A couple of weeks ago we held what will hopefully be an
annual event. My three brothers and I and a few friends,
paintball players one and all, held our first annual
paintball weekend at our family's cabin in Twenty-Nine
Palms, California. Twenty-Nine Palms is in the Mojave
Desert about 1 hour north of Palm Springs.
The terrain is mostly rolling hills covered with scrub
brush with deep sand washes in between. Within 1 mile of
our cabin are several rock-covered hills. These hills
have some of the best natural paintball fields you have
ever seen in your life. They are completely
uninhabited. You can get in a CQB, duck your head down
and move to another set of rocks and come up in a
completely different area, effectively backdooring your
opponent! There are literally hundreds of places to
hide. The team who outguesses the other team usually
wins games. Mind reading is an essential skill!
Plans were to have at least
ten players for the three-day weekend. One week before
we had twelve committed players and that weekend only six
showed up. Family and church commitments halved our group
but we were determined to enjoy ourselves regardless.
By late Thursday night all players were present and we
started off the weekend with some solid beer drinking
around the fire pit in the front yard. The three-quarter
moon was bright in the sky and promised to light our way
on Friday during our night game.
Friday morning we played at 'Hamburger Hill.' So named
because we have one team start at the top of the hill and
one at the bottom. On this field the team on the bottom
actually has the advantage because there is so much cover
on the way up you can sometimes make it to the top
undetected. The main highlight of this session was my
brother Tim showing off his marksman skills. In one game
of attack and defend he let his teammates attack the hill
while he stayed behind the starting rock and attempted a
few sniper shots.
I was at the top with my friend Chris and my other
brother Steve. We sent Steve around to flank the left
side while Chris and I would hold the top of the hill.
Little did I know that the game would be over in about
thirty seconds. I was poking my head over the top rock
trying to get a fix on the opponents' position when I
heard an all too familiar sssshhhhhhtttthhhhwwwaaack!
Right between the eyes My brother had just taken me out
with his P68 from about forty yards, uphill! I remember
Chris looking at me with a surprised look on his
face. He then got up and looked over the rock to see
where the shot came from and bwwwaaaappp! Right in the
chest, just right of his heart.
Within twenty seconds Tim had taken out the two of us
from forty yards with two incredibly well placed shots.
Many have argued over whether there are snipers in
paintball. Tim would have provided excellent evidence for
the "yes" side that morning.
Our friend Scott had been tasked with checking his
company's ventilation system a few weeks before this
trip. His boss guessed how many smoke bombs it would
take to charge their warehouse. About five cases he
guessed. It turned out that he overshot his estimate by
about four and a half cases! His boss gave him the
excess cases and we were going to add another dimension
to our games.
Friday afternoon we headed out to 'Mogadishu.' This
field is to the north of our cabin. It is so named
because it often lends itself to extremely fast play and
lots of Close Quarters Battle. The hill is covered with
ten foot high rocks evenly space apart with nice sand
paths in between these rocks. A player can run to the
north behind a hill and run around the other team for an
excellent backdoor opportunity all
without being seen. We almost always assign one player
responsibility for guarding that area, as being
backdoored in our group is extremely embarrassing. There
weren't any stand out games in this session but a good
time was had by all and it was the first game where we
introduced the smoke, although somewhat ineffectively.
We would get better!
Our big game was set for Friday night after the moon came
up. We had a huge barbecue steak dinner along with a few
beers and some fierce two-on-two horseshoe games as we
watched the incredible desert sunset.
About ten o'clock Friday night we set out for the field
aptly named 'Tora Bora." This field is a dream field.
It is about three miles to the east of our cabin but it
is about a five-mile drive. This field is about three
football fields long and about three fields wide. It is
huge. The entire field is covered with rocks similar to
'Mogadishu,' but there are a lot of places where you can
climb across, over and under rocks that are much larger
on this field. You could easily hold a scenario game
with eighty players on each side. The huge size of the
field and the fact that we were playing at night and with
smoke made for some slow paced, hunt and seek games that
It was our usual session of exciting games and more than
a few 'surprise' attacks on unsuspecting players. I
think all of us at one time or another got the mother
loving crap scared out of us. One incident was
perpetrated on my brother Tim by yours truly.
