Bass Man

| July 05, 2005

So far, there are no reports that Goldsberry’s boat had any performance problems after Dad tinkered with it.


Have a Ball
Long days behind the wheel can leave you feeling restless, and sitting around is the last thing you want during your off days. So why not get the blood flowing in a competitive game of paintball? With countless fields throughout the country, paintball is a convenient and entertaining way to fill off-duty free time.

For those unfamiliar with the sport, paintball is an outdoor game that is a combination of tag, hide and seek, and capture the flag. Players use a paintball gun – they look like very real guns and fire soft, paint-filled (and easily breakable) balls the size of marbles – to mark opponents as out, instead of tagging them by hand. There are many game variations, but most revolve around the capture the flag theme.

Bob Gurnsey, Hayes Noel and Charles Gaines invented the game in 1981 in New Hampshire using guns that were originally for marking cattle or trees with paint. By 1983, the first tournament was held with cash prizes. Now there are numerous professional leagues.

As the professional paintball world grows, more recreational players are joining in on the fun, leading to more field locations. Web sites like www.paintball.com and www.warpig.com have field locators that link to the businesses’ web sites. This is an easy way to find a field near you that meets your requirements. (see “Finding a Field”)

Paintball is also a fun way to get exercise instead of spending your day off cooped up in the gym. An average game lasts about four hours and keeps the heart pumping with adrenaline, amounting to a fun-filled calorie-burning experience. Being in tiptop shape is not necessary to play paintball, though good physical condition helps. Players should gauge their play to their level of fitness. The game involves some short sprinting, so warming up and stretching before a game is a good idea.

Newcomers will need to rent a mask, goggles and a paintball marker at the field. The cost of an average game, assuming that you have no equipment of your own, is approximately $15-$30, which includes about 100-200 paintballs and a CO2 canister. However, the cost varies tremendously because the use of paintballs per game varies. Experienced players will use as few as 30 paintballs, but beginners might use between 200 and 500. An afternoon of paintball can get expensive if you get trigger happy.

The rules of paintball depend on the type of game, but there are some common rules of play. A game begins when a team (two or more players) tries to hit its opponents with a paintball. If paint hits a player and the mark is at least the size of a U.S. quarter, then the player is considered “out,” unless the rules allow for more than one hit per game.

Each player is required to wear a mask, goggles, a safety cup for men and closed-toed shoes to prevent serious injury. Players should always have the safety barrel plug on their guns when not in play. Paintballs travel at approximately 200 miles per hour, so it is important to follow safety guidelines. Getting hit by a paintball will sting and might leave a welt or bruise. It can break exposed skin, so it is recommended to wear clothing that covers the whole body. Many worry that getting hit will hurt too much for the game to be fun; however, after getting hit once by a marker from a safe distance, most realize that it is not nearly as bad as they had imagined.

Many players prefer to wear camouflage when playing in wooded fields, and some fields have camouflage available to rent. Camouflage is not necessary, but wearing bright colors is not recommended. If you don’t rent clothing, then play in clothes that are comfortable and that you don’t mind getting dirty. The paint is water-soluble so it comes out of most fabrics, but you might get a grass stain or two.

Despite knowing the rules and what to wear, you need to know a few strategies to avoid looking like you just stepped out of your truck and onto the field for the first time. The hardest part for new players is hitting their target. If you can’t hit another player, then you’re not going to be a successful player. Because the barrels of most guns are usually smoothbore and the paint is not a solid gel slug, shooting a paintball marker accurately is quite difficult even for experienced players. To combat these odds, try to pin your opponent by firing a number of rounds. While your opponent is hiding to avoid the shots, you will have the opportunity to get closer to your opponent, which will improve your shooting accuracy.

Another important aspect of the game is finding adequate cover. You should avoid being out in the open; solid objects like trees, hay bales and multi-walled bunkers make great cover. Avoid sparse brush and trellises because paint can still splatter and eliminate you. You can also use your cover to trick your opponents. Try popping your head out of one side of your cover a couple of times. When your opponent starts firing in that direction, pop out of the other side and fire at him or her.

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