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I've never been paintballing. I've always wanted to go. So, for my 31st birthday, I found an indoor paintball field (it's cold here in Chicago), invited some friends, and headed out.

I did some research before we went. What to wear, what to expect, how to not piss off the more experienced guys. Fortunately, I didn't have to worry much about that last part. The field we went to allowed us to put together our own group, provided we had at least ten people. We had enough for seven-on-seven.

A lot of people made notes that they were nervous about getting hit for the first time. I wasn't really all that nervous about it. I knew it would be somewhat painful, but I was more excited about the opportunity to run around and pelt friends with high-velocity balls of paint.

Most folks decided they'd "play the part" and dress up in camouflage. Walking into the building and seeing six of my friends dressed as if they're going to be laying in thick brush for hours was comedic. One of my friends went as far as to deck himself out with name-brand paintball attire. It was his first time as well, but he was certain he'd enjoy it enough to play again at a later date.

We signed our waivers, got geared up, and waited for our turn.

Most of us, being the beginners that we were, decided to use a small, reinforced chestpiece offered up by one of the employees at the field. I grabbed mine and pulled it over my head. Another, more experienced paintballer watched me fasten the clips.

"It actually doesn't hurt that bad," referencing the ridiculously padded vest I was trying to squeeze into, "Especially with what you're wearing," referencing the hoodie sweatshirt, long-sleeve shirt, and Rush concert shirt underneath.

Despite the fact that this "more experienced" paintballer was probably less than half my age, I took him seriously.

"Just this one round," I told him.

It finally came. Fourteen of us filed out onto the field, and the ref split us into two groups. The funny part was not being able to really recognize anyone.

Gun muzzles came off, safety switches were flipped. A few friends took a couple pot-shots at the inflatable barriers, just to see what firing a paintball is like. I decided to do the same.

The bassy thump of the hardened ball smacking the red inflatable canvas bunker took me aback. A split-second after I squeezed the trigger, a four-inch radius of white paint popped onto the barrier, and it was loud. Surprise turned to quasi-worry, quasi-worry led to "what-ifs."

"Okay," I thought to myself, "I wasn't quite expecting a punch like that." Then, I remembered what I read in the forums. Shooting something -- be it barrier or victim -- from mere feet away provides much more of an impact than being halfway across the field.

Right. That makes sense. Newfound-worry somewhat aleviated.

Some last-minute instructions by the two refs aided the group of fourteen noobs, myself included. We were basically set up to play a dodgeball-like version of the game: if you're hit, you're out. Play continues until one team remains.

Nobody really knew what to expect. It must've looked hilarious to experienced players as most of my friends stood as if they were waiting in line at McDonald's while the ref counted down from five.

Five ... four ... three ... two ... one ... "Go, go, go!"

Again, hilarity to the experienced players. The ref's signal for the game's official start took most of the fourteen by surprise. We "snapped" into action the way you'd react to hearing a car backfire. Most of us ducked behind the closest barrier we could find. Half of us decided that's as far as we'd go for the first game.

I decided to push up a little further. After plugging off a few shots at a friend conveniently hidden behind an x-shaped inflatable, I realized that our rental guns were not the most straight-shooting pieces of equipment. In fact, every time I shot, the ball spun in a different direction.

The first shot angled down. So, I pointed my gun up a bit. I pulled the trigger again only to see the ball spin off to the left.

"Okay, I'm not going to hit anyone from way back here."

Again, I advanced forward. Before that day, I didn't think moving around would be that big a deal. However, running from bunker to bunker, hoping I wouldn't get plugged took on a whole new meaning after the experience of picking off that poor, defenseless inflatable barrier before the game began. All I could think about was the unyielding urge to shoot someone.

I squatted all six-foot-five of my body behind a barrier that was probably three feet tall. I ducked down as far as I could. Once again, to the experienced paintball player: hilarity.

I could hear a few friends shouting things, but I couldn't make out exactly what was being said. The metal warehouse and the constant thump of paintballs-against-barriers was loud. Not deafening, but obnoxious enough to make any verbal communication impossible unless you were right next to someone.

I peeked around a corner, trying to find someone to pelt --

My lips stung, went numb, and a sudden, horrid, ghastly taste washed over my tongue.

The first time I've paintballed in my life, and I took a 250 feet-per-second, hard plastic ball filled with not-tasty paint right in the mouth. I was certain I'd chipped a tooth or something was bleeding. It wasn't until a minute or two later that I realized the facemask took the brunt of the wrath.

The rest of the spray, though -- ouch!

Aside from that minor inconvenience, we all had fun the rest of the day (even though my girlfriend shot me three times in the head later in the afternoon).

I think -- I'm not sure -- but I think I might've finally found something to get hooked on.
 

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Most Likely to Get Gogged
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Heh, glad to hear you liked it.
Getting hit in the head is pretty painful. Body shots (which should be more common) are a lot more tolerable.
EDIT: Oh, this should also be moved to Player Stories.
 

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Crafty Vet of Nutball
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100 Posts
i hate head shots i can deal with them but i prefer to take body shots lol
 

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Thats "Chief" to you...
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1,671 Posts
how to not piss off the more experienced guys
Lol, man, more people need to do this kind of research. haha

but I was more excited about the opportunity to run around and pelt friends with high-velocity balls of paint
Thats the best part

Rush concert shirt underneath
YES!!!!!

All I could think about was the unyielding urge to shoot someone
I take it back. THATS the best part.

I think -- I'm not sure -- but I think I might've finally found something to get hooked on.
Its all down hill from here...ALL of us started that way. And dont worry, we were all noobs once, pretty soon It'll be you sitting laughing at the 6 ft somthing guy hunkered behind a brick thinking "i remember when I started..."

Welcome to the addiction...er...sport... :)
 
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