Outdoor Airsoft arena idea in its first phase, owners say

A Butler County family wants to create a community that will be united.

Jeff Neal and his nephew Jeremiah Hughley and his wife, Brianna Nolan, want to create an outdoor Airsoft arena, unlike what’s in Butler County.

While they want to capitalize on the re-emerging growth of Airsoft, which has been around since the mid-1990s. Neal, Hughley, and Nolan want to develop an 80-to-100-acre outdoor Airsoft arena where there would be military simulation missions and assignments, which is, as Neal says, “bringing ‘Call of Duty’ to life.”

“I really believe this could be the next biggest thing (in the area),” said Nolan. But more importantly, it could reduce the violence in the county, she said.

“There are a lot of people killing each other,” she said, and they don’t want to see friends, family, and people they grew up with hurt. “Our main goal is to try to put something positive out here, to where their minds aren’t so bored, they don’t have so much free time, and they can get out and do something active.”

Neal said, citing the message in one of their videos, is they want people to “put down the guns and pick up the Airsoft.”

Last week, two people were killed and another was injured by gunfire; a 3-year-old girl was also injured after being struck by bullet fragments.

Nolan, who spoke with the Journal-News on Oct. 25, later told the Journal-News in response to a shooting that night, which happened to be down the street from where she and her husband live, believes this Airsoft outdoor arena project will help “stop this nonsense as soon as possible. People are dying every day, and we have to speak up.”

Nolan said a lot of young people, as well as adults, sit around the house and play “Call of Duty,” the first-person military simulation video game with nearly two dozen versions since it first came out in 2003. She said their hope is that if more people bond over an outdoor activity, “It gives them some type of connection, some type of community to be involved in,” and they may “realize that ‘these people aren’t that bad.’”

Neal said support seems to be on their side, as videos on their Facebook page promoting the project have received thousands of views from a dozen cities. While they’ve invested their own money, they need outside investors to come on board.

“As of right now, we are in the first phase of (the project),” Neal said. “We had identified a location, but at this time, it’s not feasible enough for what we want to do, so we’re looking at other land and properties right now.”

There are other outdoor arenas geared toward paintball, but this is not paintball, they said. It would be geared to youth and adults who play military simulation video games. Each weekend, there would be Airsoft events, like team vs. team matches as well as missions for tactical skills.

Additionally, they want to bring in guest speakers, either community leaders or military veterans, to deliver messages that can help unite people.

“This is a great project for this community, for this county,” Neal said. “We have a lot of people that really wants this in this area.”

To find out more about this project, or learn how to be more involved, visit the Butler County Airsoft Outdoor Arena on Facebook.

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