COLUMBIA -The three boys stand in ready position with the barrels of their guns touching the black netting of the start box. They stand in line, waiting for the countdown to begin.
The Mid-west Assassins of Truxton have the first game in the tournament. Joel Eversmeyer, 14, rocks back and forth, anxious to start the game.
The referee yells out "Five," and the five seconds of silence begin, followed by quickly shouting "Go, Go, Go!" With that, all three members disperse to different bunkers and rapidly shoot at their opponents. Pow, pow, pow. A quick volley of dozens of pink paintballs hit the yellow and red bunkers spread out across the paintball field.
The players scurry from bunker to bunker, trying to dodge the paintballs. Teammates yell out to each other, "Where we at?!" and "Go, go, go!" as they try to stay in the game. On Saturday, the Show-Me State Paintball competition took place at Battle Creek Paintball in Kingdom City.
Eight teams competed to win the tournament, including the Mid-west Assassins, who were the youngest of all the teams. The team is made up of Matt Meine, 12; Andy Meine, 12; Joel Eversmeyer, 14; Luke Pecor, 11; and John Eversmeyer, 16.
However, Pecor and John Eversmeyer did not compete in the tournament this weekend because Pecor was not old enough to qualify and Eversmeyer was out of town. Melvin Kramer, one of the team coaches, said that the team usually takes part in tournaments with people older than them because they want to grow as a team.
"In order to get better, they need to play teams better than them to get their technique down," Kramer said. The Mid-west Assassins have been together for almost two years. They originally started playing together recreationally, but then decided they wanted to become more competitive - so they formed a team. Brothers Matt and Andy Meine have both been playing for about four years, and Joel Eversmeyer has been playing for about five years.
They all agreed they play because they love the game and the accompanying adrenaline rush it gives them.
"I like the adrenaline," Andy said. "Running up the field and knowing I have the chance of getting shot, but then I could also shoot people."
Eversmeyer explained that he does get nervous before games, yet he doesn't dwell on it.
"That's all part of it," Eversmeyer said. "It's why we do it."
Before the tournament began, the boys walked through the paintball field to strategize and figure out which bunkers would be the best.
As they walked through the field, Kramer and Pecor followed, offering suggestions and tips. Although Pecor cannot compete in the tournament, he said he is still going to watch and help in any way he can.
"I'll be watching other teams and letting them know what they were doing," Pecor said before the firing began.
After walking the field, they go back to their table and discuss what would be the best options for them. All three were aggressive in their planning and optimistic about the tournament. They thought they could do well, despite the age differences between them and the other teams.
"The bunkers are kinda small today, which is an advantage for us." Andy said. "I'm hoping we do pretty good as long as we play our best."
Pecor's older brother, Larry, is their other coach and also competed in the tournament this weekend with his team River Rage. Eversmeyer said that once they started to play, the other team realized how good they really are. Kramer said they have aspirations of playing in bigger events such as the Paintball Sports Promotions and the National Paintball Players League, both of which are national tournaments.
"The boys want to get good enough so they can go there and play," Kramer said.
After a minute and thirty seconds, the first game is over. The Mid-west Assassins did not win, yet their hopes are not lost.
Pecor stands in the sidelines watching his teammates walk off the field. He is reassuring and says they lost the game, but they're not out of the tournament.
"This tournament is a good tournament for us to find out how good we really are," Andy Meine said.