Paintball provides summer fun for dedicated players

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 29, 2002

Members of the red team Nick Saucier, left, and Paul Turner, kneeling at right, take cover Saturday during a game of paintball at Paintball War Zone at 2050 Birdsong Road in Bovina. During the first game Saturday the red team had to defend the red flag at center while the blue team tried to capture it.(The Vicksburg Post/C. Todd Sherman)

[07/29/02]It’s called the Village, but the place looks like a ghost town. Several shabby tin houses stand under the trees and rusted steel barrels sit next to their doors. A few wooden sheds are scattered over the half-acre field and a dilapidated truck rests on its far end.

During the week, it’s quiet at the Village, one of seven playing fields at Paintball War Zone, 2050 Birdsong Road in Bovina.

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Ricky Warren opened the business two years ago on 40 acres of land behind his house and on weekends activity picks up. The Village and other venues are taken over by people dressed in camouflage, bearing paintball-loaded guns and firing them at each other.

“Come on blue team, y’all are supposed to be experienced,” yelled David Warren, son of Ricky Warren and his wife, Wendy. “Y’all are bein’ chicken. Y’all got 10 minutes to make a move.”

Within seconds, a timid blue team entered the scene and the skirmish began. Yellow and pink paintballs flew through the air at 280 feet per second, ricocheting off barrels, sheds and players. The non-toxic balls are a little larger than a marble and filled with vegetable oil and food coloring.

“Any faster and it would hurt,” said blue team member Cruze Rios, 18, who will be a senior at Vicksburg High School. “It stings right now as it is.”

While at least one local physician has issued a warning against the damage that can be done, especially to eyes, paintball participants wear protective gear and say the risks are minimal.

Balls can leave a quarter-sized bruise on players, but group members said paintball is safer than many other sports.

“I’ve been playing for six years and have never seen an accident,” Rios said.

Players at Paintball War Zone pay about $25 for a match. They are split into two teams of about five players and engage in combat lasting from 10 to 20 minutes. The objective is for one team to try and capture a flag being guarded by the other team. A player hit by a paintball is out until the game is over.

After each game, the teams take a break, then get back to the playing field. Teams usually play three to five games in a morning.

“We just chill (during the breaks) and brag about who we shot,” said blue team member Arcue Sanchez, 18, who will be a junior at Vicksburg High School this fall.

“It’s a big adrenaline rush,” Rios said. “You just got to keep playing.”

Rios and Sanchez and several of their friends, including John Thomason, Paul Turner and Michael Montgomery, play about every other Saturday in the fall, winter and spring. They’ve been on hiatus this summer because of high temperatures.

“The summer’s too hot,” said Turner, 17, who will begin his freshman year at Louisiana Tech University this fall. “In the fall and spring, we’re out here every other weekend, when we have money.”

The Vicksburg teens wear long sleeves and pants so they won’t be seen as easily.

“We just sweat it out,” said Thomason, 18, a May graduate of Vicksburg High School. “We enjoy the game that much.”

Additional layers of clothes during colder weather also create a buffer against flying balls.

“Strategy kind of goes out the window with the first shot,” said red team member Riley Nelson, 25, who was playing the game for the first time.