California Magnum patch
One of the first speedball fields, at The
Mill Paintball Game, Harrodsburg, IN
The Spectre trailer, October 1992
Paintball News article covering SOPC
10-man, October 1992
1993 NAAPSA Midwest Regional
article, Times Mail
Paintball News article on 1993
NAAPSA Midwest Regional
Paintball News interview, 1993
I&I swag
New Spectre uniforms Fall
1994, pic taken August
1995
Bang Gang, 1991
Bang Gang at 1996 NAAPSA Nationals
The short version:  Spectre is a competition paintball team established in
Bedford, Indiana in 1992, which was eventually sponsored by Art & Lana Piller of
The Mill Paintball Game in Harrodsburg, Indiana (which is no longer in
operation).  Spectre was extremely active in the midwest tournament scene from
1992 to the early 2000's, playing tournaments all over Indiana and several in
Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.  Spectre
started tailing off in the early 2000's, eventually becoming completely dormant
until 2012, when some old members and some new faces decided to get back
into the sport and revive the team.

The long version: I (Joey Ross) apologize in advance that this long version is
interspersed with some of my own experiences in paintball rather than just the
history of Spectre itself, but my paintball experience and Spectre are somewhat
intertwined, plus I think sprinkling in some personal stories with the history of
Spectre helps provide some context.

I played my first game in 1987 with Kevin New and Devin New.  This was also
Devin's first game, with Kevin having dragged both of us out to a paintball field
near our home called The Mill Paintball Game in Harrodsburg, Indiana, owned
by Art & Lana Piller (no longer in operation).  The field was closed that day, but
Art let the three of us go onto the field and try it out, so Kevin sat in one bunker
and Devin and I sat in another, and we shot at each other across a valley until
our paint was gone.  I was hooked immediately, and began playing most
weekends.  I started with a Splatmaster Rapide paintball gun, then eventually
worked my way to a Brass Eagle King Cobra pump, PMI Piranha pump, and then
a Tippmann .68 Special semi-auto.  Eventually our whole team went to
Automags, but that was quite a few years later.  In the early years, we started
out buying a 200-round box of California Magnum paintballs that came in a little
camouflage box and came with a free California Magnum patch, which cost
around $15 (7 cents per ball) if my memory serves me correctly.  That box
usually lasted most of the day, and I still have one of the Cal Mag patches on my
gearbag.  We also started out with 12 gram CO2 cylinders, which were good for
about 20 shots.

The Mill Paintball Game where we played, and that ultimately sponsored
Spectre, was a great field.  It had everything: bunkers, wooded areas, open
fields, single-story forts, two-story forts, creek beds, hills, flat terrain, etc.  It
boasted features we called the "tube" (a usually hotly-contested creekbed), the
"swamp" (a central densely wooded area that was crucial to hold for many
games) and the "superhighway" (one of the main paths through the woods).  Art
and Lana took such good care of the field that it was more manicured than many
golf courses, and that is not an exaggeration.  Mike Boetjer, founder of NAAPSA,
said of The Mill: "I have seen a lot of well kept fields ... but [The Mill] was the
best manicured field I have ever seen.  It reminded me of Europe with hardly a
twig out of place in the woods and gardened open areas.  It was just a beautiful
paintball field."  A 1994 Paintball News article said "The Mill has the best
manicured lawn and staging area I have ever seen, either in person or in
magazines.  I truly feel that I have set foot on a paintball estate or country club
each time I visit The Mill."  It had a newly-built shelter house with bathrooms, and
Art and Lana gave away free hotdogs to players during the day.  They took care
of the rental equipment like it was their personal equipment, taking each gun
completely apart and cleaning it at the end of each game day, so even people
renting equipment were not outclassed or outgunned.  In the picture to the left,
you can see how perfect even the gravel looks: Art and Lana picked up all of the
trash out of the gravel and raked it after every game day;
that's the level of
detail the went to in maintaining the field.

We mostly played two-flag, center-flag, and escort-the-dignitary games.  Red
armbands always went on the right arm, and blue on the left, that way if you saw
an arm without an armband you could still figure out what team the player was
on by the process of elimination.  Art also later added a "speedball" field, which
was a small field with no woods that was completely ringed with plywood walls
containing brightly-painted spools and giant tractor tires.  There was an
observation deck for spectators.  This was the first speedball field I ever saw,
the predecessor to today's modern airball fields.  

