As Josh Hoffman is sitting behind a bunker, breathing heavily. The mission is not over, and Hoffman cannot stop thinking about how his friends were picked off one by one by an enemy during battle. All he can do now is what he has been training to do, and that is shoot the adversary, grab the target, and head across enemy lines toward pay dirt.
Hoffman is playing paintball. The object is to eliminate the opposition by striking them with pellets filled with paint shot from guns. Most guns are powered by either carbon dioxide for smaller guns or compressed-gas for larger, more expensive guns.
The games that can be played vary, but one the K-State Paintball Club practices and competes in the most is five-on-five matches called Speedball. The game features inflatable bunkers, a flag in the middle of the bunkers and six referees. The field is usually the size of a basketball court. Team members try to eliminate the other team by shooting them, then go to the middle of the field to retrieve the flag and hang it on the opposing team’s starting box before the five-minute time limit runs out.
Hoffman, sophomore in architectural engineering and the club’s president, said that K-State competes in two Speedball tournaments every year, with each tournament set up in bracket styles.
Hoffman said every tournament is different. Most either have points awarded for shots on the other team if no one captures the flag during the time allowed, or the team can win by simply capturing the flag and hanging it on the opponents’ box.
Speedball is a competition Hoffman said the Wildcats have performed particularly well in during previous years.
“In 2006 and 2007 we were runner-ups at the paintball championships,” he said.
Trapper Callender, senior in anthropology, said Recreational Services added the club at K-State in 2000. The team first started out with only a handful of players who just wanted to play paintball.
“I started playing [paintball] because it looked fun, and when I was little I used to go out and play guns,” Callender said. “Now we can go out and shoot each other with real guns.”
The K-State Paintball Club is part of the National Collegiate Paintball Association, a nonprofit organization comprised of all college paintball clubs and teams from across the nation. Since the club has formed, it has competed in a variety of competitions such as three-man teams, five-man teams and X-ball teams.
Though the K-State club plays Speedball during competition, X-ball is a game that most on the team said they like more. It is almost identical to Speedball but has more players. The game has two 20-minute halves, and each team scores points by capturing the flag. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.
Since paintball is a sport where people are constantly shooting others and wearing protective gear is important, Callender says that this hobby can be quite expensive.
“Paints are usually $50 to $100,” Callender said. “You need pod packs that carry your extra paintballs for when you run out, and those are usually $50. You need gloves, a mask and for tournament play, a gun that uses carbon fiber, so you could spend up to $2,000 for the really good equipment if you’re serious.”
If anyone wants to join the K-State Paintball Club, the team practices at Rampage Paintball in Junction City on Sunday afternoons. Those with paintball equipment already only pay $5 for the day to play at the field, but for those who do not have equipment, Rampage Paintball rents out gear for the day for about $50.
Though people might think getting hit by a paintball will hurt, Eric Steele, sophomore in electrical engineering and newcomer to the club, said getting hit by a paintball might not hurt as badly as one might think.
“When you first start out, you’re nervous about getting hit,” Steele said. “After a while, you really don’t think about the pain.
“You just think, ‘Man, I just got out.”