"The Marines got into it just recently," says Ryan Greenspan, founding member of the professional paintball team San Diego Dynasty. "They see it as a militant sport because guns are involved. I don't think there are any people in the pro scene at all that are enlisted in the military. If anything, [paintball] pretty much gives you a sense of why you shouldn't [enlist] -- in a ten-minute game, I can get shot pretty quick." Wikipedia defines paintball as "a combat sport in which participants eliminate opponents from play by hitting them with [paint-filled capsules that burst on impact] shot from a compressed-gas-powered 'marker' [or gun]."
Dynasty will compete for the Professional Paintball's Commander's Cup in the World Series of Paintball at Qualcomm Stadium this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. "The majority of paintball is played in the woods, recreationally, on the weekends," explains Greenspan. "On the mapped-out field in the tournament it's all symmetrical -- 'mirrored' on each side -- and you're doing the same thing repetitively. But that's why it's better as a spectator sport -- you can see clearly across. In the woods there are more options."
Recreational paintball enthusiasts often participate in scenario games in which there are objectives beyond simply shooting members of the opposing team. "At SC Village [Chino, California], they'll have scenario games two or three times a year where you'll have to guard the president or find briefcases with fake documents. I've never gone to one of those, but they get a couple of thousand people to come out and play, and there are 24-hour overnight scenarios where you camp out."
At SC Village, there are 16 "fields," recreated landscapes in which American troops have conducted battle. For example, Field C is Taliban City, Field F is Iraq, and Field H is North Vietnam. The others include Kuwait, Bosnia, Germany, and Somalia. In an article for Kansas City's digital magazine infoZine, Michelle Key reports that "National Guard soldiers who have not completed basic training" participated in a "regional training day" that included "paintball exercises." One member of the guard that Key spoke with, specialist Amy Newman, told her, "The paintball training gave the soldiers an opportunity to experience the type of combat that they may face in the future."
According to the National Professional Paintball League's website, paintball is the number-one extreme sport in the United States, with 9.97 million participants. Though he compares the sport to a "real live video game" with "action going on all the time," Greenspan describes the more paramilitary-oriented scenario games as "bizarre" and doesn't agree with the label of paintball as a paramilitary sport. "I don't like associating paintball with the military, because paintball sometimes gets a bad rap. But that's what it looks like to a lot of people, especially [when players are] in the woods wearing camouflage." Dynasty's uniforms are blue with pinstripes.
"Two weeks ago I did a clinic in England," says Greenspan. "I get paid to fly out there and teach a group of people drills and techniques. We'll set up boxes and cones and have them run around and shoot them. We teach them what we do on the field and run people through drills. There are hundreds of drills that we know." Included in this instruction is the optimum way to shoot while running. "You want to eliminate as much bounce in your stride as possible," writes Greenspan in an instructional handout. "The more your body moves up and down, the less accurate your shots are going to be."
Greenspan moved to San Diego from Northern California seven years ago to attend San Diego State University. He hopes to continue playing professionally "into my 30s -- probably when I'll start getting slow." He's 25 now. "It's pretty cool to know that you're one of the best at what you do in the world. Our team has won more events and championships than any other team."
Despite the good run, Dynasty is entering the finals in second place. "We had a hiccup in Kansas City," says Greenspan. "We kind of zigged when we should have zagged." -- Barbarella
Super 7 World Series of Paintball
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
November 30 to December 2
7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
9449 Friars Road, Mission Valley
Cost of Grandstand Seating: Friday, free; Saturday and Sunday, $10 (Saturday and Sunday both, $15)
Info: 909-230-4388 or http://www.nppl.com