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Robert M. Thompson II, Darmstadt Outdoor Recreation's lead recreation assistant and "paintball king," stands in the crow's nest overlooking the 8,000 square foot Red Baron Paintball Indoor Scenario Field.

Robert M. Thompson II, Darmstadt Outdoor Recreation's lead recreation assistant and "paintball king," stands in the crow's nest overlooking the 8,000 square foot Red Baron Paintball Indoor Scenario Field. (Matt Millham / S&S)

Robert M. Thompson II, Darmstadt Outdoor Recreation's lead recreation assistant and "paintball king," stands in the crow's nest overlooking the 8,000 square foot Red Baron Paintball Indoor Scenario Field.

Robert M. Thompson II, Darmstadt Outdoor Recreation's lead recreation assistant and "paintball king," stands in the crow's nest overlooking the 8,000 square foot Red Baron Paintball Indoor Scenario Field. (Matt Millham / S&S)

After navigating a tight alleyway, players can either turn the corner left and take their chances or turn right itno this area where they will almost inevitably get caught in a painful, though non-fatal, crossfire.

After navigating a tight alleyway, players can either turn the corner left and take their chances or turn right itno this area where they will almost inevitably get caught in a painful, though non-fatal, crossfire. (Matt Millham / S&S)

GRIESHEIM, Germany — Darmstadt’s new indoor paintball facility is all bruise and no splat.

And that’s a good thing?

Well, without the splat, use of the 8,000 square-foot Red Baron Paintball Indoor Scenario Field is a lot easier on players’ wallets.

With regular filled paintballs, a daylong shootout runs about $60 per person for a set amount of ammunition.

Additional paintball ammo bumps cost even more.

But with reusable no-paint balls, the cost is a flat $30 per person and the ammo is unlimited.

“People are a little skeptical when they get in here and they wonder, ‘How will you know when you get hit?’ ” said Robert M. Thompson II, an assistant at Darmstadt Outdoor Recreation and self-professed “paintball king.” “Believe me, you’ll know.”

The paintless balls blast out of the muzzle at 190 to 220 feet per second. That’s about 160 miles per hour — fast enough to leave a welt that could make leprosy look pleasant.

Well, maybe not that bad.

But they are the same size and weight as a regular paintball. The difference is they don’t splatter on what they hit.

So how do shooters know if they they hit their target?

“The honor system, it works,” Thompson said.

Thompson led the campaign to build the facility in an old hangar at the airfield outside of Darmstadt. After about three years of hoping, he got approval for his plan last year.

Thompson and a team of 30 volunteers built the mazelike warren of narrow alleys, crossfire courtyards and hiding spots in six weeks, completing it in November.

With the exception of 800 euros’ worth of framing material and hardware, most of the wood was donated by units that had leftover equipment-bracing material after returning from downrange.

Returning soldiers and experienced paintball fiends — some of them local Germans — also gave Thompson ideas for various obstacles and danger areas.

“It’s an adrenaline rush running through here,” said Spc. Gene Brown, a volunteer who helped build the facility. “You never know if you’re going to run around the corner and be faced with the muzzle of someone else’s marker.”

Brown has deployed twice to Iraq with the Darmstadt-based 22nd Signal Brigade.

He said paintball is better than the combat training he’s done with laser gear because it forces players to react to projectiles being fired at them.

Thompson said the facility is still a work in progress.

Units have used it to run through scenarios ranging from battling insurgents in house-to-house fighting to hostage rescues.

“It’s becoming really beneficial for the troops that are going downrange,” Thompson said. “That’s the most important thing.”

Training or open play

Red Baron Paintball Indoor Scenario Field includes three outdoor paintball fields.

Monday-Friday: By appointment only for military and law enforcement training, groups and parties of 10 or more.

Weekends: Any ID cardholder can participate in open play from noon to 6 p.m.

Call Darmstadt Outdoor Recreation at DSN 348-6277 or commercial 06151-69-6277 for reservations and information.


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