At the time, we didn't play much speedball, preferring the woods instead.  But,
speedball was a nice diversion to shoot up the rest of our paint at the end of the
day.  Of course airball/xball is the standard now, with woodsball being the rare
side diversion, since airball is much more suitable as a spectator sport due to it's
faster pace and the fact that the entire field is easily viewed by a crowd.  It is
also more suitable for TV filming than woodsball.  Thus, the pros on TV play
airball, so the trickle-down effect is that most tournaments are airball nowadays.

On the rare occasion when Art and Lana were not able to run the field when
there was a private game booked, Jason Branham and I would help out.  We
always had a good time showing the ropes to the new players and reffing,
cleaning guns, filling tanks, etc.  We even made the free hotdogs.  A couple
guys from Spectre eventually took full time jobs at The Mill, including Dave
Marion and Devin New.

We also played a time or two on some land my parents owned.  I remember one
day (pre-Spectre) we had about 30 players, 10 of whom were Bang Gang
members, a paintball team with players from Bedford, Mitchell, and Orleans,
Indiana, consisting of Dave Mullis, Tom Boyer, Mitch Guthrie, Greg Inman, Scott
Potter, Sonny Colston, Eric Thomas, John Jones, and some other guys whose
names I don't remember right now.  Their home field was the Barn Lot in
Bedford, Indiana, owned by Dave Mullis (the site of several tournaments Spectre
later played in).  In one game, the 10 Bang Gang members took on the other 20
or so of us.  I thought it would be a slaughter, and it was, but I had the
slaughterer and slaughteree confused: despite our numerical advantage, they
stomped us, and quickly.  It was then that I had the first inkling in the back of my
mind that being part of a team seemed like a good idea...

By 1991, Kevin and I had played a lot together over the preceding few years,
mostly at The Mill and at every other paintball field we could find, and several
other friends had started coming out to The Mill to play consistently (Mike
Nicholson, Jason Branham, Mike Branham and Devin New).  In August of 1992,
Jason said  "You ought to start a team," so I approached Kevin and asked him if
he would co-captain a team with me called Spectre, which he readily agreed to
do.  After that, our regular group all signed on, which consisted of
(alphabetically): Jason Branham, Mike Branham, Devin New, Kevin New
(co-captain), Mike (Mikey) Nicholson, Matt Pemberton, and myself, Joey Ross
(co-captain).  I sat down that first night and designed a team logo, and Devin
took it to school and had the screen print teacher make us T-shirts.  Kevin and
Devin's dad, Jerry, gave us an old U-Haul trailer, which we sanded and Mikey's
dad, John, painted, then we painted our team logo on the side.  

We headed to Southern Ohio Paintball Club in Felicity, Ohio for our first
tournament in October of 1992, where we met up with a couple of friends Kevin
and I had played paintball with in Ohio, Rob Hobson and Don (can't remember
his last name).  This made the 9 players we fielded for the 10-man tournament.  
We drove Matt Pemberton's Nissan Pathfinder to Ohio to pull the Spectre trailer,
and we had a couple of mishaps on the way: first, the road evidently turned hard
right and we kept going straight, flying off of the road and causing the most
synchronized, collective scream of "Oh Sh*t" simultaneously from five mouths I
have ever heard before or since.  Miraculously the trailer stayed attached to the
Pathfinder.  Second, we got lost and had to turn around in some guy's driveway
with the trailer, and he came on to his porch and screamed "Vacuum" (or
something similar) at us.  I'm pretty sure he didn't say "vacuum" though...

We eventually found the paintball field, and we camped there the night before
the tournament (and we were the only team that did, which surprised us).  Mike
Branham and Mikey Nicholson came later that evening in Mikey's Mustang and
met us there.  It was pretty cold that night (the temperature would climb to 40
degrees by the start of the tournament the next morning), and some may
remember the "just my breath or cigarette smoke" game that passed the time.

The tournament went as well as could be expected for our first tournament
experience, considering we were playing one man short to begin with and with
two players no one had ever played with before except Kevin and I.  Semi-autos
were not common yet, and our team was using pumps, as were most (if not all)
of the teams in the tournament.  We won our very first game in only about 4
minutes (fast by woodsball standards back then; games were scheduled to last
25 minutes), then finished out the tournament with so-so performances.  Two
notable occurrences I remember were that Devin got shot in the stones, and
Mike Branham managed to appear eliminated and walk behind the enemy team,
only to open up on them from behind.  Ultimately we finished in 7th place out of
10 teams, but for some reason the article covering the tournament had our
score wrong (listing our points as 150 instead of 205), appearing as if we
finished 9th, and had Bang Gang's score wrong, showing 16 points when I think
it was 316.  

