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   April 28, 2017

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Day Dreams


When I was a kid, I loved playing army with my friends in the neighborhood woods. We would run down to K Mart, buy all of the caps they had for our cap guns (Edisonmatics were the top of the line cap guns in the 80s, realistic looking, and some of them would eject the spent cap like a real gun ejects a spent casing) and spend all day stalking each other around the neighborhood and the woods, hiding in trash cans, under cars, and in the bushes. We all wore camouflage, and would divide into teams. The whole neighborhood was our war zone. Today, the thought of seeing kids with realistic guns and camouflage running around the neighborhood would result in the police being called out and have people running scared. Back then; no one even gave us a second look. It was definitely a more innocent time.
 


I first heard of paintball while I was watching a TV show called Sledge Hammer. This was a police comedy back in the mid-late 80s. The characters were investigating some crime on a paintball field. The characters used old Sheridan's and wore shop goggles and camo's. I remember thinking how cool it would be to play it. I didnít know of any fields in my area, but I was still interested in playing. Also, around this same time, Laser Tag was coming out, so besides the cap gun wars, we had a local Photon Center to go play laser tag at on the weekends.
 


A few years later, while I was traveling to Tae Kwon Do tournament, we stopped off at a gas station in Alabama, and I found a magazine called Action Pursuit Games. It was an October issue, and the cover showed a player holding a plastic jack-o-lantern full of ten round tubes of paint, and a converted Gotcha Gun. I bought it and read it cover to cover for the rest of the trip. I remember looking at the pictures of the guns. PGP's, KP2s, Tippmann SMG 60s, man, were those things cool! And expensive! Pretty ,much everything was pump, with the exception of the SMG. There was nothing electronic at that time. I think constant air was the new big thing. Most of those set ups had a knob like a water valve on the side of a house. I wanted a PGP so bad I could taste it. I imagined running around the woods, stalking my prey, and taking his flag. Everything was in the woods. There was no speedball at that time. Everyone wore camo's, with the elite teams wearing Tiger Stripes. I still had no place to play, but I still read my magazine, and I had found a few others. Also, for the record, A Gotcha gun was a quasi-paintball gun that you could buy at Toys R Us. They were spring powered and all plastic, and they shot little rubber pellets coated in paint. A few of us bought some on clearance, but they weren't much fun, and the ammo as becoming hard to find.

One day, while I was working part time at the local Army Navy Store and trying to save up enough money to buy a car, one of the regular customers told me he had a paintball gun for sale. It was a Palmer modified PMI-1. I saved a couple paychecks ($4 and hour sure wasnít much) and got it. It was great! It had a direct stock feed that held 25 rounds, a silencer, a Crossman stock, and a quick change cut out for the 12-gram. I was excited to finally have my own paintball gun, but was shot down before I could even start, when I called the local field and found out that I wasnít old enough to play at the only field in my area (I was 15). I had gotten a box of Splat Master brand orange paintballs from a sports store and was content to shoot at cans and trees. Since I had no place to play, I sold the gun to a co-worker for money for my first car.

A few years later, when I was out with my grand parents, they stopped off in a local town to visit a family friend. Low and behold, behind the building that this guy worked at, was an indoor paintball field called Strike Force in Concord NC. I went in and talked to the owner. I got the information that I needed, and came back the next Friday for my first game. Most everybody used pumps. Semis were very expensive and still a rarity. The few that I saw were VM-68s and F1 Illustrators. I was issued my rental equipment, a JT Crossfire mask and goggles, and a wore out Tippmann SL-68. The ref explained the rules to me, and we were divided up into teams. Pretty much everyone else was renting like me. My heart was thumping in my chest as the whistle blew to start the game, and I darted to the bunker I had chosen as cover. It was a couple of bails of hay with some tires stacked on the side of it. Shots impacted around me as I came up and searched for a target, just itching to fire the SL-68 in my hands. I see one kid duck behind cover and I fire 3 shots. To my amazement, my third shot had gone right over the edge of his bunker and popped him right in the goggles, leaving a huge white splat on his lens. amazingly enough, everything after that for the rest of the game is a blur. I don't remember what else happened. I do remember the sweet/sour smell of the field. I think it was from the Hay bails, the paint, and the water that was sprayed occasionally to keep the dust down. No matter what I had felt or thought of the game before that moment, from then on, I was hooked.

Occasionally, I find my self flashing back to those first times. Maybe its from watching a newbie get his first elimination, maybe its just the smell of the field (Man, I miss smoke grenades). I still get a thrill out of hunting my prey and taking their flag. Things have changed allot since I first started, but I guess something's still remain the same. After going through all of the trends, semis, tourneys, scenarios, cockers, mags, etc. I have realized that for me, keeping and honoring the old ways are the way to go. I will wear my camo's, keep my well worn equipment maintained, and still eliminate my opponent, one shot at a time. Just like I learned when I started.




- Interceptor



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