WINDHAM, New York ??вЂќ The snows may be melting, but the action and excitement simply won’t disappear. In fact, at Windham Mountain, everyone is preparing for a veritable invasion of challenging fun.
Mountain Invasion Paintball, Windham’s new, dynamic paintball park, debuts Memorial Day weekend (May 28), and brings with it a whole new sports dimension. “Paintball is a great outdoor sport for summertime,” says Rob Case, Mountain Invasion’s assistant manager and a veteran paintball enthusiast. “You get out in the fresh air, and get the adrenaline pumping.”
What is paintball? Well, Case describes it as a grown-up’s version of tag – only now there’s no argument about whether you ‘got’ someone. Participants use ‘markers’ – which look a lot like guns – to tag each other with small, burst-able balls filled with a non-staining concoction of vegetable oil and food coloring.
The game has exploded to over 10 million participants, with almost 90% of the players falling in the 12-24 age range. According to Sports Illustrated, sales of paintball equipment rose to over $390 million last year, driven by major retailers like Wal-Mart, which sells starter kits for as little as $120.
Windham Mountain plans to offer a sophisticated operation, with a comfortable lodge, food and beverage options and state-of-the-art equipment. At Mountain Invasion, four fields will offer divergent playing environments.
“People develop a preferred style of play,” says Case. “Some like a real fast game in close quarters. Others like a more battlefield-style setting, going from tree to tree. We’ll have something for everybody.”
Mountain Invasion fields will include:
- A Sup-Air Field – where teams of 3-7 competitors compete on a field of inflatable obstacles and bunkers. (Sup-Air is short for “supplemental air.”)
- Two Speedball Fields – one field of barrels and another with natural obstacles, suited for teams of 3-15 competitors who want a fast-paced affair. Games average five minutes in length.
- A Natural Forest – several acres set in a forest, with natural and man-made bunkers.
In addition, novices – or those who simply want to shoot but not compete – can practice on a target range. A viewing area will allow spectators to take in the action.
While the sport might sound violent to some, Case emphasizes, “Safety is our number one concern. Everybody will need to have instruction before they go on the field.” Indeed, Mountain Invasion markers will have a tightly controlled shooting velocity. “Some markers can shoot up to 350-feet per second. Ours will perform from 260 to 270,” Case says. “Other fields use CO2 air, which can mean varying speeds. We’ve upgraded to compressed air, so we can set the same speed every time.”
To get into the game, competitors pay a field fee and purchase paint balls. “You’re allowed on the field for as long as you want to buy paint balls,” Case explains. Packages offering rental equipment plus a set amount of balls will be available, as will camouflage coveralls. “We’ll offer free (air) tank refills,” Case adds. “If you finish a game and your tank’s at half, you can refill for the next game.”
Those who own their own markers are welcome to bring their own. “We’ll test owners’ markers for velocity to make sure it’s shooting within our safety ranges,” says Rob. “If you have a CO2 marker, we can fill it with CO2.” Gamers’ own safety equipment (goggles, etc.) must pass inspection by park personnel; all players must use Mountain Invasion paint balls,
Participants may join in individually or as groups. Indeed, walk-ons and newcomers are encouraged. “You can come without knowledge of the sport,” says Rob. “We’ll train you, and match you up with people and opponents. All the equipment is extremely user-friendly. It’s literally point and shoot.”
Case also hopes to organize weekly league play and at least one, late-season “scenario game,” an all-day affair in which “different types of missions must be completed in accordance with a plot line, or an outline, of the game,” he says.
Kids, too, can get in on the action. Windham Mountain is following an industry standard of 10 years as the minimum age for participants. When appropriate, the air pressure on markers will be turned down to match the fortitude of the players.
Mountain Invasion will be located at The Mountain Top Adventure Park, site of Windham’s winter snow tubing. It’ll be open for action on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (and on one other evening if enough interest in forming league play is generated) from Memorial Day weekend through Columbus Day weekend. The park’s lodge will serve light food, snacks and drinks, and the outdoor dining deck will make for perfect picnicking.
Paintball is a wonderful stress reliever, fun family activity and powerful team building exercise. It’s also growing rapidly in popularity. “It’s ranked as the fourth most popular ‘extreme’ sport, according American Sports Data,” Case reports. “The sport is growing like crazy. Tournament play has even been televised.”
Mountain Invasion will present an excellent opportunity to get in on the excitement.