For more than 14 years, paint-splattered players have duked it out on the varied terrain of Krossfire Paintball's well-kept outdoor fields. Under the watchful eye of fair-minded referees, participants duck for cover and take aim from behind blue inflatables, stacks of barrels, large wooden spools, and a fort surrounded by fencing. Over in the woods, meanwhile, players huddle in bunkers, plan ambushes from behind standing and downed trees, and crawl through overgrown grasses while avoiding opponents camouflaged as overgrown grasses. After private weekday or open weekend games, guests can update their gear by browsing the latest equipment in Krossfire Paintball's pro-shop, which stocks guns, loaders, goggles, and protective pads.
A wide, dusty expanse lies in the center of rugged woods. Its sandy floor occasionally laps up into wind tunnels as desert breezes roll through. The expanse is dotted with large wooden spools and shrubs. Through the eerie silence, a muffled rustling is heard, and suddenly a masked figure appears, a long marker aimed at an opponent.
Within Austin Paintball's nine distinct fields, paint-slinging commandos encounter strategies and scenarios sprawled across 30 acres of dense woodlands and dusty lots. Units march into the Barrels field, which is haphazardly strewn with stacked, splattered barrels, or onto a new tournament area. The Underground and Iwo Jima, two fields marked by deep trenches that force exhilarating combat, re-create famous battles from history or legendary finger-painting skirmishes from kindergarten.
Self-service stations include 3,000 and 4,500 psi compressed-air stations, where players can recharge their air-powered devices or inflate self-brought blimps for paint-based air raids. Pacifists can view the action from the 1,000-square-foot stone patio that overlooks the hill country or take aim at motionless targets at the firing range.
According to his bio, Stunt Ranch owner Steve Wolf specializes in "professional training for people who like to play with matches and run with scissors." Or at least, how to look like they're playing with matches and running with scissors. Throughout his 25 years in television and film production, Steve developed an affinity for stunt work and special effects, supplying his expertise to shows such as MTV's Call to Greatness and feature films such as Hustle & Flow. Still active in the industry, Steve also shares his passion for throwing spectacle-laden events through heading up multiple enterprises that include Wolf Stuntworks, Stunt Ranch—which also encompasses paintball and stunt parites—and Science in the Movies. Through these companies, Steve's experienced team of special effects professionals is able to stage professional fireworks shows, train people in creating controlled explosions, and applying special-effects makeup to help zombies look human again.
Across four compact, outdoor fields, goggled paintballers stealthily tread behind industrial-sized wooden spools and large inflated obstacles as candy-colored paintballs zip by. Teams of five to seven shooters might start by storming the citadel on Fort Field. After conquering the blockhouse through strategy and persistence, they can advance on the Hyperball field for a fast-paced game that relies more on reaction than strategy and teamwork. The tight quarters of the Spools field surround huge wooden spools left behind by giant seamstresses, whereas the Airball field spreads blue and red inflatables across a large swath of green grass to slow the action down. Teams can find respite between matches under the covered staging areas and refuel with snacks and beverages.
Terrain changes fast in Hill Country. The landscapes on Texas Paintball’s 40 acres, for example, transform from flat, open fields to foothills to wooded valleys. This dynamic terrain naturally lends itself to a variety of playing scenarios, which the owners capitalize on with nine fields such as requisite air-ball and hyperball fields and custom-designed wooded grounds with names such as Normandy and Trenches. Texas Paintball also has more fields in the works, including an upcoming saw-mill field where players can stalk stacks of timber while battling to control a two-story mill.
On these fields, crews divide up players according to experience level for a variety of games, from classics such as Capture the Flag to creative scenarios such as Protect the President, where one team escorts an unarmed player to a safe zone while the other attacks and yells false Gallup Poll numbers. Props, including a Huey helicopter, 1920's ambulance, deuce and a half, cars, trucks, and various boats, scatter themselves across a 10,000-sq.-ft. turf field. The knowledgeable staff also caters to players’ ability levels by renting an array of markers, from the basic Tippmann Pro-Lite to the A-5 Flatline, one of the farthest-shooting models on the market.
Off the fields, Texas Paintball encompasses amenities including dressing rooms, a concession stand, a picnic area with two barbecue pits for players who bring their own food, and a pro shop.
Lost Paintball hits its targets of safety and fun with the varied terrain of its fields, detailed defensive instructions, and an emphasis on less waiting and more playing. Full rental packages include unlimited time in the great outdoors, a protective facemask, a Spyder Xtra paintball marker and barrel cover, unlimited air refills, and 500 Valka and Draxxus paintballs. Before games commence, all players—whether brand-new to the joy of spattering paint or well-versed in the art of stalking human canvases—receive a thorough safety debriefing. Players battle through four different environments, marking and shooting to their hearts' content. Meanwhile, Lost Paintball's cheerful, paint-covered staff stands by ready to assist with questions, directions, and heated squabbles over whether that deer knowingly crossed into enemy territory.