Ten years ago I wrote a book about paintball. The “sport” (if you can call it a sport) was growing, and innovation in paintball markers (they prefer not to call them “guns”) was rapid. Playing was fun — and I mean FUN.
Since then, paintball has imploded, and hundreds of fields have closed. Some blame the economy. Others blame the rush to expensive gear and markers which shot faster and faster (higher muzzle velocity meant painful paintball hits, causing bruises if the shooter was standing too close).
But I personally attribute the decline of paintball, in large part, to a culture shift. Current social trends have moved toward the emasculation of men, the censure of any sort of aggressive behavior and the demonization of “guns.”
I first played paintball in 1981. A dozen folks gathered in New Hampshire, armed with single-shot air pistols loaded with colorful gelatin capsules designed for forestry. It was generally conceded that one of the hunters would win, but a local forester named Ritchie White captured all the flags. Mr. White, in essence, hid until all other contestants on the 80-acre battleground had terminated one another. He didn’t fire a single paintball. He was simply the last man standing.
Hiding in a forest until all the opposition is eliminated can make tactical sense in certain situations. It’s the opposite of a “search and destroy” mission — a bit like hunting from a tree stand. Should a serious social disturbance rock your neighborhood, the best self-defense tactic might be to “hunker down.” Yes, it’s hard to hit a moving target, but a well-concealed position with cover — not just a car door — may be the best solution in a sudden gunfight. Traditional teaching says to move and shoot. With a handgun, though — and that’s what most of us rely on as our primary self-defense tool — it’s almost impossible to move and shoot and actually hit anything, especially if the target is shooting back. Sometimes the best tactic — circumstances permitting — is to get down and take a covered position. With your heart beating 110 times a minute, it’ll be hard enough to control your breathing and focus, let alone shoot accurately without some type of rest or support.
But friends: As we march inevitably toward the November elections, now is not the time to hide. We simply can’t afford to hunker down and avoid the turmoil, the fake news, the incredible confusion of principle that has overtaken America’s media and celebrity culture. We must stand up and be counted. We cannot hide and imagine that our conservative or constitutional values are going to be respected. We need to win this game.
We have already seen how 28-year-old avowed Democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated an entrenched incumbent Democrat in New York. (On one hand, I’m pleased; on the other, I’m dismayed.) Ocasio-Cortez exhibits and espouses all of the ignorance and platitudes of her naivety. Her generation is buying into her leftover Bernie Sanders ideas: free medical care, free college, free housing, jobs for everyone, legalizing drugs (beginning with marijuana), “demilitarizing” the police, abolishing ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to protect illegal immigrants and believing that climate change — not expansionist China or a ruthless Russia — is America’s No. 1 threat.
Such a congregation of claptrap will destroy America, beginning with the private ownership of firearms. “The NRA doesn’t work for gun owners,” Ocasio-Cortez says. “They work for gun companies. They’re a marketing and lobbyist organization that’s full of hot air and dirty cash. We’ve banned the sale of assault weapons before. We can do it again. Weapons of war don’t belong in our neighborhoods.”
The strategy that won my first paintball game will not save America. We need to get up from our sofas, turn off our televisions and make our voices heard at the polls.