What I Do 

Mike Bernard, 26, Paintball aficionado

Paintball has gone through an evolution in the last few years. It started in Texas with two guys with cattle markers. They were bored and decided to shoot at each other.

The game is played a lot different now. There's different games. They have three against three, five men, seven- and 10-man teams. On the professional circuit, the 10-man team is where your money is. The NPPL [the National Professional Paintball League] — they have six big events a year.

The whole object is to grab this flag and bring it across the field. All the fields are different; you get an unlimited amount of variation and design. Now you got to be a little bit quicker. Know where to move to. There's better decision-making. Before, one good player could carry the load. Now it's about accuracy by volume. You carry extra ammo in packs on your back, and some people wear as many as 12.

I have tons of guns. As technology hit paintball, some of these literally have circuits. The 2001 LCD Angel is the top of the line. This one is already up to $1,400, $1,500. These guns will almost put out a steady line of paint. It's like anything — if you're willing to get to the higher tournament play, you got to have it to keep up.

There's a lot of safety involved. The mask is probably the most important. The ball shoots about 300, 400 to 450 feet per second. They're something like gel tabs. It hurts a little, but after, you're all talking about it like they're war wounds: "You got me here and I got you there." It's a lot of fun and a real good team-building exercise. It's a stress reliever. It's like a drug. Once you start, you got to have that rush. — Interviewed by Ames Arnold. Photographed by Chad Hunt


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