Paintball Pioneer: Hogback Mountain Celebrates 25 Years

Rodney Huber may not have intended to be one of the early adopters of agritourism in Loudoun County when he decided his family’s property was an ideal place for a paintball field. He just wanted to give people a reason to enjoy the outdoors.

“I can’t say that it was a completely conscious decision,” to pursue agritourism, he said. “I just saw it as a business opportunity. It certainly requires a lot of land to do paintball and we had that. As a business, I could see where it would really be something that really could grow and develop because of the enthusiasm for paintball.”

And grown Hogback Mountain Paintball has. Since the fields opened on the 70-acre property in 1994, throngs of paintball enthusiasts have made their way out to the Leesburg area to compete on one of the now 14 fields reserved for the sport. While initially the crowd largely consisted of paintball hobbyists, Huber said the audience has expanded from the sport’s devotees, mostly men, to women and even children. Gone are the days where paintball special events were reserved for bachelor parties—now Hogback attracts its regular share of bachelorette parties as well as children’s birthday parties.

As its audience has changed, Hogback has adapted. Pavilions have been added to the property to allow for parties. Special equipment has been adapted to accommodate the younger customers with “low impact” paintballs that deliver less of a hit. And while paintball in its early days was largely an all-day event, Hogback now offers shorter playing times, allowing for a less expensive outing and a broader appeal.

It’s been largely a three-person operation over Hogback’s quarter century. While Huber does most of the field work and his wife, Marci, handles marketing, Huber is quick to credit John Greeley, who managed the fields during the past decade while the Hubers lived out of state.

The Northern Virginia location has proven to be a key element of Hogback’s staying power.

“We don’t survive without a sizable population in Fairfax County and Loudoun County that can participate. All of that was there then [when Hogback began], just less of it as far as population,” Huber said.

One thing that has not changed is the desire to enjoy the outdoors and experience the rural land.

“People did appreciate coming out and I think that’s part of the feel, coming out to the country. That appeal then is what it is now, too,” he said.

Looking toward the next 25 years, Huber said he is optimistic about Hogback’s future.

“We just constantly try to improve on everything we do like any good business,” he said.

Huber said plans are for a March 31 event to celebrate the business’ anniversary, with details still to be worked out.

Hogback Mountain Paintball is open year-round and can accommodate reservations for large groups as well as walk-on players. For more details, go to hogback.net.

krodriguez@loudounnow.com

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