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Better run through the jungle

Monday, 5 April 2010

There you are, coiled in the shadow of a wooden barricade, breath heavy behind your facemask, enemy fire pouring in over your head. You peer through the cracks between the planks of the bunker, desperately trying to pinpoint your foes while your heart beats a frantic tattoo in your ears.

Hopelessly pinned down, you pick your moment, popping up and letting loose a rapid volley of shots before throwing yourself back to the safety of cover. You had just enough time to see the enemy take a round straight between the eyes.

The cry goes up, “Player eliminated!” But there’s no time to get cocky because the rest of them are still out there and the fire is still coming in thick and fast. And let me tell you, it feels good.

It’s difficult for me to pin down precisely why I find rolling around in a forest, with a gun, trying to shoot people quite so much fun.

There’s a definite regression to the games of ‘war’ I played in my youth. Crawling through the fields behind my grannies house in Dalneigh, down by the canal, commandos on a mission and then the inevitable squabble over who shot who first. Not an issue when you have visible impacts and referees.

But there is more to it than that.

It’s not just a guy thing either, an excuse for us to let off some testosterone induced steam and establish extreme alpha male-ness
over our social group. There are plenty of ladies who enjoy the experience and get just as into it as the guys. In fact I find the notion of it as the preserve of Mike-From-Spaced or the Off Roaders from the Fast Show types as grossly offensive. Admittedly some paintball venues don’t do much to dispel this wannabe-TA myth.

It’s strategic. You have to think about your next move, you need to plan. To achieve that you need to cooperate as a team. The satisfaction of seeing your plan unfold, Hannibal Smith style, as the game progresses is difficult to beat.

The joy of working in a squad, firing and moving to outflank an entrenched opponent, should really be experienced by everyone. A testament to how the power of a group of like minded people with a common goal will easily eclipse that of the individual.

Teamwork is essential. That doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities for individual brilliance or inspiration. Desperate acts of heroism or flashes of tactical inspiration can turn the tide of games and provide plenty of fat to chew over later in the post battle buzz.

Then of course there’s the competitive nature of the sport. This is possibly what puts people off it but to me is one of the attractions. It’s less about winning or losing for me and a lot more about doing either with class, style and a sense of humour. I like banter and between matches, as the rivalry increases, you get plenty, even if most of mine is lifted straight out of war movies.

It’s all just so much fun!

The biggest factor that puts people off is probably the idea of the pain you will inevitably suffer when you get hit. It’s true it does hurt a bit when you take a hit but (depending on where you are hit) it’s not that sore.

Also, because your adrenaline is up from all the running around and getting shot at, you don’t feel it the same as you would normally. I have also found that how much pain you end up in is as dependent on the venue/organiser you choose as it is on how much and where you get hit. I find I’m usually in more pain from the exercise than the paintball hits!

Properly organised and controlled games should mean you don’t get ‘overshot’ and end up black and blue and you actually have fun. Locally I’ve had the most fun at Wildwoodz Paintball near Tore (

Their emphasis is firmly on fun and fairplay and their customer service is outstanding.

Anyway my point is this: don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it. In fact, make the effort to try it at least once. If nothing else it’s fantastic exercise and gets you out into the fresh air.

You never know, you might enjoy it.

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