Paintballing: Delta Force
Went Paintballing yesterday. My girlfriend (fiancee) bought me a Paintball for two Sporting Gift. Literally the only ‘sporting gift’ I could’ve been bought. Once I’d opened it and because of the young couple beaming out from below their visors – lifted up in a clear breach of their own health and safety guidelines – leaning on a log, paintball guns in hand – I assumed, wrongly that this was intended for us to both go together. I thought that her later attempts to suggest I should go with my mate were sheer thoughtfulness however it was because she never really wanted to go. This continued on until the day before when she told me she’d never really wanted to go and my guilt about not being sure she would enjoy it was entirely redundant the whole time.
We used a Paintball for Two Sporting Gift from the Activity Superstore. Tori bought it from Debenhams and it provides you with a code at the website. Once entered you can choose from a number of real world sites belonging to Delta Force Paintballing (http://www.paintballgames.co.uk/) the biggest paintballing company in Britain, originally founded in South Africa (FYI). Bringng up the map online of possible sites its an impressive sight – offering three types of location -Red. Minimum age 10 (easy pickings), Yellow. Minimum age 12 (XBox trained), and National Paintball Centre (the only one in Ireland (minimum age 16 – surly). According to the site ‘90% of UK’s population liv(e) within 1 hour of a Delta Force Paintball Centre.’ They’re the Ribena of Paintball centres.
I tested this out and found one within 20 minutes of my house, and another only 40 minutes away. We opted for the closer one as it is a 9.15am start which is insane if you ain’t sporty. Having booked, I got a phonecall from a smiley, and slightly sexy female voice checking to make sure everything was okay with the booking and a text reminding me of the booking and offering me a number if I wanted more people to join up. My cynical mind kicked in. ‘They’re not busy at this time of year,’ I figured ‘, so they up the marketing schmoosiness in order to get more people. Charlatans.’
It was easy enough to find and collect your kit, visor, overalls and paintball cannister and 100 paintballs. It was cold as I’d heard it can be at that time in the morning and I was getting nervous I’d be found face down in a frozen ditch, my first paintball locked frozen in the barrel. The place was rammed. 400 people piled in and started gearing up. At that time in the morning there’s a tension in the air, not least coming from Tori as she put on the body armour (offered to Women and Children but not men who want to go all SWAT). I became wary of people with pony tails – always aware that people with ponytails are often good at things like paintballing and hunting down and killing small animals. Tori and I disappointed when it turned out that 30 children aged 11-12 were not bearing green arm bands (masking tape) and so were not our opponents.
We, bearing the mark of the original paintballers, wore plain masking tape and were the browns. After the safety talk in which Tori discovered that paintballs travel at 186 miles an hour and ‘will blind you.’ they even revealed their own Stig, the Aveley Terminator. His job; to march out onto the battlefield and challenge someone of his choice by pointing both weapons at them.
The first battle was in a copse with two bases and was straight annihalation. Noone got annihalated. Eventually, after some sheepish ducking, the adrenaline started to kick back in for everyone and my legs remembered how to crouch and the game was on. I got increasingly aggressive verbally, barking that ‘I f@cking hit you, now f@ck off,’ to at least two cowering individuals probably just checking to see if the paintball had broken on them. I took two in the stomach from an unseen assaillant.
Second was the Vietcong Village, a territorial dust up involving five huts, one central. This was aggressive stuff, requiring a charge into heavy fire to begin with. It could’ve done with a chopper drop to get things going and sniper rounds from the long grass but otherwise it didn’t ring like a battle in a B&Q Garden ornmaent section that it could do, it actually took on the shape of a proper conflict with people darting from one position to another, dodging overhaed fire and manoeuvring from hut to hut and trying to take out the opposition while watching their own flanks. Whoever had the most huts at the end was the victor (just like Vietnam). We took the central hut immediately (thanks to orders from me) and one further on their side and overwhelmed them in the second taking all five huts!! I was fortunate enough to take the fifth hut and the feeling of success is pretty cool, though lacking the relief a proper soldier does that he didn’t get shot in the face. In spite of my orders, noone was hung up by their nipples and summary executions were not enforced.
