Paintball venue provides a shot of adrenaline
For decades, contestants at events at the rodeo grounds in south Glenwood Springs have had to worry about being thrown to the ground, kicked and stomped on.But never have they faced the threat of being shot at – before now.No, the bulls aren’t arming themselves. Rather, a new sport for a new century is being offered at the facility. Alpine Adrenaline Paintball offers youths and adults alike the chance to participate in a fast-growing sport.Business partners Nate Bohlen and Jason Kaples have installed inflatable bunkers that provide places for players to hide, and erected netting to keep the paintballs inside the arena.”There’s a ton of stray shots that just go everywhere,” Bohlen explained.But just like the droppings that are a part of rodeo, paintball splats are biodegradable. They’re nontoxic, consisting basically of vegetable oil, food dye and a gelatin shell.That was an important consideration for the city of Glenwood Springs in its decision to lease the facility out to Bohlen and Kaples. City parks and recreation director Leon Kuhn said it was important that they be able to clean up the grounds when the facility is needed for the rodeo during Strawberry Days.About the only other use the rodeo grounds may see is when the circus comes to town. Kuhn said paintball will have to make way for pre-existing uses. But the grounds mostly sit idle, and the city has had requests before to provide a place in town for paintball, so when Alpine Adrenaline Paintball came asking to lease the rodeo site, the city agreed.
“We hope to give a place for those interested to participate in that kind of activity,” Kuhn said.Bohlen said Alpine Adrenaline will operate from March through November. It first opened its doors in late April.Kaples has been running a paintball gear store in Eagle County and had hoped to create a playing venue there, but said the permitting process there proved to be too onerous. He is moving his shop to the rodeo grounds as well.In lieu of a lease payment, Alpine Adrenaline Paintball will pay Glenwood Springs 20 percent of its admission revenues and 7 percent of concession sales. The company’s liability insurance also names the city as an insuree, Bohlen said.Bohlen and Kaples are hoping to capitalize on paintball’s increasing popularity. Kaples, a semi-pro player, said paintball is now the third-largest extreme sport, with more than 4 million people playing. Increased media coverage, particularly by the ESPN sports network, has contributed to the sport’s growth.Kaples said people think of camouflage-wearing, G.I. Joe types when they think of paintball players. But these days paintball is very much a sport, something even skeptical parents of enthusiasts are coming to realize, he said. The fact that players call them paintball markers rather than guns shows the direction they are trying to take their activity.A game involves a timed event in which teams try to advance down the field, shooting opponents while not getting shot themselves, and protecting their own flag while going for the other team’s. Communication between teammates is important, and paintball can be a lot like chess from a strategy standpoint, Kaples said. But unlike chess, it involves using your whole body, and trying to shoot others while not getting shot.”It’s really intense. I mean, talk about getting your heartbeat up,” Kaples said.
Hence, the name Alpine Adrenaline.For participants, a game can last for minutes, or be over in seconds if they’re unlucky enough to get hit right away. With paintball markers able to fire off 15 rounds or more per second, Kaples said he typically carries 800 paintballs with him into a game.”Sometimes I might shoot them all. Sometimes I might not get a shot out,” he said.Paintball players have had to travel to Denver for tournaments. Bohlen and Kaples want to change that.”I’m really, really hoping to fill this place up for tournaments, ” Bohlen said.The two say it will provide another activity for kids. It also will be available for use for employee parties.Despite those flying paintballs, Bohlen said injury rates for the sport are low, involving the typical ankle sprains and knee injuries that occur in field sports. Goggles are a must to protect the eyes, and players typically wear knee and elbow pads. But veterans of the sports may not opt for much other padding to protect them from projectiles that may weigh 2.5 grams and travel 180 mph.”We get shot all the time so we’re used to it,” said Bohlen, before adding, “they leave bruises. They leave bruises, all right.”
Bohlen – who was born in Glenwood, grew up in Florida and moved back to the area in 1999 – is hoping to make a living out of paintball after having started a paintball club with a friend while going to school at Colorado Mountain College’s Spring Valley campus.While he prefers grass to the dirt of the rodeo grounds, he generally is excited about the facility’s features. It has bathrooms, a commentator box, spectator seating, and lighting for night games.If making a career out of their pastime sounds like all fun and games for Bohlen and Kaples, consider this: They spend a lot of time cleaning up after the shooting stops.”Oh yeah. More than we’d like to,” said Bohlen.In some ways, though, it’s probably preferable to cleaning up after a rodeo.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
Alpine Adrenaline Paintball: (970) 404-7911
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