Paintball adds color to array of sports in Crossroads

Jessica  Rodrigo By Jessica Rodrigo

Aug. 24, 2013 at 3:24 a.m.

Taylor Randolph peeks out from behind the wall of a fort called "The Octagon" to shoot at members of the opposing team during a game at Paintball of Victoria.

Taylor Randolph peeks out from behind the wall of a fort called "The Octagon" to shoot at members of the opposing team during a game at Paintball of Victoria.   Angeli Wright for The Victoria Advocate

Hunting is a big sport in Texas.

But not everyone wants to hunt for the trophy kill.

Some people like to hunt with friends for fun using paintballs.

"It feels like you're actually playing in the battle fields," said Mathew Ables, 15, dressed in a camouflage vest equipped with extra canisters of paintballs and a small pocket on the back to carry his sidearm paintball gun.

The battlefield he speaks of is Paintball of Victoria, for people of all ages in groups as small as six up to a maximum of 18.

Business owner Abel Rodriguez opened Paintball of Victoria in November 1995 when he was looking to bring something new to Victoria.

The Goliad native traveled around to different fields in Texas, making notes and generating ideas of what he wanted to do with his own paintball field.

"I just wanted to open up a place of my own," said the 62-year-old business owner. "It was just farmland when I bought it and turned it into what it is now."

He owns about 22 acres off Hanselman Road, just beyond the Victoria city limits.

Trees and shrubs and the addition of wooden pallets, 50-gallon drums and retired refrigerators serve as protection against the heavy but colorful artillery on the various fields he set up for players.

He developed a few speed ball fields that make for quick and dirty games because of the shorter distance of play.

Other playing fields, like the Octagon and the Alamo Castle fields, make for longer games that require players to practice more skill and finesse on the field.

"The Alamo Castle is a fun field. It's easy to get people out of the game, and it's a long range of shooting," Mathew said.

The field is divided by a creek that creates a steep climb for players on either side. There are more wooden pallets, barrels and shrubs to hide behind, but the elevation proves an advantage for players.

"You can see them from above as you're waiting for them to make their move," Mathew said.

His interest in the sport was piqued when he went to a birthday party with Christian Anzaldua.

The party was in Mission Valley, where Christian's cousin was hosting his birthday party. Christian, 16, said he was hooked from that day on and now comes out dressed in his dad's old military fatigues to help him blend in when they play in the wooded areas.

Almost every weekend, Rodriguez said, a group of teens spends their Saturday sliding between obstacles and shooting each other from a distance.

While Mathew and Christian aren't old enough to drive, they catch rides from their parents to come out to the fields and make the most of the opportunity to hone their skills.

"If I could come out every weekend, I would," said Christian.

Their days start about 11:30 a.m., Mathew said. They will play until they are both out of ammo.

Rodriguez sells everything players would need for the day on-site. He has guns, masks and tanks of carbon dioxide to keep each and every player shooting until the end.

Not even Mother Nature can stop the dedicated paintball players. In 2004, when about 6 inches of snow blanketed the area, about 70 people came out to paintball in his fields.

Before he owned Paintball of Victoria, Rodriguez was a welder at DuPont. He said he was looking for something new to do when he decided paintballing would be his new way of making money.

"The kids and people of all ages come out," he said. "It's just regular people, no specific experience. They just want to come and have fun."



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