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Gunfighters fight with paint

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- A member of team Violent Child progresses up the paintball field here while his teammate gives him cover from behind Aug. 11. Violent Child was one of eight teams that took part in the base’s paintball tournament with the hope of taking first place. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Ryan Crane)

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- A member of team Violent Child progresses up the paintball field here while his teammate gives him cover from behind Aug. 11. Violent Child was one of eight teams that took part in the base’s paintball tournament with the hope of taking first place. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Ryan Crane)

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Team Crusade waits for the whistle to signal the beginning of the paintball game at the base field Aug. 11. Crusade was one of eight teams that came to the base for the Excel Series tournament with the hope of earning the number one spot. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Ryan Crane)

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Team Crusade waits for the whistle to signal the beginning of the paintball game at the base field Aug. 11. Crusade was one of eight teams that came to the base for the Excel Series tournament with the hope of earning the number one spot. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Ryan Crane)

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- A team Crusade player holds down the left side of the base field with suppressive fire while his teammates advance forward during the Excel Series paintball tournament Aug. 11. Team Crusade was one of eight teams that visited the base for the Excel Series in hopes of taking first place. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Ryan Crane)

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- A team Crusade player holds down the left side of the base field with suppressive fire while his teammates advance forward during the Excel Series paintball tournament Aug. 11. Team Crusade was one of eight teams that visited the base for the Excel Series in hopes of taking first place. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Ryan Crane)

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Team Deadly Aim huddles up before their last game in the Excel Series paintball tournament here Aug. 11. Teams came from across Idaho to participate in the base’s paintball tournament with the hope of earning the number one spot. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Ryan Crane)

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Team Deadly Aim huddles up before their last game in the Excel Series paintball tournament here Aug. 11. Teams came from across Idaho to participate in the base’s paintball tournament with the hope of earning the number one spot. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Ryan Crane)

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Team Bad Medicine rushes for cover after the whistle signals the beginning of the paintball game at the base field Aug. 11. Teams traveled from across Idaho to participate in the base’s Excel Series in hopes of securing the number one spot. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Ryan Crane)

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Team Bad Medicine rushes for cover after the whistle signals the beginning of the paintball game at the base field Aug. 11. Teams traveled from across Idaho to participate in the base’s Excel Series in hopes of securing the number one spot. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Ryan Crane)

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho— A Deadly Aim player crawls up the field, hidden behind bunkers, to get a better position on the base field Aug. 11. Eight teams came from across Idaho to participate in the base’s Excel Series in hopes of securing the number one spot. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Ryan Crane)

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho— A Deadly Aim player crawls up the field, hidden behind bunkers, to get a better position on the base field Aug. 11. Eight teams came from across Idaho to participate in the base’s Excel Series in hopes of securing the number one spot. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Ryan Crane)

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Players from team Deadly Aim and Crusade congratulate each other after the final game of the Mountain Home Excel series Aug. 11. Both teams battled to the finals with Crusade winning the tournament. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Ryan Crane)

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Players from team Deadly Aim and Crusade congratulate each other after the final game of the Mountain Home Excel series Aug. 11. Both teams battled to the finals with Crusade winning the tournament. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Ryan Crane)

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Samantha DeVries, Excel Series paintball tournament volunteer, keeps track of team scores at the base field Aug. 11. As a volunteer-run program, the base’s paintball field relies on volunteers to ensure events run smoothly. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Ryan Crane)

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Samantha DeVries, Excel Series paintball tournament volunteer, keeps track of team scores at the base field Aug. 11. As a volunteer-run program, the base’s paintball field relies on volunteers to ensure events run smoothly. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Ryan Crane)

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Ryan Merrick, Excel Series paintball tournament volunteer, secures air bunkers in preparation of the paintball tournament at the base field Aug. 9. As a volunteer-run program, the base’s paintball field relies on volunteers to ensure events run smoothly. Volunteers also help keep tournament costs to a minimum while keeping players and spectators safe.(U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Ryan Crane)

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Ryan Merrick, Excel Series paintball tournament volunteer, secures air bunkers in preparation of the paintball tournament at the base field Aug. 9. As a volunteer-run program, the base’s paintball field relies on volunteers to ensure events run smoothly. Volunteers also help keep tournament costs to a minimum while keeping players and spectators safe.(U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Ryan Crane)

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- They seem like the longest 10 seconds of someone's life. Waiting. Heart racing. Anticipation. Five seconds left. Palms sweating. Two seconds. A brief glance toward the opposing team. One second. Concentrate...

Go! Go! Go!

Players dash to their bunkers for cover while shooting toward the opposite end of the field, hoping one lucky shot catches an opponent just right, eliminating them from the game. It's another skirmish on the base's paintball field. Teams use it to hone their instincts while enjoying themselves. At Mountain Home, paintball brings a whole new meaning to the term "Gunfighter".

Eight amateur paintball teams from across Idaho tested their skills in the base's Excel Paintball Series, earlier this month.

"Over the past few years, the number of paintball players nationwide jumped to a staggering 10 million -- and is still growing," said Mike Hurt, Outdoor Adventure Program coordinator. "Air Force bases around the world noticed this trend, and many of them have since constructed fields that cater to military members."

The base even took this a step further by hosting the Excel Series, one of Idaho's largest paintball events. This series features three tournaments throughout the summer where teams from the base and Idaho compete to earn points from each event. At the end of the series, the team with the most points will take home prizes in the form of paintball equipment.

The morning of the tournament, teams start to trickle in at 6 a.m. setting up tents, buying paintballs and getting their equipment ready for what some call a grueling day of intense play. To many players, this is a way of life.

"It's an addiction. I can't get enough of it," claims Sean Smith, a volunteer and player at Mountain Home. "We come out to practice on Thursdays and travel to tournaments on the weekends. Its really just a lot of fun regardless of age or athletic background."

"The day's events went off without a hitch," said Joni Hubble-Zeneberg, intern paintball coordinator.

The games got rolling by 8 a.m. with the preliminary rounds ending by noon. At the end of the prelims, Idaho local team, Team Bad Medicine was seeded first, followed closely by Crusade and Deadly Aim Black. The sole Air Force team, Air Force One, finished in 7th place.

The teams then went into a double-elimination style bracket with a winners and losers bracket. Teams battled through the second half of the day and slowly started dropping out of the race. By the end, Crusade topped the winner's bracket, and Deadly Aim Black conquered Violent Child in the loser's bracket.

Finalists then took the field, lining up on their respective sides. After a three...two...one count the whistle blows and players darted to various locations on the field hoping to get the advantage early on. One by one, Crusade shots down one Deadly Aim player after another. But Deadly Aim held their ground, defending their side with two players left.

However, the outnumbered Deadly Aim players fell victim to Crusade within seconds. With time to spare, Crusade hung their flag to signal the end of the game and ensures their victory. In their mind, they are heroes for a day.

"All the teams involved enjoyed the event and expressed appreciation to the base and the people involved in putting the tournament on," said Ms. Hubble-Zeneberg.

Before the teams met to battle, a team of volunteers arrived there at 5:30 a.m. each day to make the grounds "war ready."

"The programs on base would not exist with out volunteers, Mr. Hurt added. "We have staff members who plan and oversee the events, but when it comes down to it, the volunteers are the ones making things happen," he said.

Volunteers work everyday, but when it comes to setting up the tournaments they wake up and arrive at field at 5:30 a.m. to have the field set up and ready to go in just over an hour.

For information on paintball open play dates, tournaments or volunteer opportunities, call OAP at 828-6288.