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The Ultimate Game

Bret Golihew

If you have been playing Paintball for a while, I'm sure you have met the Hunters. If you haven't met them yet, don't worry, you will. Or you might be a Hunter and just never knew how to type your personal style of play. Hunters are known by many different names- Predators, Stalkers, Snipers, Rogues, and can all be united by the common classification of Hunters.

What makes a Hunter different is the inner desire to win or lose as an individual. Instead of following the herding instinct to belong to a team, the Hunters mostly operate as outsiders, ready to join up with any side in a pick-up game. Many Hunters are on organized teams. The team support system is a great help to most players and the Hunter is no different in that respect. On a team, the Hunter is most often the flanker or sniper, going off on his own to stalk the other team. The Hunter is greatly attracted to this legitimate team role because of his stealth abilities and technical skills as a solo player.

There are many others who are not organized team members. There could be many reasons for this, maybe there aren't the types of teams that they would like to be on around. Or perhaps they were on teams before and had trouble with the team dynamics problems that plague any group of people with different goals and ideas about how to operate. For whatever reason, there are a lot of solo players out there, perfectly happy being accountable only to themselves, finding a simple pleasure in hunting the humans.

The Ultimate Game

Man verses Man remains the ultimate challenge for any competition. The Martial Arts and any of the other single combat sports, such as Boxing and Wrestling, pit contestants against each other in physical and mental combat for dominance. Even Chess, Checkers, and Battleship have at the most basic level the Man verses Man competition of single combat. One on one in a duel to the finish, you either stand or fall alone, strictly on the merits of your skill, training and physical abilities.

It is this premise that the Hunter carries into Paintball. He is the player out there on the Big Hunt for the ultimate game- Man, equally armed and resisting with his best ability. Man is the most cunning creature and the greatest challenge for any Hunter.

For the Hunter, the team ethic is secondary to the hunt. He will operate with a team or may even be a functioning team member, but inside, that association only exists to bring the quarry in close. Sometimes, the team will even be the bait to draw in the prey. But this isn't hunting bunnies- the prey can shoot back, and is in fact Stalking the Hunter too. Hunting the Human Animal

In many parts of the country, wildlife hunting and fishing are considered a normal, rewarding, and an even necessary way of life. You can argue endlessly over the correctness of taking animal life in the wild or on the farm, but you can't deny the human instinct to be a hunter.

Everyone is a hunter at heart. It is part of human nature, the survival instinct that allowed our kind to populate the entire world. The cop hunting for a fugitive is performing the same critical thought processes as the little old lady shopping for pantyhose bargains.

To be a Hunter in Paintball, you must begin to think about your prey (the other team), as animals. People are animals too, you know. They have instinctive behavior patterns that can be used to predict their movements or even cause them to do certain things.

Here are a few general guidelines to follow that will help you learn how to hunt the human animal in the Paintball jungle. Observation- When waiting for a good shot, don't stare at your intended target. Keep looking around. If you are trying to ambush someone, staring at them will prevent you from seeing other things that may be going on around you and it is said that prey can often sense when a predator is watching and waiting. Did you ever get the feeling you were being watched? Maybe there was a predator nearby.

Stealth- This covers a rather broad area. It all comes down to being quiet, moving using the best cover available and in general being as sneaky as possible. It also helps to use some sort of camouflage, or at least don't wear bright colors or clothing with high visibility advertisements printed on it.

Patience- When in a position, often the prey will be too nervous to sit still for very long. This is especially true of new players. The adrenaline is flowing, things are happening all around them and they just can't sit and do nothing. Often you can out wait them. They move first, you get an easy target.

Range. Learn your gun's range. Don't waste shots over 125 feet. You might get lucky with a long-range shot, but you can't depend on it. A good technique is to wait for them to come to you. Some Hunters are true snipers. They practice learning their maximum effective range under varying conditions and use a range card. This is a simple silhouette cut out the size of a person at maximum range. If a person fills the same size as the cut out in the hand held card, he is in range.

Stalking. Learn how to stalk. No, I'm not talking about harassing people by following them around. Stalking is the art of tracking the prey until the best moment and then, when all the possible advantages are with you, taking the shot. An exercise you can do to learn the technique is to pick out a player on the opposite team and do whatever you can to eliminate that player. This difficult task will show you how to find and plan taking the shot at the proper moment.

Teamwork- Although the ethic of the Hunter doesn't require teamwork, you would be a fool not to use it to your advantage. Also, you may find other Hunters out there to hunt with. Teammates and flags can be used as bait to draw out your prey. The Hunter has little use for flags, but the teams will focus on it and it can be used as irresistible bait for an ambush. Another successful hunting technique is to use your teammates to flush out the other team and move them toward your position.

Equipment- Any type of Paintball gun can be used by the Hunter, but the best type should be a semi or pump with good long range accuracy. The high rate of a semi comes in handy with multiple targets, but a pump has the advantage of better accuracy. Both types require some sort of sights to be used, as all shots should be well aimed. Hunting in the Paintball Jungle

The idea of hunting humans will surely be repulsive to some readers however, this is exactly what Paintball is. The crucial difference between Paintball and the real world is that Paintball is all an illusion. The very core of Paintball is the acceptance by the participants of the rules that govern this fantasy world. That is why Honor is so important to the game. If the rules are not followed, the game doesn't work. The fantasy can't tolerate cheating.

No matter how intense the adrenaline rush of battling people who are trying to eliminate you just as hard as you are trying to eliminate them is, it is not real. It is simply a mental and physical thrill ride. A contest between willing participants for the fleeting dominance of a single engagement.

Unlike the real world, the Hunter can operate within the Paintball fantasy free of conscience and guilt, searching for the inner satisfaction of testing his own skills and abilities against armed combatants in an arena where no one gets hurt, except perhaps by deserved humiliation and a few welts.

Paintball allows the primal Hunter instincts a benign outlet in our modern world. Where else can a person go to be able to engage in high intensity, low risk mock combat, and in such way that it creates a brotherhood between the combatants? Paintball is a fantasy contest of aggression, played by immortal combatants, in a never-ending cycle of victory and defeat. And at the end of a day, the only trophy the Hunter ever takes home is his pride in his skills and the respect of his brothers-in-arms.

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