Christchurch paintball team aims to go pro and take on the world's best
A team of Christchurch men have been awarded for hunting down and defeating one of the biggest threats to New Zealand pride – the Australian.
The Immortal Knights are a semi-professional paintball team still in their infancy, but recently won their section of a Super 7s international paintball tournament near Sydney.
"In our first tournament we took it out. We were quite stoked with our result, really," team captain Alan Guest said.
"We went there to play, we were hoping to [compete], but we didn't expect to win it. So that was a bonus."
The Knights fired 84,000 rounds at their opponents during the competition and planned to keep progressing throughout the year.
"We're heading back over in August, so we're getting prepared for that ... we're going to do a bit of training over the next eight weeks and hopefully just keep the momentum going.
"There are two more tournaments this year and if we do well we might consider playing in the pro league."
Once there, they would be competing with some of the best in the world, Guest said.
"We're shooting 12-and-a-half balls a second in the semi-pro [league] and pros shoot 15 balls-per-second. There's a lot of paint flying through the air at any given point."
"It's actually quite a big sport in the [United] States and Europe."
But more had to be done at a local level to keep growing the sport – along with an appreciation that it was indeed a sport, "not just a man-driven fun thing".
In the Super 7s tournament, two teams of six shooters with two crew members faced off to reach the opposing team's buzzer first.
"The guys run out to their primary positions in their bunkers and try to eliminate the other team.
"To win you either eliminate the entire team and push the buzzer ... or you can walk down and push the buzzer. You'll get a paint check from the ref to make sure you haven't been hit."
Members wanted to form a governing body in New Zealand to encourage others to get involved at more than a recreational level.
The team trained in West Melton and had previously sought consent for playing fields closer to the city centre but had come up against resistance, Guest said.
"We're trying to grow the sport locally. It's very hard ... No-one ever looks at the tournament side of it, the serious competition.
"Finding somewhere to play these events is very, very hard ... I'd like to see organisations that promote sport looking at this as a sport."