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Started: 2015-08-08 15:15:45

Submitted: 2015-08-08 16:31:04

Visibility: World-readable

In which the intrepid narrator joins his work team playing paintball instead of going to work

As a team-building event, yesterday my team at work went to a paintball arena in the non-descript space on the plains of Weld County, east of Erie and south of Dacono. Once we'd been issued our masks, flack vests, guns, and paintballs, we headed to the far side of the arena where there were smaller spaces fenced off for private groups. We split into two teams (there were eighteen of us total, which made the split easy) and entered the arena.

The arena was a fenced-in outdoor space 45 meters wide by 60 meters long (I checked the measurements on Google Earth), with screens at either end as the starting/respawn area. In between the two scenes were a bunch of obstacles built out of plastic ducts and shipping crates; most were tall enough to at least squat behind for cover. We had two referees to suggest scenarios to play and enforce the rules; they stood at either end of the widest section of the arena to give the best view of the arena.

Paintball arena

I was not overly impressed by the accuracy of the paintball guns, though that was probably to be expected when firing lightweight plastic spheres about a half-inch in diameter. (According to signs around the arena they limited the muzzle velocity to 300 feet per second.) I could fire repeated shots at the other end of the arena, 50 meters away, and the shots would land two meters apart. This made it hard to aim; there was very little chance I could hit anyone from more than twenty meters away, and even then I had to fire multiple shots in hopes of getting a lucky shot. So the strategy emphasized running towards the enemy to engage them at close range.

Paintball duel
Paintball duel

Most of the games we played were simple death-matches: Everyone runs out and starts shooting until everyone on one team is eliminated. I forgot to keep score over the long term (which wasn't really relevant anyway), but I did have a couple of impressive feats of valor during the games. In one game, pinned down by opposing fire, I belly-crawled past a low section of pipe (just barely high enough to give me cover if I crawled), then snuck around the crate at the end of the pipes to appear behind the last guy on the opposing team (who was himself pinned down by inaccurate long-range fire from two of my team-members on the opposite side of the arena) and politely demanded that he surrender. He took me up on my offer, rather than have me shoot him with a paintball at close range. My next problem was convincing my team members that we'd won -- every time I tried to stick my head around the packing crate they shot at me, until they figured out I was actually on their team.

Paintball players recover after being eliminated
Paintball players recover after being eliminated

We played a couple of capture-the-flag games, which gave unlimited respawns and a bright yellow cloth functioning as the flag. The flag started in the middle of the arena, and the idea was to grab the flag and run it to the opposite team's screen (the story being that the flag was a bomb that would detonate the opposite base). The game was time-limited to five minutes, so if we failed to actually get the flag to the opposite screen in that time, the team that had advanced the flag far enough on the opposite side would win. In one of the games my gun ran low on CO2 in the middle of the arena, so I couldn't reliably fire. I instead grabbed the flag and ran it most of the way down the side of the arena. I dropped the flag when I was hit (several times, including once on the back of my right hand, which gave me a nice, non-permanent battle wound), and the flag stayed there for the rest of the game.

Paintball welt
Paintball welt

For the final two games we switched arenas to a smaller adjacent arena filled with large spools that formerly held large cables. The spools complicated the game because they were rounded; it was easy to stick one's feet out accidentally while trying to get a view around the spool. I got the last two kills on the last game when two of my team members had the last two guys from the opposing team pinned down, letting me sneak around behind them and demanding their immediate surrender.

Paintball team photo
Paintball team photo

We ended our three hours of play with plenty of welts from paintball hits -- and a bit more appreciation for our team members (at least the ones who weren't trying to shoot back).

Everyone I'm sure, knows that when something goes wrong somewhere,
anywhere, anytime it is automatically SCOTT'S FAULT. Your dog ran away?
SCOTT'S FAULT. Your car won't start? SCOTT'S FAULT. Your power got
shut off because you forgot to mail the check? Yep, once again, SCOTT'S
FAULT. It is very similar to the "six degrees of separation" theory.
Somehow everything can be tied back to Scott.
- Renee Galvin, 25 October 2000