Seven-year-old Elizabeth Overcash may be a little too young to appreciate it right now, but her parents are building one of the coolest backyards any kid could hope for: a 4.5-acre laser tag park.
“I figure around third or fourth grade she’ll start asking for a lot of sleepovers with say, oh, 25 kids,” Charles Overcash said as he showed off a matching camouflage outfit he’d recently bought his daughter.
Since Full Throttle Entertainment’s inception in 2004, Charles and Kimberly Overcash have been bringing their fleet of land, water and air racing vehicles to parties and events across the region. They started with remote control mini racecars complete with checkerboard track, and have since grown to include a mobile laser tag course, a hunting simulation game and remote-control sailboat, blimp and snowmobile racing sets.
The business has been entirely mobile over the past four years. The Overcashes have set up, run and taken down their various racing tracks all over the valley, and at events as far as Seattle and North Dakota. But, starting this summer, for the first time, they’ll be able to have customers come to them.
“The mobile systems have done really well, but they’re more expensive and are used mostly by people with bigger events – graduation parties, company events, family reunions, things like that,” Charles said. “We’ve wanted to have something really fun and different that anybody who lives here could come and take advantage of.”
So, for the past several months the couple has been at work transforming 4.5 acres of their backyard into a giant laser tag course, complete with wooded areas, long grasses and dirt bunkers to help stalk competitors.
Their collection of 25 different laser tag guns are state of the art: sensors warn players if they’ve been nearly hit; keep track of the playing time and ammunition stores; and log playing information, including who hit who and how many times, which can be printed out at the end of the game. With technology similar to what’s used in military training, the guns can tag a target as far as three football fields away.
“It’s amazing how accurate they are,” Kimberly said. “Once people get them in their hands the transformation is amazing. It doesn’t matter how old or young or shy they normally are, everybody just loses themselves in the game and has a really great time.”
The home and course are located between Whitefish and Kalispell, just off of U.S. Highway 93 in the Happy Valley area. The Overcashes hope to have the course up and running this summer, and plan to operate on a reservation-only basis – for $25 per person per hour, groups or individuals who want to join in with others, can rent the park and its equipment.
The Overcashes consider themselves lucky to be making a career entertaining others with high-tech toys, but while their customers see only fun and games, keeping the business running requires a lot of behind-the-scenes work. Charles has become an expert mini-mechanic, rebuilding and tweaking the racecars after every use to keep them and the track in perfect condition. Kimberly spends hours researching gaming equipment online. And, at every event, the couple goes out of the way to cover every detail from dressing and acting in character to providing professional lights, sound and smoke effects.
“It’s all about giving people something that’s just over-the-top fun – the ‘wow’ factor where people can just lose themselves in fun, laughter and smiles and forget about their everyday worries,” Charles said. “And that’s a pretty great job.”
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