Paintball in Colorado
When I was about 17 or so, my dad decided that our vacation would be a trip to Colorado Springs. I mentioned it because I wanted to tour the Air Force Academy. Dad agreed because there is a 500 acre paintball field a few miles north of the town.
This wasn’t to be just any trip however. Try 1000 miles through Central and West Texas, New Mexico and Colorado… in July… on a motorcycle. Weeeee………
There are several stories about this trip, but this one will be about the actual paintball competition.
I suspect the locals were a little nervous when my dad and I spent the afternoon taping long barreled rifles with camo tape on the balcony of our hotel room. I wandered around the hotel breaking branches off of trees and taping them to my helmet. On the other hand, no one said anything, so maybe it happens all the time there.
The next morning we jump onto the Harley (one Dad’s seven bikes… more on those later) decked out in full camo and head for the field of battle. As we’re cruising along, we pass an Air Force military convoy. Many, many Hummers and 2.5 ton trucks full of earnest young men in camos… much like ours… hmmm…
Dad was driving, I was merely a passenger. I sat up straight, did a smart 90 degree left turn and saluted… and held it. I must have gotten a hundred return salutes. When we passed the lead vehicle… an older gentleman in the passenger seat (who happened to have a big gold eagle on his hat) looked at me, started to salute, then glared at me.
We strolled into the paintball field, where dad promptly began buying new weapons. I started loading one of two full auto paintball guns that were present… Bwah hah hah… oops, was that out loud?
We divided into teams. Each team had a fire element (that was me and the other full auto gun), a handful of salad-people, a couple of snipers and about two squads worth of grunts (being my dad). The salad-people we re pretty neat. They had mesh suits that they had strung one inch to five inch strips of fabric to. The fabric was shades of green and brown… making look like a big pile of slightly rancid salad fixins. That comment would come back to haunt me as they tended to hunt me down and shoot me like a rabid dog.
Our teams first mission was ‘Assault the Fort’. I look at dad, “Oh, this is gonna suck”. Our team leader gave the plan. The salad people and half the grunts would pin the enemy while the rest of us jogged around a mountain, through a ravine, rappel down a 1000 foot cliff and flank the enemy, climaxing in a point blank battle around a 6 x 6 plywood box. I look at dad, “I don’t know about you, but I’m gonna STROLL over to the fort.”
You see, there’s no air in Colorado. Oh, they have this stuff there that keeps you from doing a Dave Poole impersonation (extra points for anyone who knows this reference!), but there can’t be that much Oxygen. It’s almost a mile straight up! Now, I’m from Port Arthur Texas. Altitude above sea level; 4 feet. Good thick air, heavy with humidity and refinery pollution. Air you can (literally) sink your teeth into. Heck, I’ve taken a normal breath and inhaled animals.
The total lack of air had one interesting side effect. These guns are powered by… yep air pressure. Now we had filled our canisters in Port Arthur and our guns were set to deliver a scathing torrent of fire… at a safe velocity… at sea level. Heh, we weren’t at sea level any more. The full auto gun was punching out paint-balls at something like 800 ft/sec, almost mach 1. We had to surgically alter the gun to shoot at a safe speed. When we returned to Port Arthur, the gun couldn’t even push a paintball out of the barrel.
So I struggle through brush and salad-people. And I set-up my squad support weapon on a hill-top over looking the fort. Now, I’ve got firepower… however, that particular weapon is notable for its lack of accuracy. So I hosed the fort. 20 rounds at time. Brrrrap. I did that about three time, to no noticeable effect. However, while I was doing that, the enemy salad-people were looking for me. I learned several valuable lessons after that first mission:
- Full auto weapons are not good for long range sniping.
- If you are long range sniping… move… a lot!
- 9 paint-balls impacting on the shoulder does roughly the same damage as being hit by a 10 wheel delivery truck full of sheet steel.
I don’t paintball anymore. I have other vices. However, last I checked, I still have the record for the most number of head hits (my head!) for one day at that park… sigh.