To give you readers a sense of my point of view, I'll give you my paintball experience background. I've played paintball since 2002. I started out with woodsball, recball than graduated into tourneyball. My ultimate goal is to have fun and improve as a player. With that being said here is the review:
Location/Parking: Skirmish is not hard to find. Most hotels in the Jim Thorpe area have maps and pamphlets with driving directions. Skirmish and Whitewater Rafting initially assemble at the same area. Rafters, mountain bikers and paintballers park in the same area. They have parking attendants who direct you to a suitable spot. Depending on your choice of excursion you are bussed from the parking area to a second location. The only unfortunate part of the parking was that some lowlife locked their puppy in their Lexus SUV for the whole day with only the windows rolled down about an inch. It was a sunny day in the 70's. Lucky for the puppy it did rain for an hour that day or it might not have made it.
Staging Area 1: Next to the parking area are a set of clearly marked buildings and trailers for registering, getting paint, renting equipment (like camo suits, ammo belts), bathrooms, picnic benches to gather around, a proshop for buying equipment (mostly Tippmann products although their was a smattering of other brands like Vforce and JT). This is where our group met our field referees/guides for the day. Our group of 36 players (mostly newbs and a maybe 6 players with some experience) were assigned to Keen and Frank. More on these guys later.
Staging Area 2: During the 15 minute bus ride our refs, Keen and Frank, went over the safety rules. Then we arrived at the paintball staging area. There were clearly marked trailers and sheds for information, CO2 refills, N2 refills, chronying, equipment repairs, equipment sales, burger/hot dog shack and a set of barebones restrooms with water-free hand sanitizer. There was also a flatbed truck with 3 or 4 HUGE water tanks for cleaning your gear or getting a drink. Towards the end of the day they went dry so don't rely on them. I brought my own bottled water. There are plenty of picnic benches under 4-6 wooden shelters. This was especially useful during the hour long shower that hit late that afternoon. Bring your own lock or rent one for $5 to secure your belongings, extra paint, extra clothes, spare gear, etc. in a locker. A locker was large enough to hold two medium duffle bags and two cases of paint with some room to spare. The chrony station was adequate. One of three chronographs was broken. There was a referee watching that no one exceeded the 280 fps field speed but no real way to make certain that everyone who left the chrony area stayed at or below field speed. I suspect that the refs carry their own hand chrony's just in case.
Referees: Keen and Frank were simply awesome. At first I was concerned about the player to ref ratio but I was quickly put at ease. I have reffed a few games before and these two did a great job. They kept the games moving along, were clear about rules and field boundaries, handled equipment issues quickly and most importantly enforced safety rules. They kept 36 players moving through about 10 games from about 11am to 6pm with a half hour break for lunch. They were firm about goggles and barrel plugs and moving quickly towards the end of the day to get in as many games as possible. It was clear they wanted us to have good time while playing paintball and being safe.
Three incidents stood out in my mind. The first incident happened during an hour long shower. About half our group wanted to go back to the picnic area to wait out the rain. Keen told us how to get there safely and quickly AND how to find them when we were ready to play again. The rest of the group wanted to play despite the rain. Keen and Frank reorganized them and reffed through some a steady drizzle for more than an hour. The second highlight was when Frank played a game of Pain or Paint at the Guantlet field with us. He took AND dealt some nice hits that game. Finally, the worst thing I heard happen was that one person in our group of 36 got shot in the finger as she walked to the deadbox. One of our refs loaned her gloves with plastic armor for the rest of the day. They really didn't have to do it but they went to extra mile everywhere they could.
Fields: The Thicket consisted of dense trees and piles of branches. The Pentagon was attack and defend field with a 5 sided fort and sniper towers. Hemlock was a large field with a combination of trees, brush, pallet bunkers, 3 and 4 sided wooden bunkers, a river and ravine. The HyperPipe Fields consisted of the usual stand up and laydown pipe bunkers with some giant lego-piece bunkers mixed in. Guantlet was the smallest field and consisted of tires, pallet bunkers, barrels, a wooden "tank" with turret and trees.
Paint: Paint prices are unusually high. That being said remember that this is a 750 acre, 50+ fields facility. This is how they make their money folks. Of course the more cases of paint you buy the lower the cost per case. 12 cases came out to about $75/case. Still high but a little easier on the wallet. I'm used to $45/case for recball paint and $55/case for tourneyball paint. They sold us Diablo recball grade paint. I was shooting an Alias Intimidator and my buddy was shooting an A5 with a 8inch Lapco barrel. Two others in our group were shooting Angels. To my knowledge none of us experienced a single break all day. I experienced two bounces in ten games. One off the top of my head and one off a bandanna I use for neck protection. Not too shabby.
Airfills: The guys in the N2 fills shack were quick, had 4500psi capability and enough stations to service about 6 players at a time. Nuff said.
Equipment Rental: They rent stock custom 98s with VL200 hoppers. Its clear that they have been used but tippmann is to paintball guns as Timex is to watches. I saw some with CO2 tanks and some with steel N2 tanks. I heard that one of their goals is to fit all their rentals with N2 tanks in the near future. Useful since Skirmish is open all year long which includes the cold winters where CO2 would just no pack enough punch. The screwtop rental "pods" looked like they should be holding peanut butter instead of about 60 paintballs. Frank and Keen were quick to address any minor equipment issue that came up from lost barrel plugs and barrel breaks due to accidental firing to jammed guns.
What to bring: Pack a lunch if burgers and hotdogs don't float your boat. I recommend bringing bottled water because their supply is FINITE. They had 4 HUGE barrels of water on a flatbed truck, but once that's gone its gone and you will be buying drinks from the food shack. No one seemed to be complaining about the food shack prices. Bring rags or a roll of paper towels to clean off your gear. Wear boots not only because the terrain on most fields ranges from grass to loose rocks but because the hikes to some of the fields can get dicey on any thing less than a pair of waterproof sh**kickers. Pack a change of clothing and footwear and leave it in your car. If you are truly into this sport you WILL get dirty. This goes without saying but if you go there with a good attitude you will have a blast. Most everyone there was smiling from ear to ear all day long.
Rating: I feel all paintball players should organize a large group and check out Skirmish at least once in their Iifetime. They get a 9/10 rating only because there is always room for improvement.