The game had been on for about ten minutes. I had made
contact with Tim and retreated. Tim popped smoke and I
had to decide what to do. Tim and I have an ongoing
rivalry of trying to outguess each other. I guessed that
he would probably drop down onto the lower field and try
to come in from behind me. I dropped down myself about
fifty feet and waited to see if I could hear him moving.
After about three minutes I decided to move out and try
to find him. I had crawled about fifty feet over and
around the rocks when I stopped suddenly. I didn't
really hear anything or see anything. I think I just
felt that he was here. I put myself in a comfortable
shooting position with my gun up and ready. I sat for a
couple of minutes with no sound or movement coming from
him at all.
Suddenly, I noticed a reflection in the darkness about
fifteen feet from me. I watched it for at least three
minutes. No movement whatsoever. I figured the
moonlight was playing tricks on me and almost talked
myself out of keeping my eye on it. But there was
something unnatural about the reflection that I couldn't
put out of my head. I didn't really think it could be
anybody because no one can keep their head that still for
that long. I decided to trust my instincts. I took aim
and fired. A distinct thump and a short yell of
Aaaaaggghhh! It was Tim. He was holed up waiting for me
to come get him. We had sat less than fifteen feet from
each other for almost ten minutes. If it weren't for the
reflection coming off of Tim's goggles, I would have
walked right into his ambush.
All games to this point were straight elimination. The
teams we picked, actually Ro-Sham-Bo'd, for were
perfectly balanced and we kept them the whole weekend.
But we needed to add some spice to the games and we
decided to set up a scenario.
The scenario we decided on was an 'Executive Protection'
Scenario. This scenario consisted of (1)Sniper/Assassin,
(1)Principle and four Executive Protection Specialists or
bodyguards. The game was set for Saturday night. We
were going to use the cabin for this scenario. The
windows have plywood shutters over them that can be
closed for security. We lowered these and made a nice
fire in the pit to make it difficult for the protection
team to see beyond the picket fence surrounding the
The protection team would drive about a mile down the
road so that the Assassin could set up. Then they would
drive back to the cabin with their lights off. The
Principle was seated in the middle of Chris's full size
Ford truck, one bodyguard on each side and one in the
The Assassin had thirty minutes to take out the Principle
who would be seated on the porch. The protection team,
once they got the principle in place, would have to
remain inside the fenced yard but they could protect the
Principle any way that they saw fit.
We played five games and all
were different and all were a complete blast! Adding the
truck and the cabin into the scenario added a completely
different feel from normal games. Also, having each
player assigned an actual job and areas of responsibility
added a new dimension to the games.
Two games stood out. The first game I sort of cheated.
Well, no one said that the Assassin couldn't hide IN the
cabin! I let the team come in and place the principle on
the front porch, all while standing behind the door
inside the cabin. I decided that since I was 'sort of'
cheating' I would not engage my friends from point blank
range. Instead, I would only attempt to shoot the
Principle and take my lumps after that.
I waited about ten minutes so that the protection team
would let its guard down a little bit. I checked my P68
to make sure I was off safety with a round chambered. I
positioned myself so that I could open the door and exit
and shoot in the quickest time possible. I took a couple
of relaxation breaths and SSSWWWOOOOSHH. I swung the door
open. Chris was just to the left of the doorframe with
his back to me. Both of the other bodyguards were to the
right and on the away side of the Principle. There was no
one between the Principle and me! I half dove straight
out of the door, falling on my left shoulder and side.
