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Sharp Shooting at Sharp Shooters

It was a cold and snowy evening…well, actually it wasn’t. However, there was an impending snowstorm expected to hit the following day. I was scheduled to run audio for a pageant competition this weekend and the director asked me to drive out to Corning a night early because he worried if I waited until Saturday that the snow might prevent me from getting there at all. So that’s how it is that I found myself unexpectedly passing through Auburn, NY with some extra time on my hands on a Friday night. I searched for laser tag in the area and found an opportunity to play using Adventure Sports HQ tactical taggers at Adventure Zone Bounce, Tag and play at Sharp Shooters.

Upon my arrival I met the owner, Tony, out in front of the building and introduced myself. I could see through the window that this did not look like a tactical tag site. I inquired about the familiar looking Runner gate that was visible behind the bounce houses and games in the lobby. Tony told me that he and his wife, Hillary, had opened the business in this location in July (so just about six months ago) and they had started with purchasing pre-owned Lazer Runner equipment, but during the course of that time they had switched over to Adventure Sports HQ. I’m going to circle back around to all that because learning the history of the equipment at their site was one of the most interesting parts of my visit.

The arena is their own hybrid creation of walls from a former laser tag site and some of their older son’s design ideas. It’s a smaller arena (I’d guesstimate at around 2500 square feet?) and it is still evolving. Their hope is to add paint and design aesthetics in the coming months, but for now it is a black walled maze augmented with some barrels and tires for obstacles.

On one side there is a single respawn station for use by everyone (rather than having a separate station for each team). This worked just fine for the light kind of game we played. They cater mostly to kids and parties and do not score their games. As such, it’s not competitive, it’s just for enjoying the experience in and of itself. And after the week I’ve had I didn’t mind just having some cathartic time to play just to play. We watched an introductory video made by I joined the “girls team”. :)

So, for 12 minutes we ran around the arena tagging, but not tallying any points. Once you were tagged out you’d return to the respawn station and jump right back into the game.

During that game I played with a group of kids including Tony’s son, Nicholas, and let me tell you, those kids were ruthless! Not since the movie Ghostbusters have I heard anyone scream the words “Get Her!!!” with that kind of intensity as they chased after me, lol!

Then towards the end of the game Tony discreetly snuck in to remove the respawn and that meant things were winding down and things would end with whichever team was left with players still in the game. So, there was a victory to be had, just not based on individual points.

While the game was fun, for me the more interesting part of the night was seeing just how small the laser tag community really is. As I mentioned, there was something VERY familiar looking about this Runner gate.

I had taken a picture of it before when it the top of it said “Glowtron” and prior to that it was part of Barski’s Laser Tag in Ithaca. Apparently Barski’s sold the Lazer Runner system to Tony and it was used until they switched to Adventure Sports HQ. As he was telling me about the various games they can play including Domination he showed me the tablet they use.

This is when I realized it really is a small world. I noticed the Laser Tag Guy logo pop up on the screen as he was starting it up. I asked about it and learned that the equipment I had just played with was formerly owned by Jason Bock who had passed it along to his son Alex. Alex brought it and operated it for the tactical part of the first Armageddon I had ever played back in 2015. Here’s a couple of photos from that event.

Meaning this was not just the first tactical system I had ever played, but the very same actual equipment that I had my first tactical tag experience with years ago!

I explained that Jason was the first person I encountered upon returning to laser tag in 2014 when I inquired about attending the first Phocon. Then Tony told me that they travel for their mobile laser tag business and one of their industry friends who they occasionally call upon if there is an event that they can’t cover is Marc Mueller…from XP…who is the second person I met in connection with Phocon. It is pretty amazing how everyone in the laser tag community really does seem to know everyone else. That’s how it is that I can say I have friends in every state because of meeting people through my laser tag travels.

So, I left Sharp Shooters that night really feeling more closely connected because of the history of the people and the equipment as I had played under that Runner gate before, had played using those taggers before and had found some unexpected shared history. Thanks for a great time and a good excuse to take a break before continuing on with my drive!

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