Do you ever end a day of paintball and think “this used to be a lot more fun” as you’re gearing down to leave? It’s a thought that’s sure to have crossed a lot of players’ minds after a tournament or practice that’s not gone so well. Most of the time the feeling passes quickly, but occasionally it sits in your gut and gnaws at you the rest of the day. This thought of wanting to enjoy playing paintball more than playing to win has probably been the root of players quitting, “taking a break,” or just stepping away from the guns for a while. I don’t think this is a bad thought to have. You should take time to evaluate why you play paintball – what you want to get out of it – and compare that with an honest assessment of what you’re actually taking away from the field each time you leave. It’s not easy to admit that something that you thought was a lot of fun doesn’t have that spark any more. What if there was a way to rekindle that ember with a low-cost, low-pressure tournament that was all about going back to the good old days? That was the idea behind the ‘Murica Open 3 man.
3-man teams, open ranking, small hyperball field, $75 entry, unlimited rate of fire, and a four pod limit. No coaching, but heckling is encouraged. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. Oh, and the captains meeting doesn’t start until 10am, so that even gave me time to make eggs and bacon for breakfast so I could get into ‘Murica spirit. Naturally being a paintball event, even the late start started even later, which gave everyone a chance to catch up with a few paintball buddies they hadn’t seen in a while and look at the field. The Dosser Works hyperball field is made of the classic corrugated tubing with bits of wood, bolts, and foam to hold it all together. Part of the field was cordoned off to keep the field size appropriate for 3 people. For my part, this meant that the blocked side the field was a comfy-sized sideline while the other side had the net as the out of bounds marker. I wasn’t interested in taking the heat from 13+ bps by not having anywhere to escape, so I decided I would be sticking to the ‘Murican sized sideline.
Of all the days of paintball I’ve witnessed, the ‘Murican Open was the most relaxed atmosphere. The only thing that’s come close is the NCPA National Championships and even that had an air of seriousness about it. It was clear from the start that no one was worried about winning or losing, only the refs were keeping track of points. One of the teams ended up being a no-show, so in place of one of their games two teams stepped onto the field to shoot at each other until they ran out of paint (one grabbed a ref shield to play with an advantage). Despite the heat, the slowness of teams to get ready on the field, and starting late, the day surprisingly went smoothly and kept to the schedule with a nice lunch break. At the end of prelims the scores had to be tallied by hand. Some players had had enough of the heat and were hoping to get knocked out so they could hit the pool.
What did I take away from the field at the end of the ‘Murica Open? I saw that there are still plenty of paintball players out there who want to play a competitive game without blowing the whole week’s paycheck. I saw players more interested in having fun on and off the field on a Saturday. I didn’t see coaches stressing over game plans, players pissed off over a ref call, or disappointed faces trying to escape a sour day. I’m not sure if these kinds of tournaments can be put together too often or in too many places and be successful, but I do know that the barrier to entry is low and worth a shot if someone is willing to take it. Maybe it’s as simple as “build it and they will come.”
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