NASHVILLE — Several times each week, a battle takes place on Bunker Hill at Paintball Valley in Nashville, but it’s not the kind of battle George Washington could have led during the Revolutionary War.
Paintball warriors dodge paintballs flying from semi-automatic Piranha paintball guns as a team of CIA agents charge up Bunker Hill to recover bombs, represented by orange cones, from a team of terrorists.
One of the most popular attractions of eXplore Brown County at Valley Branch Retreat is Paintball Valley, a place where people can discover the addictive sport that about 3.5 million Americans played across the country in 2013.
“It provides me with a great adrenaline rush that I can’t get from anything else,” Kyle Thompson said. “I was one of the terrorists behind the bunker on the hill, and my job was ‘Watch for anyone coming up the hill and light up anyone who got near our cones.’ It was an exhilarating experience.”
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Through paintball games, players have an opportunity to experience fantasies while learning some basic lessons they can incorporate in reality. All it costs is a $45 fee to play paintball for anyone at least 10 years old. Kids as young as 8 can participate when adults are playing. The fee includes field access, paintball gun, safety equipment rental and 500 paintballs.
Paintball can be utilized to help advance social and vocational skills.
“We have groups from Cummins, Rose-Hulman and NTN Driveshaft that come to play here,” Paintball Valley safety coordinator and referee Jessica George said. “Paintball involves strategy that can develop leadership and communication skills.”
When players arrive to play paintball, their first stop is the debriefing tent, where George spends about 20 minutes showing players how to operate their equipment. This sets the tone for the adventure, one that requires players to have fun safely.
“Keep the barrel sock on your gun at all times when you’re off the field,” George told paintball players. “Keeping the barrel sock on your gun will catch any paintballs you might fire. This makes sure you don’t accidentally shoot someone. Keep your mask and your goggles on until we all get back in the tent and put our barrel socks on our guns.”
Paintball experiences typically start with basic games like “Speedball” and “Capture the Flag” to help players warm up before moving on to role-playing games like “Terrorist,” where players assume an identity and attempt to accomplish a mission.
“I built Paintball Valley in 1998,” owner Gary Bartels said. “I still enjoy playing the game and watching it because it’s fun to see the inner child come out of people of all ages. If you follow the rules, the sport is quite safe.”
Enthusiasts say participants are sure to create lasting memories whenever they play, and that generates lots of repeat visits for Paintball Valley.
“I live in Franklin, and this is my first time playing here,” Thompson said. “I want to come back because it’s a great place to play paintball. On the way home today, we are going to have lots of fun replaying our battles on the paintball field.”