The weather is beginning to turn and that means the beginning of several sports seasons.
One of those seasons just beginning is paintball. For the past several years the sport has been growing in the Blue Water Area. With a new season underway, there are several upcoming events.
That has Jason LaTurno and his International Paintball staff pretty busy as they equip fans throughout the area from their store at 1308 Whipple St. in Port Huron.
“Paintball really starts ramping up and gets big in the spring,” LaTurno said. “Right around this time, we are really ramping up hardcore. We have been really busy. We have been more busy in the past two weeks than in the last six or seven months. It’s pretty common and typical.
“There are a lot of people getting the itch to get out and play.”
Fortunately for local paintball enthusiast, there are more clubs and places to play than ever before.
Paul Dixon, the owner of Dead on Sight Paintball, will host several events on his field at 6302 Hewitt Road in Jeddo. After playing the game when he was 18, he came hooked and now at 41 years old he is still going strong.
“Everyone has their own opinion on everything but you have to try it yourself,” Dixon said. “You can’t judge a book by its cover. Paintball is a long running sport. It’s just something that I tried once and I fell in love with it. I started buying stuff slowly.
“The good thing is now Jason puts out rental equipment for games. If someone doesn’t have all the equipment we can rent it out at games.”
Dixon charges a $10 admission fee to his games and that money goes into lunch and back into the field for future games. He said he is encouraged to watch the sport grow in the Blue Water Area as the next generation gets involved.
“The sportsmanship is great,” he said. “I’ve been playing the last six years with a really good group of guys. They will take the little kids out and let them run with them side-by-side. They teach them to move up or go back or bunker down. We are getting a lot more younger players that want to try it at least once.
“We are open to the public, anyone can come and play.”
For the person that wants to own all of their own equipment LaTurno said he can outfit them for less than $300. LaTurno also hosts private parties and events in which all of the gear can be rented.
“A person can come out to a public event and rent all of the equipment for $20. Our local events are family friendly. We want kids to have a great experience. It’s not just a day of paintball but an experience. Every person leaves with a smile on their face.
“I love the fact that our local veteran players are very nice. I’m blessed to have these hardcore guys that have played so long and they are nice. They understand how important it is to keep it fun and light and grow the sport.”
Justin McTaggart of Emmett is just one of the local enthusiast that is looking forward to the spring season. McTaggart got his start with the United States Marine Corps during downtime when he was stationed in Okinawa, Japan.
“I had never played a day in my life,” McTaggart said. “The guys you work with in the Marine Corp in real life have your back. We used it as a unit bonding experience.
“It was fun to play with guys you know every day. It gives you that adrenaline rush. It’s a fast pace. You get done quick and you can’t wait to go again.”
Contact Joseph Hayes at (810) 989-6268 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter @email@example.com.
UPCOMING PAINTBALL EVENTS
• Mayday Mahem: May 2 at Dead on Sight Paintball (6302 Hewitt Road, Jeddo)
• Doom of June: June 20 at 6302 Hewitt Road, Jeddo
• Port Huron Paintball Big Game 15: June 15 at 4245 Norman Road, 48059 Burtchville Twp.
• Pump, Piston, Mag-Fed: July 25 at 6302 Hewitt Road, Jeddo
• Port Huron Paintball Big Game 16: Aug. 1 at 4245 Norman Road, 48059 Burtchville Twp.
• Wounded Warrior: Aug. 22 at 6302 Hewitt Road, Jeddo
• Modern Warfare 4: Sept. 5 at 6302 Hewitt Road, Jeddo
• Turkey Shootout 2015: November 28 at 4245 Norman Road, 48059 Burtchville Twp.
— All events run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information go to Fireteam Gallant Defiance Paintball or Dead on Sight Paintball on Facebook