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Turn it up a notch, forget another weekend of bar-hopping

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When tests and term papers get the best of your insanity, break away from the books with a bit of the extreme.

KAYAKING
PAINTBALL
SKYDIVING

There's no need to exist on overpriced movies and walks in the park when legit adventures serve up weekend recreation that will keep your excitement engine on overdrive.

KAYAKING
Although Oklahoma may not be automatically associated with the sport of kayaking, area opportunities to engage in this high-energy activity are plentiful. Dave Lindo, owner of OKC Kayak, 220 N. Western, offers lessons and trips year-round, both locally and long-distance.

For the beginner, Lindo recommends the Quickstart Kayak Lesson " a two-and-a-half-hour session offered on Saturdays at Lake Hefner.

"It's a good way to get all the essentials," he said of the class that teaches basics like strokes, steering and upper-body mechanics.

Another weekly get-together, the Tuesday-night Social Paddle is an easygoing, two-mile outing at sunset. Beginners can show up about 15 minutes early for a brief lesson before departure, with the kayak, paddles and life jacket included.

Lessons for experienced paddlers teach techniques like Eskimo rolls, and include trips to rougher, more advanced waters. Independent types can stop by OKC Kayak and rent all the necessities for a day on the water.

"Take it wherever you want to go," Lindo said.

Kayaking opportunities are available throughout the state, including Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge near Lake Overholser and Norman's Little River, to overnight trips and advanced kayaking in areas like the Lower Mountain Fork River in Southeastern Oklahoma.

"A lot of people don't realize that we have white-water kayaking," Lindo said. "But, from mild to real hard-core white-water, we have it all here within our state boundaries."

PAINTBALL
Local combat aficionados know the enjoyment that comes with good friends, a CO2-operated gun and a gelatin-filled capsule of paint on the paintball field. With six fields and lots of scenarios, Adventure Zone Paintball Field, 2651 E. Seward in Guthrie, focuses on recreational paintball for everyone " not just regulars who have aced the sport.

"There's not really a huge learning curve," said Jeremy Aquino, who manages Shaggy Bros. Paintball, the supply shop affiliated with Adventure Zone. "The concept is simple: Shoot them before they shoot you."

Four-hour sessions are offered on Saturdays and Sundays, and no reservations are required. Private parties of 10 or more can choose to play together on a field and also can schedule a midweek session. Most participants, however, show up and join anyone else who comes to battle.

"Meeting new people is always nice," Aquino said.

Expect two games on each of the park's six fields that range from the Ridge, a 12-acre wooded field with two-story forts, to the Sup-Air field with inflatable bunkers. Other areas feature hiding spots like wooden spools, sneak-proof piles of leaves and re-created ruins of an abandoned city.

Aquino recommends beginners show up in long-sleeves and pants in dark colors and advises preparing for a good workout that's a bit more exciting than a turn on the treadmill.

"It's an athletic sport. You definitely get a nice workout," he said. "And it's also an adrenaline dump."

SKYDIVING
Many thrill seekers agree that the ultimate high takes place in the sky. See if you agree after taking the plunge at the Oklahoma Skydiving Center in Cushing. A quick ride up the turnpike leads to the 350-acre Cushing Regional Airport, home to the skydiving school that sees around 1,500 first-time jumpers each year.

The school offers solo skydives after four to six hours of instruction at the on-site ground school, during which students are prepared for a 4,000-foot dive that includes about 500 feet of freefall with radio guidance from a staff member.

According to owner Jack Reeves, most first-timers choose another option " the tandem dive. Making the jump with an experienced diver requires only a short period of instruction and students can exit the plane from much higher " 10,000 feet " with around 45 seconds of free fall.

"There's no ground school, it's quicker, and you have a professional instructor. There's no anxiety about remembering what to do," said Reeves, who keeps his center opened year-round, closing only briefly for the holiday season in December.

Addicted divers can return for more instruction and opportunities, including making the 25 jumps necessary to receive a basic skydiver's license.

According to Reeves, first-timers and skydiving veterans agree that the experience is hard to top when it comes to excitement.

"It's high speed, a burst of power, and then it's over," he said. "As soon as you do it, you can't wait to get back up there and do it again."  "Andrea Miller

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