Father-son duo open paintball business

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MEXICO – A Mexico businessman with dreams of opening an amusement park in Rumford, and his teenage son, who just graduated from high school in Rumford, have marked their future course.

Last month, Mark and Kyle Dow became the owners of Crossfire Paintball Adventures, which was formerly owned by Coulthard’s Pools and Spas on Route 2 in Mexico. The shoot-em-up recreation area on 22 acres along the Androscoggin River has been closed for the past few years.

“I’m trying to be the brains here and letting my son and his friends be the brawn,” Mark Dow said Tuesday afternoon at the business. “I used to dream about putting in an amusement park in that field opposite The Madison, so, in essence, this kind of fits that theme. I’m really excited. I think this is going to be a lot of fun for everybody.”

The site opens from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. After that, it will be open on Fridays and Saturdays every weekend, although, the elder Dow envisions holding chem-free parties and tournaments, and possible scenario events in which players take on missions.

“There is a 2-acre island with the property in the Androscoggin, and it has this very narrow, shallow piece that goes to the island. Playing it would sort of be like storming the beaches at Normandy because you’re standing right in the open,” he said.

But that’s later. Sooner is to buy today’s paintball rage – inflatable bunkers – and use them instead of hay bales and barrels.

Mark Dow said he is on indefinite leave of absence from his regular job as a Dixfield police sergeant due to a medical problem.

“With this paintball business, I can do it in my spare time, or, if I end up permanently out of work, I can end up having a positive impact through it on the River Valley area community, so, that’s a good thing,” he said.

Speedball, a quick paintball game in which teams compete in capture-the-flag scenarios, eliminating opponents by marking them with balls of paint fired from an air-propelled gun, will initially be offered. Woodsball, or playing paintball in wooded terrain, is coming soon.

Within a few weeks, the Dows hope to erect a shooting gallery with moving and reactive targets, and will be offering concessions. No one under the age of 10 can play and, everyone must sign a waiver, which is good for the entire season. Field fees are $12. The rental equipment fee is $13 for a marker, safety mask and goggles, and 200 rounds of paint.

“This is an excellent time to be doing this. I’m really looking forward to possible expansions we can do,” said the man who got hooked on paintball when one of his four sons bought him a set for Father’s Day six to eight years ago.

Mark Dow’s last business venture, Island Books on Congress Street, closed about eight years ago.

Crossfire Paintball Adventures is his first venture with Kyle, who is attending his dad’s alma mater this fall, Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., hoping to play football.

“I hope to do something here by building equity for him, if he doesn’t make the (New England) Patriots. His attitude, is, that the Patriots want him to play for them, they just don’t know it yet,” Mark Dow said.

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