|Xtreme Paintball hits the bull’s-eye|
|Wednesday, May 2, 2012|
The Wilson Post
War games have been raging in living color in Lebanon for the past six months.
The color comes in the form of exploding paintballs, which fly through the air at 200 miles per hour before striking their human targets and marking them with bright orange or yellow splats, a sure sign that the combatant has been eliminated.
The relatively-harmless action takes place at Xtreme Paintball, where partners Andrew Jones and Trevor Mesnik have constructed two arenas of combat, an airball field and a war zone, each 180 feet long and 100 feet wide with black, see-through netting rising 20 feet above the perimeter.
The war zone contains plywood walls, railroad-tie barriers, black plastic pipes and two junked cars, while the airball, or speedball, field offers a variety of large, red and white inflatable bunkers for zigging and zagging marksmen to take cover behind.
On a Saturday morning in April, 14 friends, all members of Young Nashville Icebreakers, divide into two squads, load their markers (paintball guns), walk onto the battleground, pull on their facemasks and prepare to make war.“Everybody is scared to death before they go in, kind of nervous. It gets pretty intimidating. All those paintballs flying around,” Jones said. He serves as a referee.
“Is everybody full of paint?” he asked the players.
“Yeah,” the answer came.
“You want to play in that field?” he asked, referring to the war zone.
“Yeah,” the answer came again. “We want to roll over the cars.”
“What’s our strategy?” one novice asked a teammate.
“Shoot the other people,” his friend responded.
Within seconds, the weekend warriors were sprinting, crouching behind barriers and firing their guns, sending orange and yellow pellets zinging across the field.
The two referees, watching from the side, hollered out “player eliminated!” once they spotted a player who has been hit or “painted.” At that instant, the player held an arm into the air and walked off the field.
Whitney Seals of Nashville, who graduated in December from Belmont University where she played on the basketball team, took a yellow pellet to the head.
“It hurt a little bit,” she said, while describing the action as “pretty fun. It’s an adrenalin rush and takes strategizing.”
“Paintball started in the 1970s when people wanted to mark trees to know who owned the land,” Xtreme Paintball co-owner Mesnik informed. “They used paintball guns, which were called markers.”
“We opened in November, which is the worst time of the year for paintball,” Mesnick said. “We made it through the winter, and business is great now. We’re sold out weeks in advance.”
He and Andrew, his brother-in-law, were brainstorming for a new business and came up with the idea after playing the sport in Nashville. “There was no paintball out here, and kids love it and that was our route,” he recalled.
“Everybody had guns around here. So we have a place for people to shoot themselves safely,” said Jones, who constructed the fields, while Mesnik did the research.
Each battle arena can handle two teams of 12 players. Participants must be 10 years of age or older. The customers include church groups, bachelor parties, birthday parties and corporations that see this as a team-building exercise.
For the 14 guys and gals in Young Nashville Icebreakers, the four hours of shooting at each other was just a way to mesh, have a good time and blow off some steam, said the group founder Ryan Oxley, 25, a videographer who lives in Mt. Juliet.
“Young Nashville Icebreakers is a group designed for people who are young at heart that want to be active and hang out and have a good time together,” Oxley said of the year-old organization, consisting for the most part of adults in their mid-20s to their early 30s.
“Paintball for me is something I always wanted to do but never had a chance. The appeal is it’s really high adrenalin, an exciting thing to do. This environment of being shot at is kind of a team-building experience. A lot of us always wanted to play paintball but never had a chance to do it, or we loved doing it but didn’t have enough people.”
For two Mt. Juliet Middle School eighth graders, paintball is purely about the fun.
“This is my second time here. I like that it’s a professional course. I’ve played paintball with my friends. I came here a couple of months ago and had a really good time,” Riley Hughes, 14, said.
“I’ve been playing air-soft and paintball. This is just more realistic than air-soft. A lot more fast-paced,” Hughes’ friend, Taylor Reinbold, 13, said. “I like the place because it’s really well constructed.”
“And it’s a great value, pretty cheap for a paintball place,” Hughes added.
Xtreme Paintball offers three half-day rental policies, ranging from $20 to $40 to $60, which includes entry and rental for everything you’ll need. There are also six-month and 12-month memberships available at $150 and $300, respectively.
Weekend battles occur in two, four-hour blocks, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 2 to 6 p.m. Reservations are necessary for weekends, so call ahead. Walk-ins are welcome on weekdays, and those who have their own equipment can play anytime. Premium grade paintballs are mandatory.
“The premium grade paintballs don’t hurt as much,” Jones said. “They are biodegradable, non-toxic and water soluble,” Mesnik added.
Jones, 27, was born in Louisiana and moved around as a youth since his step-father served in the Air Force. He settled in Lebanon four years ago and also owns Premier Auto Spa on South Cumberland.
Mesnik, 26, is a Las Vegas native who married Jones’ sister and lives in Watertown. A Webmaster who co-founded the Adopt a Serviceman Web site, he has been here 15 months.
“There’s a saying in paintball: Spray and pray,” Mesnik advised. “The more balls you shoot, the better.”
As for tips from Jones, he said, “Stay low, move up to the front, don’t get shot.”
“We are making a level playing field for recreational players and tournament players,” Mesnik said of their game plan. “It’s all about having fun, providing clean equipment and staying safe,” Jones added.