On my search for fun things to do in Litchfield County I came across Modern Paintball in Falls Village. Oh, yes please! One of those activities that I feel like the rest of the world has tried, but both Lora and I have never had the pleasure. Granted, Lora may have been ok with never checking this off her bucket list, but we have only allowed ourselves a couple of “No Way” cards, and I think she’s saving hers for when I suggest “Unlocking” a tattoo parlor.
Brian Paliwoda and Brendan Nania manage Modern Paintball, and were more than willing to show us the joys of the sport, and yes, it’s most definitely a sport, in fact it’s an extreme sport…which to be honest, hadn’t fully registered with us. All we knew was that we had bought fabulous pink t-shirts for the occasion, stating we were “Pretty in Pink – Dangerous in Camo.” We figured we might come off as an undercover threat, tricking our opponents into thinking we were easy targets until we pulled out our Nikita training (which we would have gained from watching the show obviously). Ok, so maybe we were just easy targets, because paintball is basically a game of hide and seek/tag, and our t-shirts made us lovely pink beacons. Learn from us folks, wear natural, dark clothing…oh and long sleeves are a good idea.
We watch the safety video – do NOT take your goggles off when you’re out on the course, don’t shoot at wildlife, keep the safety on, and other such simple rules. Goggles and masks on, hoppers filled with paintballs, guns filled with air – we’re ready. We had our friend Jeff with us, and a father/daughter trying it out for their first time were also going to join us. It was decided that we’d play boys against girls!
With our guns over our shoulders we walk (picture it in slow motion) to the first game field. Modern Paintball has many different themed play areas with names like “Containment”, “Kill-Box” and “Forest of the Dead.” We were to warm up in “Containment”, a square field made up of shipping containers, walls of tires and plenty of structures to hide behind. Brian instructs us to come up with a strategy; the aim of the game -exterminate the opposing team. We turn to our teammate Nicola (10) who seems to have a plan, she wants to go “center”, Lora decides she’ll go “field right”, and I think I’ll “go long” – seems good. Brian, acting as our ref shouts “GO” and it begins!
Suddenly pink balls are whizzing past my helmet, and it’s every man/woman for themselves! There’s a moment of “holy %^&* what have I got us into” followed by equal parts laughing and screaming. I take aim at Jeff and come close, then remember I have to keep an eye on the Dad…too late, wallop, right in the chest area. Brian had told us it doesn’t hurt because adrenaline kicks in, and he’s right. It does take your breath away for a second but nothing that this tough Scottish chick can’t handle. I have to shout, “hit” and leave the field, allowing me to cheer my team on from the sidelines. I see Lora totally getting into it down field, flushing Jeff out and getting him right in the ankle, ha! This leaves Lora and Nicola against the Dad, two against one. It’s exciting to watch and some sweet firing goes on, Lora coaxes Dad out and Nicola shoots him on the hand. The girls WIN!!
It starts to sprinkle and then pour…but we’re feeling tough, the games will go on! Rain wouldn’t stop Sylvester Stallone, would it?
Our next game is to be in a wooded area, possibly “Forest of the Dead” which has sheds and rivers, trails and log piles; great things to hide/cower behind. We play girls against boys again and we’re all at the same disadvantage of having steamed up goggles and temporary blindness. This field is definitely a bit more advanced; trees can be trickier to hide behind, especially when you’re wearing PINK!
It felt very liberating to be wet and muddy and “SURVIVING”. Eventually Jeff and Nicola are both out and I find myself yelling to Lora, “get the Dad, get the Dad!!” I whisper in Lora’s ear that he’s behind a bush way about 100ft away; she takes aim, and gets him!! We cackle and high five – who have we become?!
This post will be filed firmly under both Fitness and Fun, and if we had a Fearless category, it would go there too, because we were feeling pretty brave at that moment!
If you’re a bit of an adrenaline junkie – paintball is for you. If you like things like Tough Mudders or Spartan Races – paintball is for you. If you like to have a whole lot of fun in a group and do something a little different – give paintball a try. And remember, whatever you’re thinking right now, remember, our 10-year-old friend Nicola did it and loved it!
Photos and video by Tim Lenz and Brian Paliwoda