December 12, 2011

Best Joy of Paintballing

So I went paintballing over a month ago. It's always been something on my bucket list, if I had one. If you read my blog, you already know I enjoy painting and hitting people. It should've been a big deal, right? I haven't gotten to writing about it until now and without the photo evidence on my phone, I would hardly remember doing it. But really - the details have been smudged, not unlike the paintballs that exploded on my terribly fashion-forward size 44 coveralls.

Ben's birthday brought me to paintballing. It's a little odd to think that just a few hours before the late-night party snacks, easy banter around the dinner table and regular birthday festivities, we were shooting each other down in fogged-up masks. A 5-year-old's dream come true I'm sure.

We headed out to Paintball Paradise in the Northend of the city (read: boondocks). The event coincided with the city's annual Santa Claus parade, so there was a bit of weaving and strategy involved while exiting the city - all good training for the sport right (is it a sport?). The grounds were equipped with both indoor and outdoor facilities - we opted with indoor when we were told low temperatures can mess up how paintballs fire from the barrel, and it was kind of cold outside.

Exhibit A: Corner Gas gone SWAT
After the crew was rounded up and waivers were signed, we chose our coveralls and were each given a mask, a gun and 100 rounds. We were given a safety talk on what to do when we're shot, where to go and how to safety our guns when out of play. The facility was made up of a random array of walls, wheels and little building things. I didn't really focus on a game plan - I just didn't want to get out before  firing my gun. I thought maybe my innate sense of danger and archery skills had prepared me for this moment. It had not.

We played a few rounds and I didn't manage to hit anyone, or use very many of my paintballs (I ended up handing them out like candy between games). During the briefing we were told a paintball to the skin felt like being whipped with a towel. It was definitely a sharp pain. My gloved hand was barely skimmed and it hurt like the dickens. It bruised up immediately and to this day still isn't evenly toned.
Angry bruise.

Tragic hip.
So many times I thought my hiding spot was mint, and I would be instantly attacked by rapid fire after retreating. I barely had time to scream I'd get bombarded so fast.

I tried to kneel like this guy in the magazine. It didn't work out for me.
After a few rounds, I was verbally dissappointed I wasn't successfully hitting anyone. My friend Ivan noticed my lack of hits and volunteered himself and another friend to be unarmed targets for me and another girl to shoot at. The 4 of us entered the shooting grounds and they pranced around like antelope while we unloaded (or tried to unload) on them. We got the thrill of a hit and Ivan got the ache of a welt the size of a timbit. (It was a selfless and commendable act; one I would never do).

Paintballing was a pretty good time. If I could do it again, I would practice aiming before going in. The air tank shoots the paint a bit off kilter, and if you're a newbie wanting to try, here's what I learned: never assume you're safe and don't be afraid to shoot a lot of rounds. Then you'll be ballin.