It’s entertaining to see what shakes out in games like this. Who leads, who follows, who dives for cover and claims to “…be a sniper. You guys go on. I’ll cover ya.” And there are people who lead because they have a background that they feel will help. It’s interesting to see where that goes, sometimes.

At one paintball afternoon, my little group was playing with a family that had come to the park for the first time. The mom and the daughter in the family took a hit or two, and quit. I’m not here to prop up unfair stereotypes, but that’s what happened. The dad, though, was getting shot out as much as I was (I get shot a lot) but seemed a lot more confident than the average newbie.

Turns out he was a sheriff’s deputy or a police officer or something. I can’t recall exactly, but you get the idea. As more people joined the game, I found myself standing alongside him in the dead box, watching the ‘live’ players play. A player leapt from cover, and ran toward different cover, along the backside of the playing field. It was a longish sprint, so I had time to say, “Well, he’s dead” and the officer had time to say “A moving target is harder to hit.” before the guy took one (or five) across the side and back.

I asked some questions and realized that the officer was using his law enforcement training. He was trying to cover ground, advance on targets, and not use up ammo as the game went on. That’s actually not good game advice, even if it’s great real-world advice.

In paintball, if you sprint a long distance, it just means that you’re exposed for a good long while. The other team isn’t trying to draw a bead and make the one shot count. They’re playing paintball. There are as many as a hundred and fifty paintballs in their hoppers and their guns don’t always shoot accurately. When someone bursts from hiding, the best strategy is often to spray as many paintballs in the general area as possible, visually tracking them to place the next one closer to your target. Shoot at a running figure twenty five times to take him out? Why not? It’s not like you had to stop and reload or anything.

Turns out that playing video games is probably better practice for paintball than actually knowing what to do in a real-world gunfight.