Deltaforce uses Flashbang fireworks (bangers), smoke grenades and paint grenades and I never got my hands on one but they were effective. Flashbang’s did stop the field in their tracks but tended to scare the guy who threw it so didn’t really affect the state of play. A smoke grenade was thrown later but kind of acted as a clear sign they were coming through that way, which seemed to put the opposition off, having announced it just before with pink smoke. I never saw a paint grenade fired but its unlikely they’re as effective in real life as they are in my head and that entire rooms are sprayed in multicolour shades, anyone inside falling out of door rubbing their eyes covered entirely in Dulux thick colour but they all add up to the scene and make it as close to battle as possible without having to pull the dead over your head to protect you from indiscriminate shelling and death gangs.
The third was an airfield assault, one side having to place a bomb inside an airplane shell that was defended by the other side. The scale of this one was impressive, with a plane shell, armoured vehicles and a command tower. Placed ahead of the incoming attack one detail of Delta Force became clearly more entertaining. At other paintball places a hit to the gun or your head is a kill shot; Delta Force allow head shots and gun hits which means you’e in the game at all times. This makes you braver and allows for pitched gun battles from vantage points.
Here, the most exciting moment took place. I’d managed to convince the team (in a moment that caused Tori to wander off out of embarrassment) that we had to push forwards in two big groups, firing wildly and cover as much ground as possible. We identified the quickest (slimmest) among us and identified the set of barrels I’d been hiding behind, just short of the plane itself as the best opportunity to get close enough to the plane to get the runner in and drop the bomb through the tail window. But it was a close one, the opposition could get their quicker unless we kept them at bay. e did. Charging forwards and firing at any head that moved, the greens instinctively ducked away allowing three of us to gain access to the rear of the barrels. While those behind us laid down suppressing fire and attempted to take out the Greens as best as possible I discovered I’d exhausted all of my paintballs in the initial assault. Speedy (as he will now be known) was beside me, staying down, with the barrel bomb in his hands. The only option was clear. I would run interference as he made a break in the opposite direction for the tail window. I called out to others to stand and fire all at once on my word which presented itself, unsurprisingly to anyone who works with me / lives with me as a guttural roar. The back positions rose and opened fire simultaneously as myself and Speedy made a break for it. While I confused a few and took several hits, firing blanks at the uncertain greens, Speedy darted expertly across the field, along the wing of the plane and threw the barrel into the window. As he was hit by (he claimed) 15 paintballs as he attempted this his aim was slightly off and the barrel clattered off the window frame and onto the floor below the wing. My game was over, as was Speedies but the Brown’s were not done yet. A second push was made shortly afterwards – with someone managing to grab the bomb barrel and hurl it into the plane window – winning the game.
It was this point I was asked for my name by the marshall. I was up for Best Player which was worth +1 to the team the winner was on. I was pretty chuffed as you can probably tell (see below). I was never to pick up a prize though as my day had come to an end.
After a quick kit check, both myself and Tori were out of balls at this point, with half a cannister between us but we ploughed into the next game. One fraught with Political espionage and national security!
The President (a selected member of the team) was in town and had to make his way across a battlefield and into a bus on the far side, avoiding heavy fire from the opposition. His soldiers had to protect the President at all costs and could regenerate by touching the derelict bus on their own side (just like A Few Good Men). The President of the Green Nation decided on a mad dash, carrying, obscurely, a barrel, which only really served to slow him down allowing a kill shot. In the reverse game we opted for a hgolding position, the smallest member of the team pinioned between two crack shots behind the most central barrels. Covered from both sides by more troops who would hold position and one other marksman behind central cover to pick off any attempts from either side to get around the defenses. It was impressive and fairly futile as both sides sat there and waited for the other to make their move. My cannister empty I unloaded imaginary paintball pellets for several minutes before making a dash in the dying moments to add a bit of spontaniety to the proceedings. I took one in the leg about 4 feet from the bus.
At the risk of sounding like an advert for a Museum of historical games involving circles, It was a great day all round. Both myself and Tori found something to like about it (myself from behaving like a 4 star general and Tori by being able to go at her own pace because of the scale, layout and the well organised games). We got a Pizza lunch, 4 out of 6 games and a fair bit of excitement. I’d recommend it to anyone as its more inclusive than some of the other indy sites in the UK and it allows people to play at varying pace and get something out of their day. Also; rules in place such as minimum three metre shooting distance means that Dan would be thrown off site for shooting me in the arse like he did last time we went. Which is great.