After that first tournament we all bought
matching woodland BDU's and had
"Spectre" sewn onto the jacket's front pocket in 1" blue letters, and we ordered
team patches from Medallion Custom Emblems (which I think is out of business
now, or at least it's not on the internet).  We were the height of paintball fashion
in 1992.

In April of 1993, we picked up Dave Marion and Chris Hass.  Chris had
previously played with another team based at The Mill called the
Regulators,
and Dave was a regular player at The Mill.  That same Spring, we also upgraded
from pumps to semi-auto paintball guns.

Our second tournament was the 1993 North American Amateur Paintball Sports
Association (NAAPSA) Midwest Regional Qualifier Tournament at The Mill, which
we won.  This was of course our home field, but we did have more than a
200-point lead over 2nd place, and we beat some really good teams that day,
including Bang Gang (Bedford, IN, winning tournaments long before Spectre was
formed) and the Killer Bees (Kokomo, IN, eventual 1999 ICC State Chapmions).  
I don't remember all the other teams, but there were a total of 10 teams in the
tournament. This tournament also got some local press, and you can read the
article in the Times Mail (Bedford, IN) to the right.  The only mar on that
otherwise awesome day was this: I saw that whatever team started on the south
side of the field kept getting control of a bunker on a hill and wreaking havoc
from there.  We drew the north side as our starting point for one game, but I
knew that Mikey was really fast and I thought if he really hauled he could make
that bunker first.  So, I told him to sprint for the bunker and I would try to lay
down cover fire.  When the game started, he ran around a stand of trees one
way and I went the other, both to emerge on the other side close to the infamous
bunker.  I saw someone already there, so I poured paint in and shot them out,
thinking I had cleared the way so Mikey wouldn't run into their fire.  As it turned
out, Mikey stood up out of the bunker, eliminated by me.  He got there WAY
faster than I thought possible.  As far as I know, that was the only time I ever
shot a friendly in a tournament game, but I still hear about it from Mikey decades
later.  In my defense, I'm still pretty sure he got there faster than humanly
possible.  You can read the Paintball News coverage of the 1993 NAAPSA
Midwest Regional Qualifier to the right.

In July of 1993, we picked up Jim Gore, another player from The Mill and good
friend of several people on our team already.  Joey Hatfield, a player at The Mill,
also helped us out a lot but decided to not formally join the team.  Also in July of
1993, I was interviewed by Paintball News.  You can read that interview to the
right.

In the Fall of 1993, we played in the first ever NAAPSA Nationals (as a result of
winning the regional qualifier).  Thereafter, we managed to qualify for every
NAAPSA Nationals for the next 6 years, being the only team to play in each of
the first seven NAAPSA National Tournaments (according to Mike Boetjer,
founder of NAAPSA).  At some point, I think after the first year, Spectre was
charged with refereeing the 3-Man NAAPSA Nationals each year, which helped
us generate money to pay our entry fee in to the NAAPSA 5-man and 10-man
events.

In January of 1994, we picked up Scott Schooley, a regular player at The Mill.  In
September of 1994, we picked up Craig Patnode.  John Guess and Chris Head
joined the team in October of 1994, and we picked up John's brother, Kris, in
November of 1994, in time to play the 1994 Winter League with us in Corydon,
Indiana.

In the Fall of 1994, we got
new uniforms, which were matching jerseys and pants
with a unique camo pattern from Paintball Mania in St. Louis, and we had a
seamstress remove the sleeves and replace them with all-black sleeves (so they
would be different even if another team bought the same camo pattern), with
"SPECTRE" in big blue letters stitched down one sleeve and our team patch on
the other.  These uniforms were fairly unique and identifiable so everyone knew
who the Spectre players were, and I could feel the increased team solidarity that
came as a byproduct of the new uniforms.  It has been long enough now that I
can admit that I got the uniform idea from a tournament Spectre attended in
which Farside, one of the top amateur teams in the country, participated.  They
had camo jerseys with both sleeves solid olive green, and "Farside"
embroidered on the back in bright green thread.  I thought their uniforms were
awesome, and I felt like we should get uniforms that were identifiable also.

In April of 1995, we picked up George Hass, Chris's dad, and Pat Dawson, a
friend of John and Kris's from Terre Haute.  Tony Nguyen, from Terre Haute,
joined in May of 1995.  Chris Dilts, a friend of Chris Hass's, joined in August of
1995, and Matt McDaniel joined in September of 1995.  

Over the years we played in tournaments in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio,
Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Illinois, and of course all over Indiana.  We
routinely ran up against Bang Gang, Killer Bees, Black Reign, and the Sewer
Rats, and later we often faced Jokers Wild, Indy Magic, and the Instagators.  

