Wooded areas filled with abandoned automobiles, empty houses, and overturned barrels might evoke the set of a gritty war movie, except for one detail: they’re all covered in colorful splotches. These are some of the sights on the six unique fields at GTF Paintball, which host colorful mock battles on their expansive outdoor property. Whether participants stage urban combat on The Houses, or take to The Village to engage in fast-paced rounds, they can lose themselves in settings that simulate both real-life battle and pranks played by expressionist painters. No matter what the scenario, GTF places an emphasis on safety by chronographing markers and requiring goggles in all playing areas.
Paintball Adventures has been training Jacksonville residents in the fine art of dye dousing for more than 23 years. Recently relocated to densely wooded fields, the facility offers recreational play on weekends with professionally trained referees who guarantee fair and safe pigment-pumping play. A standard package rental ($22) includes a Tippmann 98C paint rifle, a hopper, safety goggles, and a CO2 tank, as well as a bag of 500 paintballs ($14); the $12 field fee is waived. Paintballs wash out of most clothing with soap and water, but can stain, so players should dress in old clothes, camouflage, or their finest neon-spattered formalwear.
Paintballers of all skill levels streak across Splatman Paintball Park’s battlefields, ducking behind barrel stacks, abandoned industrial piping, or large inflatable obstacles. Armed with air-powered markers, teams can take to the fields for strategic and fast-paced games during open play, or storm the grounds for birthday parties and special events. Paintball is played by millions worldwide and combines elements of tag, hide-and-seek, and capture the flag.
Paint-laden platoons roam Gorilla Paintball’s two competition fields, splattering their rivals’ backs with safe, multihued acrylic bullets. Strap into included equipment before dashing across the speedball field, ducking, diving, and stopping to read an inspirational excerpt from War and Peace behind the field’s 44 bunkers. Field designers reconfigure obstacles frequently, preventing a creeping sense of familiarity from settling in among veteran players. Each of Gorilla Paintball’s competition arenas fall under the watchful gaze of on-field referees who keep the peace and give postmatch piggyback rides to the winners.
Owners William and Paula Smith arm players with Spyder or Tippmann markers before they trek across bridges, sneak through the trees, and dodge incoming fire from behind a cluster of barrels on Low Country Paintball’s wooded field. The staff has decorated its massive course with obstacles and barriers such as an upturned rowboat and a rusty old truck. Elsewhere on the 63-acre facility, staff members oversee participants who weave through the speedball field’s bounty of blue inflatables. In addition to open-play sessions, Low Country Paintball hosts frequent games and events through its LCP Scenario branch, including bouts themed after famous battles such as the Thumb War of 1812.
Though at first glance it seems to simply be a way for people to burn of steam, at First Strike Paintball, they believe that paintball battles impart crucial life skills. In the back fort field, kids develop cooperation and teamwork when forming a strategy to capture or protect the team "bunny." Over in the original woods field, shortened bunkers help players learn to work within limitations. As players engage in five separate fields, referees keep a watchful eye to ensure safe play, ultimately conferring lessons of respect and conscientiousness.