Thursday, October 28, 2010

In the Army Now

Last week I was invited to play paintball. At first I was reluctant, as my previous time playing paintball in Toronto was not a great experience. It was dark so I couldn't see very well, including where I was shooting. My gun kept jamming which lead me to playing one game with my hopper open. Plus the paintballs hurt leaving me with welts on my stomach and neck. When I thought about it, I realized that paintball in Israel (where people have real army training), is a completely different experience. The bonus was it was free because they were filming a commercial.

The location was an abandoned army training base, still owned by the IDF. It was a beautiful sunny day, (not too hot not to cold). There were army fatigues for everyone. Well, almost there were not enough pants to go around. The equipment was semi-automatic M-16 in excellent condition. No problems with jamming and they did shoot straight.

There were 3 staff members. There was the company owner who was the base commander. There were also two other commanders who ran the day. One was tough and serious. He liked to yell and make people do push ups run around and other drills. One guys day was done when they had a heated argument with the commander because he didn't want to do a duck walk for the video. My commander was the exact opposite. He did paratroopers and was really laid back. At one point someone offered to do push up, army style (holding his gun). When he was told that his knees should be off the ground, he complained it would be harder. One of the girls in our group proceeded to do a bunch of proper regular push ups.

The day started with getting uniforms before being briefed by the tough commander. He was trying to set the tone of feeling like we were really in the army for a few hours. Having to concede his authority to the cameraman, did frustrate him just a little bit. After being briefed and assigned to teams, we received our weapons.

The weapons training was neat because they kept referring to how things are done in the army. There are 3 ways to shoot (walking, lying down, crouching) and practiced them all using balloons as practice. It was a great feeling knowing that I was able to hit my targets.

All in all we played 3 different games. The first one was capture the flag. The leader of our team had a plan but had some difficulty, assigning the tasks to be organized. I was in the back of a team of 4 who was trying to cut around the outside and moving really slowly. I cut back to the building holding our flag, when I saw some people closing in on our position. It was quite a feeling trying to fend off a position listening to the paintballs, explode over my head not sure where the shots were fired from. I saw them closing in on our position and warned one of our gaurds. They took the flag and the guard chased them down. The gaurd did not know if they could bring back the flag and in the confusion, someone else I had previously had a shootout with scooped the flag. I started to chase, but someone was yelling that had been hit and I was wide open to be taken out by anyone else. In all the confusion and disorganization we lost.

The 2nd game was rescue the hostage. There were 5 "terrorists" defending a hostage trapped in Gaza. My rescue team was lead by the commander, so I got to experience how a real soldier goes into a building. During a shootout, I had a paintball brush off the top of my head. The base commander said there was no paint and sent me back to battle. By that point all of the terrorists had been taken out and the body was been carried back to the base.

The final game was everyone for themselves, for whoever still had ammo left. The position I started with, was a little bit out of the way. After some silence there were was shooting near the main buildings. Someone had taken up a position behind a stack of tires, where he was completely exposed from my angle. I would get off a bunch of shots before taking cover. It was funny because, I could see the paintballs flying and just missing him. I was position so the cameraman had a great angle of me during the battle. After exchanging a few rounds, he was gone. I don't know if I had hit him, or if he was trying to sneak around behind me. I decided to head for the main buildings. There was silence which left me with the feeling of being the only one left. As a result I was way to aggressive trying to take the next building and was shot in the leg. It didn't hurt at all and I barely felt it.

We then returned all of our equipment and waited for pizza. In the mean time someone managed to get a really huge rock lodged under their car. 10 guys pumped up from the day, running up a hill and chanting. It would have been a great video for the commercial. They easily picked up the car, so the rock could be removed.

The final only in Israel moment came on the ride home. The person who asked to be randomly dropped anywhere in Beit Shemesh, was going to the house next to the driver's. I arrived home exhausted after a really enjoyable day. I have no idea how much paintball costs, but it is a great activity.