April 11, 2012.

What’s it Like to Get Hit?

What’s it Like to Get Hit?
By: Bryce McCarthy

The other day, I was reffing a birthday party for a first-time player, Matt, who was no older than eleven. As we trekked out to the field for his first ever game of paintball, he asked the typical “What’s it like to get hit?”

Usually, I brush this question off with “It stings for a moment, but it goes away really soon” and sometimes I joke “I can show you, if you want,” to ease their nerves. But, for some reason, maybe because he reminded me so much of myself at his age, I took a retrospective journey back to my first time getting hit by a paintball.

It was sometime around my 10th birthday. My dad bought me a Tippmann 98 Custom, a mask, and a pair of hiking boots. He brought me to the field, and even stayed to be my “pit crew” for the day. I listened to my first orientation, was sorted into my first team, and guided out to my first game.

I was filled up with the cheapest paint Sports Authority sold, and was wearing about four layers of clothing. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t hit anything, so I made the only logical decision that I could, and I hid behind a tree. At point, for about half a second, I leaned out—that cost me. A ball hit me square in the goggles and sprayed all over my lens. A ref behind me did some weird signal, and told me to walk out. So I held up my gun like a white flag, and started hiking back to the staging area…about 30 seconds into the game.

I don’t count that as my first hit though. The hit (or should I say, hits) that I consider the cherry-poppers were the ones that drilled my chest on my walk out. Three shots, each from a guy no more than ten feet away from me. I can only remember dropping to my knees and him shouting “I’M SO SORRY!” over and over as he ran over to help me. I played the tough kid, and told him I was fine, and tried to walk it off.

By the time I got back to my picnic table, I decided I hated paintball. It hurt, it was scary, and I didn’t want any part of it. It wasn’t meant for me, plain and simple. I disassembled my retired gun, cleaned off the mask I would never use again, and threw it in a duffel bag that would be on eBay by the end of the night.

Things would have played out that way, if it weren’t for my bonus-baller approaching me right before I was about to leave. His name was Tim. Tim apologized–again–and told me to switch over to his team for the next game. I tried to explain that I was leaving, but he didn’t take that as an excuse. Tim explained that he wouldn’t be able to live with the fact that he turned a potential new player away from the sport without at least trying to make right. Not wanting to traumatize the guy, I agreed to do one more game.

So the next game, I played beside Tim. He showed me proper shooting stance, helped me move up and across the field, and assisted me on my first kill. Of course, after that, I was hooked. I didn’t leave after one more game, I stayed until the sun went down and the staff had to drag me off the field. Mind you, I didn’t win every game. But I had a blast anyways, because I was in good company.

Unfortunately, I never encountered Tim again. But it’s thanks to him that I became a regular at that field. I played every day that I could. Eventually, that led to me getting on a team. That led to me competing in paintball. That led me to meeting another team. That led to where I am today: a member of a big-time scenario team that travels the nation playing huge scenario games at legendary fields. I’ve come a long way in 6 years.

I guess there are a lot of notes you could take from my story. Like, for example, “helping new players is important”, and “paintball is always more fun with friends”. But, to me at least, the most important lesson is: getting hit is a minor part of paintball. Along with the concept of hitting others, and winning, getting out is just a small part of the game. Tim showed me that there was a lot more to paintball than the game. Tim showed me what was important in paintball: the fun you have and the joy you get from playing. He taught me that, in paintball, you can always make new friends, and when you do, it enriches the experience.

So, when Matt asked what it felt like to get hit, I told him the truth: “Getting hit is a good thing. It lets you know that you’re doing something you love.”

Bryce McCarthy, Team Member
Team Brute Force

 

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