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Hidden Shot

A Paintball Story

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I was playing on a field in the desert in late summer, meaning all grass on the field was dead and brown. The primary cover consisted of stands of scrub oak (a short, scraggly oak tree that ranged from a few feet to maybe twenty feet in height) and a few small hills and ditches to hide behind. The people playing on the field were wearing desert-style camouflage and they provided some of the best camo that I’ve seen on a paintball field, effectively allowing people to blend in when in the shade of the trees. The grass was too short to hide in.

We were playing simple elimination with about five or six players on a team. The field was a few acres in size, so the game consisted of moving between stands of trees, using the ditches or small hills and trying to out-move the other team. On this particular game I found myself starting on the lower side of the field moving diagonally across the field.

As I moved across the field I could hear people firing at each other at the far corner of the playing area. Since I wanted to get involved in the game I started to move toward that area and started to move behind a stand of scrub oak. As I worked behind the stand, maybe fifteen feet wide, I heard something and froze. I had heard what I thought was a footstep so I slowly crouched down and started to look down the field, trying to guess what was there. I was hidden in the shadows of the scrub oak and looked past a few trees and could see another stand of trees about forty feet ahead. This smaller stand was the only cover that was within what I would consider earshot, so I stared at it. I couldn’t see anything or anyone, so I wondered whether the noise I heard was an animal or, if it was a player, if they had fled into a ditch or moved away.

As I looked, I saw one place that I thought there maybe could be a person hiding. It wasn’t that I saw anyone, just that I saw a place that if a person were behind the trees, that’s probably where they would be. I had been moving pretty quietly across the field, so I thought there was a pretty good chance that I hadn’t been seen, yet. That meant that if I decided to shoot, then I would instantly give up my position. If I wasn’t trying to stay concealed, I would have just shot a few times where there may have been a person and then moved on. I sat for probably ten seconds (which felt like much, much longer) considering what I should do.

Finally, I decided that it was worth it to shoot and then run. Since I figured that the my position was still pretty well hidden, I decided that I would only shoot once – that way I would give away the stand of trees I was behind, but probably wouldn’t give away where I as behind the trees. I also had to keep in mind the leaves in front of me, since a paintball brushing against them would instantly break before it crossed the 40 feet of open space, and the stand of trees where I thought the player might be hiding.

The Shot

I aimed at where I thought the player was and slowly squeezed the trigger. I watched the paintball leave my barrel and instantly knew I had not aimed well. The paintball went high and to the side. As I watched it, though, it went through a small gap in the trees and I heard a solid “thump” and my opponent yelled out “HIT!” and raised his gun and walked out. It turned out that what I thought could have been a player was nothing and what I had assumed was a tree trunk was actually the side of the player. He was so well blended in that I had no idea he was there, but my bad shot had somehow scored a direct hit.

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