Summer Paintball

Finally a post about paintball again! I moved to Madison, Wisconsin last weekend to intern in the marketing department of Lands’ End. Which by the way, is going amazingly. But back to the point! I played at Apocalypse Paintball in Poynette, Wisconsin about 30 minutes from where I am staying. This is your typical rec facility: almost all woodsball, a few hyperball fields and apparently an airfield that was not set up. Setting up air bunkers is very time consuming and the average player coming to these facilities would probably rather play in the scenario fields anyway so I was neither surprised nor disappointed. They also seem to have quite a few airsoft events on their calendar.

There were numerous private groups that day and I would say between 30 and 40 walk on players during the time I was there (11am-3pm). The cost is what I would deem quite affordable: $10 bring your own paint fee, $12 play fee, $10 unlimited air fee. The paint they sell is quite pricey, but again this is tailored to the weekend player. I am going to have to purchase more elsewhere after this weekend. The demographic of people was also typical. They are mostly groups of friends, teenagers or kids just getting out and having fun. I would say maybe 6 people all day had their own gun, and 3 of those were not Tippmanns so I’ll let you make your own judgments on that. Also having the people shooting excessive amounts in the chrono area and just wasting paint shooting at nothing before and after games: annoying and novice. One thing I noticed here that was different than say Badlandz, is that no one really cares who you are. No one tried to introduce themselves, be friendly or anything of that nature (other than the front desk staff). I chatted up a few folks trying to be nice, but that seemed relatively futile. The exception would be Brian, who I spoke with on the PbNation forum beforehand. He also gave me some pods (courtesy of Dynasty) after I lost some on the field. Thanks Brian!

I found I did not shoot much paint this weekend. First with scenario play, the fields are so huge that unloading a lane from one tower to another will never reach. Additionally with beginning players, there is just less shooting overall and no reason to go crazy on trying to get people out. My Purdue Paintball guys will be proud that I played snake during our hyperball game and did a sweet half field run and bunkered the heck out of a guy. Woohoo! I only got shot on my person (during play) once. Successful I would say. The others were hopper shots. I need to work on hugging a little closer behind the bunkers. I survived most of the games. Now notice there is a contingency of “during play” in my previous statement. Here is where I will go into the less enjoyable part of Saturday: I have some concerns about the safety enforcement. Do I think this is an “unsafe” facility? No. Do I think there is a referee who needs to brush up on safety regulations? Yes.

First, no one ever checked the chrono on my gun. I did myself, so it was not a problem, but that could be an issue if someone was trying to purposely break the rules (we all know there are those few). I have a bright green gun, there was no mistaking it for a black Tippmann rental. I considered that a minor oversight however. Maybe they just trusted I knew what I was doing? Next were 2 issues I had while playing on the castle field. At this point there was  a CF of people. Too many for one game. Maybe 30? There was one girl who stuck her gun up one handed over a wall and shot. Regardless of this being a terrible strategic move, you really aren’t supposed to do it. It’s not safe, you could shoot someone in the face too closely. Just risks of dumb things happening. Well this girl (I say girl, but she was probably 17-19) is on my team. I very nicely say to her, “Hey, try not to blind shoot. It can be dangerous.” With her redneck accent and nasty attitude replies to me, “Well I am no expert like YOU. But I’ll do what I want!”. I again, super nicely said, “Well it’s against the rules and I just don’t want you to sit out for it.” Fastforward a few minutes and I’m in a tower with a bunch of folks and we are getting hammered by a tower diagonal from us. We need someone to get from the 2nd level to the 3rd so I team up with a guy to block the entrance so he can climb up. Of course I get shot but he gets up and later gets 3 folks from that angle. Taking one for the team.

