CHINOOK - David and Carlie Ramsey opened Black 'n' Blue Paintball last weekend on 10 acres of their 100-acre field off the west end of Chinook Valley Road. A large sign marks the entrance to the field.
David Ramsey, 25, is stationed at Cape Disappointment with the U.S. Coast Guard. He says paintball is a rapidly growing sport that is recognized worldwide. There are 80 fields in Washington alone.
Paintball competitions started on the East Coast about 30 years ago, Ramsey said. "Now it's a billion-dollar enterprise. We opened the field because we found that Pacific County has the highest rate of teen suicide in the state," Ramsey said. "We wanted to give young people a safe sport to be involved in."
On Sunday, about a dozen team members, looking like a SWAT team ready for a raid, were dressed in masks, throat protectors, gloves and long sleeves, ready to hit the field of battle. Armed with Tippmann Pneumatics paint guns loaded with non-toxic water-based paint, they began blasting away at each other from behind barriers of used tires.
Rod Rader, 43, a paintball enthusiast from the Tri-Cities area came to observe the first day of play.
"Paintball is for all ages," he said. "It's the only sport where you can hunt a person and not worry about getting arrested. It's an adrenaline rush, like deer hunting, but the deer can shoot back."
Safety is a major concern on the field, Ramsey said. Eye protection is required, a large net is set up with barriers preventing observers from getting too close to the field. No one under 10 is allowed to play.
Paintball is affordable for people of all incomes. Ramsey's personal paint gun cost $800. But, Matthew Evans, 23, also stationed at Cape D in the U.S. Coast Guard, said his entire outfit cost him $150.
The Ramseys will accept reservations for play and walk-ons will be welcomed. The games begin at noon. The entry fee for Black 'n' Blue is $20 a year with discounts for students ($10 with an ASB card) and military or state and federal employees ($15).
Participants aren't allowed to bring their own paint but the Ramseys provide all equipment from their store, located in their home at 7201 Capt. Robert Gray Drive in Vandalia, and at the field. Paint is $49 per case, 1,000 rounds is $30, 500 rounds go for $15. CO2 which fuels the guns also is available as well as parts for the guns. Rental equipment is also available.
"We're constantly getting more equipment," Ramsey said.
The games start at noon, 3 and 6 p.m. with hour breaks in between.
The Ramseys will be taking reservations for bachelor and birthday parties and from companies, Scout groups and church groups. Leadership training classes are in the works for the future and Ramsey said he wants to start a military-only paintball league, drawing from bases all over the state, and a coast league.
The Ramseys have organized a fund-raiser for young Conner Jones and his parents July 24 and 25 beginning at noon at the field. All proceeds, minus costs for equipment, will go to the family to help defray medication expenses. "Whatever I can do to help, it will be done," Carlie Ramsey said.
A 24-hour "scenario war game" is planned for next spring, Ramsey said. "We're expecting 3,000 participants. We'll have paintball land mines, bazookas and go-carts and we'll convert a van into a tank. We'll use glow-in-the-dark paint during the nighttime portion of the games. The sky's the limit. I'm not kidding."
For more information, call Black 'n' Blue at 642-4986.