"It only hurts for, like, 30 seconds," says Pete Johnson, general manager of Ballers Arena in Mesa. "It's like getting snapped with a rubber band."
He's talking about paintball, the recreational sport where shooting your friends isn't just allowed, it's encouraged. Like a live action game of "Halo," players suit up with face masks, goggles and protective gear to hit each other with paintball shot from a compressed-gas powered "marker" (the word "gun" is generally frowned upon in paintball circles).
With the cost of field fees and renting or purchasing the proper equipment, it's an expensive hobby, admits enthusiasts like Dwight Bizahaloni, 22, of Tempe. But worth it.
"I do it about three times a month," Bizahaloni says. "My friends were into it, so I decided to jump into it with them.
In the past year, two indoor paintball venues have opened up in the East Valley - Ballers Arena and Tempe Paintball. Much like Mesa Riverview and Tempe Marketplace, they're two similar entities roughly parallel to each other geography-wise.
Ballers Arena is just north of Main Street on Country Club Drive, Tempe Paintball is just south on Apache Boulevard (Main turns into Apache heading west) on McClintock Drive. And like those two shopping centers, each offers the consumer something different.
1401 S. McClintock Drive, Tempe,
(480) 966-1900 or tempepaintball.com.
Tempe Paintball opened last August, and though its Web site dubs the place an "urban combat experience," event coordinator Lorraine Hawley assures that it's "family-run, very family-oriented."
Hawley says players of all skill levels are welcome and shouldn't feel intimidated by highly experienced players.
Each Friday night, Tempe Paintball hosts "cosmic night," inspired by "cosmic bowling" nights around the country. The lights are dimmed and "club"-type music scores the melee.
"Parents are looking at it as a very clean teen activity," says Hawley. "We have a lot of the younger adults, nondrinking type of crowd."
Rates include $20 for a winter field fee and $29 for a summer field fee, and an $8 equipment rental fee. Paintballs range from $9 for 200 to $53 for 2,000.
Hours: Open play 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays, 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays, noon to 9 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Private parties Mondays and Tuesdays. League play 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesdays.
140 N. Country Club Drive, Mesa
(480) 668-7868 or ballersarena.com.
The location that was Country Club Bowl for decades has been transformed into a paintball hub, complete with a restaurant, arcade, pro shop and a "parents lounge" with six chairs and a flat-screen TV. And, oh yeah - there's a 16,000-square-foot indoor field where competitors can get their paintball on.
Johnson says the clientele ranges from 10 to 65 years old: "You get a good mix of people." And the arena, which opened in December, is one of the few paintball places that are open during the week (though the busiest nights are still on weekends).
Rates include $20 for "all day" play with air tank refills, $5 for a compressed air tank rental and $10 for equipment rental. Paintballs range from $20 for 500 to $60 for 2,000.
Hours: 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 3 p.m. to midnight Fridays, 10 a.m. to midnight Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays.