Touchet paintball field a new place to shoot it out

Splat Paintball and Outdoor Recreation Supplies has opened a new paintball field in a pasture near Touchet.

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Lexi Sturm of Touchet crouches behind a bunker at the new Splat paintball field during an all-woman tournament Saturday

TOUCHET -- In a 10-acre pasture where the cattle once roamed, a group of women -- some wearing camouflage and all wearing face shields -- shot it out Saturday morning at the Valley's newest official paint ball field.

The women's paint ball tournament brought in about a dozen contestants who spent the morning shooting and ducking for cover at the new Splat paint ball field at 1086 Cummins Road during a benefit tournament for the nascent Liberty Garden Ministries Girl's Home.

"Most of them (the participants) are actually like secretaries and nurses and accountants and home moms and students," said Terri McMakin, co-owner of Splat Paintball and Outdoor Recreation Supplies, which opened in May at 27 Jade St.

Last month the owners of Splat gave their new paint ball field its first trial run and a private birthday party tournament. And in February, Splat will hold the official grand opening for the new field. Saturday, however, was the first tournament open to the general public.

McMakin's husband and Splat co-owner, Tom, said the husband and wife team would have opened their field months earlier, but they had to wait for the cows to go home. Up until this fall, he explained, the pasture was leased for cattle.

"We called them (the cattle) portable bunkers or movable bunkers, but those are gone now," he added.

In their place are real bunkers, which are an integral part of most paint ball fields because they allow players to take cover from the salvo of soft plastic encapsulated balls of paint. But just as important as having good cover in the field is having good cover on the body.

"You try to cover every inch of your body that you can because paint does hurt, especially in cold weather," Terri McMakin said. But she also noted her son plays in shorts and a T-shirt.

The McMakins opened their paint ball supply store, in part, because they wanted to find someplace closer to home to buy supplies for their children and themselves.

"I played yesterday (Saturday)," Tom said, explaining why he likes the sport. "It gets me off the couch and you get to run around and be a kid. It's an adrenalin rush when you have stuff flying at you."

Terri added that she and many other local women also enjoy the sport, and that living in a rural area helps with finding other women who like the sport.

"Because we are in a rural area in the country, a lot of the girls hunt here," she said.

Women often play the same tactical games as the men, she added, but sometimes the prizes are different. Saturday's tournament was a good example, as the prizes included coffee cards, scarves, candy and a massager, as well as a gun and mask. The prizes were also affixed to bunkers as rewards.

"It's like armed shopping. We put the prizes on the front of bunkers and the first one to get there wins," she said.

The Splat paint ball field is open on the weekends. Participants must buy their paint balls through Splat and are required to pay a $50 yearly membership fee, which is used to offset the insurance and field maintenance, Terri said.

The next Splat paint ball field tournament is tentatively scheduled for the first weekend after Valentine's day and will be a coed event.

Alfred Diaz can be reached at alfreddiaz@wwub.com or 526-8325.

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