Monday, February 2, 2015

Santa Clara Paintball January 16, 2015

Ready for action
I've been planning birthday parties for about 15 years now.  Like most parents I would imagine, I determined very quickly that the whole process is far less painful when you throw money at someone and have them do the work and even more so, by taking the party out of your house and hosting it on someone else's turf.

We've experienced it all--mini-golf, inflatables, trampolines, bowling, laser tag, kids' kitchen, ceramic painting, you name it.  Every year, and at every age, there seems to be the "it" thing that everyone's doing for their birthday.  Right now, it's paintball.  This is what my daughter wanted to do for her 15th birthday party, and as we hadn't been able to plan a party for her in several years, into paintball planning mode I went.

Paintball, by Wikipedia definition, is a sport in which players compete, in teams or individually, to eliminate opponents by tagging them with capsules containing water-soluble dye and featuring a gelatin outer shell (referred to as paintballs) propelled from a device called a paintball marker (commonly referred to as a paintball gun). It's not like there are paintball places on every corner in Santa Clara County.  The place that everyone seems to plan their parties is Santa Clara Paintball, located at 2542 Monterey Road in San Jose, not Santa Clara.  The place is a large outdoor venue consisting of a series of cages with a bunch of wooden boxes and other obstacles in them.  There's a trailer for registration, some picnic tables, some porta-potties, and a gravel covered parking lot.  The set up is so simple it is almost comic.

Here's how it works.  First you call and book a reservation.  You can either play laser tag (i.e. no paint), Splatball (recommended for kids 12 and under because, well, I think it hurts less), or traditional paintball.  There is an exorbitant admission fee, but I purchased my 12
Getting geared up....
admissions with an Amazon Daily Deal at an incredible discount for $55.  The admission fee covers, well, admission and safety gear, but does not include ammunition.  The minimum amount of ammunition one can buy is 500 rounds per person for $25 each, with prices going up from there.  Of course within your group some will fire more and some will fire less---so you may have to watch for an ammo hog in your bunch--as once your are out of ammo, you are done. 500 rounds of ammo per person allows a group of 10 to play about 90 minutes.  At check in,  you can chose to pay $5 more per person and have a private party, which gives you your own referee and means you will only play against those in your own party.  Though I nearly cuffed up the credit card, as $45 didn't seem so bad, I learned you needed a 10 person minimum and I didn't want to pay for the extra person, so that ended that.

They encourage you to get there 30 minutes before your reservation time to check in, get your equipment and have a safety briefing.  Don't forget to get those waivers signed ahead of time!  No one warned me about this and I just managed to remember that I had done this for my son when he went to a party here a month ago.  Luckily it is a very simple online form that parents can fill out in about 90 seconds.

Well we got there, checked in and got our gear.  Everyone gets a chest and a back protector, a helmet with a full face mask, an airgun and ammunition.  The group gathers on the bleachers for a short safety briefing and some general instructions and then it was time to play.

So if you don't have a private party, who are you looking at in terms of opponents?  Well, this I can guarantee, the place is certainly not full of 15 year old girls!  Most who paintball appear to be college age men, many of who, look like they have done this before, decked in Ninja gear from head to toe.  Among the groups were 2-3 parties of 10-12 year old boys, mostly playing Splatball, and one group entirely of male Google software engineers.  What?  You're asking I know they were Google software engineers??

Speaking of getting decked out, it's not in your best interest to wear your finery to paintball.  The paint is washable but the activity is athletic and dirty in general.  The astroturf on the ground is nasty and being on your knees or shooting from your belly from the ground can occur.  Though I did not see a specific requirement regarding footwear, wear closed athletic shoes.  Leave your UGGS and flip flops at home.

The games run between different "cages" and are different in nature and length.  One game , "Ultimate Respond" is seven minutes long and requires you to go to the back of the box before you can come out shooting again if you get shot.  In "Zombies"  humans run from Zombies who can turn them into Zombies too!  In some you have only one life.  In some you are teammates with your group, in others you are not.  You get the picture.  The referee describes the rules before each game.
Snack break!
Paintballers get hungry, and there is no food sold on the premises, except for some snack shack type candy and whatever you can get out of the rickety vending machines.  There is a picnic area and you can bring in whatever food you like.  There are several pizza vendors in the area that will deliver to the location.  Alcoholic beverages are not allowed.  The tables are not particularly clean so tablecloths are not a bad idea, and neither is hand sanitizer--as the facilities for hand washing to leave much to be desired.  The picnic area is lit, but there are no heat lamps, so having a sweatshirt during the cooler months is a good choice.

And now for some pictures!!

Vamping with the airguns is always a fun part of a day of paintballing.

These guys are done.  Look at how dirty they are!!

Okay, this is my son's friends party--but don't these 11 year olds look tough??
(Actually, I think they're adorable)

Can you believe I just got a post done and it hasn't even been three weeks since this happened?? Wonders never cease.  Well, been to a wine party in Napa since then and soon returning to Bend, OR, so we will see what I have in store!


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