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Teamwork Makes The Dreamwork

Laser Team Challenge Levels Up Its Unique Laser Tag Experience

Laser Tag Challenge is unlike any indoor laser tag arena in the USA

Jim and Carol Makowske's laser tag arena, Laser Team Challenge, is a one-of-a-kind in North America. 

Perhaps unique in the entire world! 

Laser Team Challenge, the laser tag operation that’s held its ground in downtown Alpena, Michigan, since 2004.

 It continues to give players a live-action gaming experience, unlike any other laser tag joint. 

Jim and Carol have achieved remarkable success in their town of around 10,000 population by continuing to innovate with their Battlefield Sports laser tag equipment.

Makowske's operation started with the "classic" system and updated to Battlefield Sports' digital SATR system.

Jim and Carol recently added the SATRWARE software.

News Photo by Mike Gonzalez Jim Makowske, owner of Laser Team Challenge in Alpena, gives a laser gun to a player and directs them to a referee to get their headband properly placed at the business on Sept. 20.

Laser Team Challenge runs out of a 45,000 sq ft facility across 3 levels. 

Each gaming gun can be programmed for different classes of weaponry. From machine guns to muskets, the Makowskes can change the fire rate, reload speed, and more to have each gun feel as authentic as a real weapon.

“We have over 100 guns here we can run,” Jim Makowske said as he scrolled through different weapon types on his laptop. “We can set all kinds of different parameters. We can change muzzle flashes; we can change all kinds of things with the guns.”

Mike Gonzalez, from the Alpena News, reports that teams that face each other can sometimes have different rule sets between the two to replicate different themes. 

As an example, Makowske said that he can replicate the Battle of Normandy by having one team on the second floor to play the Axis troops as the other team runs through the main floor’s double doors and plays the Allies landing on the beach.

He said Allies players can get shot and “die” in-game, but they can revive themselves at a respawning point as many times as they want to replicate the large number of soldiers that invaded. 

Axis players only get one life, but Makowske said the upper-level advantage allows them to last longer.

News Photo by Mike Gonzalez High school students anticipate opponents will come around the corner of the arena at Laser Team Challenge in Alpena on Sept. 20.

Each playing session is usually $20 and lasts for more than two hours, with different game modes switched around every hour. Carol Makowske handles the financial and business side of Laser Team Challenge, while Jim Makowske handles the games and rules.

Jim using the SATWARE software

Jim using SATRWARE

gotcha! the spitifre is a popular weapon choice

Gamers on Point

battlefield sports supplies the spitfire laser tag gun

The Spitfire is popular

Jim reminisces about when he first upgraded to the SATR digital software system. "We had our first use of our equipment for tactical training. Our State Police used the equipment for dog handlers.  A team of four police on track carried our equipment. The handler had a spitfire in a pouch on his back with the sensors on the head. A spotter carried a spitfire programmed to replicate their handgun. The bad guy carried a morita with a 3X9 scope. Everyone was set on two hit points. The exercise was designed to train the team to take cover when they come under fire rather than to take offensive action. The bad guy positioned himself at the edge of a large clearing that he crossed. He would engage the team by discharging his handgun (with blanks) at the same time he takes his first shot with the Morita," he said.

"The teams were used to training with paintball or simulated munitions – neither are long-range or exceptionally accurate. The results were half, or more, of each team were killed. The handlers realized just how vulnerable they were. Their path is predictable, they are focused on their dog and they are easy to locate. The shots were taken more than 300 feet and were accurate. The paintball / simunition strategy was negative training and encouraged false assumptions – at least in outdoor track situations," said Jim.

"This is like laser tag on steroids," said Jim. 

"We have a lot of people come here with certain expectations and they leave here with a totally different understanding. [As] a matter of fact we kind of ruin it for a lot of [other] laser tag places because once people come here, they don’t want to go to any other laser tag place. We particularly like the Master Controller's ability to change gun classes and indoor/outdoor (since we do both)", he said.

"Our gamers really like the ability to randomize the gaming guns with the Mystery Box. It enables us to change up a traditional game – keeping it fresh. We discovered that the new mission moves everyone back to the original class and weapon setting – which was a brilliant programming decision! Thanks," said Jim.


"In the end, everybody has fun," said Jim Makowske.

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