Paintballs exploding over his head, NMU student Nick Boyle ducks behind the wedge shaped barrier. He peeks around the side and takes aim before unleashing a barrage of paintballs into his opponent’s chest.
For many NMU students, this would be a harrowing experience, but for the members of the NMU paintball team, it’s just a standard day.
The club, which Boyle, who is the group’s president, said is really more of a competitive team, is attempting to get involved with National Collegiate Paintball Association (NCPA) competition starting next semester.
“It’ll be a big boost if we can compete in the NCPA,” Boyle said. “It’s just about prestige.”
The NCPA is a national organization of college paintball teams which organizes regional and national competitions. They have held national championship events annually since 2001.
Boyle said his goal for the team is not only to begin playing in NCPA competitions in the fall semester, but to compete in the National Championships in Florida in the next two years.
“It’s a lofty goal, but you have to have something big that you are aiming for,” he said.
Longtime team member Andrew Johnson, who has been paintballing since he was 13 years old, said he has seen considerable improvement in the team in the four years he has been on the team.
“We’ve already seen a lot of improvement,” Johnson said. “I think we’ll just keep improving.”
The team plays a variety of paintball known as X-play, superball, or speedball.
The game consists of teams of five players. A team scores a point by eliminating all of an opposing team’s players and capturing the rival team’s flag. The team who scores the most points in the 30-minute game wins the competition. Players utilize giant inflatable barriers for protection during the competition.
Boyle said that some games are high-scoring affairs, while others involve teams methodically fighting for only a few points.
“Sometimes it goes really fast, but sometimes it takes more than five minutes to score a point,” Boyle said. “There’s times where you’re just trying to get a feel for your competition and they are trying to figure you out as well.”
Boyle also stressed that athletic ability is a big part of the competitions.
“It’s all about sprinting,” he said. “You need to move fast between the barriers or you’re going to get hit.”
In addition to the five members of the competition team, there are also other club members who play with the team recreationally.
Currently, the team is involved with organizing trips to Wallace, Mich., a city which has an X-play course.
Boyle said it’s important for the team to have the practice time before getting involved in NCPA competition because it allows players to hone their paintball skills.
“It’s great just getting time out on the course to practice our skills,” Boyle said. “Sometimes you actually want to get hit when you practice, because you’ll never get better if you aren’t trying new things.”
For more information about getting involved with the paintball team at NMU, contact Nick Boyle at [email protected]