LIMA — When Crosshairs Lima opened back in December 2015, the owners weren’t sure what kind of people might use the paintball facility.
Now they know: It’s the best kind of people.
“These have been some of the finest human beings I’ve ever met,” co-owner Sandy Monfort said. “They’ve been considerate. They’ve been respectful of our facility. … They would help brand new people that had never played before, to show them how to do it and how to do it better. It’s been one of the most incredible groups, honestly, of men and women who have played.”
That’s why Sandy fought back tears as she talked about closing Crosshairs at the end of the year.
The seasonal business had a great year last year. Hardcore players wanted to participate in the tournaments held there. Residents looked forward to the regular community events. Children delighted in having their birthday parties there.
Sandy and her husband, Eddie, thought they’d be ready for another successful season, but key employees decided not to come back. The staffing shortage that hurts so many businesses in the area took down this unique entertainment venue.
“That’s to me going to be the most difficult thing, knowing that we will not be available for those parties, for those kids,” Eddie said. “That’s probably the most difficult thing to handle.”
Crosshairs, which also offers nerf guns, gel blasters and “gotcha guns,” or lower-power paintballs, hopes to go out with a blast. There’s a free community nerf and gel blaster party scheduled from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16 at Crosshairs, 535 W. Spring st., Lima. Then they’ll celebrate their final day with a going away party from 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 30.
They filled a niche they never even knew existed until they needed it. Their son, Kyle, wanted to try paintball as an activity for his bachelor party. He couldn’t find anything closer than Columbus.
“It was kind of an adrenaline rush,” said Eddie, who had never played before that weekend. “It was kind of cool. The boys were interested in doing this, so I’m thinking that could be something that we as a family could do.”
It was also a way to turn a struggling recovery into a joyful moment. Back in 2010, Sandy had been hit by a car while riding her bicycle. The family decided to invest the settlement money into converting the former auto repair shop on Spring Street, with its wide open spaces, into a place for players to hide out and then, when the time is right, spray their friends with paintballs.
They’ve found an eager audience over the years. Teams from as far away as Miami have played here. They shared a story about a bachelor party from Cincinnati coming up because of the affordable pricing, noting that even with travel costs they saved hundreds of dollars by coming up to Lima, where they had a great time.
It’s all been part of the mission, to provide an affordable, enjoyable time for families and friends to play together.
“We don’t give out public WiFi,” Sandy said. “We encourage kids to give their cell phones to us when they’re ready to go out there for their parties and such, so they can be involved. We purposefully don’t put music through … because we want people to exchange, we want people to be able to be together and do some things.”
One customer even called Crosshairs “a marriage saver,” as a couple learned to play together. It’s also been helpful for former military personnel to get back together and recreate memories with their former troops.
Afterward, they’d gather in the lobby area and just enjoy each other’s company.
“After these guys get done shooting, they come in, and it’s like they’re at a bar. Everybody’s talking smack to each other,” Eddie said. “They say it’s time for them to release and talk and have just a good time with each other. I found that was a neat thing.”
The Monforts prided themselves on bringing something to the community that it didn’t have before. They provided a safe, affordable entertainment option. While they said Crosshairs never interfered with their time as parents and grandparents, they still know it’s time for them to move on and appreciate what they’ve accomplished over the past eight years.
“We didn’t do this to make money,” Sandy said. “We did this to give back and for it to pay for itself. That’s what we did it for. … And we’ve been proud of what we’ve done.”
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See past columns by David Trinko at LimaOhio.com/tag/trinko.