As I was going down I took one shot. It seemed like slow
motion. I saw the Principles eyes go wide and I saw him
flinch and try to roll away to the right. I saw the
explosion of bright green paint on his side just under
his arm as I hit the ground and simultaneously felt a
sharp pain in my right shoulder. I had 'killed' the
Principle but Chris had reacted incredibly fast and shot
me almost before I hit the ground! The other two
protectors stood with their mouths agape. Looking at me,
wondering, "How the hell did you get on the porch??!!"
They did not hear me come out the door. As far as they
knew, I simply 'appeared' on the porch. I had completely
blown their minds! Kudos to Chris for his quick
reactions and not losing his focus. Even though I got the
Principle, he took me down fast.
This story is getting long in the tooth so I will give a
brief summary of the second game of note. I was the
Assassin again (after begging my cohorts to give me
another chance). Please see the diagram to follow the
As the Assassin I laid down behind the windbreaks to the
west of the cabin. Tim saw me from the truck as they
drove past my position. Scott parked the truck as you
see it in the diagram.
Since Tim saw me, he told the Principle to stay in the
truck. He and Scott were going to go to the west side of
the cabin and try and shoot me. They couldn't shoot me and
I couldn't shoot them. Then I chopped a ball in the
Phantom I had borrowed from Scott. I couldn’t get
the gun to cock and I had Tim and Scott both moving to the
I moved to position (2) trying to put a little distance
between us so that I could fix the gun. I was not
successful and I had to once again retreat to position
(3). I was finally able to get the gun to cock but I
could not be sure a ball had loaded properly. I had to
play like I only had one shot left. I decided to hit the
principle with the last shot but I had to get away from
these guys first. I formulated a plan and set it in
First, I lit two smoke bombs under heavy fire. By this
time Tim and Scott were only a couple of bushes away from
me and they were laying paint on my position. I tossed
the smoke bombs about ten feet to the west and forward of
my position. The smoke was working perfectly. I t was
laying down a solid blanket in front of my position,
flowing towards the fifth-wheel trailer.
I wanted Tim and Scott to think that I was going to try
and make my escape behind the trailer and around to the
truck. They bit. Tim figured this was my plan and
started making his way to the trailer to cut me off.
Scott was behind him but was also moving toward the
smoke. I ran the opposite direction about thirty yards
and then headed north at a full sprint, trying to get the
jump on them so I could reach the truck and shoot the
It was working! I was almost ready to cut toward the
truck when Tim had seen my silhouette against the city
lights. My bad. I had straightened up when running and
that gave me away. They both busted out of their
positions and ran full speed at me pumping away. They
were shooting rapidly but I was not taking hits and I
couldn't figure out why. The reason why was they were
both out of ammo! They were getting ready to reload when
I made my break. Dumb luck.
I continued to run to the truck and by that time I had
realized they were out of ammo and I still had one shot
(maybe). I could see Chris looking around as I reached
the truck. I was thinking about where I should shoot him
so as not too cause him too much pain since it would be
point blank. I went to yank open the door
and….the sonuvabitch had locked the door!! I was
momentarily stunned. I had not expected this. I turned
to run to the other door when I was tackled from behind
by Tim who was yelling, "Your dead!" I yelled,
"BULLCRAP!" and shook myself away from him. I ran to the
other side of the truck and tried the door. It was
locked as well. Scott then came running around the front
of the truck and I decided to use my one round to take
him out. He was only about four feet away when I
centered my gun on his chest and pulled the trigger.
Boom! Scott jumped a little and looked at his chest. No
ball! I had not been able to chamber a round.
Scott was still out of ammo and Tim was on the other side
of the truck so I made a dash to the storage building
about fifty feet to the north of the truck. I kneeled
down and tried to un-stick the Phantom so that I could
make another charge. I went to look around the building
and BAAAAMM! Tim shot me in the chest. He had reloaded
one ball when I was dealing with Scott. It was over.
I had not gotten my adrenaline pumping that much in a
game in a long time. Chris said that when I tried to
open the door the truck shook so much he thought I was
going to tear the door off of the hinges. Man I was
All in all we had a great time and we are all looking
forward to our next Paintball Weekend.