By Katie Avery
Want to take part in a realistic battlefield experience without the risk of actually getting too hurt? There are plenty of options close to home.
From paintball to laser tag to airsoft, these live shooting games can provide you and your friends with adrenaline pumped exercises here in Bakersfield.
Go after each other, or defend your territory from zombies, for example. Here are a few places to go for some fun shooting action.
The original first person shooter
Every weekend at Poso Creek -- about 15 miles northeast of Bakersfield -- you can relieve the stress from your workweek by shooting people with a paintball gun.
People come from all throughout Kern County to participate in this entertaining sport.
Paintball is solely about force-on-force elimination, where teams shoot each other until there is a winner.
It's also one of the few shooting games that have real-life consequences -- if you get hit with a paintball, you can feel it on your skin and you can see it on your clothing. That's what separates it from its gun sport counterparts, and also makes it a lot harder to cheat.
Professional paintball team L.A. Collision practices at Poso Creek Paintball for tournaments. The team competes nationally.
Players from L.A. Collision said they started playing young, loved it and have been playing ever since. They like going to Poso Creek Paintball, they said, because of its location -- the middle ground for players who are spread throughout California.
This paintball team has hosted one-on-one tournaments open to all, where players face off individually, and the last one standing wins $1,500. The tournaments give local players the chance to be pitted against professionals from throughout the state and has brought some attention to the paintball community in Bakersfield.
Poso Creek Paintball has seen a rise in interest recently from recreational players, and expect to see even more people join in cooler weather.
Poso Creek Paintball -- at 24587 Round Mountain Road -- is open to the public every weekend from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The minimum age for paintball is 12 years old.
Create your own adventure
Laser tag arenas have graced our city for many years, but somehow just don't seem to last. That all changed when Battlefield Live came to town.
Battlefield Live is a new mobile laser tag unit that can be setup anywhere. Since the crew comes to you, the battlefield can be completely customizable.
Battlefield Live began in 2007, and has gained popularity ever since. The crew sets up the field where you want it, teaches players how to play and programs each game.
It provides a variety of weapons programmed with different sounds and languages. It also has a long list of various games or missions to play, including "capture the flag," "last man standing," "Civil War" and "Terminator." Some of the most popular games include "zombie apocalypse," "VIP escort" and "enemy lines."
They can also recreate airsoft and paintball games and missions from video games.
"No two parties are the same," said Steve Bennett, owner of Battlefield Live.
Bennett said he was a fan of regular laser tag but thought, "There has to be more to it than this." So, he set out to find a way to make it even better.
With a mobile unit, he said, "My field can be anything I want." Bennett said laser tag is most popular with birthday parties, but has hosted bachelorette parties, team-building exercises and Fourth of July family picnics, among other events.
Parents like it, too, because laser tag is safe -- no projectiles are used in the games.
"There's no bruising, there's no pain; it's more skill," Bennett said.
Since Bakersfield Live can customize equipment, adults can play with 6-year-olds, making it an even field where multiple generations can join.
Battlefield Live also offers water tag during the summer, which is similar to laser tag, but uses water guns instead.
Bennett said he seeks to have a new adventure with every party.
"That's what we want to hear from everybody, 'That was the best party ever,'" Bennett said.
Battlefield Live showcased at the Kern County Fair last fall, with a full battlefield for the public.
For more information on Battlefield Live, visit bliveb.com.
The rising star of shooting sports
Airsoft is a shooting game derived from paintball, where players shoot at each other with soft pellets that don't break the skin or cause injury, in a series of games and military exercises.
It's different from other shooting sports because it is closer to military simulation, and fans enjoy it for its reality. The guns are heavy, and the tactics and missions are the same as in combat.
Jerry Ross, who owns Gorilla Airsoft in Bakersfield, said that airsoft is similar to real military simulations.
"It's realistic ... like playing army," he said.
Gorilla Airsoft is hosted at Poso Creek every other Sunday for a series of games open to the public. It starts with basic games like "force-on-force," where one team tries to eliminate the other. It progresses to difficult games like "capture the flag," "seek and destroy" and various other strategy games.
Ross said he finds airsoft to be a great father-son activity, and sees a lot of families coming to play together.
"It's a good combination of nerdiness and jockness," said gun technician Willi Reithofer, who works at Gorilla Airsoft.
Airsoft uses missions seen in video games and real-life combat to draw a range of gamers.
Parent Doug Kiernan was confident about letting his 13-year-old son into the airsoft games.
"I left it all up to him," he said. "He got shot a lot at first but loved it."
And that's what keeps them and their friends coming back for more.
For more information on Gorilla Airsoft, visit gorillaairsoft.com.
For another airsoft experience, try Havok Airsoft & CQB, an indoor airsoft arena at White Lane and Gosford Road.
Havok is designed for a close quarters battle experience. It has man-made barricades set up, and even cars and sofas to hide behind.
It is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday, and equipment can be rented or purchased here.
For more information, visit havok-airsoft.com.