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Articles by Paintballers for Paintballers

Trouble Comes to IAO
Part 1 of ???


Shawn McReynolds


Here's the setting. The Smackz.com Misfits are on the field and about to play their seventh game of the event against PBX  Factory, a Paintball 2Xtremes magazine featured team. This is a pivotal game as a win will likely secure the Misfits a spot in the semis. The team is getting cranked up! There is a lot of yelling, punching, and jumping (Drew) before the seven guys bring it together at the start station. As tight as possible, hands in the middle, the group is bouncing with a bit of rhythm and sounding off in unison….

Single Voice - "What are we gonna' do?"

Group - "WIN!"

Single Voice - "How are we gonna' do it?"

Another Single Voice - "I don't know."

…followed by an unbelievable amount of laughter from the team and refs.


That, my friends, is very representative of the four days the Smackz.com Misfits (and supporting delegation) spent at the 2005 International Amateur Open.


Warning: The story you are about to read is a lengthy recollection of my experience at the IAO. It is written chronologically and contains a significant amount of inside jokes. Names have NOT been changed to protect the innocent as many of these guys deserve to be punished, ridiculed, and held responsible for their actions and, trust me, no one was truly innocent.


Thursday, July 28, 2005

Our journey begins as Willis, Cody, and Terry pick me up in Tazewell, VA on Thursday morning. The plan is to meet some of the others in Beckley, WV and to convoy on up to the field in PA. Some of the guys had already left for the IAO on the day before and would meet us at the fairgrounds later that day. Brandon met Willie and Jeff in Princeton the night before to get a head start. Tony and Fonda also left on Wednesday so they could meet Drew at the airport early Thursday afternoon.

The short jaunt from Tazewell to Beckley was itself a bit of an adventure as we were forced to combat ticks, spiders, and occasional gaseous emanations on the way (yes, in the truck). We arrived at our meeting spot on time to find Chris already there and waiting for us. Since Chris was driving a tractor trailer, we decided to carpool with him and to leave Willis's truck at Bill's house. If you are keeping count to this point, you'll know that there are five of us in and TONS of gear in Chris's ride. We meet Bill, Sue, and Kevin at Bill's place and then hit the road to the IAO just a bit behind schedule.

Taking a trip with these guys is always a hoot as you never know what the topic of conversation will be. We talked about everything from paintball to 80's metal hair bands which included a few "interesting" renditions of Dokken, Cinderella, and GnR songs. We made our first pitstop near Morgantown, WV and hit McDonalds for some needed nourishment. Two valuable lessons were learned at this point: (1) Morgantown must be considered "North" as the McDonalds did not serve sweetened iced tea and (2) if your name is Chris and you order fries, you will receive a bonus "short and curly" hidden somewhere within the box. It’s a good thing Chris likes for his fries to breathe by pouring them out on the tray or his little "bonus" would not have been found until after the fact. After a bit of gagging it was back to the road.

Willie and crew were a few hours ahead of us and decided to check into the hotel. We had reservations at the Four Points Sheraton which is the official IAO headquarters for all-things-off-of-the-field. To give you an idea of how nice this place is, Willie called me from the hotel to make sure he was at the CORRECT hotel. Yes, it is like a mall inside with bars, a restaurant, jewelry store, etc. This place is extra swanky when compared to most places paintballers stay. Upon checking in, Willie, Jeff, and Brandon made their way to the field to meet Tony and Fonda. A few hours later, our two car convoy (actually it was one van and a monster truck) rolled into the fairgrounds hosting the IAO to register, check out the vendors, look at the fields, and attend the captains meeting.

Team registration was actually a breeze as we had completed most paperwork weeks ahead of time and mailed it in. We did need to make a roster change to add Cody to the mix. As Willis was on crutches at the time, we decided another fresh set of legs may be in order. The goodie bags were standard fare for the larger tourneys (barrel cover, magazine, coupons, etc.) with one cool exception: Bawls. Each player received a bottle of this slick looking, unique tasting energy drink and it was a good move by Bawls to do this. I equate this to a free sample given by a drug dealer knowing that the recipient will be back for more and will soon become a junkie. Yes, a few of the Misfits are now addicted to Bawls (man, that just sounds weird).

Once we got all of our crew together, a surprising announcement was made. Bill had called his National rep on the way to PA to see if they would provide the Misfits with jerseys and the answer was "yes". The original plan was for each player to wear something unique but sponsor-provided matching jerseys is tough to pass up. In all, National Paintball provided the Smackz.com Misfits with nine red Empire jerseys. They are very slick and extremely appreciated. Thanks a bunch, National. Upon divvying up the jerseys, it was time to have NPPL ID Cards made and check out the vendors. As the IAO is a NPPL sanctioned event, it follows the NPPL rules and requires NPPL ID Cards. I'm not sure if it was common practice or not but only temporary cards were created and given out that evening with the promise that the real cards will be available for pick up on Sunday. Off to the vendors…

The trade show for this year's IAO was home to diverse exhibitors. The big boys included National, Draxxus, Smart Parts, Custom Products, AGD, AKALMP, and a few others. Smaller tents/areas included FBM, Special Ops, BT, American Paintball, and plenty more. I found the mixture of tournament gear and hardcore scenario gear intriguing but logical as the IAO also played host to a Black Cat Scenario game (more on that later). Some of the cooler products seen at the show included the new Apex barrel system that allows you to adjust the amount of curve on a ball so shots can be made around, above, or under obstacles, some slick new paintball pistols that look like something Neo would fall in love with, and the new ICD ProMaster. And who can forget about the Bawls? Did I mention that the IAO is also sponsored by Dick's Sporting Goods? You can imagine how many Dick's and Bawls jokes were told amongst the Misfits.

