I will not go back to Gator again. That is pretty sad considering that this is the field that got me started playing in the first place. This last weekend ended it for me. Until Bernie is no longer there I will not go back, period. He is just a miserable person to deal with and there are better places around. Since the first trip up there he has given all of us that go together a hard time. He belittles others to make himself seem more important in my opinion. Gator may be cheaper than the other places I have been but you get what you pay for I guess. Tim needs to take more control of the place. He is a nice and helpful guy.
The first time we went up there was with a birthday party with 9 teenage kids 15-17 years old, myself and a friend of mine. We rented guns for most of the kids since most of them had never gone before. The staff hardly helped us to tell us where to go or what to do. They told us to read the rules (on a board that was so faded out you couldn't see the middle 6 rules) and we could go play. We had to ask for help to get the guns working and the masks were all old and the foam was still wet. The Piranhas worked ok, but several kids had theirs de-cock and no one had told them about this and they got shot because their guns wouldn't shoot. At the end of the day one of the kids in the party turned a gun in early to one of the kids working behind the desk. When we were checking out Bernie yelled at us to find this gun. It wasn't like we were going to try and steal the piece of crap! We told him it was already turned in and he made us wait 20 minutes before he finally told us to go ahead and leave and he would try and find it. He told us we had to clean their rental guns off before we could turn them in and the water had broken out there that day so we had to use our shirts and pants to wipe the things down.
The Fields: The fields are pretty good. The airball fields have deep ruts and on their website forums I keep reading it is because it wasn't summer and the grass will come in. The problem is that there are holes in front of all of the bunkers not to mention no grass. The woods courses are great there. The problem is they only run one game at a time. They don't have enough refs to do more. The result is that you have games with 50 on 50 and it is too crowded. Sometimes the airsoft teams take some of the fields and you are playing the hyperball and shapes courses all day long. The teams practice and use the airball courses so they are only open to the public from 3-4 on weekends. If you get to play 8 games of airball all day your lucky.
The Staff: The staff is why this place is so bad. Bernie needs to go, period. He can't deal with people very well, unless you are one of the teams that plays up there. Then he is nice to you. I have seen this first hand. The other guy that runs it up there (Tim, I think) has always been nice and helpful. The refs are ok, but they are 16 year old kids and they goof around too much. Not once have I ever been checked for a chrono (or seen anyone else checked). They tell you to do it but never verify it. I have had shots where I was bleeding after being hit. There are a lot of hot shooters up there. The staff all act like they don't want to be there.
The Facility: The Pro shop is a joke. It's inside a trailer that has hardly anything there and is all overpriced. They don't even open it half of the time because they don't have the staff to run it. They staging areas are covered but have big stumps sticking out you have to try not to trip over. The place is all dirt. When you leave there be prepared to have sand everywhere. The guns get messed up and all of your equipment too. They have one Porta-Potty. One good thing is they cook hot dogs and hamburgers on a grill and sell drinks. The road getting to the place has holes that almost swallow your car. I have had several problems with paintballs being on my car when I left from where kids thew paint around. The line to pay and get signed in is a joke. They are slow and have to give you a number if you are using CO2 so that you can tell them if you are filling up. Then you have to go get in line for the CO2. That's two lines to get CO2. Why is that? They could mark your bands at the CO2 tanks and take care of it all at once. The one good thing is that the air is self serve. The test range is ok. They have a chrono station but like I said you don't have to chrono because no one ever checks it. I do it because I hate being shot by hot guns and I wouldn't do that to some poor kid.
Overall: I like the fields but, they need to play more games, hire more and better staff, check for chrono'd guns and fix the place up. Most importantly they need to get Bernie away from the main desk and their customers. We normally go there every other weekend with a group of 9-15 kids and because I am there to help work on the kids guns and supply them extra paint if they need it ect... they have lost my business and in turn probably lost most of that business as well. I have been reluctant to bring people that are new to paintball up there because I don't want them to have their first experience ruined by Bernie yelling at them and getting hit with guns that aren't at legal levels. If Bernie is out of the picture I will consider going time to time but there are changes that need to made. I know I was probably nasty with Bernie this weekend when I left, but as you can see on other reviews I am not the only one to experience this treatment.
