Paintball Atlanta- A good place to play with attentive staff and many fields.
Arkenstone Paintball- Tons of amazing fields, but I haven't been there since 1999 and I hear it's changed a great deal.
This is the closest place for me to go play paintball in a field environment, but due to hearing many mixed reviews from people all over the place, I was highly skeptical about playing here. Sometimes however the itch gets to be just a little too much and yesterday a friend and I decided we just needed to play and headed for Wildfire. We had only a narrow window between 4 and 7 on a weekday afternoon, so we tried to make the most of our time.
I'll say this first: it is a small place. the actual field is only a single airball field housed within a warehouse space. It is adjoined to a proshop/registration area and that in turn is adjoined to a skateboard/truck/redneck shop that I really had no interest in so I ignored that after signing in and buying paint. Speaking of paint, this is where most people complain about Wildfire: it used to cost almost a hundred dollars for a case of paint, but now apparently it's dropped to $79.99; still quite steep. My friend and I split a case and paid admission, we brought our own guns. This led the bill to tap out around $62, which is relatively expensive for only a few hours of play. In hindsight however, we really went nuts on paint and bought much more than we needed, but I'll be playing on some private property in the next few weeks so it's no loss.
Anyway, another complaint I've heard about this place is that the refs are lazy and don't do their jobs and most of the clientele are snobby kids with more guns than brains. As for my experience there was 1 ref working and he did a good job of keeping the games together and cohesive. There were 7 players, all adults in their 20s and 30s (my own demographic) and all were fairly hardcore and self governed players that had their own guns ranging from a stingray to a high end spyder. My A-5 served me well for the style of play that occurs here. I will say this: I think that I had the perfect group to play with. The size of the field is really best suited for what I'd place at 5 on 5. You could probably stretch it and get 7 on 7 playing on there, but beyond that it'd likely get cramped and chaotic. The field seems bigger at first than it really is and after moving up only a few bunkers you're already halfway across the field. Not necessarily a bad thing, but that can be a matter of preference.
In the span of about 2 and a half hours we played roughly ten games and all players showed strong performance and self discipline. The only thing that bothered me was that we never fully addressed whether surrendering was in effect or not, and after a failed bunker attempt resulting in a mouthful of paint, I quickly learned it was not. Other than that, everything was fluid and cohesive. I'm reviewing this particular group more than the field however.
The field itself as previously stated is a single airball field. The floor is covered with an astroturf type material and the playing space is enclosed with netting to stop stray balls. Many of the bunkers were not fully inflated and sagged while paintballs often bounced off of them rather than breaking. Another thing with the bunkers was that they were not anchored down in any way and several slides and charges led to displaced bunkers, but the players were quick to put them back after the games. This could potentially be a saftey issue. It just so happened not to result in anything on this day.
The bunkers do however offer ample cover and some strong tactical options for covering and flanking. The complaint here however is that one side of the field seemed incredibly stacked with bunkers including a snake, while the other side seemed pretty open. It's not necessarily bad, but it does tend to concentrate the action in the same places for many games. And in terms of moving into that action, try to avoid crawling or leaning on the bunkers. The bunkers are covered in paint; having heard that Wildfire is notorious for not cleaning them, I somewhat expected this. It's not necessarily bad, but it can get slick and messy. As for crawling, the astroturf will tear your belly up if you're wearing anything lighter than bdus. I wore a t-shirt and shorts and ended upw ith all kinds of rugburn along my calves and belly. If you're equipped, go for it. If you're not then don't or go for it and just don't complain.
Exiting the field, you can acquire a buildup of paint on the soles of your shoes, and then stepping out of the playing area onto the bare concrete floor, you often find yourself slipping and sliding. There's another potential safety problem. Rubbing your shoes on the astroturf before leaving should help minimize that problem though. Putting down some rubber mats and things along those lines would be helpful as well.
Summing up the field, the proshop holds a fair stock but is a little expensive. They offer a fairly wide range of guns and accessories, but don't really carry any complete lines. Paintball Georgia is a better alternative for actually buying hard goods. The staff both on the field and in the shop was friendly and knowledgable about what was on hand.
I say for myself I had a great experience at Wildfire. I would like to come back and try it again as time and money permit. Perhaps I'll show up on a weekend the next time and have a very different experience. I could see it happening, but as for the experience that I've already had I must say it was not what many others label this place.
Yea wildfire is the nearest field for me too, so i tend to play there the most. But what you said about the 20-30 yr old demographics, ive never played with that kind of a group! you must have gotten really lucky, because normally it is 12-17 yr old range (im 15, but ive been playing since i was 10), generally about half of which have never played. glad you had fun, ive been goin there since before when the fields were concrete and kitty liver