The owners of Splatters Paintball, north of New Bothwell are hoping you'll now see a lot more vehicles parked on their driveway. Evan Schroeder says it's very common for parents to drop off their kids to go paintballing and then drive away to go do their own thing for a few hours. Schroeder says he wanted to keep those parents around and feels he may have discovered how. He has just opened a 260 yard driving range and Schroeder says this range is for everyone, whether you're a hacker or scratch golfer. "You don't have to wear shoes, you don't have to wear the right shirt. We want to be kid friendly. If you hit too much dirt out, if you hit too much grass out with every slice, every hook, that's perfect. We want to get all the golfers better."
Schroeder says "the intent was to keep the Dad busy. If Dad thought paintball is for kids, he'd probably come, drop off the kids and go home. We wanted to have something they could do. So, especially for the people coming out from Winnipeg, which is about seventy per cent of our market. We had to keep those Dads busy and I think every Dad, if they're active or they have had knee trouble in the past and they can't be as active, everybody likes golf, so it was a good fit that way."
Their grand opening was last weekend. Schroeder says unfortunately they picked the hottest weekend of the year and so only a few people showed up. He adds they're still trying to figure out what hours to run the driving range. "And I think the interest so far has been for weekday and weekend evenings. Right now we're not even open weekday evenings because we're not sure which weekdays to be open. We're thinking within a week or two we'll pick some set hours and that should help."
Schroeder notes most of the work in setting up the driving range was done this year. He notes "last year we didn't do that much work it was mostly tractor work and planting grass. A lot of the work came probably in the last two weeks trying to get the netting up and trying to make it look nice. And being in Bothwell, the amount of wind we have here you can only work at night and you can only work when it's really calm."
Schroeder started Splatters with his best friend in 2004. Schroeder says it started "just as a venture to learn how to run a business. At that time I was trying to take over my parents dairy farm in Kleefeld as was he. And this was a good way of hiring staff, paying payroll, doing advertising, all the stuff that you don't get to do until you own the farm and so we wanted some experience." In 2008, the dairy farm dream ended and Schroeder dove into the paintball business fulltime.
Schroeder says he realizes there's still an age group they're not able to completely accomodate. With the minimum age for paintball being ten, Schroeder notes they need to offer more for young kids and he says maybe a mini golf course would be appropriate in the future. He's hopeful the driving range will also now give those young kids something to do.
He says in spite of the wet spring, business is up about 40% this year. "Once you're out paintballing, even if it starts raining, you don't mind because you're already out there, you're already sweaty, you're already having fun. It's the Saturday morning when it's drizzling, and you're trying to think of what you want to do. If it's drizzling you're going to a movie, or you're going to go shopping, something indoors." Schroeder says "paintball itself is growing like crazy. More people are trying it and realizing it's a fun thing so I think we're happy with the way that's growing." He notes paintball is also a great option for corporate team building.