After spending a few bucks with the vendors, it was time to check out the fields we would play the next two days. The low number of teams entering the 7-man competition (39 total) required only two fields be used on Friday and Saturday and we were to play fours games on each field. Field 1 seemed to be the favored field by most as it was well laid out and provided nice cover for movement. The back of each side was lined with sizable bunkers allowing teams to double on just about every one. The mid-field contained a snake on each tape and a fifty consisting of two monster stand-up wedges. Many teams sent two players to the 50 off of the break and were successful in doing so. The remaining bunkers provided decent opportunities for bumping from the back to mid part of the field. Field 2 had a very different set-up. The largest back bunkers on this field consisted of homeplates, a mid-sized Aztec, and a stand-up can on one corner. The middle of the field was dominated by three monster A's and snakes on either side. The remaining bunkers were fairly small with few opportunities for standing while playing. Also worth noting is that all of the 7-man games followed a two flag format. Each team has a flag on their start station and the objective is to retrieve the other team's flag and bring it back to your start station without jumping, falling, and having everyone laugh at you. Right, Drew?

While the rest of the crew walked the fields and piddled around, I attended the captains meeting. It was a fairly straightforward meeting with the promoters and head-ref addressing the group. The most interesting portion of the meeting was the discussion of hits. According to the NPPL, the only unobvious hit is a hit to the back of a player's pack. If a player was to get hit anywhere else and call for a paintcheck, that player's team would be assessed a one-for-one. Talk about changing the dynamics of a tournament. Any comments? After a brief recap of the meeting and glance at our game schedule, the Misfits crew loaded up to head back to the hotel (about 25 minutes away).

Everyone was ready for dinner after checking in to our rent-a-home for the next few days so we headed to Lonestar Steak House. Unknown to us, the Lonestar was preparing for the Owner's Group Division party and were setting up for 90 people. Our group of 14 was ready to head somewhere else until Kevin helped the Lonestar manager "see the light" and get us seated fairly quickly. Food was eaten, drinks were drank, and waitresses were hit on (by the single guys). After dinner, most went back to the hotel to continue their fluid intake while a few of us headed to WalMart to grab a few supplies.

I knew the WalMart trip was going to be interesting as we witnessed a trucker in the parking lot with a few ladies of "questionable integrity". We must have looked too long or laughed too loud as the driver made sure to barrel through the parking lot and barely miss our ride before finding a less lit area to take care of business. Get some, Mr. Tractor Trailer driver. Things got even funnier inside of WalMart. Our favorite cripple, Willis, grabbed the first Rascal scooter he could find and proceeded to power through the aisles like an old pro. Little old women were being knocked down while terrified kids cried and ran away. We picked up all of our needs (to include spray paint) and returned for the hotel.

It seems that while we were gone shopping, two of our delegation had picked up some nicknames: Jager 1 and Jager 2 (as in Jagermeister). Rumors of "silk curtains" and Happy straw hats quickly spread throughout the group and appropriate measures had to be taken to keep falling down in glass elevators to a minimum. Before settling in for the night, Chris decided it was time to unveil the secret, ghetto-up-yo-brand-new-jersey plan. He had approached me with a t-shirt idea a week before…but we had jerseys to play with instead. The night before, Chris had used his vinyl plotter to cut out a Smackz.com Misfits logo stencil so a shirt could be spray painted. We grabbed our two jerseys, the paint, stencil, and found a secluded area in the parking lot. Thirty minutes and a dose of white lung later, the infamous, world-renowned Smackz.com Misfits ghetto jerseys were born. This style of customization brings new meaning to BYOP.

It was then (past) time to crash for the night to be ready to set-up camp at the field and our 10:24am game against Damage Incorporated. Our group spanned four rooms which made for some interesting sleeping arrangements. Once the lights went off in my room, the sounds of the night became more distinct. Interestingly enough, one side of the room seemed to be constantly releasing gas while the other side was sucking it up. You might think these two actions would counter one another but the exact opposite actually occurred. I felt like I only closed my eyes (and nose and ears) for a few minutes that night…


(To Be Continued)

Archived Articles

Why is Paintball Such a Controversial Sport - 10/31/04 - Guest Article
Written by Aaron Lambert

Why We Keep Playing - 07/18/04 - Guest Article Written by Donald "Bubby" Toler

Paintball is Silly - 06/07/03 - Written by Shawn

My Big Fat Paintball Weekend - 03/25/03 - Written by Shawn

The Giant Slayers - 03/11/03 - Written by Shawn

Slush Bowl 2003 - 02/17/03 - Written by Shawn

Dead Goat Paintball - 02/01/03 - Written by Shawn

Archived articles are in MS Word (.doc) format. All articles
belong to their authors and may only be reproduced with written consent of the

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Published on: 2005-08-04 (17611 reads)

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