Spectre also hosted our first speedball tournament at The Mill in the Spring of
1995, to generate funds for our entry fees into other tournaments.  Mike Boetjer,
founder of NAAPSA, played in one of our speedball tournaments.

In 1996, Bang Gang was short a few players for the NAAPSA 10-man
tournament, so Devin and I played with them, which was really fun and a great
learning experience.  In the photo to the right, I am kneeling on the left, Devin is
standing behind me on the left, Sonny Colston is behind Devin, Eric Thomas is
back left, Mitch Guthrie is kneeling in the middle, Tom Boyer is kneeling on the
right, John Jones is behind Tom, Dave Mullis is behind John, and Kris Bratton of
the Killer Bees (also filling in) is standing in the center.  The pic also appears in
an
interview with Tom Boyer, captain of Bang Gang, which is a great read.  Tom
now coaches Mutiny, a pro paintball team in Indianapolis.

At another tournament in Kentucky, Devin and I were the last two left in one
game, and we shot out the last guy.  We were pressed for time, so Devin
dropped his gun so he could run faster, and he grabbed the flag and ran it back
and hung it.  After the game, the ref said that it was a rules violation to drop
equipment on the field, so Devin was eliminated.  The refs wanted us to replay
the game, but we did the math and determined that even without the flag pull
and flag hang points from Devin, we would still win the game on eliminations, so
the refs declared us the winner without a replay, which got us in to the finals.  I
think the Darksiders went on to win that tournament, which was a very
formidable team from Kentucky.

One of our best individual performances in a game came in the 1994 NAAPSA
Midwest Regional Qualifier, in which we ultimately placed 4th.  Kevin New was
the last Spectre player left against three Black Reign players, and Black Reign
was the best team in Indiana at the time.  Somehow, Kevin managed to eliminate
all three Black Reign players by himself and win the game.  Many of us managed
to eliminate three or more players in one game from time to time, but I don't
remember any time when only one Spectre player was left alone against such
formidable opposition and - by sheer determination - managed the win.  You can
read an article about that tournament, and covering that feat, by clicking
here.

One of our best days as a team was at a tournament at Sherwood Forest
Paintball.  We had two 5-man teams in the tournament, and Farside (possibly
the best amateur team in the country at the time) was also in the tournament.  
When we played Farside, I took out their guy on the left tape almost immediately
after the start horn with one of those rounds you shoot at the beginning that you
don't really expect to hit anyone.  I knew they always ran to a left-side bunker
though, so as soon as the horn blew I put rounds on the bunker and one of their
players just ran into my paint (nowadays they call that "laning," though back
then fields were generally larger and tree-filled so it didn't happen very often).  
And just like that, we were 5 to 4.  Devin and John moved up the right side and
took out two more, and I got one more off the left.  As all that was happening,
Dave Marion, being our best crawler (now called "snake"), was way up front in
the middle near the flag, but pinned down.  Chris Hass moved in to shoot the
last guy off of Dave as Devin, John and I were moving in to the middle from our
respective flanks, and suddenly we were 5 to 0 just looking at each other,
stunned.  Dave got so close to the flag that he drew Farside's attention inward
and allowed us to sweep up the tapes.  We pulled and ran the flag back and
celebrated duly.  Later in the day, our other 5-man team (which in that
tournament I think was Scott Schooley, Chris Dilts, Craig Patnode, Kris Guess,
and Tony Nyguyen) faced Farside, and
again were victorious.  We celebrated
duly again.  Farside was a great team, and we had never beat them before and
maybe never did again, but that was Spectre's day.

In 1996, I was invited to come to California to play in the The Earon Carter 1996
Stock Class Invitational (article
here), a 5-man stock-class (i.e. 12 gram CO2,
pump guns only) woodsball tournament at
SC Village (the home of the first-ever
speedball field) with Bill & Dawn Mills, owners of
warpig.com, and Doug "Red
October" Devin, an author for
Action Pursuit Games (APG) magazine.  We were
sponsored by
I&I Sports, one of the biggest (if not the biggest) paintball
products supplier at the time.  We played under the name of Stock Brokers, and
in one game we got to play against the Iron Men, the top pro team at the time
(though I don't think the players representing Iron Men in this tourney were their
pro players).  I did manage to eliminate one of them, but they eventually beat us.
 We finished 13th out of 16 teams (see
here), but we had a great time so our
less-than-fantastic placing didn't really bother us - much.  Afterward, we played
a lot of walk-on games, and one thing that surprised me was that I could not find
a fill station for my high-pressure tank.  I always thought California was ahead of
most of the country in paintball technology, but evidently no one out there was
using compressed air yet like we were here in Indiana, probably because they
did not face the colder weather we have to deal with.  But, I dug my old 20 oz
CO2 tank out of my gearbag and enjoyed a day of paintball on one of the most
famous fields in the country.  After the tournament, the owner of I & I took us on
a tour of the I & I facilities, which were impressive, and he gave us a lot of free
swag, like the gear bag to the right.  Dawn, Bill, and Doug were a blast and I am
still appreciative of the invite to that tournament and Doug's hospitality for letting
us all crash at his house the night before.
Warpig.com is still the premier
paintball website in the world.  There is one picture of me in action during the
tournament,
here. Wow I was skinny back then.

