Apr 13, 2010

Gunning for the title

by Nathan Brown

He looks to the left, right and then left again. He’s pinned down behind his bunker as a torrent of ammunition flies over him. He takes the opportunity to reload.

“Delta, Delta, S-3, S-3.” He hears a groan as the man next to him is slammed with enemy rounds. McCready is down.

He is the only one left with at least three men spraying ammo at him less than twenty yards away. Training kicks in. He takes a deep breath to steady his breathing. Inhale.

His mind is now clear as he mentally triangulates the position of his opponents based on where their rounds are hitting his bunker. One to the left: 10 yards. Two together on the right. Lefty is burning ammo furiously. One of the Righties stops firing. A new stream slams into his bunker from further on the right. They split up and are coming in for the kill.

Think. Think. “I have to lose these guys. I have to live.”

First move: run to the low bunker to the left. That will make Lefty follow me with his ammo. He’ll miss. The Righty on the move will try to flank. Duck behind the low barrier, pop up once, and go back down to draw ammo— that’ll tell me where he is. Move cover to cover and hit Lefty as he’s reloading. One guy left. He hasn’t moved. Leave my foot out on the left side of the bunker to make him shoot left. When he does, pop out of the right side and stitch him in the side. Ready?

Relax, it’s just paintball. Here at Liberty University, Fuix Saechao and his team of guys live for this stuff.

“I play paintball because of the rush that comes with it,” Saechao said.

“One minute!” is the call from the referee. Teams on both side of the paint-soaked field rush to check air-levels in their gun’s tanks, toggle their double-triggers to get the restlessness out of their itchy trigger hands and review strategy both mentally and verbally.

“Thirty seconds!” More air-checks, more toggling, more reviewing.

“Ten seconds!” All unnecessary activity stops. An airhorn sounds the start of the match.

Immediately, the thunderous roar of 150 rounds a second fills the crisp mountain air. Within the first six seconds of the match almost 1,000 rounds have been spent. By the time the match is over, Saechao willhave quarter-sized bruises to remind him he should have stayed put.

“I started off in wood-ball and got hooked on (speedball) because of the speed, the intensity, the rush. You’re one person on a team that can do something,” Saechao said.

Enemy fire isn’t all Saechao has to watch out for.

“At nationals we broke out once and I got shot by my own teammate in the back. My own teammate shot me in the back,” Saechao jokes.

By himself and outnumbered, he had to make something happen. And he did. He took out Lefty and both Righties, tagged the opponent’s wall and scored a point for Liberty University.

“I want to lose the other person. I want them to think I’m here when I’m over there. Make them play your game.”

Saechao’s favorite part of paintball?

“Shooting people,” he laughs.
Relax, it’s just paintball.

Contact Nathan Brown at

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