Lake Norman Publications

Lake Norman business offers 30 acres of paintball and airsoft play

Participants stalk each other at Lake Norman Paintball & Airsoft in Iron Station. /Michelle T. Bernard

IRON STATION – Lake Norman Paintball & Airsoft in Iron Station was hopping on Saturday. People of all ages, some dressed in military-type attire, were busy loading their guns, listening to instructions and safety tips, or discussing plans of action. Opened in 2015 on family land in Denver, the business has succeeded well beyond Kirk Bailey’s dreams.

Before he opened the business, Bailey and his friends were traveling to Gastonia to play paintball on a field that has since been closed. 

“It made me realize that there was not one in the area,” said Bailey, who was previously in the restaurant business. “I had this inherited land so it would be low overhead, so I decided to open a paintball field up. I wouldn’t say that I’m necessarily into guns, but I had a business sense and understood the logistics of it.”

Paintball and airsoft are considered extreme sports simulating military combat. In paintball, players compete, either on teams or individually, to eliminate opponents by tagging them with paintballs (a gelatin shell containing water-soluble dye) shot from a device technically called a paintball marker but commonly referred to as a paintball gun. 

Airsoft is considered to be a more realistic warfare experience because the guns look more like real firearms. Participants are eliminated when hit by pellets launched from guns.

While a lot of Bailey’s customers are ex-military or policemen, just as many people who come to play paintball or airsoft are from regular walks of life. He frequently has birthday parties, church youth groups, bachelor or bachelorette parties as well as corporate outings planned at the facility.

Safety is a primary concern for Bailey. Anyone who enters the field must wear a provided safety-certified mask to protect their eyes. When not in use, barrel sleeves must be kept on the guns and the safeties must be kept on in the staging area.

The property consists of approximately 30 acres – some of it wooded – with seven courses. 

“Over the past couple of years, we’ve grown with people interested in airsoft,” Anna Young, Bailey’s fiancé and now manager of the business, said. “Most of our regulars are airsoft players rather than paintball. Our rental groups are mainly paintball.”

Lake Norman Paintball & Airsoft also offers low-impact paintball guns for younger children (10 and under), but adults like it too. The hoppers and bullets are much smaller and the guns are single-shot, air-powered action. 

“Low impact is great for anyone under 10,” Bailey said. “Guns are always going to be around and people are going to do what they want with them. This is better than a video game option of violence or fighting with each other on social media. It’s a lot more friendly, teaches camaraderie, teamwork and good sportsmanship, and gives them exercise.”

Whether it’s a child or an adult, all the guns are put through a chronograph (a device used to test the power of a paintball or airsoft gun) to make sure what’s coming out is at a safe speed.

Lake Norman Paintball & Airsoft is located at 6237 Old Plank Road. Monday through Friday are for group reservations, 10 or more people, with 72 hours’ notice. Reservations can be made online. Saturday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. For more information, rules and pricing, visit

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