Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Clearwater Paintball lets players indulge in their military fantasies

CLEARWATER — John Steinmeier has found a way to have fun, stay fit and bond with his 13-year-old son, Ryan. He even gets a little "painting" done, too.

On weekends, the two often head for Clearwater Paintball, part of the Chi Chi Rodriguez sports complex at 2987 McMullen-Booth Road, where they play mock military-style games.

"It's something we have a common interest in and it's a hell of a workout," said Steinmeier, 39 . "When you run from bunker to bunker, carrying all your gear for a few hours, yeah, you've gotten your exercise."

Clearwater Paintball opened in October on a 3-acre, gently rolling site. The battlefield features concrete and wooden "bunkers," a "U.N. tank" and covered picnic tables.

Paintball players, some dressed in military fatigues, team up to eliminate the enemy. Not with a bang or a whimper, but with a splat of paint propelled by compressed air. (Don't worry moms, the paint washes out in the laundry.)

Players also can play paintball's companion sport, airsoft, on the same turf. Airsoft uses a more realistic type of gun, or "marker," that fires plastic pellets to simulate combat.

John Gross, 53, of Largo owns Clearwater Paintball and says he started playing the extreme sport in its infancy in the 1980s. Paintball is said to have its origins in the cattle and forestry industries when balls of paint were shot from a distance to mark cows and trees.

Gross said paintball is all about the exhilaration it delivers.

"I don't care if you're a man, woman, child or 65-year-old grandma, you're going to get an adrenaline rush," Gross said. "At some point when you're playing, you lose your sense of hearing, get tunnel vision and time slows down."

This is a cool thing, he says. "Then when the game is over, everybody sits down and shares their war stories over pizza."

Does it hurt?

"It's kind of like popping towels," Gross said. "Every once in a while it smarts."

Players always wear masks to protect their faces and there is a safety briefing before play.

Gross said the game appeals mainly to males, especially those interested in the military and law enforcement, but about 10 to 15 percent of players are female.

"It's something everybody, young and old, can play and have fun at," he said.

The standard rate for players is $10 to use the field plus additional fees for gear and compressed air if players need them. Groups over four can get a $35 per person rate, which includes safety equipment, markers, field fees, and ammo — 500 paintballs the size of gumballs.

The games emphasize teamwork and fun, making them well-suited for birthday parties, school and church fundraisers, bachelor parties and corporate groups, Gross said.

Robert Riffey, 38, of Clearwater said playing paintball and airsoft is like being inside a real life video game.

"It's probably as close as you can get to a real combat situation," he said, "without the actual gunfire.

Reach Terri Bryce Reeves at

Clearwater Paintball

Where: 2987 McMullen-Booth Road in the Chi Chi Rodriguez sports complex.

Hours: Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Groups with 10 or more can schedule get-togethers during the week as well.

For more information: Visit clearwaterpaint or call (727) 433-3866.

Clearwater Paintball lets players indulge in their military fantasies 06/17/10 [Last modified: Thursday, June 17, 2010 5:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred moves closer to wanting a decision on Rays stadium

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred called Wednesday for urgency from Tampa Bay area government leaders to prioritize and move quicker on plans for a new Rays stadium.

    MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred talks with reporters at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.
  2. Rays journal: Homer-happiness returns against Blue Jays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays are back to hitting home runs, which was the norm of the offense for much of the season before the offense went cold.

    Adeiny Hechavarria greets teammate Kevin Kiermaier after his home run during the third inning at the Trop.
  3. Jones: Stop talking and start building a new Rays stadium

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was good to see Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred at Tropicana Field on Wednesday, talking Rays baseball and the hope for a new stadium somewhere in Tampa Bay.

    Commissioner Rob Manfred is popular with the media on a visit to Tropicana Field.
  4. Ousted to political Siberia by Corcoran, Kathleen Peters sets sights on Pinellas Commission

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The perks of power in Tallahassee are a coveted chairmanship, a Capitol office in a prime location and a prominent seat on the House floor. Now Rep. Kathleen Peters has lost all three, but here's the twist: Her trip to "Siberia" might actually help her reach the next step on the Tampa Bay political …

    Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-South Pasadena, has been relegated to the back row in the State House chamber, moved to a fouth floor office and stripped of her job as chairwoman of a House subcommittee after a series of disagreements with House Speaker Richard Corcoran. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  5. What do kids need to stay away from deadly auto theft epidemic?

    Public Safety

    ST. PETERSBURG — More than a dozen black teenagers told U.S. Congressman Charlie Crist on Wednesday that children need stronger mentors and youth programs to steer clear of the auto theft epidemic plaguing Pinellas County.

    Congressman Charlie Crist (center) listens as Shenyah Ruth (right), a junior at Northeast High School, talks during Wednesday's youth roundtable meeting with community leaders and kids. They met to discuss the ongoing car theft epidemic among Pinellas youth and how law enforcement, elected officials, and community organizations can work together to put an end to this dangerous trend. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]