Nerdcore's Paintball History
In the beginning
Everything started with a paintball marker... in pieces.
End of winter, around February of 2003, I was at an aunt's house hanging with the family. Pretty normal day, i visited my cousins regularly. One of my older cousins was cleaning something. I never really talked to the guy, i was closer to other cousins, but this particular time i was overly intrigued by this collection of objects he was tending to. So I asked. Turns out it was the bolt assembly of a Dye Matrix. That moment sparked our very first real conversation, and it was all about paintball.
I spent the next couple months joining paintball forums online, doing some research, and finally ordered my own set of gear from Action Village: VForce Shield mask, Spyder E99 marker, 20 oz co2 tank, Viewloader Revlution loader, and Action Village's own 4+1 pod pack w/ 4 free Fatboy pods. Lucky for me, my cousin still had his spyder, and a ton of upgrades for it that he generously donated to the E99.
My first time
First time out was much like many people. No legit paintball park or field, just out on private property. Outlaw ball. This particular game was hosted by some guys who ran a local shop, set up in an auction yard by some kind of waterway. It was full of old buses & junk cars, piles of wood, & lots of gravel. By the time we all met up, it was closing in on dusk so we only got in a few games.
First game was pretty confusing; keeping track of who's who in the waning sunlight, wondering if my hits are landing on anything (or anyone), humidity fogging up my glasses. I didn't move around much. First hit i took, directly to the left shoulder. From my own cousin. Felt it, but it didn't hurt.
Second game, While running between buses, i slipped on the gravel and landed on my right knee. I was wearing knee pads but they must've slid past the knee. Hurt pretty bad. Never even knew where anyone was, until my cousin waved at me a few minutes later to tell me it was over.
Last game, the rest of the guys were done but my cousin & I decided to play a one-vs-one. Didn't take long before he got me in the goggles. One shot.
Afterward, we chatted with the guys for a bit, then took off. Turns out my knee was busted open from the fall in the gravel, so we dropped by Target for some medical supplies. Then spent the rest of the night at Starbucks.
Getting the gang together
The photo here is from one of our first times at a real paintball park. Me, some cousins & some friends, posing for the camera. I'm the fat guy in the middle, although i've lost weight since then, thank jinkee.
We played at a park called Sherwood Forest Paintball in American Canyon, CA, near where pretty much everyone except me lived. They had a couple woodsball fields, a speedball field with bunkers made of huge drainage pipes (called hyperball), and an airball field. My cousin had been playing there off and on for years before the rest of us started. Soon, playing there became a monthly, sometimes weekly, event.
Lots of paintball, lots of gear changes, lots of updates & upgrades... lost & lots of money. We'd spend time and cash at a couple local shops: Delta Paintball in Concord, and Darrin's Gun Exchange (now called DGX) in Napa.
Good times, plenty of quality family time.
Carving my own path
We played a lot of recball together for years. But as time went by, everyone else started to play less & less. Some didn't have the time, some didn't have the money, and some didn't have either.
Since the drive to Sherwood was pretty far for me anyway, i started going solo to closer fields. Very close fields, in fact. About 15 minutes from my house was a field called Wild Adventure Paintball (WAP). Family owned & operated, quite possibly the friendliest paintball park on Earth. They didn't emphasize tourney-style play, and rarely set up airball, so games were purely recreational. Just plain fun.
With a closer field came the need for a closer store. After a little searching, i found Tracer Paintball in Dixon. Some of the employees even played at WAP. Bought all my paint there, and lots of my gear. Shopped there so much, they hooked me up with free swag that i still have to this day: free swabs, Tracer barrel cover, Tracer headwrap, even a couple license plate frames that say "I'd rather be playing paintball."
Wasn't long before i discovered another local field: Davis Paintball, owned by Micah McGlocklin of Sacramento XSV. After a day playing, i inquired about working there. Earn free entry, earn free paint, work for a pro player. And so it came to pass - referee and regular of Davis PB.
The Age of Fury
Some people can play this game leisurely, go through life just being the weekend warrior then back to school or the office on monday. But others develop an urge. A necessity to experience the sport-defined aspect of paintball - tournaments.
In 2008, I responded to a post online. A small group of guys from Grass Valley wanted to enter local tournaments but needed a couple alternate players. We met up at yet another nearby field, Midway Paintball in Vacaville. Three friends, me, and another guy from the online forum. We played a few games, did a few drills, and at the end of the day it was official. I was the new recruit of the amateur 3-man team, Nor*Cal Fury.
The first local tourneys we entered were organized by a couple fields, one being Midway. It was called NCPS - the Nor Cal Paintball Series. Our first tournament was at Antioch Paintball Park, in Antioch. And it was quite the experience. Intense. Crazy. And what none of us expected, we made it to the finals - and second place! We played the next NCPS event, which didn't go as well as the first one. Not bad, but no fancy trophy. I managed to convince my cousin, the person who got me started, to join us for the final event. Lots of fun, but again, none of that beginner's luck.
The next season, our captain decided we could step it up a notch. After more recruiting, we entered the first event of the new year as a 5-man team. It was raining, it was cold. We played in puddles, with frozen knuckles. Weather was so bad (and so poorly run), that the event coordinators had to cut it short. Some of us believed that robbed us of a shot at first place, but as it happened we landed third. Shiny medals, all around.
The next event wasn't very successful, and our captain felt the NCPS wasn't where the action was. After a short team discussion, we jumped into a different series, a new one called PFOA - Paintball Field Owners Association. Cheaper entry fee, more reliable registration system, and cash prizes.
Unfortunately, the team didn't have the spark anymore, and our captain called it quits. Not just our team, but paintball altogether. He left the team in the hands of my fellow initial recruit, and we entered another PFOA event under new management. Still, we weren't the fearsome band of ruffians we were in the beginning. And our new captain was offered a spot on a new team, a team with more experienced players aimed at entering higher events. So he left for greater things.
At this point, I was accepting the fact that Fury would be no more. Yet the remaining team wasn't ready to quit. As the last of the Fury elders, I was appointed the new captain out of default. Reluctantly, because i was probably the worst person to take charge. And we were short a few players. And we weren't able to go back down to 3-man because we now exceeded the qualifications.
So I recruited some new members. But success never came back, and the new recruits slowly left one by one. By the end of 2010, the age of Fury had ended. And it was back to recball.
Extracurricular activities, and the future
With the time spent playing tournaments, came the realization that recreation is where my heart and soul for this game truly is. Having fun, stress-free, no worries.
I dabbled in a couple free pump tournaments, but merely for fun. That sparked my interest in pump play, which is fantastic since it's cheaper to play pump - don't need as much paint, so it cuts down the greatest reoccurring cost. Davis PB began hosting Pump Days every month as well as the pump tourneys, and that became a regular thing.
Davis also began Big Game Days each month, which were mini scenario games... and free hot dogs. There'd be attack/defend, spawn point capture, flag run, etc, with large numbers - 100+ vs 100+, BIG games, and lots of fun. Oh, and did i mention free hot dogs?
Those would ultimately be the only times I ever played, until I moved across the country. Now, it's only a matter of time until I find a new home at a new field, and the story can begin again.