Thunder Run Paintball Park and Supply offers adrenaline rush

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 8, 2003

DEERING -- With a Splatt! Splatt! Splatt! another weekend warrior bites the dust.

The beauty is that it is all in good fun and the casualties pick themselves up to play again -- with only wounded pride and a little stinging from their "injuries."

Thunder Run Paintball Park and Supply, 84 1/2 County Road 55, is Lawrence County's newest recreation offering that gives people a chance to run through the woods and shoot their friends.

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All in good fun, of course.

Deering residents Tim and Sara Edwards and partner Brent Poplin turned about five acres of the Edwards' farm into a Western-themed paintball course with a jail, Boot Hill cemetery, an outhouse, pig pen and a well that players use to play a variety of missions and scenarios.

The park also includes a speedball course designed over a 50-yard area with giant wire spools scattered about that players use as cover during

games that usually last less than three minutes.

"When we opened, it took off that first weekend," Tim said. "Gradually, we are seeing new players each week."

It all began innocently enough when a few friends asked if they could use the Edwards' property to play on because the closest course was at least an hour away. The interest grew and grew until it developed into a full-blown park, Tim Edwards said.

After they began construction in January, it took four months of hard work before the park was ready to open on April 12. Averaging about 55 people on Sundays, the Edwards have probably had 300 people battle it out on the course so far, Tim said.

Attracting a diverse crowd from the ages of 8 to 60, everyone who plays takes something different away from the recreation.

"I have been a supervisor for about 13 years. When you are out there, you don't worry about bills or work or anything," Lee Walls of Pedro said. "It is pure energy -- adrenaline rush. It is all about the sport."

Playing for less than a year, James Wilson of Ironton is new to the sport, but is already hooked.

"It lets you take out all your aggression, but nobody gets hurt," he said. "You can still walk home that night."

Tim and Sara Edwards played their first game after the park was finished. Tim said he is still not very good, though.

"I am too fat and old," he jokingly said. "I cannot move like those young guys. I never thought it was for me at my age (38). Now, my wife cannot keep me out of it."

But, Sara has been bitten by the paintball bug too.

"Yeah, I love it, too," she said. "It is addicting."

The Edwards have also opened a small shop at the park that sells guns -- called "markers" -- different types of gear, parts and refreshments. It also offers maintenance.

"Anything to do with paintball, I believe we have got it," Tim said. "We sell our own paint here, cheaper than Wal-Mart."

For those who have their own equipment, it costs $8 to play in the park all day on the weekends and $4 a day on weekdays. Admission costs $15 every day for anyone who needs to rent a gun, helmet, mask and CO2.

Paintballs, called "marks," cost extra. If players bring their own paintballs, they must pay a $6 inspection fee. Otherwise, Thunder Run sells paintballs for an average cost of $50 for a case of 2000.

For the real enthusiasts, cost is often not a concern because they want to have the best equipment money can buy. Markers cost from $40 up to hundreds of dollars.

Even in today's world of high-tech hobbies, many players see a connection between paintball and technology.

"If you like video games, you will like this," Ron Gehringer of Ashland, Ky., said.