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Paint pistol battles


A pair of last year’s paintball tournament winners at ICU Paintball.

A pair of last year’s paintball tournament winners at ICU Paintball.

The room is still; the air thick with anticipation. Spectators gather around the outside netting to watch and discuss tactics they would use to ensure victory if roles were reversed. The four on the field — two teams of two — no doubt have their own plans of attack. Peering out across the artificial field, somewhere among the inflatable rockets, cones and tombstones of blue and yellow, is the enemy. What’s it going to be: paint or be painted?

“It’s competitive in a friendly way. That’s the way we like to run it indoors,” said Todd Billings. ICU Paintball’s owner.

Billings has been helping Iowans with their paintball needs for more than 20 years, including occasional tournaments like the one it’s hosting on Sunday, Feb. 24. The day-to-day play at ICU Paintball isn’t only about shooting the other team’s players. The two-man tournament will be different because it will also incorporate a capture-the-flag aspect to entice players to take risks and come out of hiding. Points can be scored for eliminating opponents, being the first to grab the flag from the center as well as hanging the flag in a set location.

The added dimension to an otherwise shoot-em-up style of play will show the skill and strategy of these players. Some may favor a guerilla warfare style, others lie in wait, and some may execute distractions or red herrings. Regardless of the tactic, there’s no arguing with the obvious agenda: Eliminate the opposition, and you can walk up and take the flag with ease.

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While all are invited to come out and experience paintballing first-hand, this tournament is for avid players — people who have their own gear and experience in match and tournament play. If participants are experienced but lack the equipment, rentals will be available the day of the tournament. Sign-ups start at 10:30 a.m.

More players mean more games for everyone. There will be round-robin play in each division and with a fairly open age range, teens can battle it out with adults — inventive tactics vs. confident experience. Following each match, points will be tallied. The team with the most points will advance to play the other top teams of their division.

Each game lasts about four minutes.

“It’s controlled chaos, and we got it down pat. Game after game… boom, boom, boom… Very quick,” said Billings. “Playing is great, but watching your friends sneak around and try to get the other guy at the last second is fun, too.” CV

Entry Fee: $20
Paintballs: $60 per case (2,000 paintballs)
: 10:30 a.m.
Prizes: (20 teams or more teams registered) – 1st place, prophecy hoppers; 2nd placed, E-flex goggles; 3rd place, lanyards. (Less than 20 teams registered) – 1st place, E-flex goggles; 2nd place, half case of paintballs; 3rd place, lanyards.

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