Last Saturday I went to paintball in Wallan – Adrenalin Games – with Rob and his friends [other Rob], Pete and Tim. Other Rob came last time up to Moama, as well.

I’d been working all week, long hours, and finally stopped at 2am Saturday morning. I didn’t get much sleep, so I was pretty tired heading up there, but I was looking forward to shooting stuff. :)

It was a lot faster to get to than I expected – about 75 minutes to Rob’s place, then 40 or so from there. The others all live right round the corner from it, although they’d never been, funnily enough. We arrived at roughly the same time, but while there was a big kids party group (presumably playing Laser Skirmish, not paintball) from that morning, no one else had yet arrived for the afternoon session. We knew others were due, but it was quite a while before they turned up. That was okay though – we weren’t in any particular rush and in any case it was a good chance to get to know the staff and the procedures. Eventually the two other groups turned up – 10 people in total – and we got underway.

I can’t recall the details quite like last time… I’m not sure why, but perhaps because the games were longer and more than just a duck shoot. The weather was hot – low thirties, probably – but surprisingly not too bad. It is a bush field, so it’s a bit cooler under the trees. There was a slight wind at times, but nothing too significant. We also had proper semi-automatic guns, rather than the rather flaky pump-action things we were lumped with at Moama. All these combined such that the guns actually had really good range – at least 50 metres – and at times scarily good accuracy. It was welcome and refreshing to actually have your precision at aiming be a significant factor in the result. And as a result, the game was quite different. The fields were quite big and often quite wide – one was about the size of a footy field. You had a lot of room to move, a lot of cover – both natural from foliage and terrain and artificial from barriers placed about the place – and there was a lot more importance on getting a good position and angle than on just wasting ammo, playing the numbers.

We played five games in total, plus a free-for-all at the end to expend remaining ammo. The first game was unlimited lives, where the winning team is that which has the most kills in total. It was a good warm up – people were a little cautious for the most part, starting out, and so it boiled down to a series of stationary firefights. Rob was very successful in flanking up the high side, which helped our team push the other back a significant distance.

I was surprised and a bit worried about how many rounds I used in the first game – within what seemed like only 60 seconds I had gone through my first 100. I backed off a lot after that, conserving ammo… in total still I probably used a good 150 in that game alone. I’d bought 500 at the outset – the others all seemed to be leaning that way and I was sure I’d use more with the semi-automatic – but even that was seeming conservative at that point.

I was very lucky in the first game – I had a few shots hit me, but they all bounced off. Nonetheless, one of them – on my shoulder – hurt a little… sometimes I think they’re worse when they don’t splatter. I actually got a few kills, but all were against people’s guns, which nobody at that time seemed to recognise as counting. I wasn’t sure myself, so I didn’t worry about it in game, but the ref’s clarified it afterwards. So, I don’t know how many exactly I got, but, two or three at least. Pretty good, I felt, given I hung back a bit for much of that game.

In the second game we used the same field, but swapped ends. I think we had Fifi, a mannequin body in overalls which was placed in the centre of the field, with the objective for each team being to get her into the other team’s base. Rob & I paired up properly in that game, to cover each other, while a few others similarly teamed together well and took the other flank. One or two went down the middle, evidently, because shortly after starting they came racing back with Fifi… I wasn’t all that keen on bringing the mannequin closer to our base, but it did seem like a tactically good move, to gain control of the doll.

We had only two lives in the second game, but that didn’t seem to phase people too much – the other team were even more assertive this time around, but discovered as we had all the problems of advancing past particular points. We held them back pretty well. Rob, myself and another guy covered the high side, up against Pete and at least two others – possibly five at one point, although I think we’d managed to kill one or two at that point.

Pete was funny, and scary. He’s an army guy – very cool, easy going – but consequently quite gung-ho; I saw him coming sprinting across and slide into cover. He then tried to push forward, and ended up behind a tree just in front of another guy, who was in turn just in front of me. It was a bad angle for both of us, as we were getting relentlessly attacked by Pete’s co-conspirators further back.

I contemplated changing position to come round on Pete, which probably would have been a good move, but I was worried about the other guys firing at us, so I didn’t. I knew Pete would get impatient sooner or later, though, and try to push round the flank further. He did, after what seemed like an eternity – and after I’d wasted who knows how much ammo keeping his friends similarly pinned – and it was a quite classic little moment. He went after Rob or someone further back, and I saw his head and gun appear just over a barricade. I popped up for a better angle, and just missed him with a handful of shots. He returned fire briefly, but quickly ducked down and retreated. I don’t know how neither of us managed to hit the other – we were all of five metres away. I suppose it’s just a classic case of the heat of battle..

