Since opening its doors to the public almost a year ago, the facility's gritty, postapocalyptic indoor setup has attracted dozens of local and out-of-town paintball enthusiasts. Participants from as far away as Virginia and California have traveled thousands of miles to the Sunshine State to partake in a friendly, competitive bout of paintball war games in the unique building, 10,000 square feet of maze-like passageways and rooms full of obstacles.
"It's a big adrenaline rush, and you wanna smack every team in the face. It's pretty much about bragging rights," says Mike Ivanecevic, age 20, of West Palm Beach. "Everything is moving fast, and it's close quarters. It all started when I was around 12 years old, and [paintball] started to attract me a little bit more toward combat. Then it turned into a big tournament thing for me, so I started traveling around to different tournaments all around the country."
At the Pompano facility, tournaments dubbed "wet the games," "flag," and "elimination" are just a few of the weekly events that showcase the combative ingenuity and strategy of players. A regular tournament held on the last Sunday of every month draws an average of 10 to 15 three-person teams, which shoot it out until one team remains standing. Players are "killed" when hit in the right spot by the slightly stinging balls of paint, and referees are on hand to keep order.
With paintball gun models like the Angel and the Automatic RT ranging in price from $800 to $1000, paintball can be an expensive sport, but it doesn't have to be. As most paintball junkies are quick to point out, the best equipment doesn't always make for the best players. Besides, for most players the sport is about teamwork, camaraderie, building friendships, and having some wholesome fun.
"It's real fun," says Jason Applebaum of Coral Springs, age 15. "We get to play and learn how to work together. Basically every team is like that. When you're starting off, you can get a $100 gun and be just as good as the people with a $1000 gun. It all depends on the person."