The First Time


by Baca Loco
Since every baller embellishes a paintball story or two I’m comfortable playing the storytelling gray–and (this time) it’s not a tourney versus rec or scenario thing. Besides, this is the story of the first time paintball was what I had imagined it might be. And more, as it turned out. No, I’m not trying to justify playing the gray; I’m explaining how this can be called the first time even after admitting that technically, it wasn’t. (Huh?) This was the time that kept me coming back.

But just so you know how this might have gone: The real first time was at an unsupervised and unorganized field in the spare lot of a gun store and shooting range where the owner was trying to take advantage of what he hoped was the first wave of the next fad. The guns were beat up Tracers and the paint was horrendous. What’s a chronograph? There were no referees, no safety briefing (unless stay away from the eastern side of the field where you might accidentally shoot some people’s houses counts)–nothing but a half dozen utter newbs and a narrow sandy field thick with briars and pine. And I’ve no intention of telling that story because there’s nothing really to tell. We were there because my teenage son bought a paintball magazine and began eating, sleeping, dreaming paintball before he began playing. The only effect that attempt at playing paintball had was not to dampen his enthusiasm but temper my expectations. More telling, despite the miserable circumstances and conditions, my son came away from it convinced that paintball was completely (and totally) awesome.

After doing some research on local playing fields and buying a gun, a fixed barrel Phantom pump, and gear we tried again. The “local” field I’d decided on was about a ninety minute drive but they’d been the only one to have a website with pictures and player endorsements and compared to the gun range it seemed so professional I figured it would be worth it. The entrance was about a half mile off the interstate. There was a small sign, a rancher’s gate and a narrow winding dirt road that disappeared beyond the surrounding trees. Down the road there was no formal parking but spaces around a half dozen or so covered tables. Most of the tables looked like they’d been hammered together out of scrap. Away from the tables were a pair of port-o-johns and past the tables was a small trailer and hut. Around some of the tables players dressed in olive drab and camo were talking and preparing for another game. We chose an empty table feeling conspicuously out of place. Even so, the scent of turned earth, vegetation and wood smoke seemed perfect, as if this was plainly where paintball was meant to be played as the popping of distant markers mingled with the barking of a pair of dogs chained by the hut proved. We checked in, signed our waivers, got a friendly safety briefing and by the time that was completed we were more than anxious to get playing even though–or maybe because–we had no real idea what was coming next.

I still remember that first game at a real, honest-to-goodness paintball field as if I was observing myself from a distance. And I felt that way at the time too though I can’t explain why. I wasn’t excited, I was intrigued. I wasn’t expectant, I was curious. Until the whistle blew. And everything changed. Prior to the game the refs had explained the field for the newcomers and encouraged everyone to take a lot of ground quickly. Not knowing any better I did exactly what they suggested and ran until I realized paintballs were zinging all around me and I threw myself down behind a tree that didn’t come close to offering real cover. Fortunately there was also a depression in the ground on my side of the slim trunk and I pressed my face up into the exposed roots applying the ostrich principle (If I can’t see them they can’t shoot me) for all I was worth as paint continued to whiz by and smack the tree and ground around me. Suddenly paintball became immediate and real, visceral and intensely exciting. So much so I wanted to laugh out loud. I quickly realized that while I wasn’t a sitting (or laying) duck I wasn’t secure either and that was great, too. It meant I had to do something besides not get shot. (Although being at risk and continuing to survive was a big part of the thrill.) I called out to my teammates and discovered most of them were quite a distance behind me. That first time it didn’t bother me in the least. They were the ones missing out. Slowly the game began to unfold. I tried to use my forward position to relay information. To spot the opposition’s positions. I worried about being flanked because my depression wouldn’t save me then. I tried to bring my gun to bear but I didn’t try too hard because I didn’t want the game–this first real experience of paintball–to end. I knew I didn’t have the skills to compete and it didn’t matter. All I wanted was to keep playing. And fourteen years later I’m still hooked though my relationship to the game has evolved pretty dramatically over the years.

There you have it. One story out of a million. What’s yours?

6 thoughts on “The First Time

  1. “I learned a few things that day, #1 frank is an ass, #2 paintball was friggin sweet, #3 Playing on doesnt really pay. ”

    Yeah, but what about the girl? You left us hanging.

  2. My cherry was popped at some outlaw field, being fodder for some team associated with Frank “the tank”… since the chick I was trying to get with (by playing paintball, since she did) was some relation of his. Anyway, it was also my first cheating expirience, though that was not my idea. After a few games, really not having any clue what was going on, getting shot before even seeing really where the enemy was… Frank told my the other guys really like it if you just keep playing after your hit, it shows your tough… funny guy, right?

