portland paintball

631 NE Grand, 233-1105 www.portlandpaintball.us Call for Prices (Group Discounts)

Paintball is a soul-searching exercise that tells a person more abut inner courage than any silly inkblot test. Like the strategies devised for chess, the way a person plays a game of paintball is indicative about how one approaches life--either cautiously or aggressively. There are two basic successful methods: Hide and crouch as a sniper, or charge headfirst into battle. I foolishly chose the latter.

Located in a large warehouse along Grand Avenue, the field is laid out on a dirt and sawdust floor that spans about 50 square yards. Throughout the field are hay bails and plywood structures labeled "church" and "tavern," to give the feeling of a bombed-out European city. On the afternoon I went, it was open play: you vs. a bunch of strangers. In my case, the strangers were a throng of junior-high boys.

For most games, players split into two squads. Capture the Flag adopts the fundamentals from, yes, Capture the Flag. Two teams square off, each trying to cross into the other's territory and grab a flag without being hit. After being shelled hard during the first game, we discovered that we could import strategies from "Miami Vice." I would yell "cover me," before rushing forward. Meanwhile, my buddy would lob shots towards the hidden snipers. Working in tandem, we leapfrogged into the 12-year old boy's enemy territory. Dodgeball is a most robust game. Again, squads face off. This time they cannot cross the middle dividing line. If a player is hit by a paintball, he has to switch to the other team. The game ends when one team has "captured" all the players.

I have to admit I had several reservations before playing. The first concern was welts and bruises. I have sensitive testicles, and I'd been told that paintballs sting. But with lots of layers, a wool cap and gloves, I had no visible marks. My other concern, however, was more philosophical. While I'm ga-ga over gadgetry and the number-one fan of Alias, I am decidedly anti-war. I was worried that too much fun killing others at paintball would inspire an ideological shift. But, as much as the games pumped up my adrenaline, it's been a whole week and I haven't sniped anyone.

To get the most for your money, check out Portland Paintball's group rates. Even though playing with 12-year-old commandos was exhilarating, blasting the shit out of your friends for three wonderful hours is much more satisfying. Make sure to invite that guy Jimmy--you know the one who touched your girlfriend's ass at Josie and Bob's wedding reception. He needs a good pummeling. PHIL BUSSE