Anyway, I actually got shot eventually – the barrier I was behind had gaps in it, and it was simply a matter of time and before a shot went through one. I suspect it actually hit the barricade and splattered on me – which doesn’t count as a kill – but I wasn’t sure, and thought I’d better be nice and give them the benefit of the doubt. It didn’t matter much, anyway – it hadn’t hurt a bit, and I had another life.

While Pete had been behind the tree, just near us, I’d been occasionally taking shots at him… but I was hesitant to since my teammate was just in front of me, and my shots were going awfully close past him… in fact we were extremely lucky, in that I fired off a salvo at Pete and stopped just in time, as my teammate stuck his head out – right where the last round flew.

Nothing much more happened after that – the game was nearly over at that point… I hid in our base for a bit, thinking we were running a bit thin on men and might see someone break through, but nothing much was happening. I could hear people firing all over the place, but couldn’t see much. When the ref’s announced 30 seconds to go, I thought bugger it and went for a run up the edge of the high flank, hoping to pop over the barricade and get the only enemy guy on that side to surrender. Unfortunately, I ran too slow, and was just two seconds too late. Ah well.

We then changed fields, to the bigger one I mentioned earlier. We played two games, both medic matches. That means, when you get shot you have to stand where you were shot and wait for another player – on either team – to tag you. So you’ve got unlimited lives, but if your teammates aren’t team players you all end up stuck, and the enemy can waltz through and take your flag. As my team did in the first game – Rob & I took one flank, but so did Pete and other Rob and whoever else, and we all got stuck there wasting ammo. Occasionally someone got shot, but they’d just get tagged back in – they had a long barricade that could fit two or three people easily, whereas we were divided up with separate, smaller barricades, making it much harder for us to tag each other back in.

Rob tried to hide behind a tree, which was a really bad idea – he did well for quite some time, but then got shot and had to wait…. it was a real pain to get to him. Someone else did the first time, and actually got back to safety as well. Then Rob got hit again. I didn’t want him standing out of the game while the rest of us wasted ammo, so I figured what the heck, I’ll make a run for it. I think I also tagged another teammate on the way. Unfortunately, I was all of about a metre from Rob when I got shot from the side, surprisingly. And just as I was raising my gun all the others – Pete/Rob/whoever – noticed I was there and hit me another four or five times. Evil gits. :P It actually knocked me to the ground, although none of them really hurt that much luckily (although one did leave a bruise, I discovered later). Anyway, we were stuck there for a bit, until someone on our team managed to tag us, and I was able to get back to cover.

I decided I was wasting time there – no-one was going anywhere fast, and could see people having a fair bit of trouble on the other side of the field. The field was a small valley, by the way, so while the range was a bit far to shoot across, you could see what was happening very well. We were fighting uphill, but had the advantage of denser and better cover. I made my way across the field slowly… I think I was shot at a little bit, but none came close. There were two of my teammates standing dead, one behind cover and the other in the middle of nowhere. Great, I thought. I made a dash for them, and got to the first guy, but didn’t make it to the second before being shot. So we both stood there for quite a while.

I’m not sure how events ran exactly, because it was hard to see exactly what was going on from there, but someone eventually run up behind and tagged the two of us, and we were back in. They then managed to get a good vantage on the enemy, and we had them nicely pinned. There was only one guy directly in front of us, behind a fallen tree, and the rest were further back or further down the hill – probably tied up in the firefight I’d been in earlier.

We managed to knock out the nearby enemies, and two people went forth to claim the flag. Myself and another guy covered them, and they had no trouble running it back. That was great. Virtually the entire enemy team were out – indeed, they may all have been out – so it was a foregone conclusion at that point.

In the next game we should have done well – we had 8 players versus their 7, also, I forgot to mention – despite the disadvantageous terrain. And we did do well, initially. I took the high side, where we’d succeeded coming through in the previous game, knowing the enemy would try to repeat our success. They didn’t do so as much as I’d expected – again, people got bogged down in a firefight on the other side. I had a reasonable angle on them if they advanced along that side, but as previously noted it was a fair distance, and I was still being a bit conservative with ammo. Plus, by that point I’d had at least a couple of situations where I’d fired off dozens of rounds at someone running perpendicular to my shots, and hit absolutely nothing, so it really would have taken a lot of rounds and a lot of luck to do anything.

