Lake Norman Paintball in Denver was hopping on Saturday. People of all ages, some dressed in military-type attire, were busy loading their guns, listening to instructions and safety tips or discussing their plans of action. Opened less than five years ago on family land in Denver, the business has succeeded well beyond Kirk Bailey’s dreams.
Before he opened the business, Bailey and his friends were traveling to Gastonia to play paintball on a field that had been closed down. Paintball is considered an extreme sport simulating military combat. Players compete, either on teams or individually, to eliminate opponents by tagging them with capsules (paintballs) containing water-soluble dye in a gelatin shell that is shot from a device technically called a paintball marker but commonly referred to as a paintball gun.
“It made me realize that, given there was not one in the area and I had this inherited land so it would be low overhead, I should open a paintball field up,” Bailey said.
Prior to opening Lake Norman Paintball, Bailey was in the restaurant business.
While a lot of Bailey’s clientele are ex-military or police, just as many people who come to play paintball are from regular walks of life. He frequently has birthday parties, church youth groups, bachelor or bachelorette parties as well as corporate outings planned at the facility.
Safety is a primary concern for Bailey. Anyone who enters the field must wear a provided safety certified paintball mask to protect their eyes. When not in use, barrel sleeves must be kept on the guns and the safeties must be kept on in the staging area.
The property consists of approximately 30 acres, with 10 acres currently in use.
“I hope to get more shelters built to keep people in the shade and expand the course into the field,” Bailey said. “We’re always growing.”
Lake Norman Paintball now offers low impact paintball guns for younger children. The hoppers and bullets are much smaller and the guns are single shot, pump action. They also offer Airsoft guns as well, which shoot 6 mm plastic BBs at around 400 feet/second.
“Great for anyone under 10,” Bailey said. “Not too fun for adults because it’s a slower pace. The young ones like it. Guns are always going to be around and people are going to do what they want with them. This is better than a video game option of violence. It’s a lot more friendly, teaches camaraderie, teamwork and good sportsmanship and gives them exercise.”
Lake Norman Paintball is located at 6237 Old Plank Road in Iron Station. Reservations for group events can be made by calling (704) 748-2617.