At first, Colby Shelton and a few of his friends were originally just putting together a paintball club to hang out every weekend.

However, it didn’t take long to realize that they could turn their club into a business and open it to the public.

For over a year now, the Odessa Paintball Club has been in business.

Located at 6721 N. Long Avenue in Odessa, Paintball Club owner Colby Shelton wanted to put together a paintball club for him and his friends.

The idea came about shortly after they noticed there weren’t many places to play paintball.

“Some of my co-workers and I had mentioned that we didn’t have anywhere to play,” Shelton said, who during the week works as an operations manager at Blue Fan Services. “We went to some of the other local ranges and they were kind of unsafe. Either that or it was just a big open field. One of my co-workers had an open field and mentioned that whatever I build out there, we can borrow the land.”

Amateur paintballer Tristan Montover, left, assembles his paintball gun as he prepares to practice for a tournament with his team the West Texas Wranglers Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021 at the Odessa Paintball Club. The paintball club is open to the public and charges a field fee of $15 as well as offers gun and mask rentals for an additional $15. Fields are open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.. (Eli Hartman|Odessa American)

As Shelton and his friends started getting the field ready, they noticed that curious people came by in the surrounding area and enquired about what was being built. After being told that it was going to be a paintball course, more people came by asking to play.

“Originally, the idea was that it was going to be an actual club for my co-workers but there were too many people coming by and we decided to open the field up for everyone,” Shelton said.

Since April 2020, the Odessa Paintball Club has been opened for business to the public.

Jorge Molina, who often works at the Odessa Paintball Club as a ref, noticed the popularity grew as the facility was getting started.

“When it all started, we just went on a whim and built a place for us to play,” Molina said. “But as we were putting it together, people were asking about it and thought it was an RV park at first. But once we got it done and built, people were showing up so we figured we might as well open it up for everyone else. It took four months to get it all together and the equipment and the nets.”

The place is usually open on the weekends with its hours running from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Fresh paint drips down an inflatable bunker following a round of paintball Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021 at the Odessa Paintball Club. (Eli Hartman|Odessa American)

When the club started, Shelton said they had a small 12-foot trailer. The first weekend they were in business, they had 10 boxes of paintballs with about 2,000 paintballs per box.

It turned out to be more than enough for that weekend.

“I thought that was a lot but on the first day, we sold out so the next day, we sold 20 boxes and from then on, we kept selling more and more so we were ranging from 40 to 120 players a day for a while,” Shelton said. “But it was all local kids. We get people from Midland too.”

The number of people coming out hasn’t been as high lately but Shelton believes that is because the Odessa Paintball Club is still relatively new.

“I don’t think very many people know about us,” Shelton said. “Pretty much every weekend, we get one or two families that are excited to be in the field but they had no idea that we were even there.”

The Odessa Paintball Club consists of three different fields. The property is only about four acres total.

“We have your standard turf, the one where you can see on ESPN, where the professional players play on,” Shelton said. “We have another field that we call the block field but it’s like giant mine craft blocks that we rearrange every now and then and we let kids play on that. Lastly, we have a bigger field that we play capture the flag on. We have flag poles that people can raise up and raise down. We have the picnic area where the retractable shade tarps to keep everyone cool and under cover so it’s not so bad in the West Texas sun.”

Tristan Montover, left, slides into cover at the start of a round while practicing with the amateur paintball team the West Texas Wranglers for an upcoming tournament Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021 at the Odessa Paintball Club. Montover and the others from his team plan to take part in the Frostbite Open which takes place on Dec. 4 and 5 in Waxahachie, Texas. (Eli Hartman|Odessa American)

Shelton says one of the biggest things that stands out about the Odessa Paintball Fields is keeping it really clean as well as making sure everyone is safe.

“We keep up with all of our safety equipment and probably the biggest thing is the shade tarps because it’s probably half an acre or less that’s shaded where the picnic tables are,” Shelton said. “That’s the biggest thing because most (paintball) fields, when you go to them, you’re either standing out in the sun or fighting for the one umbrella. It definitely brings a lot of people.”

It’s still a small business and Shelton says they’ve done a little bit of advertising to try and bring in more people and get the word out.

“We use Facebook, Instagram, flyers, table-top advertisements, business cards,” Shelton said. “We also have a group of regulars that I like to call them. They advertise for me. If it’s a church group or any youth groups or large birthdays, we’ll give them enough of a discount to where they advertise for us too.”

They hope to have some tournaments in the future.

“We did intend to have some this year but we’ve been just not busy enough to justify it yet,” Shelton said. “Buying prizes and paying extra for referees can be a lot. That’ll probably roll over into next year but I’m not sure. We might get busier but we’ll see.”

Shelton, who has lived in the Permian Basin for seven years now, says he’s been paintballing since he was 10 years old.

“When I was in the military, I coached paintball and was on the Dyess Air Force base team and that’s where I learned to run a field, back when I was playing for them. … I don’t play as much as I used to because I’m getting older but I still coach and make sure everyone’s in a safe environment and that everyone has a good time.”

Molina (who used to live in Florida) has done more paintball in the last couple of years.

“I never really played paintball much except for recently,” Molina said. “I’ve started to paintball more. I used to go back in the day in Florida and we’d go a couple of times a year. But I got more into it with Colby because trying to find things to do can be tough. It can be boring. I play just to play.”