Extreme Rage for Paintball
The colorful sport has a following in Southwest Florida
If you’re tempted to think that video games provide a level playing field for everyone, you probably haven’t tried to match skills with anyone under 18. But there is a level field—literally and figuratively—off Veronica Shoemaker Boulevard in Fort Myers. Extreme Rage Paintball attracts all sorts of people, including a mom and her daughters, the Florida Gulf Coast University paintball team, 10-year-olds having birthday parties, fathers and sons, and young hipsters with lumberjack beards.
Manager Travis Cawthard is 36 and has been a fan of the sport for 10 years. Now his 14-year-old son, Ian, likes nothing better than to hang out with his dad at work and play when he can, too.
Cawthard’s introduction to the marker (the term those in the know use for “gun”), the mask, the tank and the hopper came in the woods of Cape Coral, he says, playing with some friends about 10 years ago. Since then, he has become a certified referee who has his own team, the Florida Tropics, based at Extreme Rage. Cawthard and other referees are always on the fields when Extreme Rage is open, ensuring that players follow the rules and observe all safety precautions. Any player who violates the rules gets a checkmark on his or her wristband. Two checks and that player is out of the game. “Open play” is held every Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with private parties held throughout the week. On a recent Saturday, Daniel Zurbrigg of Naples and his 9-year-old son, Rylan, had come out to play for the first time. “The little man” won, Zurbrigg said. They
Common games played at Extreme Rage include Elimination, Capture the Flag, Bomb in the Woods and Protect the President.
had such a good time that before they left, they booked a birthday party two months ahead for Rylan, who would be 10.
“We get a lot of fathers and sons,” says owner Robert Sims. “A dad can take his son to Little League, but he watches. This is a way for them to do something side by side.” At 28, Sims has owned the park for nearly six years. The park has been open at the site since 2004, but has changed owners and names several times. Sims took over Oasis Paintball Park in 2011 and changed the name back to its original, Extreme Rage. “People have been telling me I’m too young to own this business for the whole six years,” he says with a smile.
Sims started playing when he was 11, after begging his mother to take him to the local paintball park. They struck a
Inflatable bunkers provide hiding spots at Extreme Rage Paintball Park.