Senior regrets paintballing experience on East Coast

September 7, 2016 — by Spring Ma

Student tries paintballing

It was 100 degrees out in the clammy East Coast humidity, and all I wanted to do was stay wherever there was AC. Instead, I found myself in the middle of the woods somewhere in Philadelphia, with white paint dripping into my mouth and a terrible headache.

Over the summer, I was at a camp hosted by the University of Pennsylvania when my friends decided to go paintballing. I signed myself up without hesitation, eager to attempt a sport that had been on my bucket list for years.

Little did I know that paintballing was a death trap — or so it felt when our counselors told us that we could not cover ourselves with any gear other than helmets. Scrambling to pull together a somewhat protective outfit, I stole a sweater from my roommate and pulled on the only pair of long pants I brought.

After an hour-long bus ride into a completely forested area, all 150 of us were shepherded off the bus. A man dressed in full camouflage told us to take off all outer layers, citing the potential of heat stroke in this weather. This was when the day’s nightmare hit its final phase for me — with not even an illusion of safety in my mind, we marched toward the battlefield.

The actual act of paintballing proved to be a lot more rugged and savage than I had expected. I felt like I was in “Lord of the Flies” as I clung onto my friend’s arm and my gun for dear life, throwing up red flags to claim our team’s property.

For a couple moments, adrenaline overtook my fear. My friend and I captured a few tents, but soon enough, I felt random things slamming into my neck — coming from the direction of my own teammates. Even though my arms were up and flailing in surrender, my confused teammates kept on shooting at me, thinking I was an enemy team member. Aghast, I scurried away to the only safe area I could find.

I actually got in trouble for running for my life — soon after, a worker took away my gun, saying I had illegally left boundaries. Annoyed by his bogus customer service, I never returned for a second game.

That concluded my paintballing experience. I was shot a couple times in the face, but the worst shot hit my outer thigh — the ball had come from someone so close to me that it shredded through my soccer pants, leaving a swelling bruise.

I can cross paintballing off my bucket list now, but frankly, I may never have the desire to enter a forested area ever again. Maybe I just encountered a bad situation (plenty of paintballers on Instagram seem like they were in normal societal areas, protected with sturdy gear), but I recommend anyone with the slightest ounce of self-preservation to avoid paintballing at all costs. Just remove it from your bucket list. It hurts.

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