- Associated Press - Sunday, October 30, 2016

WYANDOTTE, Okla. (AP) - Dewayne Convirs started out with a few pieces of paintball gear in his Army surplus store.

That morphed into a small area of structures right behind The Bunker, his store on U.S. 60 in Wyandotte, according to the Tulsa World (https://bit.ly/2eeBJ5a ).

That has grown, over the past 27 years, into the biggest battlefield and event in paintball.

“Honestly, it all started because people would come into our store and ask if we had any paintball stuff,” said Convirs. “I didn’t know anything about it.

“But, as we continued to add things, I realized how much people enjoyed it. What we have now is just an accumulation of things from 20 years.”

The D-Day Adventure Park is 1,200 acres of paintball battlefields about two miles south of Indigo Sky Casino near Wyandotte. It is believed to be the largest paintball facility in the world and plays host to a series of events every year.

It is home to the self-proclaimed biggest paintball event on Earth: Oklahoma D-Day, a weeklong series of scenario battles, is held every June. It has drawn upwards of 4,100 players and 20,000 spectators.

The Red Dawn Scenario Paintball Game was recently held at D-Day.

“The last major event we host every year is in the fall,” said Convirs. “We will start back up in the spring and build up to our major event in June. Then we have a series of smaller events.

“We also do other types of things out here. We’ve done motorcycle motocross and air gun events. This is a great piece of land. It has hills, trees and water. We can set it up for a lot of different scenarios.”

D-Day Adventure Park has 42 different military vehicles: Planes, water landing crafts, Jeeps and tanks are scattered around the facility, and some actually work.

“It is just stuff I’ve collected over the years,” said Convirs. “I’ll hear about something, go see it and, if I think it would be something to add here, then we try to get it.

“Over the years we’ve added some interesting things to this place.”

He’s built areas of the battlefield to resemble Colleville, France, a village that was near the D-Day invasion and site of a critical battle. There also are areas to recreate a water landing on the beach and a ridge similar to Normandy.

There are all sorts of areas where skirmishes can be held.

“When we have our big event every year, the Oklahoma D-Day, we will go through about 1.2 million paintballs,” he said. “We will bring three semi-truck loads of paintballs in here for the week.

“We have 80 acres for camping, and it’ll be full. We have a nearby hotel that fills up.”

Competitors range in age from 12 to 72.

“We started with a little village behind the store for people to try out paintball,” said Convirs. “We realized we needed more space to do the type of full-scale scenarios so many wanted to do.

“Out there we can simulate all types of scenarios, including simulated drops of airborne troops behind enemy lines. We can simulate water landings. We have the space to create so many different scenarios.”

In recent years, participation has suffered some declines like a lot of businesses. “I think some of it has been the economy, no doubt,” said Convirs.

But, also, the rise of computer-simulated games has hurt attendance.

“But there is still a desire by some to actually get out in the field and do it,” said Convirs. “We get a lot of former military.

“But we also get a lot of teenagers who want to come out and experience. I’m very proud that we have a lot of young people who played paintball out here and then went on to the military.”

The well-hidden battlefield is within one mile of the Missouri-Oklahoma state line.

D-Day Adventure Park has drawn participants from virtually every state and a handful of countries. Paintball is very popular in England.

“To be honest, it has really amazed me how popular this place has been,” said Convirs. “And people find me. People who want to play paintball will find this place.

“And people with military vehicles or goods seem to find me, too.”

It has made for some head-turning moments for local residents.

“I’m sure people were wondering what the heck was going on when they saw a landing craft, used for amphibious assaults from the sea, coming down highway 60,” said Convirs.

___

Information from: Tulsa World, https://www.tulsaworld.com

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide