Synergy Paintball aims to be a way of giving back to the community by offering a safe place to have fun and expend pent-up energy. As if in agreement, youthful shouts ring out from across the arena's 35 acres, punctuated by the whispery noise of paintballs cutting through the fresh air. The style of play varies across multiple playing fields, which serve as venues for games of capture the flag and speedball. In the jungle area, camouflaged warriors crouch and tumble between towering trees and shimmy among tufts of low brush. Snipers stash themselves atop mounds of dirt or in the beds of dump trucks in another field.
The park has also played host to United States military reserves tactical training, an exercise that filled the park with humvees and transport vehicles before the beginning of a mock Medevac evacuation.
Happy shouts float across Swings-N-Things Family Fun Park, whipping out of the mouths of drivers racing around go-kart tracks and captains ricocheting off one another in bumper boats. The satisfying clunk of colorful spheres falling into holes on the mini-golf course perks up ears in the sprawling complex of indoor and outdoor attractions. Go-kart drivers whiten their knuckles behind the wheel of 9-horsepower Honda engines, tearing through a quarter mile of twists and turns on the Grand Prix track as if it were a high-school principal’s lawn. Alternatively, patrons frolic across the park’s two outdoor mini-golf courses before practicing their aim in a laser shootout game, and children ages 10 and younger scramble their socked feet over slides and rides inside the Kids Korner indoor play area. Swings-N-Things Family Fun Park is easily accessible from the area's major highways.
Hearing a cacophony of three-shots burst into the air but unable to see where it's coming from, a player decides to force his foes to reveal their positions by waiting patiently in the roots of an uprooted tree. Such natural cover lies throughout the backwoods field at Valley City Paintball, where combatants traverse terrain from wooded hills to a creek bed to stacks of fallen timber. The referees maintain safe conditions for all levels of players, showing guests a safety video and leading a field briefing before supervising games such as Defend the Tree and two-team Card Collector with re-spawn. Overseen by veteran Brian Gunkelman––who served four years in the 82nd Airborne and currently continues service through the Ohio Air National Guard––Valley City's team members allow up to 28 players on the field at a time. They also encourage visitors to take advantage of the natural cover, whether by wearing ghillie suits or painting a watercolor still life during the thick of battle.
Since opening in 1999, Pentagon Paintball has earned the distinction of being one of the tri-state area’s largest paintball complexes, as well as the only safety-certified arena in Erie County. With a more-than-2,000-square-foot pro shop and six different outdoor fields, Pentagon provides ample opportunity to ambush friends, strangers, and renegade blades of grass with paint guns year-round. Add heightened realism to Road Warrior reenactments with 30-foot towers on the Urban Jungle field, or play cards and trade war stories while crouching in one of more than 50 bunkers inside The Depot field—one of the most popular fields for recreational players. The playing courts’ short and tall grasses are traipsable all year long; Pentagon Paintball plows all fields when snow amasses more than 10 inches, swiftly quashing any Frosty the Snowman-led insurgencies. Gas grills are available on site for complimentary use, so bring some cookables with which to refuel. When questions arise over who hit whom, what the boundaries are, and exactly what Georges Seurat’s motives were when he invented competitive paintball in 1886, just ask one of the knowledgeable referees, who are on hand for every match.