Gotcha! More paintballers take aim

Base Info
Photo by Matt Orr, Stars and Stripes
Photo by Matt Orr, Stars and Stripes

Gotcha! More paintballers take aim

by: Matt Orr | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: September 19, 2012

At the referee’s signal, players rush behind inflatable pylons while frantically squeezing off rounds from their guns, filling the air with brightly colored balls and a “pop, pop, pop” sound.

Teammates shout information to each other about where their opponents are hiding. A player races toward a concealed position, then leaps and slides into cover as he fires off rounds.

“I’m hit, I’m hit,” players announce, one by one, until there are only players from one side left standing.

The match has taken no more than two minutes, and in that time hundreds of small paintball rounds have been shot.

Every weekend, about 40 to 50 players converge on the paintball field on Kadena Air Base on Okinawa.

“The sport is growing in leaps and bounds here on Okinawa,” said Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Conrad Bidal, who has been playing since 1987. Bidal, captain of the Ryukyu Kings paintball team, said that when he got to Okinawa, maybe six to 10 people were playing.

This was the Kings’ last day of training before they competed in the Division 2 Paintball Asia League Series, held March 2-4 in Thailand.

The tournament featured 10 teams from Canada, Thailand, Guam, Malaysia, Japan and Singapore.

Last year, the Ryukyu Kings took top honors in the tournament; this year, they made it to the quarterfinals but were just edged out of the semis.

The team has seven players from the Marine Corps, Army and Air Force who are based on Okinawa, and three Japanese citizens from the mainland. They come together two or three times a year to practice and meet up at tournaments.

Bidal, who has been on Okinawa for seven years, plays paintball as much as possible and has been actively furthering the popularity of the sport on the island.

Army Spc. Chris Gruber, another team member, is also an avid paintball player.

“I’ve been playing since I was 14 years old,” he said. “I played one time and was hooked. My mom didn’t want me playing, so I printed off some safety statistics to prove how safe the game is.”

He loves the sport so much that he made sure there was a paintball field on Okinawa before he agreed to be stationed there.

Kadena’s Outdoor Recreation Center has paintball gear for hire, and they host speedball matches most Sundays. Call DSN 959-2811 or head over to Building 614, across from Risner Gym.

Safety is paramount for all players. At military paintball facilities, all safety gear must be worn for the sake of safety and to preserve the family environment. Some rules differ according to the facility, but generally you cannot shoot at an opponent from closer than 10 feet.

What is speedball?
Speedball is a variation of paintball in which the playing field is composed of manmade bunkers, the location and number of which are the same on both sides of the field. It is played on a bigger, more open field than regular paintball and offers a faster pace of play, with many matches lasting only a few minutes. Players are closer to each other at the start of games and the bunkers are the only barriers on the field, so stealth and concealment are not of great importance. Teams tend to rely on teamwork, timing, aggressive movement, accurate shooting and good communication. Because the field is so open, suppressing fire is a primary element of speedball tactics. Teams try to keep their opponents pinned down behind cover while they are free to move. This means that players fire more shots in speedball than in other paintball formats.
Compiled from Wikipedia and

It's not a gun
Marker – the name for a paintball gun. In paintball, you don’t use a gun, you use a marker, and you don’t shoot someone, you “mark” them.

Kadena Outdoor Recreation
Paintball Fees

Field Fee: $15 per person

Rental Fees:
Marker $7
Air Tank $3
Hopper $2
Mask $5
Play package (marker, field fee, mask, tank, hopper): $30
Paint: $11 to $20 per bag of 500 rounds

Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Closed Sunday and Holidays

Speedball Sundays
Sunday, 10 a.m.
$30 includes all-day air, field fee, tank, hopper, mask, market and 500 rounds of paintballs; $15 if you have your own equipment.

For more information, call Outdoor Recreation at 959-2811 or contact: