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 [email protected]

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. 'Empire' star Grace Byers keynotes USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy luncheon

    Human Interest


    TAMPA — The first University of South Florida graduate to address the USF's Women in Leadership & Philanthropy supporters, Grace Gealey Byers, class of 2006, centered her speech on her first name, turning it into a verb to share life lessons.

    Grace Byers, University of South Florida Class of 2006, stars on the Fox television show Empire. She delivered the keynote at the USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy luncheon Friday. Photo by Amy Scherzer
  2. Southeast Seminole Heights holds candlelight vigil for victims' families and each other


    TAMPA — They came together in solidarity in Southeast Seminole Heights, to sustain three families in their grief and to confront fear, at a candlelight vigil held Sunday night in the central Tampa neighborhood.

    A peaceful march that began on east New Orleans Avenue was held during the candlelight vigil for the three victims who were killed in the recent shootings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in Tampa on Sunday, October 22, 2017.
  3. It's not just Puerto Rico: FEMA bogs down in Florida, Texas too

    HOUSTON — Outside Rachel Roberts' house, a skeleton sits on a chair next to the driveway, a skeleton child on its lap, an empty cup in its hand and a sign at its feet that reads "Waiting on FEMA."

    Ernestino Leon sits among the debris removed from his family’s flood-damaged Bonita Springs home on Oct. 11. He has waited five weeks for FEMA to provide $10,000 to repair the home.
  4. McConnell says he's awaiting Trump guidance on health care

    STERLING, Va. — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday he's willing to bring bipartisan health care legislation to the floor if President Donald Trump makes clear he supports it.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s “not certain yet” on what Trump wants.
  5. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series


    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.