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Old 08-21-2018, 09:49 AM   #5 (permalink)
Pump It Real Good
ProtoNY's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Queen Creek, AZ

Brass and Wood Fan
Against my better judgement, I'll put don my flame-resistant slide shorts and wade on in...

I know that feeling. One of my friends couldn't make it to the field one weekend and let me borrow his brand new (at the time) Etek 2. My first feeling was how it "elevated my play", and I couldn't remember the last time that I had gotten so many eliminations in a day. What my game was missing was, apparently, just better gear. I quickly learned how to walk-in my shots and I was laying down as much paint in a single game that I would have previously done in an entire day. The feeling of having a massive amount of firepower made it feel like a different game. After that day, the arms race had found its new huckleberry.

Over the next several years, I picked up a few electros and played with them religiously and exclusively. My pumps sat in my backup bag like a pair of forgotten socks, stuffed under the bed. That feeling of being all-powerful would eventually start to fade away, and it could only mean one thing - that I just needed a newer marker, of course! This trend kept up for a few years, until I was asked to come out and play stock with a few friends. Without batting an eye, I obligated myself to go out and play, looking to put all of my new skills on display.

Reality set in extremely quickly and I realized that the skill that I thought that I had possessed really did not exist and the skills that I did have previously, and did not realize, had been dulled by the passage of time. Almost instantly, I was frustrated. But, I wasn't frustrated with how I was playing, rather as to why I was playing as poorly as I was. While I was being seduced by the never-ending stream of "latest and greatest", the actual time that I had spent to improve myself as a player, previously, was not being leveraged in any way, shape, or form for the last several years.

My first reaction was that the game had moved on, and I had moved one with it, unbeknownst to me. Reflecting on that full day of play with nothing more than a single elimination (and I am still not convinced that it was from my marker), I started to list my gear on eBay, apart from one electro - you know, just in case? As each auction closed, I found that I had surprisingly little attachment to the equipment that I had picked up over the previous few years. It actually felt good to get rid of it, for some reason.

A few months later, with no real catalyst, I started to think about my backup gear bag, still sitting under my bed. Not being able to sleep, I pulled it out, took it into my home office, and started pulling out each marker, one by one. That attachment that I didn't have with the recently sold electros was present in full force with each marker that came out. With each one, I could remember games from ten, fifteen, or even twenty years before that. At the time, I had only really been to PBN, as far as online communities went. In a post on there, someone had referred to MCB as something like "paintball's old folks home", when I had my epiphany. I realized that not only are those the people I wanted to hang out with, I was one of the "old folks", now. And, ultimately, that really did not sound like a bad thing.

That was about two years ago, or a little more, when I joined up here. Some of the people here, I found, had stories and viewpoints that were similar to mine. It felt like more of a family than a group of strangers with some tangential shared interests. Not only did I feel encouraged to make my backup gear bag my now-primary gear bag, I felt the need to add to it. So, I started picking up things that had passed me by, either due to lack of interest, at the time, or because when I had gotten in to the sport, it was out of my league.

Do I get as many eliminations with my pumps or the few mechs that I actively use? Not a chance. But what I do get each time I go out is the satisfaction of knowing that there are still a lot of places that I can continue to improve my game, over twenty-five years after the first time that I took the field. Once again, I remember not just specific games, but specific eliminations. Each game, I find something to take away that I can use to improve myself as a player and I work on it. It is harder work, in my opinion, but that makes it all the more rewarding.

In the end, I am not trying to insult anyone who feels differently than I do. Some people have evolved with the sport and, to some, the current state of the sport is all that some people know. As long as people find satisfaction in how he/she plays, then that is all that matters. My regrets are my own, mostly in being sucked into the industry's perception of what the sport is and replacing my reasons for playing with marketing mantra. That, and allowing myself to throw out years of doing things in a way that worked for me and brought me actual enjoyment, for the artificial high of believing that I had become a better player than I actually was. I will glad take, with humility, being outclassed by a teenager with his/her shiny birthday present and no sense of trigger control for the occasional time that I one-shot someone in the goggles while I watch their shots land twenty feet from my boots.

Last edited by ProtoNY; 08-21-2018 at 09:53 AM.
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