Update: Tim has contacted me and is in the process of trying ot make things better. I know it must be hard to run a business like Gator and satisfy everyone, but I appreciate him trying to make this right with me. I will try and make it back out there towards the end of June. I will update this then.
Last edited on Friday, May 27th, 2005 at 12:02 pm PST
Sorry you had a bad experience. I would like to try to clarify a few things then I would like for you to get in touch with me so I can try to please you.
The rules board has been replaced and is larger, laminated and poly coated so the weather wont damage it like the last one. We have also replaced our masks with new ones as well. The mask are wet because they get rinsed off in the morning before we rent them out. They might not have dried by the time you received them. Just like anything you do for the first time there will be situations or problems (sometimes real silly until you learn better such as recocking your gun) until you learn the routine or get familiar with the situation. As for the person checking out, I hope you could understand that if we have no record of a participant turning in their equipment we could only assume they have not done so. All players are instructed at the time they sign in and get equipment that they must check it out at the end of the day. Just don't lay it down because you might be faced with the situation you are referring about. I don't think it is unreasonable to ask players to wipe off the exterior of the gun and return it in the same manner it was rented out in to maintain quality. By the way, we also instruct people NOT to put water on the gun because it can ruin it. Using your shirt to wipe down the exterior part of the gun (or paper toweling) is not that big of a deal. We disassemble and clean every gun every time it is rented out for the next person. ALSO PLEASE NOTE WE HAVE UPGRADED OUR RENTALS WITH BRAN NEW VERTICAL FEED, DOUBLE TRIGGER PIRANHAS AND NOW ALSO USE NITRO ON OUR RENTALS INSTEAD OF CO2.
Fields: The grass on our three airball fields is extremely thick. I water and fertilize them regularly. What I said on our web page is that since we have had 150-200 people consistantly the fields have taken much more abuse as they will in the summertime. Less people less wear and tare. Apparantly you have not been to the field all that recent to see how thick the grass really is (you slide for a mile on it). We run more than one game at a time. The experienced and team players play in a separate game as does the recreational players. We never mix the two. The reality is there usually will be 2 to 3 games going on at any one time (but only one recreational game at a time). I have a lot of experience and we play games that suit the amount of people playing. For example, if there are 100 people we will put 4-5 fields together to accomodate the larger amount of participants for that game. We run mini scanrio games (30 minutes long with respawns), big games, capture the flag, swat (scenario based game), fear factor, etc. The games played are based upon the amount of people we need to satisfy. Airsoft players come the first Saturday of every month. We reciprocate courtesy as to playing courses back and forth. Airball is played by the recreational players first thing in the morning and then again at the end of the day for one solid hour with no break time inbetween games. We run two fields continously the entire hour. As soon as you get done playing one game the next one is starting again. There are many players that play air ball all day. They are the people that come to the field on a regular basis as well as teams. The reason we don't play airball during the afternnon is because there are too many people and it would take too long for everyone to play just one game considering the air ball fields are designed for no more than 10 v 10. At the beginning of the day and at the end of the day is when the majority of the people are still not there yet or they have already left after being there all day. That is why we do it the way we do. We don't let first timers play unsupervised because of the safety. Once you build up a rapport then we let you go off and do your own thing on the airball fields all day if you choose so. We have people that drive from Miami (5hours one way) twice a month to play here because they love the fields so much.
Staff: Those 16 year old kids work hard. Once in a while a guy might have a bad day (don't we all). I have tried out a few new people so maybe they were not up to speed yet. I have had many more compliments about how well they do compared to complaints. Reffing is not easy and is not for everyone. If you think you would do better then please contact me. We chrony twice a day minimum in front of a ref. When you first get there in the morning then again in the afternoon always no exceptions. The problem is people shooting co2. You can chrony in at 275 fps play a couple of games then be shooting 290 fps. Co2 fluctuates alot like that. As for marks and bleeding, that happens even when you are shooting within the guidelines. Anytime anyone feels there is someone shooting high we immediately chrony that person in to check them. And yes I care as does the staff. Bernie might rub you the wrong way, but I can honestly tell you his intentions are for everyone to play safe and to go home happy and satisfied. When you have a couple of hundred people playing you must mantain order or things can get out of control very fast. He makes sure no one leaves with our equipment (can you blame him?), everyone is playing safe and abiding by the rules (mask and plugs... can you blame him?) You obviously don't like him but respect the organization of how the field is run.
