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Paintballers come out to play

A paintball player fires his paintball marker during a paintball game at Mt. Doom Paintball Field, Hanceville. (Hayden Hyatt for The Tribune)

Sometimes you just gotta get out there and run and just breathe heavy, sweat a little bit and feel better.”
player Jesse Waters

HANCEVILLE – Sunday, more than a hundred people visited Mt. Doom Paintball Field to participate in a free paintball event hosted by the staff. Players enjoyed free entry, games and air for paintball markers at the event.

Philip Schultz, a regular player at the field, chose to come out Sunday and spoke to The Tribune about what makes Mt. Doom such a great place to play.

“I come out as often as I can. I've been playing for years on and off,” Schultz said. “Mt. Doom is the place to be on the weekend. It's the environment, the people that come here, they just make it.”

Bryan Pirkle, field manager at Mt. Doom, said of the free day, “(Doug Arnold, owner of Mt. Doom) just really wanted a customer appreciation day. He does this about once a year. There's no real reason, just to get everybody introduced to the sport and let them be introduced to a safe environment where they can play. Even if they don’t play here, they can at least learn how to be safe while playing paintball.”

Paintball is safer than you might think, explained Pirkle.

“Paintball is actually one of the safest sports; it's safer than even bowling if done properly at a field. Everybody is required to have a full face-mask on and that will protect your eyes and your face. The end of the paintball marker, where the paintball comes out, everybody has a blocking device that covers it when you're not in a game and as long as you have all of that and you play safely you shouldn't have any problem.”

Pirkle has been with Mt. Doom, the oldest running paintball field in Alabama, since the beginning.

“I started playing here in 1986, it officially became 'Mt. Doom' in 1987,” said Pirkle. “It's actually still one of the oldest (paintball fields) in the world, not the oldest, but it ranks up there really high.”

Dan Ziegenbein, a veteran of the sport himself, was present at the inception of Mt. Doom and was out playing at the event on Sunday as well.

“I've been playing since 1981. Doug used to come play with us and then that field was closing down, So I came to Doug and said, 'We've got the markers and stuff and you've got the land, so let’s play.' So he started and he's been keeping it up ever since,”, said Ziegenbein. “I've been playing so long, I'm knowing the fourth generation of people playing. People will have played when they were kids, go to college and work, and move back to Cullman and they'll be out here with their kids.”

Jesse Waters, a regular player at the field and referee for the event on Sunday described why he comes to the field.

“I've gotta say this is probably the most people I've seen out here in a long while. I've been here for about 12 years now on and off,” Waters said. “I like the atmosphere; it's a good family-friendly place. Half these people out here, they've known me since I was in middle school. They've seen me grow up and I've seen them and their families grow up. It's fun being out here to just hang out with your friends.”

Waters also spoke about paintball itself.

“My favorite thing is being able to work out the frustrations of the week. Sometimes you just gotta get out there and run and just breathe heavy, sweat a little bit and feel better. I love being out here playing with all these people and seeing them all having fun; at the end of the day we're all sitting there laughing, even though were all shooting each other, but everybody's having fun that's the good part about it.”

Waters also had a recommendation for anyone wanting to check out Mt. Doom.

“Come up here and play,” he smiled. “Were always up here, every Sunday, Saturdays too. Come on out and play. We love it.”

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  • A paintball player moves from cover during a paintball game at Mt. Doom Paintball Field, Hanceville.
  • Players joke with each other in between paintball games at Mt. Doom Paintball Field, Hanceville.
  • Players leave the field after a paintball game at Mt. Doom Paintball Field, Hanceville.
  • Players refill air for their paintball markers before another paintball game at Mt. Doom Paintball Field, Hanceville.
  • Mt. Doom Paintball Field staff work in the pro shop at Mt. Doom Paintball Field, Hanceville.
  • Paintball players peek from cover during a paintball game at Mt. Doom Paintball Field, Hanceville.
  • Unbroken paintballs lie on the ground as players maneuver for position during a paintball game at Mt. Doom Paintball Field, Hanceville.