In the distance, the thump of discharged weapons can be heard. Spires of a castle loom over the tree tops, and as the platoon approaches, a hail of fire fells three of them. As those hit trudge off the field and wipe the paint from their goggles, the rest of their team makes a hasty retreat only to assault the position from a different angle. These tense moments occur daily at Three Rivers Paintball. More than 70 acres of wooded battlefield sports crashed airplanes, broken down tanks, and large-scale fortresses. The staff also hosts airsoft battles, with scenarios reenacting battles from history such as World War II or Napoleon's thumb wars. A full-service pro shop carries traditional paintball equipment needed to wage nonlethal war.
A still figure stands silently behind a few thin trees. When he sees someone emerging from a long, metal tube several yards away, he takes aim with his marker, squeezes the trigger, and watches a blot of brightly colored paint materialize on his friend's shoulder. Such friend-turned-foe scenarios play out daily at Urban Assault, a paintball facility whose outdoor battlefields in Cecil and indoor arenas in McDonald attract players from all around the area. In the outdoor arenas, the surrounding wooded landscape adds variety of terrain and barricade possibilities, letting staffers add touches such as metal crawl tubes and other strategic bits of architecture that paintballers have come to depend on for cover. The competitors engage in open play on five such outdoor fields—each with unique features—as well as in the company's two indoor spaces that total some 30,000 square feet. Indoors, paintball contests go from sparsely adorned to almost disco-like as players stalk their enemies while traipsing across catwalks and navigating a demanding maze of fog machines, black lights, and adrenaline-boosting music inside one of the fields. The brains behind Urban Assault also offer special rates to large groups, military veterans, and members of the CIA's finger-painting brigade.
Steel City Airsoft's safety-conscious staff hosts adrenaline-pumping showdowns for recreational warriors as well as for law enforcement or military groups looking to train in a close-quarters, indoor environment. A modular building design allows staffers to reorient the walls, hallways, and doorways that honeycomb the 30,000-square-foot facility, ensuring unpredictable, action-packed bouts amid a hail of whistling pellets. With an emphasis on responsible play, the staff members steadfastly enforce the facility's rules and advise patrons either to wear clothing that covers any bare skin or to don their family's coat of arms. Steel City Airsoft is open on Fridays from 5 p.m.–midnight, Saturdays from noon to midnight, and Sundays from noon to 10 p.m.