game. The rules section will help you to see the basic rules that are used by almost all fields. Paintball is played in wooded areas or on fields filled with giant colorful inflatable obstacles. Many people call what is used to shoot people a paintball gun, but as this sport tries to become more mainstream, there is a movement to call it a "marker" as it helps make the game seem less violent. You don't have to be rich to play paintball. If you want to go out for a first time then you can just rent equipment and have fun....
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