Seeing that nothing much was happening where I was, I made my way down into the middle of the field, and started heading up the other flank. The other team at the same time decided the high side looked good, and so it ended up that there were four of my team – albeit two dead – against four of the enemy – with also two dead. The live guy and myself had a good angle on the enemy’s dead, so we were feeling pretty safe. Our two dead teammates were actually inside the enemy base – one probably had the flag when he’d been forced to surrender. I saw the two remaining enemy guys in their base, and was about to start sniping them – which probably would have worked; they weren’t bothering to take cover – when one of them decided to try and rescue his team mates. Other Rob, as it turned out. Pete was one of those who was dead. Anyway, other Rob came sprinting towards them. I opened fire, didn’t hit him on the approach so I swung about and shot him as he slid into his teammates. Unbeknown to me, he’d managed to tag one of them before I got him. So a few seconds later as I turned to get the last remaining guy, Pete shot me. D’oh!

It all went pair shaped very quickly from there. Pete and the other two moved rapidly past us, down to the gully and up the other side to our base, and within 60 seconds Pete came sprinting back with the flag. Damn.

It was such a shit, because if I hadn’t been so nice and stopped firing when I thought I’d hit other Rob, I probably would have hit Pete again, they’d all be dead, we’d have taken out the last enemy guy and been home free, in the same style they ultimately were. Damn damn damn. :(

But, them’s the breaks, anyway. I think our team was still one or two games ahead, anyway, so we were still winning overall. And really, our victory in the previous game had been just as lucky, brazen and decisive as theirs, so we ended up even.

In the break after that the ref’s suggested one more capture the flag game, then a free for all. I don’t think they were in much rush to finish up – they’d said earlier while we were chatting to them that they were happy to hang around as long as we were; more money for them with all the extra ammo we’d use, in any case – but I think at least one of the groups – the Buck’s party – were approaching their full for the day.

The last game used the same field, but only one edge of it really – a few people went off up the far side, but they were a way away from the bases. The aim was simply to get the enemy’s flag and bring it to the ref standing at the half-way point. Simple enough.

We did really well at that, for some reason – we pushed forward quickly, and the enemy seemed to really clam up right at the start, so we captured all the way up to the half-way point without a shot being fired, I think. A few of them came running past me, and I shot at them furiously, but I can’t actually remember hitting them – I think in most cases it was a teammate who finally landed a shot. That was frustrating – I just couldn’t hit moving targets. I wasted a good 50 rounds on one guy, and even though I could see they were all just right – flying past him just in front and behind – I think he escaped. Gah!

And when a few did push forward they had the angle to flank us, but I lay on my stomach and kept shooting until they hid behind a barricade. My teammates, I think, kept them pinned there.

There was a confusing bit, though… I popped up at one point, and saw two guys running towards us / the refs, one of them carrying the enemy flag. I couldn’t see the blue masking tape on their arms to distinguish them as my teammates, despite looking for a good few seconds, so I shot them. I got the one with the flag, and someone else got the other. He dropped the flag, just a few metres from the ref.

It went through my head immediately after I’d shot him that he most likely was my teammate; why would the enemy be running their flag right towards two guys (us), and the ref where we wanted to take it anyway. I didn’t see what happened to him exactly, though – I thought he walked off back to the red base; we lost points for dying but had unlimited lives. So maybe he really was the enemy, and my team had pushed them back on the other side, so they thought they’d get the flag out of their base, and maybe didn’t realise there were two of us right there… we’d only just crawled up there, I think, so it’s plausible they didn’t see us.

Anyway, for a good ten seconds there was just confusion – I was trying to figure out what was going on with the flag, no-one was apparently shooting at me, and the refs were just standing there apparently as confused as we were. So, since nothing else was happening, I screamed out “Sod it!” (possible not those exact words ;) ) and ran for the flag. I grabbed it, got it back to the ref, and ran all the way back to my base, fearing retaliatory fire in my back. Nothing. Bizarre. We scored – 50 points to blue, yay! – and the game kept going; 50 points for a capture, -5 if you die, highest score at the end wins.

