Church serves as unlikely paintball field
by Staff Writer
MOORESVILLE – Nathan Ahrens never knew the potential the backyard of his church held.
Ahrens, a member of Living Waters Church in Mooresville and self-proclaimed paintball junkie, took over the proving ground about three years ago, hoping to give Mooresville-area paintball addicts a place to congregate.
The proving ground is a paintball field, comprised of an obstacle course and two-story structure known as the White Castle, that sits just behind Living Waters Church, next to Point Blank Range, at 761 River Hwy.
“We’re using our church property,” Ahrens said. “The pastor just lets us play in the wooded area in the back.” What started out as a loosely organized game of paintball among church youth has turned into a monthly ritual, Ahrens said, sometimes attracting up to 50 people.
“The kids really enjoyed playing, so we started off just having campouts and just running around in the woods,” Ahrens said. “We just want to make it available to as many people as possible.” The paintball game takes place the second Saturday of each month, usually lasting from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. or whenever people run out of paintballs, Ahrens said.
Ahrens served in the U.S. Marine Corps for seven years. When a friend suggested he try out paintball, he scoffed at the idea.
“I told him that stuff was for little kids. It wouldn’t be any fun,” Ahrens said. “I’m training with Marines. I don’t want to play these little games.” Ahrens resisted, but a group of friends finally convinced him.
“One of my friends gave me a little Walmart cheapo gun and drug me out there,” Ahrens said. “I was hooked from the start and have been ever since.” The proving ground also consists of woodsball and speedball fields, Ahrens said, two popular locales among paintball players. Speedball is playing in a relatively small, open field with inflatable bunkers, while woodsball is played in wooded areas and doesn’t require as much structure as a speedball field.
The Living Waters Proving Ground also produced Andrew Goodman, whom plays professionally for the Atlanta Breakout.
“It was a great place just to go, mess around and try new stuff,” said Goodman, who got his paintball start at the proving ground. “It was nice to just go there and not worry about being really competitive.
Once you start playing competitively, it kind of takes the fun out of it.” Ahrens hasn’t placed an age restriction on the paintball games, saying he’s seen kids as young as 10 and adults in their mid-50s compete each month.
It’s free to play each month, but participants should bring their own gear, CO2 and paint. The next paintball game takes place Saturday, Aug. 13.
“It’s just an opportunity to get some people out there to have fun,” Ahrens said. “A lot of people try it for the fi rst time and really enjoy it.”