Facilty: The pro shop is always open during business hours. The door stays closed because it is air conditioned. Please show me where the stumps are you are referring to because I have yet to see someone complain or trip over one in the staging area. We have picnic tables, spools and covered canopies for shade. We even have fans with cooling misters set up for customers. Come on dude give me a little break. Anytime i see kids throwing paint we ask them not to. If you see someone throwing paint then you should ask them to do the same. If you saw the kids that hit your car I would have asked them nicely to clean it off. The line to pay is long when there are 200 people playing. We get two lines going. If you have played at the field before and have a waiver on file already then it goes much quicker. If not there is paperwork (waiver) that needs to be signed, money collected and recordings of the sale. That takes a few seconds. We blow through the lines fast.
Overall: We have eight refs, two counter workers and one cook. I pay over $5,000 a month in payroll. How many more would you like me to get?
It really sounds like you have not been to the field that recent because of some of the things you said. The rules board is new and has been new for over 2 months now. Youy said you were there this last weekend. What day? PLEASE GET IN TOUCH WITH ME. Thank-You.... I will look into what you claim.
Well I appreciate that you did at least respond. However, I was there last weekend on Saturday, and I was there every two weeks before that since February. Before that it was on and off.
My main problem is with Bernie. As you can see from some of the other posts he has rubbed several people the wrong way. You can keep order and not insult people in the process. Treat me with respect, as I am your customer, and I will do the same for him. He loses my respect every time I go there and get badgered by him for anything and everything it seems. He has NEVER been pleasant to deal with. A few weeks ago when he was away at the tournament it was the most enjoyable time we have had up there. He really does make the Gator experience miserable. I even tried talking to him a little one week to see if maybe I had just misjudged him. He basically ignored me.
You have to understand when people come up there for the first time that this is their first time having to use these guns in most cases and like most others I am sure we didn't come fully prepared to clean the guns and take care of the equipment properly. When I go now with my own equipment I bring several towels and a spray bottle, my own water bottles and first aid kit ect. to handle any situation. At a birthday party, with a group of kids that were as unprepared as we were, it would be nice if we could have been helped in some way to make the experience easier. Yelling at us and the kids to clean the guns and masks off and when we asked Bernie how to do it he simply told us "just take something and wipe it down". When I told him we didn't have anything to use he snapped "just clean them off somehow" and proceeded to ignore us. My shirt was as dirty as the guns (if not more) and I had nothing else to use and I was frustrated with the lack of help. I am your customer. This is not like going to a new restaurant or store where you kinda know what to do. This is a foreign world to alot of us and I expected more help. To clarify, we needed the water for the masks, not the guns. But we didn't have any to use and Bernie wanted them cleaned off and I had dirt all over my clothes. I didn't want to scratch the lenses. The guns weren't as much of an issue. I wasn't clear on that.
As far as the rules, yes they have been replaced. The pro shop always seems like there is no one in there to run it so I had to assume it wasn't open. True the grass is coming in on the airball fields, but there are trenches down beside the snakes on both the JT field and the middle field. The middle field was what I played on two weeks ago and even the middle bunkers were trenched. There is grass but there are several deep ruts on the fields.
As far as the stumps go, there are some down by the end of the canopy. We usually setup by the spool farthest down and there are several down there. There are also ones past the spools in front of the front desk. I know because I tripped on it two weeks ago.
I have played enough to know when someone is shooting hot. The mark I had was so bad that everyone that saw it that day and the week following gasped at it. It looked like the ball was under my skin. I was hit at close range but it should not have been that bad. I should have taken a picture so you could see how bad it really was. The only reason I didn't say anything on the field that day was because it was on my back and I really couldn't see it until I got home. If I had seen it or understood how bad it was I would have shown you guys right then and there. I try to play tough and suck it sometimes when I shouldn't. I had my kids there and several other kids and didn't want to scare them out of playing. If I knew I would have stopped all of them from going out there because it was too dangerous for anyone to be playing with someone like that.