I knew the game was nearly over at that point, though, so I thought I’d hide back in our base in case the enemy team got up off their lazy rear’s and actually made a move on our flag. Indeed, I think there was only one guy of our team on the whole stretch between the two bases, so they could have pushed through pretty easily.

Rob came back at one point and decided to go up the other side and round. He was only part way when he got bogged down in a one-on-one, and ultimately the game ended without him making any significant progress there. But then it was one-on-one time. I could a few people having real fun further over, where most of the players were… I wasn’t really keen on the free-for-all idea… I like the idea of having some allies, not being a neurotic xenophobic maniac. Rob & I had tentatively agreed not to have at each other in the free for all, so I let him go. I couldn’t resist, however, taking shots against one guy who made a sprint up the middle of the field to attack Rob. He was completely oblivious to me, and I had a good shot at his back, although the distance was significant. I wasted a fair bit of ammo against him, until he finally hid from me. He and Rob were having it off, and Rob retreated up the hill. The guy went to follow, crawling up the side of the fallen tree with his posterier far too high in the air. I simply couldn’t let that go buy unpunished. It took a lot of shots, but I did get him. He complained about it afterwards – while it hadn’t hurt me a bit when Sverra shot me in the butt last time we were paintballing, apparently this guy wasn’t nearly so lucky. :D

I ran out of ammo, and figured that was it. However, I still had 100 rounds left that I’d paid for – although I knew I could get a refund on them – so I thought what the hey. It was possibly a poor choice – I ended up stuck between two barricades, one very flimsy, and pinned from both sides. Luckily, though, I ran out of ammo quickly and resigned myself from the game without being hit too much. :)

In the end, it turned out other Rob and Tim – brothers – were the last two with ammo left. So, rather than doing a one-on-one in the shrub, the refs suggested they do a 10-paces-duel. It was quite funny – everyone else got to watch them do their ten paces, turn, and then unload 30 or so rounds each into each other – a good 10 of which probably hit. Other Rob in particular was very bruised on his stomach, where he copped several shots more or less on the same spot. He doubled over after the duel, obviously in a bit of pain, but he recovered quickly enough. And he ended up with some wicked bruises to show for it. :D

Plus, he’d been saying earlier that he really wanted to get shot, to know what it felt like. Well, he got his wish, 10x over. :D

And that was it… we all wandered back, turned in our equipment, and sorted out any remaining fiscal details. We ended up standing around for a good twenty minutes or so, chatting with two of the refs, before we finally left.

All in all, it was pretty bloody fantastic. Far, far far better than Moama, in virtually every respect. The fields were much more interesting, being actual bush rather than cardboard cut-out types, the guns were better, our opponents were pretty decent guys who played fair… and most importantly, the staff were really great – easy going, eager to please, and completely non-anal about ammo and whatnot; when I first filled up all of about 3 balls missed my reservoir and were wasted in the ground, so the guy gave me another half a bag to make up for it. Completely unnecessary, and massively appreciated. And, beautifully enough, I later went for a refill and couldn’t fit the last twenty or so in. He told me to remind him next time and he’d be sure I got them then, but I didn’t actually think to at the time, and didn’t mind in any case – it worked out pretty fair in the end, but he’d shown class first in giving me extra, so kudos to him.

I think everyone was very happy, and very impressed. It was the first time a lot of the people there had been paintballing, and I’m almost sad that they may not fully appreciate how great the staff were.

So, I’m hoping we can go back soon… I’d do next weekend myself, except Rob & Pete are away – hiking in Tasmania, which would be sweet, and Rob invited me, but I couldn’t take that much time off right now – plus I think they’d feel the pinch a bit on their wallets.

Thus, I’m putting it off for about three weeks… hopefully by then everyone who was there will be motivated and funded enough to go back. And with a bit of luck I can actually get some of the wet buggers down this end of the world, whom I nominally call friends, to join us. :P

After the game we went over to Wallan – not far – to get something to eat. We ended up with pizza, which was nice if non too original, but there was a surprising variety – a few cafes, a pub – of course, country town and all :) – and whatnot. There’s not a lot to Wallan, the town, but what’s there is good.

From there we parted ways and Rob & I returned to his place. I had a Big-M as we were driving back, and by the time we got back to Rob’s I was so tired, I really didn’t want to have to drive all the way back home… but I did, and eventually the milk wore off and I had enough energy to last out the rest of the night (albeit only doing work).

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