One minor regret I always had was that we spelled the team name "Spectre"
rather than "Specter."  I got pretty sick of hearing "SPECTR
A ON DECK, FIELD
2" over the loud speaker at tournaments.  We would yell back "It's Spectre, not
Spectra!" but I don't think anyone listened.

In the Spring of 1997 I hung up my paintball cleats to focus on other areas of my
life.  Chris Hass then became the captain of Spectre.  Shortly thereafter, the
team ordered
new Renegade uniforms, and I was able to pull some strings and
get one too, even though I had technically resigned.  The new uniforms kept the
tradition of having one black sleeve.

In the Winter of 1997-1998, a team from Indianapolis called Depradari offered to
merge with Spectre, and offered sponsorship from their home field.  Spectre
elected to not merge.  Later, Chris Hass, with the help of Chris Dilts (who is now
an awesome professional photographer, see
here) and Dave Marion, would go
on to start P8NT magazine, a successful and cutting edge paintball magazine.  
P8NT magazine truly changed the way paintball was presented to the public and
players alike, with a more gritty and
real viewpoint, thus changing paintball in the
minds of non-players from a bizarre "fringe" sport (like log throwing) to an X
Game-type sport.  Hass later went to play for Farside, and eventually became
captain of, and then coach of, Farside.  After Chris' tenure, Dave Marion and
Scott Hudnall co-captained Spectre for a time, and the team moved its home
base to 62 Splat Paintball in Martinsville, Indiana (which is now Paintball
Indiana).  Scott Schooley took the reigns after Dave Marion and Scott Hudnall,
and enjoyed continued tournament success.  

Eventually Spectre became dormant, though the name Spectre remained holy to
all of us who were part of it.

In 2011, I started
thinking about playing again.  In April 2012, Todd Fleener, who
used to play paintball back in the late 80's and early 90's with his own group of
friends, agreed to go out and play with me, and eventually we started pulling
other people back into the sport, including a few old Spectre members and some
new faces.  

In May 2012 Todd suggested we get the band back together.  So, in May 2012
we picked up Todd Fleener, and in June 2012, we picked up Brad Bounds,
Taylor Branham, Will Hilycord, David Marion (former member), Victoria Murphy,
Devin New (former member), Ethan New, Kevin New (former member), Craig
Newforth, Veronica Newforth, Jared Pyle, Jeremy Saunders, Scott Schooley
(former member), Devin Tolliver, Tevis Tolliver, Troy Tolliver, and Adam Wilson.  
In September 2012 we picked up Brett Franklin.

We ordered new jerseys on June 25, 2012 from
xternalsports.com, and we stuck
to the team-name-down-one-sleeve tradition.  They arrived in August 2012.

We played our first tournament in the modern era on July 7, 2012.  It was a
3-man tournament at Cliff Edge Paintball in Spencer, Indiana, and we brought
three teams.  As it turned out, only one other team attended (G-Spot, the home
field team, now called Dysfunctional), but we did manage 1st, 3rd, and 4th
places.  We were happy to win, but just as happy to survive the 106 degree heat.

We played our next tournament on September 16, 2012, which was a 5-man at
Paintball Indiana in Martinsville, Indiana.  We didn't play very well but we did
learn a lot and we were glad to get some more tournament exposure.  And, the
weather was much better than the last tournament (a little over 30 degrees
cooler).
 We gained more experience at our next tournament at Paintball
Indiana, a 3-man on November 11, 2012.
SOPC 10-man, October 1992,Ohio
Killer Bees, 1999 (after winning the
1999 ICC State Championship)
Spectre players, 3-man tournament at
Cliff Edge, Spencer, Indiana 7/7/12
1992 Spectre Logo
2012 Spectre Logo
The Mill Paintball Game
The new jerseys ordered June 2012
Spectre, 5-man tournament at
Paintball Indiana, Martinsville, Indiana
9/16/12