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Never Underestimate a Chick with a Barracuda

The catalyst for my trip to Tennessee (as Memphis was the easiest point for me to fly into to get me to my primary destination in Kentucky) was to head north to compete in a high score laser tag competition that was being put on by Patriot Games Mobile Laser Tag at the Murray-Calloway County Fair in Murray, KY. Spoiler alert…the trophy went home with me.

I had seen photos from previous events that Patriot Games (formerly Red Dragon) Mobile Laser Tag had put on, the most recent being in Florida, and I was intrigued. I reached out to Micah who runs the events and he gave me some info about how they would be running a daily high score contest at this fair using iCOMBAT Barracuda model laser tag boxes which attach to the top of a Tippman paintball marker.

I must say that iCOMBAT is my favorite tactical equipment, but it has been several years since I have played at any site where I could enjoy the simplicity of tagging with a Barracuda. Most of iCOMBAT’s tactical line is more robust and realistic looking, but the Barracuda is still a lot of fun and a good choice for a mobile situation like this, so I welcomed this opportunity to return to the first model I had ever played from their line.

The competition was to take place between 6:00-9:30, so I arrived a bit early and found there was a line already forming at the gate to get into the fairgrounds. This looked promising!

Here’s how the contest worked…

They had set up inflatable paintball bunkers all throughout an open-air pole barn so players had places to hide for cover as they tagged their way around the obstacles.

Each game was a five minute free for all with up to ten players per round. Players all start with 650 ammo and 75 lives, so once you get shot 75 times you are out of the game. The high score is not determined based on surviving the game, but rather you get one point for each successful tag on another player. The player with the most points from one single game would take home a trophy, appropriately topped with a paintball figure.

Each player could participate in as many games as they like for nothing more than the $12 price of admission to this fair. I played in every game of the night, so I thought this was a tremendous value for a full night of laser tag!

Things started out a bit slow, but ramped up quickly as word spread about the laser tag and by the end there was a line all the way out the door! I counted well over 100 people who participated in the contest over the course of the night and many, like me, were playing as many games as possible.

Micah, joined at this event by his mother Gina, explained the rules and kept the players cycling through back to back games all night. I had gotten a high score in the 200 point range right out of the gate, but topped my own score a couple of games later, so he put my new point total of 239 on a dry erase board hanging up at the front. Now I was playing just to defend that score.

Things were going well and I played hard in every game. These games were open to players of all ages, so plenty of teens and adults competed, but ironically my biggest challenge came from one of the younger players named Logan who came in with a very similar competitive drive like mine. I would guess Logan to be about 12 years old and the kind of kid who probably plays a lot of Call of Duty. I may have age and experience on my side, but he had two big things going for him. First, he was just naturally very good at the game and second, he brought his whole family into the competition and they were definitely gunning for me! Someone observed that the main objective looked like it was all about taking me out of the game as several of them (led by a guy in a cowboy hat who I presume to be Logan’s dad) swarmed around me to try to tag me out of my 75 lives. It only took one off game before the tables turned and things got interesting. Yes, they tagged me out and I returned to the front singing “nobody likes me, everybody hates me, guess I’ll go eat some worms!” Lol. But with me out of the game Logan was able to clean up on points against the weaker players and came out of that round with 269 tags. Nice job kid!

I do not want this to sound like I went all try-hard (even though I did), but I had come quite a distance to play and my pride could not allow me to let one fluke game result in my being runner-up to a tween at a county fair (woah, flashback to my pageant days!). Since this kid would no doubt return for the next day’s contest, I felt like it was ok for me to turn it up a notch and I came back out of the next game with the new high score of 312.

The remainder of the night was simply about defending that new score and nobody else came close. Topping more than 300 tags in five minutes is not easy to accomplish when you consider that five minutes is equal to 300 seconds, so I hoped that what I had done would be enough.

It all came down to one final game of the night at 9:25. Logan returned and had the same level of focus that I had. There were eight other players in the round, but this was clearly just a showdown between the two of us. Whichever one of us could take the other out first would prevent the other one from being able to do anything to top that last score. Also, I could tell that this had become interesting to the rest of the spectators in line. It’s different playing in a space with an observation area where people can watch and cheer for the game in progress.

Props to Logan, we both tagged aggressively around that barn, taking every shot we could and ended up both exhausting our 75 lives within seconds of each other. Ultimately that meant my high score won for the night, but I am absolutely impressed with the challenge he put forth. I am also impressed with how the entire event was run. My thanks to Patriot Games Mobile Laser Tag and the Murray-Calloway County Fair for hosting this laser tag competition. It was not as easy as I might have anticipated when I first walked in, but you should never underestimate a young person with drive, determination and natural skill. On the other hand, you should also never underestimate a chick with a Barracuda! :)

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