Players compete at national paintball tournament in Oroville – Chico Enterprise-Record

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OROVILLE –  “Guy on the tube! Guy on the tube!” a paintball player said aloud from afar.
“He’s in the hole!” their team member said.
Balls of paint whizzed by from all directions as players from 14 teams across the U.S. competed for the World Class Paintball League tournament on Saturday at the Combat Zone Paintball Park in Oroville.
In a preliminary round, paintball team Black Sunday eliminated all members of team West Coast Sharks II.
“Tequila!” said a member of Black Sunday when they were safe.
James Strutton, co-owner of Combat Zone, said teams that compete at paintball tournaments have to practice communicating in order to win.

Members of paintball team Black Sunday rest during an intermission Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022 for the World Classic Paint Ball League tournament in Oroville, California. (Michael Weber/Enterprise-Record)

A view of Combat Zone Paint Ball Park Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022 during their inagural World Classic Paintball League tournament in Oroville, California. (Michael Weber/Enterprise-Record)

Members of paintball team West Coast Sharks II disperse into the field Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022 during a World Classic Paintball League torunament in Oroville, California. (Michael Weber/Enterprise-Record)

A view of Combat Zone Paint Ball Park Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022 during their inagural World Classic Paintball League tournament in Oroville, California. (Michael Weber/Enterprise-Record)

A wooden barricated covered in pink paint is seen Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022 after several paintball games at Combat Zone Paint Ball Park in Oroville, California. (Michael Weber/Enterprise-Record)

“Pretty much every team has their own keywords or codewords they’re screaming at each other across the fields to identify different pieces or let you know they’ve got somebody down,” Strutton said.
The fields at Combat Zone Paintball Parks use large obstacles to separate the field. Broken vehicles served as coverings and large sewage tubes were used as a bridge.
“Communication is huge out here. If you don’t know what’s going on on the field. even in places you can’t see, your team is probably going to lose,” Referee Thomas Roberts said.
The World Class Paintball League tournament had 14 teams compete for a money prize over two days in a capture-the-flag scenario. Strutton said some of the teams have more than 400 years of combined experience.
“We’ve got teams as far away as New York and Philadelphia; we’ve got someone from Hawaii, we’ve got teams from Nor-cal and So-cal,” Combat Zone Co-owner Jake Kreulen said. “Paintball’s been around for about 40 years and we have some of the most important, influential people from the sport’s history here.”
Glenn Palmer, who invented the semi-automatic paintball marker, showed up at the tournament to watch players compete. Paintball guns, known as markers, used to be manual only with pump-action.
“I was a gunsmith and everyone else was tinkering,” Palmer said. “I’m out just to visit. A lot of these people I haven’t seen in over 20 years.”
Fred Schultz is the tournament organizer for World Classic Paintball League Promoter in California. Schultz was a professional paintballer for 12 years and host of an ESPN show “Paintball USA” in the 90s.
“I was one of the first to travel all over the world with teams,” Schultz said. “I’ve played all over the U.S., France, Germany, England, Thailand.”
Players and their families had set up their tents, recreational vehicles, tables and barbecues outside the paintball park to enjoy the time between games.
“It’s all love. It’s really about making the family and creating places for people to be comfortable,” Strutton said. “We’ve got a lot of people that end up in this that are outcasts. They come here and we’ll take them in.”
Kreulen said anyone can play paintball including people he knows are 75 years old who play and kids who are six, seven years old play low-impact paintball.
“If you need exercise, it’s a great way to blow off some steam. A lot of people think it’s a violent sport but it’s absolutely not — it’s just so much fun,” Kreulen said. “And the camaraderie is second to none.”
 
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