Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate March 2002

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In the essay Paintball As Combat Sport by James Gibson the author describes a paintball game between Big Navy and the Latinos. Compare/Contrast the preparations of their game with a game of your own. What artillery was used in the two games? Analyze the experience and the effect it had on you.

There is only one thing scarier than a bullet (paintball) whizzing overhead, and that is more than one bullet whizzing overhead. Paintball is a game that requires skill, courage, patience, and is considered an extreme combat sport. Through my paintball experience, I gained a newfound respect for actual combat.

Paintball games require extreme preparation. In the essay Paintball As Combat Sport by James Gibson a paintball game took place between two teams of ten players each. The teams were Big Navy's team and a Latino team called Vigilante. The players from the teams were "all decked out" for the occasion.

The men from Big Navy's team had a complete set of U.S. military web gear, equipment belts, ammo pouches, canteens, and of course, paintball guns. The men from Vigilante wore full camouflage and they each carried 16-inch long brushes (used to clear gun barrels). They also wore camouflage sheathes that hung from their waists to carry ammo, and their paintball guns.

Every player was ready to play the game and what game would be complete without rules. Trees marked off the boundaries and each team described the location of their flags. Every man was wearing a red or yellow strip of cloth on his arm and had to wave it over his head as he marched off the field to keep from getting shot again (Gibson 298). Masks must be worn at all times and two referees supervised the players during the battle. At the end of the contest the Vigilanties emerged victorious. The preparation taken between these two teams was similar to the preparation in a paintball game I played.

The game I played in had much preparation. The game consisted of my nine friends and myself verses ten strangers. We called ourselves "The Sharpshooters." The other teams name was the Raiders. My team "decked ourselves out" very similar to the way that the vigilantes did. We each wore full camouflage with a blue strip of cloth on our arms, which was our team color, and had squeegees for cleaning out our gun barrels. We held our ammunition in pouches on our backs, because if we had the ammo in our pants pockets the paintballs would break when we crawled on the ground. We also had headsets in order to communicate with each other. Our masks differed in size and texture. The opposing team (the raiders) had similar attire. They wore basically the same gear, however, they had handheld walkie-talkies to communicate. The paintball guns varied between the players.

The rules of the game were similar to the rules in Big Navy's game. The only difference was that we had three referees supervising the game rather than two. Each team met in the middle of the field went, over the rules, shook hands, and went to their respected base, which was the area around the flag. The game had begun. Teams have advantages during the game based on the types of artillery they have.

The weaponry used in the game of paintball is incredible. Big Navy's gun was equipped with a 16-inch barrel, a 12-inch noise suppressor, state of the art "red dot" optic scope, and a folding metal stock (Gibson 296). Each member of the Vigilanties held an advanced "constant-air" gun with extended barrel and a silencer (Gibson 298). I had a semi-automatic gun with a one hundred-ball hopper, ammo holder, and an 8-inch long perfect barrel. By having a perfect barrel it enables the gun to shoot more accurately. One of my teammates used a fully automatic gun with a switch to make the gun semi-automatic if he was running low on ammunition. Another teammate had an automatic shotgun that required specially made paintballs that were larger than the typical ones. The balls came out at a much slower rate than regular automatic guns; however, the shotgun balls could cover more area. The guns ranged anywhere from two hundred to eight hundred dollars. The gun I used was the most common and one of the least expensive. Paintball guns were not the only type of artillery used in our game. My team incorporated land mines and grenades. The land mines had a circumference of approximately three feet. If a player stepped on one of these mines paint would spray at a radius of five to six feet. The grenades were somewhat larger than a baseball, and weighed about one pound. This piece of artillery detonated on impact and sprayed paint in a three-foot radius. Grenades and land mines range form about five to ten dollars each. The ideas for such weaponry came from weapons that are used in the military. Using these types of weapons allow the game to be more fun and challenging.

The game between my team the Sharpshooters and the Raiders was one of the most exciting experiences of my life. When I first got to the field I was extremely nervous. I felt like the enemy was extremely close at all times. My heart raced and my hands were a bit shaky. I was intimidated by the other players guns and experience. Getting hit by a paintball is like getting hit by a pitched baseball. I played baseball most of my life and got hit by many pitches. I was not looking forward to the pain again. The guns were frightening, however, the land mines and grenades were tricky. There was no need to be afraid of these but one needed to be on the look out for them at all times. The idea of playing a game with guns, land mines, and grenades pumped up my adrenaline. After a while into the game my nervousness transformed into excitement. I sprinted to a thick brush around the center of the course and hid there for a while. The entire time that I was sitting in the woods I was constantly looking around for enemies. As a commando, I remained alert, although I was scared. Then suddenly a bullet nailed a tree right next to my head. I quickly dropped to the ground and got on my stomach unaware of where the bullet came from. I remained on the ground as bullets continually zipped over my head. I dare not lift my head knowing that I would be shot. The shower of bullets seemed to last forever. I cautiously peeked my head out and saw a person's leg sticking out from behind a tree. I gathered up my courage and went for the kill. I felt like the star in an action movie. I began firing at the person, while dashing to a nearby tree. I dove behind it and peered around to see if I had hit the opponent. As I saw him walking off the field, without hesitation, I thought that I was a tough guy and got a little over anxious. I went deeper and deeper into enemy territory. I ran into a small valley and started exchanging fire with an enemy. We shot at each other for what seemed like hours, although it was only a matter of minutes. When out of nowhere I feet a sharp sting hit me in the back: I had been shot. I was just about to get up and run to the other side of the valley when it happened. I felt like all my pride was stripped and I was a loser. I went from a hero to a zero with one shot. Eventually our team lost but it did not affect the unforgettable experience.

That game of paintball had quite an effect on me. I went into the game worried about how bad it was going to hurt if I were to get shot, and left the game not even remembering the pain. I never felt more powerful in my life. Even though it was a paintball gun it still had power. I realize I have never been to war, but firing that gun put me in the middle of a battlefield. I had shot someone and removed him from the battle. It was almost like I really killed him. When I shot that person behind the tree I felt like a hero, defending a cause. I thought I was invincible until my opponent brought me back down to reality. When I got shot in the back it was the worst feeling. My heart dropped and I was disgraced. It was not the pain; it was the fact that I was not in the battle anymore. My life in the game had ended. When I was walking off the field I realized how lucky I was that this experience was not real. After I shot someone I thought that this game was easy, until I realized how frightening an actual battle in a war would be. I gained a newfound respect for the people that do fight in "real" battles. The paintball game gradually took me in and out of reality, creating one of the best experiences of my life.