Norman, sport take a trip back

Thursday, May 29, 2003

You'd want to be there to see this: D-Day 2003, paintball style.

Brian Norman shrugs away the thought of being there to see it, but he jumped at the thought of being there to take part in it.

Norman, along with 3,000 others, will take part in the largest paintball game in the world, a D-Day re-enactment in Wyandotte, Okla., June 6 and 7. The re-enactment will take place as if everything was real, only the guns will be loaded with paint instead of deadly bullets.

"Allies, snipers, squad leaders, tanks. It's all going to be there," said Norman of Cape Girardeau. "I missed out last year, but this year I was getting in. I read about it in a magazine and searched their Web site for some stuff and knew that I had to be a part of it. It just seemed like too much fun to miss."

"The Germans and Americans will be set up equally, and then everything gets going," Norman said. "We're part of the 101st airborne and will be dropped into the center of the field and start our work from there. It should get crazy."

Although D-Day is the biggest paintball game Norman will have ever participated in, it isn't the only one. Norman grew up in Indiana and first became acquainted with paintball while in high school.

"We played a little bit back then, but then I stopped for the most part until we moved to Cape in 1999," he said. "It had been six or seven years, and then a friend invited me to play in Jackson, and I really enjoyed it. After that, we decided to start playing a little more often."

These days Norman and his friends play on Norman's father-in-law's property, where they have built bunkers and a few forts to hide in.

"We used to play in Jackson, but then they shut down. So we asked him one day, and he was gracious enough to let us play. Now we play every chance we get," Norman said. "If we don't play there, then we go to Blodgett. For now, it's really the only other place to go."

Norman, an optometrist at Sears in Cape Girardeau, soon got others interested in playing, and before long he and his friends starting buying their own equipment.

"We were sick of getting pelted because our rental stuff didn't work," Norman said. "So we went out and bought our own things. One good thing about this sport is that it isn't that expensive."

Protective head gear, markers, guns, paintball and carbon dioxide cylinders are a few things needed to play safely.

Norman said equipment is available at local department stores.

"You could get into it for about $130. It's not bad at all."

Although Norman's family doesn't play all that much, his wife has joined him once.

"I think she enjoyed it. She had fun. But she would rather just shoot for practice," he said.

Now's the time for practice, and Norman and his friends will still spend the occasional Sunday afternoon playing in his father-in-law's fields.

Once D-Day rolls around, the game will get serious.

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