By Mr. Eric Kowal (RDECOM)July 16, 2008
PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. -- A small crowd of Picatinny supporters watched intently as paintballs soared through the woods of Lake Demark as the installation's first outdoor paintball course opened its doors here June 19. The group was there to witness the unveiling of the new facility belonging to Picatinny Outdoor Recreation, which is part of the Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation Directorate. The idea began two years ago when FMWR employees spoke with some of the newly hired Picatinny employees, said Chris Kunkel, business and recreation chief. The new hires said they were looking for sports and entertainment other than golf or sailing, he said that few even mentioned paintball. That's when Picatinny employees David Musgrave and Louis Piccirillo researched what it would take to bring paintball to Picatinny.
They researched the current Picatinny policy regarding hunting-usage protocol as well as the policies of other Department of Defense installations that currently have paintball facilities.
Piccirillo contacted Kunkel who passed oversight to Hans Karlsen, Outdoor Recreation manager, to begin research on what needed to be done to implement the program. On their own time, Musgrave and Piccirillo spent more than 100 hours combined to map out three-and-a-half acres of undeveloped land for the course.
"The course is unique because not much landscaping needed to done. The boundaries are natural," Piccirillo said. One boundary is a large rock wall that separates the softball field from the paintball grounds. A boundary on the opposite side is a marshy bog that eventually curves around toward the lake.
In addition to Mother Nature supplying the course's perimeter, Piccirillo said there are many trees and rocks that provide cover to the players, which allow them to play games such as capture the flag or total elimination. While the focus is on fun, before everything else, the organizers said safety will come first, they said. So, a range officer will oversee all games to ensure safety is the focus and that players who do not follow the rules are removed from the field. Director of FMWR Leon Moreau said after the ribbon-cutting ceremony that because Picatinny is a great place to work, "We want to make it a great place to play." Currently, the paintball program, still in its initial stages, is open only to DOD employees. However, as the program develops further, the organizers plan to extend the program to all Morris County first responders as well as local partnered communities, Kunkel said.