If you’re looking for exciting, adrenaline-pumping activities, then you have got to make your way to Skyline Paintball and Laser Tag! With locations in both Winchester and Strasburg, Virginia, they are great places for parties, events, or just a day full of fun with some friends. Chris and Sue Haynes are the owners of Skyline Paintball and Laser Tag, and currently operate it alongside their children Alexa, Sam, and John. I was able to meet Sue and Alexa recently, and got to ask them some questions about the unique and fun family business!
Did you start this paintball business yourself? How did you originally get interested in this field of work?
“Well, this was really all my husband’s idea. He has always been very entrepreneurial, and it was his idea to open this up. When we first started our business in 1991, we were more of an outdoor outfitter – we focused mainly on fishing and camping. Paintball wasn’t even on our radar. By 1995, we decided to do paintball full-time!”
What came first – the paintball or the laser tag?
“We already had the store in Winchester that sold paintball gear. So the paintball came first. We’ve had the laser tag here for about 5 ½ years.”
Tell me a little more about yourself – do you have children? Do they enjoy paintball and laser tag?
“Yes, we have children. Alexa runs the laser tag pretty much on her own, and I focus more on the paintball. Sam works full time as well. Chris and Sam have actually played on the tournament level for paintball, and that used to be a big part of what we did as a family. We would travel all over the country for these huge national paintball tournaments – it was tons of fun!”
What is the youngest player you’ve ever had at the paintball course? What about the oldest?
“Well, it was pretty rare, but just last week we had a family come in and play low-impact paintball. There were kids, parents, and grandparents, and the grandpa was 72! The youngest child was 5. The average age range, though, is normally 10-45 or 50. It’s a lot of millennials!”
How did you come up with all of the obstacles and field design? Did you have a theme in mind, or is there a strategy to the obstacles that you wanted to implement?
“That is all Chris! It’s all his creativity and his vision. He is very talented and hands-on, and so he will get an idea and go after it until it’s done. Years ago, he came across grain silos, and he immediately knew that they would make good rocket ships out in the fields, so he turned them into rocket ships! Our son is now following in his footsteps, and he really helps out a lot with all of the designing and building.”
How many different fields do you have at the paintball location?
“We have 14. The fields are all diverse and very unique. The terrain is also different, which makes it appealing to a lot of people because it’s not your average random obstacles on a flat piece of land. We’ve had people come from all over to come play on our fields because they know how different and fun they are.”
I see you’re open year-round… do people often come when there if snow on the ground? What would you say is your best season?
“Yup – year-round no matter the weather! People do still come when there’s snow on the ground, I think for some people it adds another level of fun and action. Summer is the busiest season because everyone is out of school.”
I read on your website that you’re now offering low-impact paintball… could you tell me more about that?
“Well we wanted to introduce something new. Low-impact is not so intimidating as regular paintball, and it makes for a good introductory for those who have never played before. It’s kind of right in the middle of our main two activities: paintball and laser tag. Entire families can play together no matter the age span because everyone is on a level playing field. We provide equipment, so everyone is using the same guns and paintballs. It’s a great option!”
A lot of people think these activities are just for boys. Do you see a lot of girls come here to participate?
“No where near as many guys. But, we definitely do see some girls. We also have a lot of girls sports teams come in and play together. We’ve had JMU and Bridgewater bring in girls’ teams to play.”
You have the Zombie Paintball Shoot coming up from October 21st to 29th and it sounds scary and fun! Do you have actors who come in and play as the zombies, or do you split up the participants into zombies and zombie hunters? Also, it’s at night – how does this change the experience?
“We are excited for this because we’ve never done it before but we think it’s going to be a lot of fun! You will be riding in a wagon with the guns mounted. As you ride in the woods, zombies will be coming out towards you and that’s when you aim for them. We aren’t using actors; we’re just using our employees! If anyone wants to volunteer to be a zombie, though, you’re more than welcome to! We will be using our low-impact guns, so it won’t really be too painful or harmful. And the paint glows in the dark, so it will make for a really cool effect.”
Which one do you like better (or are you better at) – paintball or laser tag?
“Paintball really is awesome. Shooting the gun and getting your heart pounding, it’s really a lot of fun and a feel-good sport. There’s an adrenaline rush that comes with the whole experience.”
You host bridal events – that sounds fun and a bit crazy!
“Yeah! We get a lot of really adventurous chicks that come in for their bachelorette parties!”
I’ve heard birthday parties are a big deal here, and I can imagine it’s exactly where most kids want to spend their birthday! What other groups do you see besides birthdays?
“We do TONS of birthday parties. Usually the birthday parties are about 10-20 people at a time. We’ve had way bigger groups come in, though. One time we have a church group doing paintball, and in total they had about 160 people. It was crazy! We’ve also had a fraternity come from JMU and bring about 60 people, so that was a pretty big group, too. The birthday parties are fun though because often we see people year after year. We watch these kids graduate from laser tag parties to paintball parties when they’re older and so that’s really cool!”
A huge thank you to Sue and Alexa from Skyline Paintball and Laser Tag for speaking with me and answering my questions! Stay up-to-date with all of their events and activities by liking their Facebook page here.