War games: Laser tag helps military stay sharp

Laser tag is helping the country's armed forces keep their skills sharp.

Army Staff Sgt. Patrick Jenkins plays at Tac-Ops Laser Tag in Central California at least once a week.

"It's definitely helping me out bit and keeping my skills because when I go back to my regular job and I'm not a recruiter, I'll have a little experience and I won't be so rusty," said Jenkins who did tours in Afghanistan and Iraq and knows he could be deployed again down the road.

Tac-Ops attracts law enforcement agents and even members of the Special Forces, who come individually on their own time and together for organized sessions set up by their bosses.

"I've been contacted by the international guard, a gentleman who does maneuver scheduling for the Marines and a gentleman from the sheriff's office. And all of them said they will be contacted us in the future to bring in their superiors," said Tac-Ops Laser Tag general manager Dexter Morgan.

Morgan says Tac-Ops is different from most laser tag arenas, where you wear a bulky vest and walk into a black lit room filled with smoke and lots of flashy lights.

"There's more of a mission-based approach, as opposed to just running around and shooting at each other randomly, agreed Army Staf Sgt. Lucas Earnest, another Army soldier who trains there. "It takes a little bit more thought to it,  it's team building, and it's a lot more fun."

Earnest says you have to communicate with the other players in order to win the game.

"You have to play as a team, there has to be teamwork, there has to be communication and that's the same thing in the Army. If you don't communicate we're not to accomplish our mission," he said.

Jenkins said the lessons learned at Tac-Ops are real.

"You learn how to transfer from right hand to left hand around corners, piecing off corners, doing high and lows, doing your wedges when you move when you clear, and communicating with your buddy," said Jenkins.

The weapons are heavy and realistic, made of the military-grade materials real weapons are made out of. They can be programmed to simulate any types of situation.

"How many rounds in each clip, how much damage is done to them. We can also put sensors on bystanders, so if someone shoots them we can tell," said Morgan.

Special forces and law enforcement uses other types of training simulations, but Morgan says laser tag is a good alternative.

"There's no projectiles, so no one is getting hurt, there are no paintballs, so no mess, and we supply everything right here," Morgan said. "There's basically zero liability.

You don't have to be a pro fighter, you can be as young as eight to play and it will cost you $12 for 30 minutes.