    So I head out there with my borrowed short barreled piranha pump, into the cyprus woods, with like 4 other newbs. The expirienced guys on the other side, with some kind of magical machineguns, shot all of us in short order. But I had my instructions, so I ignored the couple of hits I took & opened fire! (as much fire as you can open with a stiff back-bottled pump gun)… I think I did hit one of them, but they were hitting me… well, more. Eventually a few shots hit my lenses & I gave up, they gave me a few more for luck, not finding my playing on as cool as frank had thought they would :superdodgy: I learned a few things that day, #1 frank is an ass, #2 paintball was friggin sweet, #3 Playing on doesnt really pay.

    A few weeks later I went to the Florida Paintball Center & bought my own crappy pump, and after mastering pump play (getting one kill that wasn’t a total newb) I moved on to a VM68 & the rest is history (a very small teeny tiny incy wincy miniscule nanoscopic peice of history).

  3. Aug. 1983
    I’m at the mall, in a bookstore. I find a book titled “The Survival Game”. It has everything about the game in it, most importantly it lists dealers/fields. I call the nearest one and find out when there next game is. I talk to some of my college buddies and a couple of us decide to go.

    The day finally arrives, we drive the hour and a half to the place to find about 20 other people there to play. The guy divides us up into teams and then hands out the gear. $25 got you a bolt-action Nelspot 007, 2 12 grams, 30 rds. of oil-based paint and a pair of shop goggles. The paint came in aluminum tubes with screw on caps. He explained that we would be playing capture the flag and lead us out onto the field.

    The first game my buddy and I head up the right boundary, about mid field we come upon a lone enemy player. We all exchange fire a few times and then my buddy and the other guy end up chasing each other around a tree, guns extended out in front trying to get that kill shot. My buddy gets him after about 3 times around the tree. We continue towards their flag station but get there just in time to see them returning with our flag and hanging it for the win.

    The next game I end up way out in front of everyone else on my team. I hear someone from the other team coming my way. I wait until he gets pretty close, take my shot and miss. We exchange fire a few times. He moves to a forked tree. I can just see the top of his head through the V of the fork. I take a quick shot and hit the tree right next to his head. “Whew…….That was close” he yells. I shoot again. At this point he charges my tree. Having shot 5 times and these being the original 007s it wasn’t a sure thing that you could get a ball to drop into the breech. The breech was in the middle of the magazine. With 6 or more ball you could hold the gun either up or down and a ball would be over the breech. With 5 balls or less you had to get a ball to drop when it rolled over the open breech. If you tilted it too fast the balls just skipped over the breech. So he’s charging me, I try twice to get a ball to drop with no luck. He’s close, so I work the action one more time and just hope that the gun loads. As he gets near my tree he angles to the left, so I go out the right side of the tree. We both reach around the tree and fire. I get hit in the shoulder and he just gets a puff of co2. I head back to the staging area and see them grabbing our flag and heading back for the win.

    The last game of the day was “Defend the Hill”, and we were defenders. My buddy and I were out on the end. A lone guy came up our way. We were all trading shots and he kept coming towards us from tree to tree yelling “No Guts……No Glory”. While all this was going on I saw out of the corner of my eye, people moving up on our right. They were engaging more of our team further up the hill. Not wanting to take my attention off of the guy right in front of us, I took a quick snap shot at the 2 guys off to the right. They were about 120 ft away and had no idea that we were even there. So I take the quick snap shot and watch as the white ball flies straight into the further one’s neck. “Ooowww….I’m out”. Yes!!!… first kill.

    It was a great day of fun and excitement.

    Been doin’ it ever since.

  4. Organized a company outing (’83); had to wear a leopard-pattern jumpsuit cause they had no other ‘uniform’ that would fit me.

    Hooked up with several “pros” who offered to help me learn the game – which they though meant using the newb as cannon fodder: I didn’t know it at the time but my instructions to “take the big oak tree – we’ll cover you” really translated as “send the new guy to the big tree, I think someone from the other team is behind it”

    And there was. I was as surprised as that guy from the other team when I stepped around the tree – so much so that I committed my first cheat right then and there by shooting him square in the chest. In the amount of time it takes to say “AAAAA! BANG!” I’d had my first encounter and gotten my first elimination – and my first walk off the field for violating the four foot safety rule.

    But I got that guy first! And it wouldn’t be too much longer before they got rid of the four foot rule…

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