Paintball field owners say interest has shot up

The cacophony of fire heads down range, smacking into the wooden teepees as Josh DiNigro of Illion returns fire at a local paintball field.

Exchanging fire with two others, he was doing fine until he felt something smack into his left thigh.

“I’m out,” he said, raising his gun and surrendering.

It’s a familiar scene at paintball fields, which locally are thriving.

Paintball field owners say they’ve seen an increase in player turnout and reservations this year.

According to Stan Roseman, owner of Hilltop Paintball in Fort Plain, business has gone up for the 2013 season, expecially with interest in paintball parties.

“Actually, there has been a lot of reservations,” Roseman said. “We get mostly parties here.”

The Hilltop Paintball sports complex features seven unique fields of play, including a tepee village and alien planet.

There is also instruction about rules and regulations available for those new to the game.

Planned expansions to the Hilltop field include a larger teepee village and an expanded woodsball field.

Burt Lasher, owner of Lash’s Paintball in Perth, also reported an increase in attendance at his business.

Lash’s, which has a large woodsball field with fortifications built inside, is steadily adding more features to its field,too, Lasher said.

Paintball has multiple scenarios that can be played, ranging from simple elimination to complex team events. In a standard elimination game, two teams armed with paintball guns start on opposite ends of the field.

When the game begins, the goal is simple: be the last team standing. Other scenarios exist, depending on the event that day.

Many establishments have multiple fields, ranging from Woodsball – taking place in forest – or Speedball, which uses inflatable cover and obstacles for high-speed, short games.

Lasher, who operated his business for 10 years, said it is hard to predict how the year in general will turn out.

“It seems like it is going well already,” Lasher said.

Lasher said in the previous year, business was promising, and he expects more of the same.

Open throughout the year, Lasher said he had people play even in the winter.

“I never close,” Lasher joked.

“Some of these guys will run right through,” Lasher said, with a steady flow of five to 10 players on any given Sunday during the winter, but with many more during the summer.

Since spring began, Lasher said he has had groups come in to play regularly.

He said groups from nearby colleges such as Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the State University of New York at Albany are some of the field’s most recent guests, with groups of 20 or more coming to play the game.

Roseman, who runs Hilltop for six months of the year, said his main clientele are also groups, with bachelor and bachelorette parties as well as birthday parties being a large portion of the customer base.

“Sometimes we get larger groups,” Roseman said, adding that once more than 100 players came in a single day to the establishment.

“It just depends on the group,” Roseman said.

Roseman, who raised sheep until five years ago, decided to switch to running a paintball field after deciding he could not stay in the area for the full year.

The rest of the time he lives on Long Island.

“So we had to make a decision, and it was just an idea,” Roseman said, explaining his son encouraged him to try it this way.

Both Lash’s and Hilltop have equipment rentals. For $15 participants can rent masks, guns and propellant, used to fire the paintball with compressed gas or air.

According to Roseman, admission is $20 for players 18 and older and $15 for 17 and younger. Lash’s is open every Sunday from 10 a.m. to whenever the players leave. Lash’s only charges for ammo at the field. It costs $11.

Paintball guns are available for sale in the sporting goods departments of many large chain stores and online.

Lash’s and Lennon’s Power Equipment in Gloversville also have shops dedicated to paintball.

Kate Lennon, an employee at Lennon’s, said many players start out with a Tippmann 98 Custom, a simple marker with many custom options.

Extended barrels, stocks and improved internals are all options that are capable on the Tippmann 98.