Last Saturday saw 19 of us venture down to Effingham in Surrey, to the Delta Force Paintballing center, to celebrate with nephew Andre, his birthday. He has reached the ripe old age of 13, so what better way to mark the ascension, than with a foray into violence real-time, none of that virtual nonsense, that’s for little kids. Along with 12 of his mates, the seven adults prepared for what we anticipated would be an exciting and enthralling experience. I don’t think any of us knew we were in for some quality pain.
The drive from Croydon to the center, just off J10 of the M25 lasted 30-40 minutes. There was a little traffick, but in our car we spent time playing 21 questions and the ‘word-in-a-song’ game. Upon reaching the center, which is located within a wooded area, we disembarked and went to the briefing area, where you register and receive you protective suits, helmets and hoppers (used to store the ammo).
We have been having some changeable in London recently, 28 degrees one day, cold and wet the next. Today we were fortunate to have a sunny, if sweltering day, which meant helmets stayed off until we entered the conflict area. Anticipation started to rise and you could feel the excitement level increase as the box filled with the yellow and red paint pellets (the ammo) arrived.
By this time, we had decided to split up into teams, one Yellow, one Purple. The boys vieing to be on the same team as the birthday boy, and anxious not to have too many adults on their team. We obliged them, feeling that them being kids and all, they would get all excited and finish their pellets in the first game (strategic thinking, we were proved correct). Only the birthday boy’s dad was on the Purple team.
The first thing that happens, once suited and helmeted, is to receive a safety briefing. I found it interesting to note who amongst the assembled crowd was actually listening to the marshall as he explained that helmets were to be worn at all times once we entered the combat zone. The knowledge that if hit in the eye with a pellet mean you would probably lose the sight in that eye kept my attention locked to find out what other damage could be caused. Briefing over, we organised near the gates, ready for the final check and entered – the combat zone!!!
Now I have a fundemental issue with guns. I don’t like them and don’t think they should be made available in any form within civilised society. Reflecting on my reaction to the shiny metal objects and that of my compadres, just served to re-inforce this. Still we were only playing at war!!! Truth be known, after this adventure, I now I would be no good in war, as you never see the damn bullets or your assailant coming. Although in the first game I managed to despatch one ‘enemy’ soldier, this was more to his ‘gun-ho’ attitude rather than my own skill. For the rest of the afternoon I was pelleted within 2-3 minutes of the start of each game. Even in the one where I decided I would go for it and remain in the game as a wounded but nonetheless functioning member of the team, after getting 3-4 pellets in the chest, I ran for cover screaming like a baby and yelling ‘I’m hit, I’m hit don’t shoot me anymore’. It was too much.
Defeated, hot, sweaty I sat out the final assault and claimed a 2nd place certificate with the other members of the yellow team. We were absolutely annihilated. A day we all enjoyed, next time I come prepared!