The guns are chrono'd twice a day. What I am saying is, is that no one checks for it afterward before allowing you on the field. I have forgotten to chrono in the morning when we got there a little later and played and never had it checked. I did remember after I walked on the field for the first game and did go chrono after the game to be sure the gun was right, but no ref ever checked to see if I really did chrono. Normally if I thought someone's gun was set too high in an airball game I could probably find the guy that would shoot me, but in the big woods games I may not know who hit me. How am I supposed to have them check their guns? You sometimes can't. I shouldn't have to get shot so bad I have to sit out a few games to have someone get their gun checked. Thunderbay had us go chrono and then they sent you over to get split up for teams. They knew you were chrono'd before you played.
We have had good refs and we have had bad refs out there. I know this is the same with every business. However, in most businesses your customers aren't shooting at each other. This is a job that needs to be taken seriously. I know it must be a hard job, and I don't think I would want to do it. But if they are getting paid to organize games and do certain things then they need to be doing it. Thunderbay and Gladiator both have older refs and I notice that their games seem to have more order and organization on the field. A few of the refs you have I feel are frustrated by the refs that aren't working as hard.
As far as the airball and multiple games at once issue, I haven't seen the ability to play airball during the day until 3:00. The rest of the day it seems to be an invitation only team vs team practice situations. There have been many weekends where we had enough to play 7 on 7 or 10 on 10. We aren't an organized team, but we do love playing airball. Some of the kids have asked the refs or people at the counter if we could play and were told that it was only team scrimages and a few other times we were told there weren't enough refs. I understand they are there every week and spend a lot more money at Gator than we do. But there has to be some way that individuals and small groups could get some time to play if woodsball is not their thing. If it is open to play then you need to let people know when and where. I can only compare my experience at Gator with Thunderbay and Gladiator. At thunderbay we were able to get a ref and play our own organized games vs. people that had similar numbered groups or even some 4vs4 or 5vs5 games with ourselves. We only had to ask for a ref. They had enough to allow us to do that. To me that made the extra money I paid to go there worth it. We played a ton of smaller games in their hyperball type course. Maybe that's the answer, to pay more if you want a ref there to facilitate these types of games. I don't know.
I can't comment on the recent state of the rental equipment because I have bought my own since we first went. I know the guns have been upgraded to nitro. That is true.
When I turn in a gun to one of your staff members I expect them to do whatever it is that they are supposed to do. The kid in our party handed the gun to one of the kids working the counter and said I am turning this in. It was pretty clear. He said thanks and that was it. What your guy did with the gun afterward, I don't know. We thought it was taken care of. To be accused of trying to steal it and held up for 20 minutes for your staff's mistake was insulting and maddening. I am not a kid (or even close!). Treat me like an adult and treat me with some respect. I will be glad to do the same in return. The guy that I was there with is the nicest guy you will ever meet. He even felt frustrated with this treatment. Again, Bernie does not know how to deal with the public.
I feel that I have made it clear what my problems are. I can live with the ruts in the fields, the stumps in the staging area, the refs that are unorganized. I really can. I love Gator fields overall and the things that you have to offer there. The pluses outweigh the minuses as far as those things go. The statements here I have posted are honestly about things that I know of first hand. It was not hear say. I am not trying to diminish what you guys do up there. But when I am feeling like the experience is being ruined by one person I feel you and your potential customers need to know. I will tell you overall you have the best fields around and can offer more than any other field in the area. But I refuse to be treated like a second class citizen and verbally abused and mistreated by Bernie. I don't need that. Tim, you are a great guy and run things up there smoothly without having to act like that, why do you let Bernie ruin it for everyone by doing so? You guys are better than that.
Last edited on Tuesday, August 2nd, 2005 at 8:27 am PST
Thanks. I haven't gone back but Tim the owner has contacted me and offerd to let us come back up there for free to try and make it right. With the heat and summer vacations ect. we haven't gone backup there. We will probably try it again in the fall. We are happy at the field we are currently playing at plus it is indoors and air condintioned. I appreciate that Tim made the effort to make it right. We will eventually go back to Gator and I hear that they are making changes to make it better. I will post an update when we go back.