Poco Loco: A little like a mini-Skirmish; same prices, great refs, updated fields, very safety conscious;
Del Hobbies: Excellent tournament field and prices, no woods;
Cobra Command: A few woods fields, ok prices, needed some better refs;
Fireball Mountain: Horrible refs, good field mix, OK proshop (I've heard the refs are better but haven't been there in since 2002);
Cap'n Carl's: tiny compared to Skirmish, run by good people, very "local" field, good to learn tournament style play.
SHORT REVIEW: Largest paintball field in country; great variety of fields (mostly woodsball), proshop, snack bar and other amenities. Excellent staff and refs. Prices aren't the best, but the infrastructure is better than anyplace else (indoor bathrooms - woohoo!).
LONG REVIEW: I've been to Skirmish many times since 1996, and have spent a good deal of time talking to the owners and refs and checking out the fields and operations.
Fields: This is where Skirmish really shines. They have 40+ fields, over all sorts of wood, field, swamp, brush, hill and other terrain. They have a large number of structure fields, including obstacle, town, 2-story town, 2 and 3-story castles, firebase, spool, hyberball, speedball and suchlike. Be prepared to take your case of paint with you, however, as the fields are SO large that you'll walk out for several games before coming back to home base to re-arm. You can go 3 or 4 times and not hit the same fields twice, although some are so popular that you'll be begging to use them again. Some fields have well-made mock tanks, 'copters and landing craft (the Normandy-style field is VERY fun to play). Skirmish has been consistently upgrading and developing their fields over the years, and they just get better all the time.
Staff: This is another area in which Skirmish shines. The field has been around for well over a decade, and is run by professionals. They know how to get your group together and out on the fields with minimal fuss. They are polite, professional and good at what they do. The refs are very safety-conscious, willing to get in the line of fire and focus on making sure that their players have fun. As a former rec-ball ref, I can say that Skirmish's refs care about what they do. Usually, at least one owner was onsite when I was there.
Pro Shop: Skirmish has a large pro-shop, but it's geared toward the entry and mid-lever recballer. Plenty of paintball gear for sale, as well as outdoors equipment that you don't usually find in a proshop (probably because Skirmish runs bicycle rentals and whitewater rafting). Prices are fair, but not cheap.
Safety: Skirmish is one of the most safety-conscious fields around. They strictly enforce the barrel plug/mask rules, and chron everyone in 2x per day. Refs are aware of safety issues on field, and don't allow bunkering on their woodsball fields..
Clientele: Skirmish has a good mix of new people and veterans, fair weather and hardcore rec players, older and younger players. There is some cheating on occasion, but less than at most fields. You'll see some tournament players as well, although Skirmish attracts mostly recballers.
Pace: The pace is held up some by the bus ride to the fields and the long treks to home base. However, when you go out, the refs generally get you on and off fields quickly. You can get about 10 games in a day; if your head ref is gung-ho, it's possible to hit 20 games (but that's one LONG day). Those who wish to sit at home base for a few games can do so.
Special Events: Skirmish has a long history of hosting big games, world record games, 48-hour games, scenarios, etc. Teams and players from all over the country come to them, and the people you meet make it worth the trip. As they have a LOT of experience with these events, they are generally well run. The fields, with all of their constructs and fabricated vehicles, are the perfect locations for most of these events as well (D-Day, anyone?).
Prices: Skirmish's prices are at the high end, but that's because they have such a large facility to maintain. If you shoot a case of paint a day, be prepared to spend $130-$150 on the day, including admission, food, etc. You may be able to reduce that by getting a season pass and a bulk rate for paint, but you'd still be spending $72, minimum (not including the season pass). If you play pump, hopperball or are just very economical with your shots, you can get away with about $65 for the day., including entrance fee.
Paint Consistency: Generally, the paint is fair field paint - 32 degrees, Tork, PMI, Polar Ice in the winter, and the like. However, I've had a bad ZAP experience that basically ruined a day there. I suspect that the bad paint day was a rarity, and that it's even rarer today than it was 2 years ago, but it's something to watch out for.
When I want to go out with a bunch of buddies to have a big paintball outing, I'm going to Skirmish. I like to get there at least once a year, just because it ha so much more to offer than most fields. It's 1.5 hours away for me, and I can't control paint quality, so that's generally my limit - but if I lived closed, I would darn sure buy a season pass.
I am giving Skirmish a 9 out of 10 for fields, staff and safety. If more paint brands were available, it'd get a 10.
Edited 5-30-05: Added special events.
Last edited on Monday, May 30th, 2005 at 8:29 am PST
Absolutely excellent review. I like the non-biasness of it and how you tell the true positives and negatives. I've been to Skirmish many times and I fully agree with you. The only thing I would have added is a review on their special events, D-Day, Castle Nights, Youth Days and so on. But aside form that a very solid review
Soul06: Thanks for the kind words. I agree that special events should be addressed; will edit the review (one of the best times I've had in paintball was Ice Station Zero at Skirmish several years ago).