War Paint

Zac Barnholdt isn't shy about his favorite pastime.

"It's really fun shooting people," he says. "It's very exciting, with the adrenaline rush and all. I mean, there's nothing better than hunting humans."

Don't worry -- the soft-spoken Phoenix resident (it's always the quiet ones) won't be rolling through your neighborhood with a Tek-9 anytime soon. As a paintball purist, he'd rather light you up like a neon-splattered Christmas tree.

Barnholdt will don the referee stripes as an official at the Westworld Paintball Memorial Day Charity Bash on Monday, May 31, at Westworld Paintball Adventures. This high-caliber hootenanny will feature up to 90 warriors battling for supremacy on the facility's 20,000-square-foot playing field, replete with obstacles of all sorts, two full-size airplanes and sniper lookouts aplenty.

Just don't hunker for too long, as pros prefer close-range kill shots with newbies who "bunker" behind a barrier. And participants might want to bring a cup to prevent getting "bagged in the berries."

While most players supply their own gear -- "since some guys spend as much money on equipment as they would a car," Barnholdt says -- the necessary equipment can be rented for only $5, and $150 will net a plethora of paintball paraphernalia, including an electronic Piranha Gun, nine-ounce air tank and 1,000 rounds of ammo. Portions of the proceeds benefit the Arizona Paralyzed Veterans of America.

Organizers expect the turnout to be the usual mix of extreme-sports junkies and team-building corporate types, but Barnholdt admits it's more about friendship than going on a kill-crazy rampage.

"A few are here to get out their aggression, but you generally have fun, meet new people and, by the end of the day, you're talking like old friends."

After all, a stranger is just someone you haven't fragged yet.

The slaughter runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, May 31, at Westworld Paintball Adventures, 4240 West Camelback. Field passes, $20, are limited to 90 participants. Call 602-269-2743 or see

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.