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Kriegjournal #3

Tournament bastards.

I am part of a recreational paintball group. That means we play for fun and do not go to tournaments. Nevertheless, in the last game of the day on what turned out to be the last day of the season 2000 we were challenged by a tournament team.

We, of course, accepted immediately because of the opportunity but had reservations. They were a money-winning tournament team and, to us, that meant that they had to be pretty good. Our plan of attack was going to be to rush up to the best bunkers we could grab and hold our positions. We didn't expect to be able to advance to capture their flag but we were going for a forward defense to deny them access to ours.

The starting horn went off and Dean and me rushed for bunkers. I went to the more forward one and, just as I was getting there, my foot lost traction and I slid, hitting the ground badly.

After the game, someone on the opposing team said he heard my knee pop from across the field.

Well, it wasn't broken but it did hurt pretty bad so I was unlikely to be leaving that bunker, which was a reasonably upright wall of branches.

Opponents had gotten into the next bunkers ahead and I discovered that staying close to the bunker limited me too much. For me to shoot at one bunker I had to expose my head to too much fire and, in doing that, I would have to turn completely around and move to the other side of my bunker to check up on the other one. This was not acceptable and my knee was in no condition for the crouching and moving that would be necessary so I lay on my back with my feet to the bunker. From this position I had the cover of the bunker, a half-roll to the left could cover one bunker and a half roll to the right would cover the other bunker.

Incoming fire was heavy but so long as Dean was still in the bunker behind me and to one side, my position wasn't too bad. I wasn't going to advance but I wasn't going to be bunkered should the enemy push forward.

But then my gun ran out of air. When the rental guns run out, they make a very distinctive sound so, expecting that the sound was heard, recognized and would be a prelude for a rush, I quickly dropped the semi and went for my backup; a Sheridan PGP pump I keep in a thigh holster.

The rush never came. Eventually, I seemed to have been forgotten by the enemy because one of the tournament players ran by my bunker, intent on Dean's position. I rolled over onto my belly as he ran by and let fly, hitting him in the torso. He yells "hit" and looked around in disbelief. I turned my attentions back to his comrade in the other bunker.

After a minute, I'm suddenly pelted by paint from behind me. This guy I had hit had been standing around talking to one of his teammates, who had also been taken out. This teammate confirmed that my hit hadn't broken and so called the guy back in. Whereupon, he shot me from behind and went on to take out Dean. There were complaints but the ref was unwilling to intervene.

In the end, they were unable to take our flag before time ran out, even with this guy suddenly two bunkers further forward.

This encounter taught me several lessons:

1) Tournament players don't necessary compete in and win tournaments because they are good. They win because they cheat. I'm sure that this is not the case for all teams and hope it's not the case for most but, because fortune and glory is involved, there is a greater willingness on their part to do whatever it takes to grab the gold.
2) Refs work for the paintball field and tournament players are regular paying customers so, in a dispute, the tendency will be to rule in favor of the tournament teams because they pay the bills.
3) When playing with tournament teams or others I don't know to be trustworthy, I will not rely on their unverified sense of fair-play and will continue to fire until I see paint on the target or the ref definitively calls them out.

The scenario also validated my carrying a backup gun. My reputation with my other teammates and among the others at the field has gone up with my willingness to really go down fighting. They know that if my primary gun goes out that I will have a backup and am willing to attack with it.

As for my knee, it still bothers me from time to time. -- Revised: 27 May 2002
Copyright © 2002 Kevin A. Geiselman