PBA Interview: Dave Bains of Tampa Bay Damage Part 3

In the past ten years Dave Bains has won 6 championships. The 6 is not a typo, an exaggeration, or hype. He has played for the who’s who of paintball teams: Avalanche, XSV, Dynasty, Red Legion, Damage. His stint on these teams coincided with some of their most successful years. When you add those stellar performances up, you could make the argument that Bains is the best player of the past decade. It’s a fact that Dave Bains has been personally more successful, in terms of overall titles than any other player in the same time period. Paintball Access’ Matty Marshall picks his brain about how this happened, and about what’s going on with his current team, Tampa Bay Damage, who after winning the first event of the year– making it 3 wins in row– have not played up to their own standards in the past two events.

This is part 3 of his interview, read Part 1 here, and Part 2 here.


Ok, so other than Indian food, what’s the secret to your success? Though I feel you on that; I’ve had your family’s food, it’s delicious.
It is delicious.

I have a newborn son now so… Well, now that we’re talking about this, it’s weird. I get these spurts at points in my career, where it’s like I’m reborn. I’m at one of those points in my career right now. It’s something I was missing for a while. I’m not saying I wasn’t giving 100%, because of course I will and have been, but the last 2 weeks it was like… maybe it was because I sat out on the sidelines, but I now have a newfound passion for paintball. It’s crazy, I’ve been playing for so long and right now I feel like I’m going to play forever. If you ask me at the end of the year I might say, “This could be it for me.” I don’t ever want to put a timetable on it; I’ll know when I know.

You’ve were on Avalanche long ago, during a rebuild that was successful, we played on XSV together where we were successful, then you went to Dynasty, Russians, Damage. These are championship teams, the best team in the game you’ve played for, we’re talking about over a decade now, which is really fascinating since only a few guys have had a career like you. Ollie Lang, maybe Chris Lasoya, but he hasn’t won as many championships as you’ve won.

You’re a role model to a lot of people. You’re 6’ 4”-6’ 3”, 230–240 pounds, but you’re such an intelligent, monster gunfighter. Typically people think it helps to be small and fast, which is does, but you’ve been able to have quite the career just through mental tenacity and some amazing gun fighting. How does that make you feel? Other than Curry, which is the obvious answer.
Absolutely, just think Matty, if I was just 3 inches shorter, I mean I love my height and you love your height, just think if I was 3 inches shorter and 50 pounds lighter I would be unstoppable. (Laughs)

I gotta second that, man (Laughs)

But seriously, you play off the strengths God has given you and of course I can go to the gym and get in better shape, everyone can do this, or I can go to the donut store and change my game around that way. But you use the tools that were given to you. You have a dagger or a sword, you’re going to use them different ways but they are still going to cut.

I’ve been blessed. I think a lot of it has to do with my family being very supportive. My family built a paintball field, I was initially not really sure this was what I wanted to do, my family said, “We got some land, let’s give this a try”. That gave me some inspiration.

The next thing right now is I’m going to work my hardest to help grow paintball in my area. Literally, make the best paintball players I can out of my area. If that means I have to play a year, that’s cool. If I have to quit today to make it happen that’s cool as well.

Dave, those are obviously factors, like having a supporting family is obviously huge, but also you’ve used the mental sharpness you’ve been given to increase your skill level to the point where it’s top-tier, world class, as far as gun-fighting and shooting off the break, timing and putting game plans together.

But what’s going through your mind when you’re out there playing? I think that’s what a lot of people want to know, so that they can help their own game.
Absolutely, you have to be confident. If you go out there like, “Oh my God, we’re playing against these guys”, it’s not going to work. Even if it’s Dynasty, for example, arguably one of the most popular teams in the world, you have to go into it with confidence, not cockiness but confidence, and I think there’s a very distinct difference there.

The newer teams have to go in there with the attitude that, “Yeah, they were the World Champions, but we are the next World Champs”, and then put in the practice time to back it up. Play with confidence in yourself and with your teammates. Sadly, I think it was the right move for me to sit out this last event because I don’t think I would of felt confident, and those split second decisions about whether or not I should run out to the corner make a big difference. Hesitation can kill you.

Paintball has so many ups and downs, in the sense that the game changes so quickly you can’t second-guess yourself. Honestly, you’re going to make mistakes; I still make mistakes everyday I play. The important thing is that you learn from everyone of those mistakes. Maybe I have a mental filing system for all the mistakes that I’ve made so I can focus on not making those mistakes again.

That’s one thing I have going for me– I’m not afraid to make mistakes or to keep learning, and honestly I try to take as much criticism as possible. To me, that’s a big thing, you see a lot of the kids that are coming up, and man there’s a lot of talented paintball players, but the biggest thing is you gotta be able to take criticism. You have to be willing to take direction from other players.

I remember talking with you Matty, vividly remember, back in 2006 when we played together and I had a rough event. We just sat down and talked and you were honest, told me to take a step back, that I was trying too hard, forcing things, and needed to focus on doing my job on the paintball field. I have a lot of respect for you because you told me what I needed to hear, it was stuff I should have been telling myself, but it helped to hear it from someone else, it was a really good pep talk you could say.

It’s interesting that as a paintball player you have to be creative out there as you perfect the craft of a good gunfight. It’s tough, because a lot of times you’re hitting a little bit of struggle, but you’re so close to it. It’s like when you’re working on a project so hard, you get too close and you can’t get any perspective or context. That’s why you have a team. We’ve always sought out somebody, your peers, you need to have somebody who you can go to, bounce ideas and problems off of. That’s important, not only when coming up the ranks, it actually becomes more important at the top.
Your teammates are your best tool, I’ve learned more from my teammates than I will from anybody else, because those are the guys who are going to give you the straight, no-bullshit version of how you performed. They aren’t going to sugarcoat it.

I have an advantage there because I’ve been on so many great paintball teams and have received more advice than the average person. I’ve had the opportunity to see what’s worked and what hasn’t. It’s not because I wanted to jump around to different teams, but it happened to work out that way.

Well, it’s been a great career and I hope it continues. You own a paintball field and like dealing with other people, so maybe one day you’ll be like Rich Telford and have your own team of guys you constantly teach and work with to make them better, maybe have your own franchise one day. Is that something you would want to do?
Absolutely, I think that’s a great steppingstone and could be the next step in life. Maybe coaching is the next step for me, if I do step down from playing and hang up the cleats. I’ll always play paintball, especially with my brother’s two kids, niece and a nephew and my own son. I don’t think I will ever, truly, stop playing, I think the sport is great fun and is one of the best things in life.

I think that’s something paintball, unlike any other sport, has to offer: anybody can play together. So yeah, coaching, might be that’s the next step in my paintball career and I’ve started doing it a little bit already, on a small stage. I’m learning that I’m going to have my ups and downs, just like paintball or anything you do in life. When you make mistakes, you learn more. I know the easy way is to not make mistakes, but come on, that never happens. So just learn, then you’re never going to make the same mistake again.

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