Sunday, February 24, 2008

All Quiet on the Western Front

By: Phouk Sisouphane

Skirmish, as some may know it, is the adult version of Capture the Flag. Today, it is widely known as paintball. Paintball is a competitive, fast-paced adventure sport played on densely wooded or mountain playing fields. There’s something for every level of adventurer, since you can choose your own pace of adrenaline-filled action in every paintball game.

A basic skirmish match is played on a five to ten acre field with about ten to twenty players per team. The day consists of six to ten games, lasting about thirty minutes each. The team’s strategy is played out on battlegrounds where you’ll encounter trees, flowing streams, stonewalls, and bridges. Your team must determine whether these are truly obstacles, and decide how to use them to your advantage.

All the equipment is provided, although if you own your own stuff you can bring it along. Specially designed C02 guns shoot soft, gelatin capsule ammunitions to mark your rivals, removing them from play. The game fields are truly a unique and beautiful natural environment, and a great place to spend a day shooting people up. They have it all… thick fields, open fields, large trees, swamps, streams, forts, villages, etc…

In some states or countries, you are required be of legal age before you are permitted by law to play. When I had turned eighteen, I went with a friend from work to try it out. I had heard of paintball earlier and wanted to give it a try. Everyone wants to play war sometime during his or her life, or pull a trigger that won’t literally kill someone. It’s a very competitive sport that can encourage others to build better relationships with co-workers and friends, and it also brings out your natural leadership skills that you use to plan and organize. Some paintball fields also organize corporate games with small teams from different companies battling it out to see who is the best of the best.

Since my first game of paintball, I have invited family and friends to join me on a day out playing. It can be very addictive and there are always plenty of stories to tell and battle-scars to prove them. I’ve made some great hits and taken on quite a bit too, but that all depends on how you play the game and it doesn’t hurt that much anyway.

For myself, I like to play hard when I’m filled with ammo because I like to break open the game and take as much ground as possible. And when I’m low on ammo, I tend to play defense and hide a little more because you don’t want to get caught in a fire fight with someone who has the advantage of more shots. It’s all about positioning yourself somewhere that will give you the most advantage of taking out as many people as possible with room to move as well as hide.

Some people see this as a great opportunity to challenge themselves, so it’s good idea to strategize a plan of attack. Playing paintball doesn’t require a great fitness level, although it is a great workout. I think it’s excellent when you’ve got the adrenaline pumping and sweat pouring out all over. A good strategy is to work in small groups, as this gives the opponent more targets that they need to cover.

I must recommend however, that you don’t play when it’s raining, because just like in real life your morale drops and you don’t give a damn if you win or lose. I myself have played a few games during the rain, and I came out soaking wet. One time it was pouring and I had tried to jump over a creek, which didn’t look too deep at the time. I ended up slipping on the creek bank and falling into the water which was about two meters deep.

So, the best time to go is when it’s been sunny and dry over the last month or two, depending on the weather. Sometimes the fields can be too flooded or too wet to play on, so summer is the best time to book in a group of friends or go at it on your own. I personally prefer the heat rather than the wet and cold weather though. It feels much better to play when you’re full on sweating it out. Different places offer different fields and scenarios that are challenging to play, and I consider myself to be a one-man army.

If you’ve never played before, then I’ve got to recommend that you go and give it a try. It’ll be one of the best action adventure sports that you’ll ever play in your life!

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