Paintball Nationals

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Last weekend, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville paintball club represented UW-Platteville at the National Collegiate Paintball Association’s (NCPA) 2019 College Paintball National Championships. This is the second year in a row that they have gone to the NCPA. 

“This is the largest collegiate tournament,” senior industrial engineering major and chairman of Paintball Club Anthony Jensen said. 

The paintball club flew 12 of their members to Florida to compete in the tournament against 21 other colleges.

“This is a yearly way to compete with other schools. We definitely like facing different teams and seeing other teams playing style,” Jensen said.

The team has closed practice in the Williams Field House in preparation for this and other tournaments.

“We practice once a week with softer rubber balls in the fieldhouse. Due to safety, our practice is not open to the public,” Jensen said.

They practice by setting up unique configurations of large inflated obstacles called bunkers.

“A bunker is a big inflatable pillow, anything that you can hide behind. We get to know the layout [for the tournament] a week before,” Jensen said.

The goal of the game is to either eliminate the opposing team or retrieve the other team’s flag, both within the five-minute time limit.

“We get a week to study [the layout] and make bunker calls. We have a team code of what we call different bunkers on the field so we can make call-outs. Communication is a huge part of what makes a successful team. We’ll get to walk the field before we play so we get a good visual idea of what we’re playing on,” Jensen said. “It’s kind of a chess match. You’re placing your guys in different spots and they’re placing their guys in different spots. It’s more like a high-speed chess match.”

While every team has equal access to information about the tournament our UW-Platteville team is at a disadvantage.

“We always struggle against better climate schools, the ones that get to play outside year-round. Other teams have some old pro players on their lines [teams], so we don’t really have the same restrictions as like the NCAA, so you can be a pro and play in this league. So some of those guys have professional experience but we’re just a club team,” senior industrial engineering major and paintball team coach Paul Leedle said. 

Despite this, Leedle has adopted a new strategy for training the paintball club’s team.

“In the past we’ve focused a lot on playing the sport as a whole. It’s a big struggle when players haven’t had any experience before. Recently our approach has changed to fundamental drills. In basketball you’re probably going to have to shoot free-throws and not scrimmage all day and, in the past, we just scrimmaged all day. Now we’re working on snap-shooting and break-out running and gunning. Really, we’re just breaking the game down into individual pieces,” Leedle said.

This change in training strategy was in tandem with a shift in the club’s team and in response to team’s needs.

“We didn’t have a great showing last year. We lost some of our upper level players from graduation, so we’ve had a lot of new talent come in. We run different lines [teams] and we restructured our main line,” Leedle said. 

The new training strategy payed off at nationals where the Pioneers increased their ranking to 10th place.

“Any time travelling as a team is a good bonding experience and there’s always a hope to win nationals,” Leedle said.

UW-Milwaukee won the tournament.