Masked warriors charge over the top of trench fortifications, spearheading an attack on enemy lines, spurred on by a telltale popping noise and flurry of splattered paint. "I don't care if you're a man, woman, child or 65-year-old grandma, you're going to get an adrenaline rush," Owner John Gross told the Tampa Bay Times, speaking to paintball and airsoft sports’ ability to bring out that competitive spirit in almost everyone, from military folks to birthday-party guests.
Players of all ages and stripes engage in friendly combat on the rolling slopes of six separate fields, which sport obstacles and features such as mock-pillboxes, buildings, and a hulking U.N. tank. Visitors ambush, flank, and outmaneuver opposing teams using the field’s arsenal of pigment-hurling paintball cannons, or more realistic pellet-shooting airsoft rifles. Referees carefully watch play to ensure soldiers adhere to house safety rules and Geneva Convention standards.
The sounds of crunching leaves break the otherwise still air, causing a pair of laser-tag teammates to slow their breathing and crouch down low. One of them puts a finger to her lips and peers over a fallen log, catching sight of an opponent before carefully aiming her laser gun in his direction. The sensors strapped to his head detect the hit, disengaging his gear for up to three seconds and rendering him unable to retaliate. This is a common scene at Mission Quest Adventures, where players cavort in an outdoor arena while clutching weapons loaded with laser beams. Adrenaline levels spike as warriors dive under bushes and dodge behind trees, aiming for victory in organized games such as capture the flag, last person standing, and pantomimed bowling.
The NRA-certified instructors teach at indoor and outdoor ranges.
Depending on the class, shooters use different calibers of handguns, such as .22, .380, 9 millimeter, 40cal, 45ACP, and a .38 revolver.
Before becoming state- and NRA-certified firearms instructors, each Elite Tactical Training team member worked in law enforcement or the US Army. They draw from these experiences to teach safety during one-on-one, group, and women's-only classes that incorporate scenarios. To deal with each simulated situation, the experts teach their clients??who range from civilians to law-enforcement officers??to select a suitable caliber, safely handle their chosen firearm, and practice self-defense techniques.
Genesis Paintball's woodsball field sprawls across 38,000 square feet with uneven terrain and junkyard obstacles including corrugated pipes and large wooden spools. Players dive into the long trench to evade their opponents, who can shoot from a minimum of 10 feet away or duck into hollowed-out bunkers to catch their breath with a game of Pattycake. On the other end of the facility, the astroturf-covered speedball field measures a regulation 120'x170', where teams can fire at close range and hide behind inflatable obstacles such cylinders and pyramids. Between bouts, patrons retreat to the concession stand to refuel with drinks and snacks.
Within the tight-quartered confines of the two outdoor speedball fields, paintballers duck and dive behind inflatable obstacles and blanket the opposition in one of 10 different paints such as Marballizer. When players desire a more methodical game, they advance on Blitzkrieg's three woodsball fields. During woodsball play, teams slink through narrow paths lined with dense green shrubbery, using trees for cover. Amid the jungle-like environment, combatants chuck paint grenades at distant enemies and plant paint mines in strategic locations that explode in geysers of pigment. Once everyone's clothing is coated in abstract art, teams can come to a truce over pizza, philly cheesesteaks, hotdogs, and the fact that everyone's veins pumps the same blue paint.
At Jungle Games Paintball, the acres of playing fields are littered with abandoned transport vehicles that set the stage for action-packed gaming. Defunct helicopters serve as sniping stations, and hollowed-out vans provide a place for opponents to duck for cover or take a break to plan their financial futures. As players navigate around trees in one of Extreme Paintball's six wooded fields, they take aim with rented Tippmann 98 markers upon catching sight of opponents. At Off the Wall Adventures, players explore 15 acres of play area, including a three-story fort and five-man speedball field designed to test players' stamina and skill.