Q&A: Ray Linginfelter, Co-owner of Zombie Hunters Paintball

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Ray Linginfelter co-owns Zombie Hunters Paintball (9567 Highway 11E, Lenoir City) with his wife, Jessica. The business, in its second full season, allows you to fight back against the zombie apocalypse in a farm setting. 

How is zombie paintball different from ordinary paintball?
Our customers do not get shot—you get to shoot the zombies but you do not have to worry about getting shot back and hurt. And with regular paintball, you can play 30 seconds and get shot and you’re out, but in this you get to go for the whole hayride with high-power paintball guns and state-of-the-art bullets filled with zombie killing serum to help your team keep the “undead” at bay.

What ages is it suitable for?
It is not as scary as a haunted house—it is more family friendly but you still never know what’s lurking around the corner. The age limit is really up to the parents. We have had 3-year-olds ride through before sitting next to their parents.

Have you ever gotten scared at zombie paintball? 
I ride through the farm to check on the zombies between trailers throughout the night and every once in awhile one of them is able to catch me off guard. It’s rare but it has happened.

Do customers ever get really scared?
We’ve had the occasional person who tries to hide in the middle of the hay trailer we take out. But this haunted attraction gives you the ability to kill your childhood demons, so most customers stay strong so they can shoot straight.

What are some tips for people who want to be good at zombie paintball?
With this paintball experience your gun is mounted on the side of the trailer with limited swing from left to right, so make sure you look ahead for the zombies coming up on your side. Take a deep breath and aim for the head. Always make sure you double-tap the zombies any time you can, just to make sure you got them.

When did you first play paintball?
I haven’t ever played a real paintball game in my life.

How did you end up owning a paintball place?
My wife and I saw a paintball trailer at a haunt convention quite a few years back and joked about doing something like that. Our jokes turned into us getting more and more interested. We offered a hayride one year where you rode around the farm and looked at scenes we’d set up. The next year we changed and you got off the hayride and walked through a haunted house we created at the back of the farm. We took the next year off to research this paintball experience because we wanted to bring something different to our area. My brother, Jeff Linginfelter, owns Dead Man’s Farm and I was able to learn a lot about the haunt business helping him with his opening year. And of course my parents, V.W. and Ann Linginfelter, own the property and Deep Well Farm, and allow us to participate in this little adventure.

Do you have a background in this type of business?
I have helped my parents run their landscaping business for quite a few years so that has helped me figure out some stuff a little early about starting your own business. But nothing can completely prepare someone—sometimes you just have to go for it.

Do you ever have to cancel?
We try our best not to, but I had to close the first two days we were open this year, Oct. 2-3. It takes a lot of rain to shut us down, but of course we got a lot of rain this past weekend.

What happens to the course after Halloween?
My father uses the farm after the zombie paintball season to grow hay and raise crops for his head of cattle and the animals at the farm.

Zombie Hunters Paintball is open Oct. 9-10, Oct. 15-17, Oct. 22-24, and Oct. 28-31. For more information: zombiehunterspaintball.com

Rose Kennedy

Rose Kennedy came to Knoxville to work as an editorial assistant on 13-30’s Retail Appliance Management Series and never saw a reason to leave. Her “so uncool I’m cool” career among the alt weekly newspaper crowd has led to award-winning articles on Dr. Bill Bass and the Body Farm and cyber-bullying at West High School, and treasonous food columns about preferring unsweet tea and feeling ambivalent about biscuits.

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