Thursday, July 10, 2014

Paintball reveals the ugly side of everyone

Several years ago, things didn't go well for Peter Brooks when his former employer bused his division to a suburban Washington, D.C., field. They were divided into teams for a round of paintball. 
"We were issued safety goggles and paintball guns, one of which immediately misfired. It hit a district manager in the crotch," Brooks says. 
He remembers that the game quickly devolved into screaming, pleading and retaliatory rage — the paintballs left large welts. 
"A lot of people pointed their guns right at their supervisors, me included," Brooks says. "I shot mine right in the middle of the back, and then when he spun around with revenge in his eyes, I surrendered." 
The bus ride home, he says, was dead silent. 
"I think we were all really unprepared at the impact, literally — emotionally and physically — the impact of shooting paintballs at each other," Brooks says. "People were very mad at each other. There were apologies. There were heartfelt apologies."
I've never played paintball, but I can imagine what giving pretend guns to irritable people would be like. 


  1. I remember trying out paintball for my first time in San Diego. I liked most of the people I was playing with. I don't have that gung-ho spirit, but I did shoot one of my colleagues in the head (by mistake, honest). My supervisor was not there. (no comment). And I don't think it was company-sponsored.

  2. There's a brilliant scene in the Pratchett / Gaiman masterpiece "Good Omens" in which a middle-manager team-building paintball outing goes awry when through an act of god / other their guns become real guns. Worth reading just for that part alone. But the rest of the book is equally hilarious.

  3. Bring the MoviesJuly 10, 2014 at 5:01 PM

    I had a very bad experience with my post-doctoral advisor. I'm pretty sure after my paper was submitted he would have fired me (to prevent this, I announced in an e-mail that my last day was a certain date, and I did get a paper out of it). In fact, he cussed me out three times "You dirty sone of a bitch!" 3 times. Of course, once was after I went to the department chair and complained.

    At some point I challenged him to a game of paint ball, as a joke. The challenge seemed fitting, as my post-doc was done in a former confederate state.

    He said: "I have vacation time in July, and Ill have to find a nanny for my son."

  4. First off, paintball is not for pussies. High speed flexible plastic/gelatin projectiles will leave some lingering marks.

    I recall my 13-year old daughter's first experience with paintball. We were doing a 3-on-3 version "capture the flag" in the desert outside in some rugged terrain. She was short of stature and was easily able to hide in some of the terrain, especially when she cammied up with all of the local flora. I was making a not-so-stealthy approach towards her side's flag. I just slipped on some loose rocks on a downhill path and she pops up from under a bush and plants three in my chest rapid fire. To rinse that wound with vinegar and salt she hoots out, "Three-center of mass- just like you taught me, daddy! Woot! Ha!!"

    Evidently, some lessons from dad didn't go to waste...

  5. I wonder if anyone tried to make paintballs from gelignite - a flexible nitroglycerine composition thickened with nitrocellulose...

    1. Now I wonder if the pressure excursion on firing would cause an (uncontrolled) deflagration/detonation in the paintball gun.