This past weekend I had the opportunity to play a few hours of paintball with some friends and family at a nearby facility for my son’s recent birthday. None of us had ever been before and I can honestly say it was an eye-opening experience. Apparently, there are some people who take this VERY seriously. And, like the title says, if paintball is anything like what I might see in a real life firefight, I really am in big trouble.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’ve never served in the military or law enforcement and therefore don’t have any tactical combat training or experience. Of course, I should first mention that I can see how paintball might differ significantly from a real-life scenario but it’s likely the closest any average Joe (like me) is going to get and still live to talk about it.
In particular, I was surprised at how quickly the pace of the game could change, at how much difference experienced players made, and how easy it was to get shot! Over the course of several games I managed to get shot in the leg multiple times, square in the chest once or twice, the shoulder, and once in the head. The sad part is that it was my own teammate that shot me in the head. Even worse, I’m almost positive it was my own kid or his friend. 🙁
Now, I noticed that some of the better players tended to rush up quickly whereas I preferred to hang back… just delaying my inevitable demise as it were. And, obviously, sometimes these rushing players got shot early on but most of the time they wrecked havoc. In a real-life situation I doubt we would see such bravado. I also noticed quite a bit of teamwork among the better players, including hand signals and what seemed like understood strategies… it seems they’ve done this a lot. This drove home how important it would be to learn to work together with others you expect to survive with so you act like a unit and not all chaotic as most of us were. I’m sure this makes sense but it’s one thing to talk about strategy and yet another to actually do it.
Like I mentioned above, paintball has it’s flaws as a training tool. For one you’re confined to a field with set boundaries. In addition, there’s nothing to be said for “home field advantage” in that you know your home and surroundings whereas an attacking group would not. Similarly, there are no early warning devices to alert you of an attack nor the element of surprise from being attacked. And, needless to say, you get to walk away when you’re shot… minus a little pride.
Regardless of the downsides, I can’t think of any other potential training tool that the average person (or group) might utilize to bring cohesion, work strategy, and even get some small inkling of what it might feel like to be shot at, though, I couldn’t imagine being shot at for real! Those of you who have done–and still do–so in defense of our country, I can only say “thank you” from the depths of my heart and soul as I’m positive it takes a truly special person to put themselves in harms way day-in and day-out. God bless you all.