The Hippo


May 27, 2020








Paintballers take cover at Pirate’s Cove at OSG Paintball in Center Barnstead. Courtesy photo.

B.Y.O.P. at OSG Paintball

When: Sunday, July 27, 9:30 a.m.
Where: 1053 N. Barnstead Road, Center Barnstead
Cost: $15
Call: 1-800-707-7529

Shoot ’em up
Paintball is a culture all its own


 Even when you’re told there’s nobody left on the fields of OSG Paintball, you can’t walk 5 feet without thinking someone’s about to pop up out of a second-story window in Western Town to shoot you, or that someone is still lurking behind the two dismantled mini-vans in the dead center of Urban Town waiting to strike.

The paintball field has an ominous vibe where paranoia can your best friend or your worst enemy. Dave Preston, the owner of OSG Paintball in Center Barnstead, says that one of the strategies for this particular sport is to keep your head on a swivel. Staying in one place for too long can be dangerous.
“You definitely need to avoid tunnel vision, which is when you focus on one target,” said Preston. “You’ve got to be moving around to get another angle, keeping your head on a swivel. It’s a fast-paced game.”
Paintball can be the meeting ground for people of different experience levels, occupations and ages. Preston has seen players from age 12 all the way up to age 65 playing together on the same field.
“When the game starts, everyone is on the same page,” said Preston. “Twelve-year-olds are working with 25-year-olds, one dad is working with another dad. [Paintball] is about seeing them unite and high five each other after the game.”
The sport has also served as an interesting alternative form of entertainment for conventional events, including school field trips, bachelor and bachelorette parties, corporate outings and church group activities. Preston says paintball can be as much about release and therapy as it is about fun.
“We cater to a 12-, or even a 10-year-old, who just wants to go out there and shoot, but we’ll get a corporate outing, and they’ll specifically want a game that makes their employees bond together,” he said. “Plus you get to shoot your boss. That right there, that’s pretty awesome.”
The grounds of OSG Paintball consist of several different fields, each one containing a different layout and therefore requiring a different type of strategy. “Pirate’s Cove” features a giant pirate ship with a hand-carved mermaid on the bow that one of the employees of OSG carved himself. Another is called “The Castle,” in which there is a 25,000-square-foot makeshift castle. Fields like Hamburger Hill and Firebase Kilo were inspired by actual battlefields in historic wars, whereas Urban Town and Western Town have a similar feel of the virtual battlefields you would find in games like Call of Duty. There is a field called “Halo Village” that was inspired by the levels of the Xbox video game Halo and includes a replica of the Scorpion Main Battle Tank as a prop.
OSG has even gone so far as to utilize actual planes for paint “dive bombing” and helicopters for players to shoot out of.
“We hide golden tickets, like Willy Wonka, hidden in cases of paint,” said Preston. “People always ask me, ‘How do I get on the chopper?’ Super simple: you gotta be lucky.”
Preston claims the course creates these elaborate games to give people who have seen these scenarios on television screens a chance to actually live them. According to the owner, one of paintball’s biggest demographics is gamers.
“We’re living in a video game culture, and so the point is to make it as close to a video game as possible,” said Preston. “This is our way of encouraging people to actually start playing outside like we all did growing up. Nowadays with all of the different technologies and games … there are a lot of people missing out on the physical life.”
Members of the armed forces are another large demographic of players. For some, like former Army officer Shawn Burke, the armed forces introduced them to the sport.
“When I got into the Army, that’s how we practiced,” he said. “Laser Tag wasn’t really the way to train soldiers and it was pretty expensive. There are sensors you have to hit right on target and it’s easy to just turn your back and not get hit. If you’re doing a simulation, a bullet is a bullet, so if you get hit [with a paintball], there’s paint on you and you know it.”
Burke, who had played paintball off and on since he was 16, took his interest in the sport a step further and now, having left the army, uses the game as a form of release, as well as a form of celebration.
“I live three hours away, but I’m down at OSG at least three times a month,” he said. “When I’m having a bad week, I go down there to work off the tension. And when I’m having a good week, I go down there to show off to my friends what a good week I had!”
Despite the violent nature of the game, Burke claims that there is a high level of sportsmanship on the field, between players on the same and opposing teams.
“We have that paintball bond,” said Burke. “[In] Western Town, players typically get out because they’ve been shot in the face, but they’ll still point at the guy who got them and high five or something. There’s no ‘No, you cheated’ or ‘No, you’re a jerk.’ It’s more, ‘Hey, buddy, I got you next time.’ It’s a cliche, but it’s like a brotherhood, a sisterhood.”
OSG hosts a “bring your own paint” event on the last Sunday of every month that allows players to buy paintballs from other local paintball retailers around the state. OSG typically only allows its own biodegradable paintballs on the fields, but Preston said that, along with the charity events that they host throughout the year, the point is to allow players to invest in other local businesses who sell paintballs as a way to give back to the community.
“Our only concern is getting people outside and having a great time,” he said. “I always say, ‘There’s nothing better than shooting friends, except possibly family sometimes.’” 
As seen in the July 24, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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