The second day of Marne Week kicked off Wednesday with events like the 10K fun run, skeet and trap shoot, horseshoes and dodgeball.
But the event that drew hundreds of soldiers and family members looking for fun was the paintball competition at Holbrook Recreation Area’s speedball field.
“We’ve organized a double-elimination tournament made up of battalion teams,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Brad Craig, an Apache pilot serving as the paintball competition’s officer in charge. “We have 21 teams signed up, five men per team.”
Craig said the objective of the team competition is to eliminate the enemy, adding that some teams are more aggressive than others. He said when two aggressive teams go at each other it’s like a shootout with lots of water-soluble, dye-filled paintballs flying at each competitor.
The paintballs are fired from weapons that look like a cross between an assault rifle and a water pistol. A paintball hit leaves a mark on clothing and sometimes on the mask, which is the only required safety equipment.
“A hit is a hit,” Craig said. “There are some games where a hit in a non-vital area of the body might require the player to limp or not use that arm or whatever. But for our competition, if you’re hit anywhere on your body, you’re out.”
Craig said some teams will go at each other with so much aggression that they eliminate each other almost immediately. Other teams use military tactics of fire and maneuver, in which one or two players move to the next barrier or point of cover while the other players lay down a barrage on the other team. He said when teams play it safe, the competition lasts for 10 to 15 minutes.
Craig said he was more into paintball when he was younger but still enjoys the excitement of the competition. When asked if he was good at it, Craig grinned but didn’t say anything.
The first teams had aggressive competitors and ferociously attacked each other. Some players were hit several times before the referee could pronounce them out of the game.
While a referee chided one player for staying behind the barrier too long and told him he had to keep moving, a player on the other team raced up the side of the course and fired away at the cautious player. They were the only competitors still in the game.
For charging headlong toward the player behind a barrier, the reckless player received a paintball to his forehead. The sound of its impact could be heard from the sidelines. As yellow paint oozed down his facemask, there was no doubt he was out of the game.
After two days of shooting it out, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team units were the paintball champions by claiming first and second place. The winning team of the Marne Week paintball competition was 4th IBCT’s Brigade Special Troops Battalion, and second place went to the 4th IBCT’s 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment. Third place went to 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team’s 1st Battalion, 41th Field Artillery.