Social Encore: Put ‘em on blast

Jun. 13, 2013 | 0 Comments

BY JERMEL-LYNN QUILLOPO / Special to the Star-Advertiser

When you drive out to Hawaii Extreme Paintball and Airsoft in Kapolei, you are literally driving all the way out to the boondocks in the middle of an industrial area. Even though it’s a long drive, it’s well worth it once you experience what a great facility it is.

When Hawaii Extreme Paintball and Airsoft owners Douglas Westbrook, Robert Kahana, and Michael Afong noticed Hawaii had a large paintball and airsoft community but lacked facilities large enough for these activities, they set out to create a new space.

Paintball participants get ready for action. (Courtesy Jermel-Lynn Quillopo)

Paintball participants get ready for action. (Courtesy Jermel-Lynn Quillopo)

Westbrook has experience with trucking and security, Kahana has general contacting experience and Afong has experience in construction. The three combined their knowledge, resources and bare hands to create Hawaii Extreme Paintball and Airsoft from the ground up.

According to sales manager Michael Yelton, the facility was designed to give Hawaii paintball and airsoft players national-level exposure and opportunities while providing proper training.

Ston Tawata is the captain of the Hawaiian Heat, a local semi-pro team. His passion for paintball started about 12 years ago when a neighbor invited him to play.

“It’s a rush and it’s addicting,” he said. The Hawaiian Heat are currently the Division 2 National Paintball Champions and Tawata said it took him eight years to win gold.

“We compete as a team so if we play as a team and if everyone does their job, we can beat the other team and that’s what makes me happy,” he said. “That’s the thrill.”

Striving for more, he and the rest of the team want to put Hawaii on the national map by going pro.

Participants take cover to avoid enemy fire. (Courtesy Jermel-Lynn Quillopo)

Participants take cover to avoid enemy fire. (Courtesy Jermel-Lynn Quillopo)

“The mainland, some of them don’t even know there is an island called O`ahu and they don’t even know that there is talent out here,” he said. “Hawaii doesn’t have any national teams and we are striving to be first one to do it.”

Hawaii Extreme Paintball and Airsoft is not just for recreational activities. They also open the grounds to an assortment of events, including corporate team building, fundraising, birthday parties, bachelor/bachelorette parties, weddings and more.

Tawata said the difference between Hawaii Extreme Paintball’s field and other fields is their full turf terrain, which lessens the toll on your body. Hawaii Extreme Paintball and Airsoft has a scenario field, airball/speedball field and hyperball field. The scenario field currently features the only playable two-story structure on the island with a unique vantage point overlooking the entire playing field. The facility is the only NPPL standard, professionally designed airball/speedball field on island.

Paintball is a contact sport, but safety is always a top priority. As a result, safety gear can be rented on-site. Tawata said he’s suffered concussions before and wearing a mask is the most important equipment to wear since it protects your head and eyes. Rental packages and military discounts are available.

Win or lose, Tawata and Yelton said the most important thing is that people have fun.

“Just come down and try it. Once you do, you’ll understand how great it is. The main thing is just to have fun,” said Tawata.

Hawaii Extreme Paintball and Airsoft is located on Mumba St. in Kapolei; click here for directions or call (808) 838-9324.
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Jermel-Lynn Quillopo is a multi-faceted, energetic individual with experience in both print and broadcast journalism. “Social Encore” aims to tell diverse stories about Hawaii’s food, events and people; share your tips with Jermel via email or follow her on Twitter.

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