NEWFANE — Zombies will be roaming around Newfane for two nights this month and only a good shot with a paintball gun can slow them down.
Headhunters Paintball on Chestnut Road is hosting its first ever “Night Stalkers” event on Oct. 18 and 25. The event offers a chance for people to get up close with the walking dead through 17,600 feet of dark woods.
The age 8 and up event will offer three adventures. Participants can opt for a walkthrough of the course, which will feature a maze, strobe lights and smoke bombs, all while dodging up to 25 “zombies.”
Those who want a fighting chance can rent one of Headhunters' guns and air tanks to shoot the monsters. Or players can play on teams of five and gain a point for each zombie they shoot in the head and lose a point for every time they're grabbed by one of the creatures.
The winning team will get a free paintball party at the field, Headhunters owner Jason Schultz said. Admission covers equipment rental and going through the course twice.
“I take my daughter to Frightworld every year – we love scary stuff,” Schultz said. “This is going to be a lot different, because it's going to be very realistic. No fake props, just being in the dark woods with zombies.”
The “zombies” are Headhunters' paintball regulars, the course's home teams and Schultz' friends and family. They will be wearing protective helmets under their masks. Spirit Halloween is sponsoring the event and dropped off plenty of realistic masks for the actors.
The event will be held from 6 p.m. to midnight both nights, so some participants will get to explore the course in complete darkness.
Helpful tools will be spaced out through the maze.
“When you make it a quarter of the way through the course, you can pick up a flashlight,” Schultz said. “If a zombie touches you, you become a zombie so you can't shoot – but halfway through there will be medical packs laying around which can turn you back to human.”
This year's event is a trial run, but if it does well, Headhunters will host week-long events next year.
“We could change the theme and make the actors a different type of monster,” Schultz said. “Zombies are huge right now though.”
Schultz has run Headhunters for the past nine years on a vast piece of land that used to be his father's. The Newfane native became interested in paintball when a friend bought his kids paintball equipment for Christmas and Schultz tried it out.
“At first, only my buddies and I played on this field,” Schultz said. “After a few years, I decided I could turn it into a business.”
The field attracts players from as far as Pennsylvania and Ohio. Monday through Saturday, the field is usually booked for private parties and Sunday players are welcome to come for open matches.
“We stay open until it snows,” Schultz said.
“Night Stalkers” runs 6 p.m. to midnight Oct. 18 and Oct. 25. Admission is $10 for a walk-through of the course, $30 to shoot (includes equipment rental) and $40 each for teams of five. Headhunters is located at 5752 Chestnut Road.