This leads to the 2nd problem. The castle only has a few ramps up to the second level (where I am) and I have to walk all the way around the perimeter to get down. So I just raise my hand and start walking slow enough so it is more obvious I am not in play. I am approaching the ramp and a guy from the other team runs up and bonus balls me like crazy. I think he got 8-10 shots off on me and he was not Mr. Speedy Fingers. He also was clearly not a first time player. It was so excessive I literally was able to yell “I’m out!” 4 times before he stopped shooting me. Of course I was NOT happy. That is ridiculous. He said I didn’t have my hand up. Amazing I made it all the way around the perimeter of the castle without a shot even towards me until that point. So I fussed at him saying “Dude! My hand was up! You could tell I was out!”. So he says to me, “This is paintball, you get shot!”. I said, “You can shoot me all day long in play. I am not afraid to get shot. But I was OUT and you knew it.” So we’re waiting for the end of play and the ref is by me and I say “Hey, some people are blindshooting, just so you know.” He replied, “There is nothing we can do about that. We tell them the rules at the beginning and hey if they aren’t looking where they are shooting, more opportunity for you to shoot them!” I say, “Well first of all, the person I saw do it is on my own team, I am not going to shoot them. And second, perhaps it warrants a bit of a reminder what the rules are.” He also saw the bonus baller and I fussing about his absurdity. So after the game, the ref proceeds to remind everyone it is not a good idea to blind shoot because it is a bad strategy and you don’t know what you are shooting at and he has already been “shot in the nuts” once today and there is nothing worse than that (no mention of the rules or reasons why not to do it). Also, that in paintball you are going to get shot in play and out of play and that’s just how paintball is and that anyone who disagrees with that is making it not fun. My jaw about hit the floor. If we didn’t have only one more game to go I would have left right then and there. Let me tell you why: It is not about being afraid to get hit, it is about making it safe for everyone.

Paintball is fun because safety should never even be an issue. For instance, when the MBAs came out, a couple people kept lifting up their masks. One of the refs (from the Purdue team) came over to me and said he was sorry but that he would have to sit people out if they did it again. I told him to go right ahead, that it was appropriate. Once you have to worry about the enforcement of rules and your own safety you can’t focus on the game and the strategy. When someone gets hurt it is NOT fun. I was especially surprised because this facility had really excellent ratings on PbNation. Now granted, is bonus balling going to hurt someone? Probably not. However, when people act like a-holes with no repercussions, they are only encouraged to do it more. This ref seemed concerned about kids having fun but not teaching kids the right way to play or appropriate etiquette and is not doing anyone a favor, especially if they want to play at another facility. Once you ignore one rule, you might as well ignore them all. The sheer lackadaisical attitude of this guy was the most annoying. He isn’t there to be the clown, he is there to make sure everyone is safe and has a good time.

So conclusion of the story is I went in and spoke to who I think was the manager (I was just looking for whoever was manning the desk at the time) and told him I had some concerns. That I had a great day playing but that a few things stuck out to me as different as far as enforcement compared to other fields. He seemed very receptive and asked specifically what happened and the details. He said he would have a conversation to address it. Now I don’t think any penalization of the ref is necessary and wouldn’t expect that. I do think though it is easy for one to be complacent when doing the same job for a while and it is easy to forget why we have the rules that we do. Now I would say I would like to try out another field before returning to that one, however Wisconsin seems to lack decent fields so I am going to give Apocalypse another go this weekend. I have high hopes that with a different ref the results will be different. If not, I will surely let my loyal  readers know.

I hate to make negative posts, but I am not being an honest blogger without sharing my true experiences and frustrations. My next post I will prompt right now is also going to be negative as it will discuss my unfortunate experience of being ripped off by a PbNation user who sold me a faulty product and will not return my emails or my money. I promise after that to return to more exciting posts. I am hoping to go to Chicago PSP or play with Mark or Jordan soon, so you know those will return to being happy and excited about paintball.

I don’t have any pictures from this weekend (creepy to take pictures of strangers) so here is one of Elliott  (Purdue team) and one of Mark (mentioned in plenty of previous posts) who I happily learned will be playing  together for Chi Town Fury in an upcoming tournament! Two excellent players = butt kicking for sure.

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